Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Egypt: Aftermath of a Revolution

Sam Tadros discusses the outcome in Egypt in the Tablet, best summed up as "Islamists’ electoral success vindicates the pessimists".

I met Mr. Tadros in 2007, while demonstrating against Mubarak in D.C. If I recall correctly, he minimized the import of the Muslim Brotherhood then, and Salafis weren’t even in our minds; we were both under the spell of Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy.

Yet the democracy of a fanatic mob is no guarantee of liberty; you need an open political culture that protects and honors minorities and minority opinions, and Egyptians don’t appear ready for that. The lesson has been a bitter one for those of us who had higher hopes for Egypt, though admittedly there was no way to know for certain the principles Egyptians’ would choose to express until this election. It seems unlikely that liberty will be preserved in a state dominated by the MB and Salafis. It is very unlikely that a new constitution can be both crafted by elected Islamists and ensure the ability of the people to change their minds by kicking the Islamists out if they tire of them. even if this happens, I doubt its terms will be honored; rather, mob rule in the streets will enforce the Islamist rule that has been the dream of the MB since before WWII.

Egypt is in danger of becoming yet another country where Muslims believe if they follow their rituals and traditions exactly then their individual choices will automatically be ethically and unquestionably correct – a sure path to moral and civic corruption. The people willingly yoke the chain that weighs them down. Same old, same old.

Mr. Tadros realizes now what I’ve held for some years now: “[Anti-Semitism] is the glue binding the otherwise incoherent ideological blend, the common denominator among disparate parties.” Too many Egyptians blinded themselves here: if you want to pursue a just and liberal Egypt you have to attack anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist attitudes. The reason is that Israel’s existence and conduct is just and a worthy example to the world, and a society wearing blinders to avoid this also cannot see the path to the just and proper conduct they desire in their hearts for their own society. (That was also the root of the Pilgrims’ success at self-government in America and why Oliver Cromwell allowed the Jews to return to England.)

Had the liberals chosen to attack anti-Semitism as well as or instead of Mubarak their attitudes could have permeated society and the outcome of an election may have been very different, though Mubarak would not have fallen so soon.

Too late now. The best that the libs can hope for is that when the MB and Salafists fail the people – and they will – some sort of democratic process will allow the people to kick them out in favor of liberals who will then face the challenge of delivering services to a starved and desperate people. (H/T: Spengler)

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