Egypt is gonna take awhile…

After a brief break last month, I invoked the massive demonstrations in Egypt as at least in the abstract an inspiring sight. The open challenge of authority, reminders to ones claimed rulers that there are more of Us than of You, appeals to more for reasons that should be old hat by now. That such originally brought down Hosni Mubarak after decades of strongman rule was a good thing, at least as far as an outsider can say. At the time, I chalked up the curious supportive presence of the Egyptian military as a dead canary, basically indicator of just how terribly the “civil” state had been doing. After all, to an extent we see similar unfortunate reaction to the corruption of the political ruling class stateside, as reflected in polls showing a huge gap in confidence between the military & the U.S. congress. That this persists despite the U.S. military being visibly much less autonomous than the Egyptian military in terms of what it does is, if anything, a strike against us for making distinction where there isn’t one.

Recent news of goings-on in Egypt since the removal of Mohammed Morsi from power, however, stand as caution flags. For one, opposition to the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood gave way to arrests of its members and outright bans on religious parties. Now, as both a libertarian and a heathen, I have no sympathy whatsoever for policy derived from religious doctrine, whether it be the Muslim Brotherhood over there or the Christian Brotherhood here in the U.S. However, if the charade of representative government is even going to be attempted, it seems clear to me that step one should not be “explicitly exclude some people from the process”.  I had previously remarked on this elsewhere last December, in the context of what the political result would be of Egyptian liberals articulating such openly:

So basically if the liberals in this case admitted that since the Islamists want Islamism as a collective condition & not one individually chosen that liberalism in fact doesn’t reconcile itself with Islamism or similar politically religious ideologies, their stance would be “what Islamists want is not individual liberty, therefore f*ck ‘em”.

Which would 1) be true! but 2) result in the liberals losing.

Today this realization is leading to suppression of people based on their political views. To the extent that liberal Egyptians support this, it is liberalism eating itself. That knowledge of what Islamists would do with such power doesn’t discourage claiming of it is another glimpse of the contradiction grating at the nerves of humanity. Yet another way in which despite our vastly different backgrounds we slog through much the same mud.

Also, the economic situation in Egypt is such that the most mundane things reveal a state apparatus that seems to have its hand in everything. Even something as simple as bread lent itself to the mass demonstrations:

Mohamed Abu Shadi, a 62-year-old former police general with a doctorate in economics, said Mursi’s government made “incorrect calculations” regarding Egypt’s wheat stocks.

The estimates made by former supplies minister Bassem Ouda, who hails from Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, were “based on guesses, not on facts”, Abu Shadi told Reuters in an interview.

When asked why Mursi’s administration was unable to accurately assess its wheat stocks, a crucial issue for a country where much of the population of 84 million relies on heavily subsidized loaves of bread, Abu Shadi replied: “That was why he left.”

When you give people bread, they call you a good Samaritan. When you heavily subsidize bread, they call you a skillful politician. When you ask why bread needs to be subsidized simply in order for people to have it…


About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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4 Responses to Egypt is gonna take awhile…

  1. dgtmantis says:

    I think this is perhaps just an unadulterated power-grab by the military with the indirect help of the good’ole US of A.

    Morsi and Co. had just helped ratify a constitution that gave the military even more political autonomy. Plus, they still had all this street cred from kicking the last guy to the curb. They could have been content with the hand they were dealt but I think they wanted house odds and the U.S. provided the means.

    So, the CIA added its magic to a little ‘secular opposition’ and poof! You have the makings of a military coup that is not a coup but a representation of the “people’s voices being heard”.

    Seriously, that was actually a quote by an official when asked why the U.S. would still send four F-16 planes to a country that was in the MIDDLE OF OVERTHROWING its democratically elected government!!

    For christ’s sake, it seems rather odd doesn’t it? Unless of course you realize that the U.S. finally and reluctantly supported the ouster of Mubarak only to have the people of Egypt say “Fuck You” and elect an Islamic government.

    That shit pisses the U.S. off (just ask the palistinians). A-murika was good and tired of wiping pie off its face. So, they used the Egyptian military as a foil to get what they wanted. Of course, I am sure they didn’t have to do that much convincing. Those F-16’s are mighty shiny, don’t ya know!

  2. dgtmantis says:

    *Edit – second paragraph, second sentence should read:

    Plus, [the military] still had all this street cred from kicking the last guy to the curb.

  3. B Psycho says:

    It is interesting just how quickly the gulf royals jumped in to help the new regime as well. Demonstrates how useful they find the outcome.

    As for the U.S. of course the question is always whether whoever runs the show will “play ball”. Funny thing is due to Muslim Brotherhood beef with Assad, Morsi ended up siding with the neocon position on Syria at the time (he called for a No Fly Zone couple weeks before he was yanked). I’m not sure what the U.S. play is on this one — worries about Egypt/Israel relations souring? Justifying arms deals looked difficult w/ Muslim Brotherhood control?

  4. dgtmantis says:

    Ugh…third time my comment was wiped because I’m an idiot and didn’t fill in the answer to the question.

    Oh well…”worries about Egypt/Israel relations souring? Justifying arms deals looked difficult w/ Muslim Brotherhood control?”

    Justifying arms deals is spot on. I think its sorta the opposite of souring relations between Egypt/Israel. Morsi’s government ended up brokering a peace deal after that bombing in November of 2012. For all intents and purposes the Brotherhood was acting as a “responsible” player in that cluster fuck. This was their undoing.

    The U.S. saw two issues with Morsi staying in power: 1) he was playing it even in the Isreal/Palistinian conflict, 2) providing weapons to these guys as an allie would undermine the U.S. rhetoric regarding Iran and Syria. If they installed a neo-liberal boot licker, Egypt could then be a heavy supporter of Isreal AND when supplied with our tech, could be a heavy counter weight in the region at large.

    Anyway, I could very well be overly simplistic in my reading of this. I just don’t think the U.S. needs all that much motivation to go in and help fuck things up.

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