Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egypt: way forward through maintaining political unity

There have been about 50 revolutions throughout the world since 1990 according to this list.

I was going to study what happens after a revolution, but I can see that this would need a lifetime of study.

It is obvious that each revolution has its own unique setting, characteristics and results, but at the same time, there is a common pattern, with early conflicts over betrayal of the ideals of the revolution, followed by disorder, followed by imposition of order by a strong man or strong party.

The ongoing Egyptian revolution has its own beauty in its non-violent nature, apart from the defensive measures the pro-democracy protesters had to take in response to the thugs. It also gained from the excellent oath taken by Egyptian Army not to kill their fellow-citizens, and this offers hope that Egypt will avoid this chaos-strong man pattern, thus setting an example for the world to follow.

Right now the Egypt revolution is justifiably in a mood of euphoria and a tremendous sense of unity. The physical , life threatening dangers are, hopefully, over.

The next phase means that they are entering the next level of difficulty in this existential game.


The revolutionaries have to decide what to do now. Before, opinion was united around the simple insistence that Mubarak must Go.

Now opinion will be spread out on a spectrum between those who want an immediate overthrow of the Cabinet, the regime and all its policies, and those who want Egypt to get back to normal life as soon as possible.

An important part of this spread will be the formation of political parties in preparation for early elections. I know only too well, from 30 years of experience in a marginalised political party, how toxic relations between political parties can become. Personality and ego comes to the fore and reason goes out of the window. Competition is everything: if another party says white, you say black.

If the majority, secular part of Egypt's January 25 movement fragments into many disparate parties, the Muslim Brotherhood could end up as the largest single party in the post-revolutionary Parliament. I think it is highly unlikely, for several reasons, that they will create a theocracy like Iran, but their predominance would feed the paranoia of the US pro-Israeli right, which could lead to further military tensions in the region at a time when we need a popular movement of cooperation focussed on the foundations of the real economy, especially water.

Clearly, what happens now is up to the Egyptian people, but from a distance, which is often a good place to see the whole picture, the best political outcome would be for the secular (with or without the Muslim Brotherhood Jan25 revolutionaries to form an umbrella group to contest the next election, focused on the the 7 Demands, and on a radical direct approach to nation's economic and infrastructure problems: food prices, energy and water management.

Within the term of the post-Revolutionary Parliament, differences would coalesce into the natural political  formation of political parties, who would contest the following election in the usual way.


Anonymous said...

I really do hope it is without the Muslim Brotherhood. The last thing Egypt needs is another bunch of (potentially worse) fascist thugs in charge.

Egypt's population is young, and maybe they'll get with the Darwin and the evolution deal and renounce the overbearing role of religion in their lives. A middle east without religious idiots is never going to happen though...

DocRichard said...

Never is a long time, and people change over time.

The Wahabi's will fade in time, if we stop inflaming them.

The thing is, what you resist is what you get.

When pundits worry about the Muslim Brotherhood, try substituting "Muslim Bogeyman".

With Muslims be relaxed, be friendly, and if the subject comes up, explain that we object to stoning, beheading and handcutting as really pretty old-fashioned.

Of course we must defend ourselves from violent extremists. We do that successfully through police and intelligence. Not by wars. Blair's wars have put us in more danger, not less.

Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous, same as above said...

Hi Doc Richard

I'm not bothered at all by our situation here but was rather just thinking that perhaps a majority of Egyptians would like to live pretty much as we do - that's my experience from living for over two years in a muslim country next door to a mosque (almost!).

That's not the view we get of them here though - we get the 'bogeyman' view from the pundits,EDL, Delingpole and the like, and the 'oh Muslims are lovely people really' from the nice liberal middle classes who conveniently ignore the homophobia and rampant anti-semitism etc.

If 'they' can gain 'freedom' and 'democracy' to some degree like our own far from perfect version, I am sure that the hatred towards jews and gays will recede amazingly rapidly (I believe it is largely driven by poverty and associated anger rather than true beliefs) and secularisation will grow as the standard of living goes up.

...and the wor-r-r-r-ld will live as one.

Or not. LOL

Keep fighting, top man.

DocRichard said...

Hi Anon same as above,

Agreed. Thanks for the helpful comments.