Monthly Archives: July 2013

It’s the opposite of a coup

I was reading The Economist’s lament (Has the Arab Spring Failed?) about the military’s ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that this was a grave step backwards for Eqypt. Ironically, I was reading this on July 14, aka Bastille Day. Because it seems our venerated Western Democracies are so old that we’ve become a bit senile and have forgotten our own violent births.
Now I know there’s a lot of confusion about what exactly is going on, and I’m used to a population that just fumbles for gut reactions (military bad, voting good) because they’re so far away from actually being able to understand politics. But when established journalists start reporting with this lack of understanding, it’s cause for concern.
So let’s do a quick chronology of events, so we can see where we’re really at, shall we?
The ouster of Mubarrak was caused by a truly popular groundswell – a SECULAR groundswell. Of this there can be no denial. The secularists in Egypt sacrificed for that revolution and they made it. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood was sitting on the sidelines, waiting for their moment to take advantage of it.
The details of their rise to power since then are a bit fuzzy, but it sounds like they used every shady and intimidating trick in the book to ascend to power, and once they did so, to solidify their absolute control of society. That meant pushing the secularists out.
That’s when the military stepped in. On the side of the secular revolutionists.
Now I understand this is a novel concept. When we hear the word “coup”, it conjures up connotations of Pinochet and Franco, who rose to power AGAINST a popular groundswell of leftists. But let’s continue.
The military took over, and 33 MILLION people came out in support of the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Since then, I’ve seen report after report of the military shooting demonstrators. Who are these demonstrators? Not the secularists. They’re supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, sore at their loss of power. This is to be expected, and is a necessary part of Egypt’s transition to a modern democracy we can all be proud of.
Why are we wringing our hands about this? This is why I bring up our own senility.
Democracy isn’t absolute, and it doesn’t come about by a simple ballot. Society has all sorts of anti-democratic forces lurking about – monarchists, aristocrats, slaveholders, and yes, Islamists and clerics. These people are removed only by force, not by the vote.
Remember Cromwell? Of course you don’t, it was only a 40 year Reign of Terror that history books calmly gloss over in that staid progression of Kings. I can name the American Revolution, or better yet the French Revolution, but I imagine you get my point by now.
This is what’s happening in Egypt today. We would to well to tip our hats and nod in their direction, and rally for the secularists to come to power and push for Egyptian society to move in the democratic direction it needs to go. This is the only roadmap to democracy.
UPDATE: And another thing. If we were to adopt this lens, we would see just how much positive there is going on in Egypt right now. What’s really missing in all this is some numbers, and this is where journalists should be applying their resources. How numerous are the pro-Morsi supporters? How numerous are the secularists?
I’m only gleaning this information from random wide-shots of the demonstrations, and so my vision is a bit fuzzy. But what I’m seeing is the pro-Morsi demonstrators are pretty small compared to the secularists. They’re just far better organized, since they’ve been around for many decades already. This is why they need to be repressed. They’re old weeds that are choking off the new society Egypt wants to become.