The Corner

De Ja What Now?

Michael – First off, welcome aboard the USS Corner. Second, I fear you’ve lost your bearings en route to your stateroom.

I agree entirely that revolutions are always dangerous but they aren’t “always” (your word)  prelude to dictatorship, as you write.

Of course, it depends what you mean by “revolution” but so far what is happening in Egypt is just as revolutionary as what happened in South Korea, the Philippines, South Africa and countless other democratic “revolutions” of the “modern era.” The idea that these protests must inexorably lead to dictatorship is really not defensible.  Let me know if I’m misreading statements like this one:

In other words, no matter the high intentions and democratic slogans, it always turns out badly in the end, especially in countries with, shall we say, a natural affinity for despotism.

Then you write the following:

The rebellions sweeping across North Africa and into Jordan may in fact be the stuff of the neocon/Bushian fantasy that all peoples everywhere yearn to be free and that the answer to “Islam is the answer” is Jacksonian democracy. But color me skeptical. Perhaps W.’s policies in Iraq started the winds of change blowing in the Middle East, but aren’t the beneficiaries more likely to be the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist radicals? They have waited and prepared for this moment for decades. Never strong enough by themselves to overthrow an autocrat willing to use blunt force, they needed the social disruption caused by rising food prices, political corruption, an army of unemployed young people, and general misery in order to exploit the “legitimate grievances” of the masses.

I’m in complete agreement that there’s reason for skepticism this will all go great. And I certainly think that the claim Bush was too idealistic is a defensible one. But this whole paragraph sets up a parade of strawmen. I don’t think even Bush said anything about Jacksonian democracy, and nobody is saying anything of the sort in regard to Egypt.

But let’s chalk that up to poetic license. Why even write the above paragraph if, as you state as a matter of historical fact (with a quasi Marxist/Hegelian certainty) that these things “always” turn out badly? If you think that’s the case, then of course you’re skeptical. How could you be otherwise?

I hope you’re wrong about the coming role of the Muslim Brotherhood, but I don’t know how you can be certain you’re right.

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