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Congratulations Egypt, and Shame on You

Larry Derfner writes on the progressive Israeli blog +972:

    “Look at what ‘people power’ just did in Cairo. It overthrew the first elected president in Egypt’s history — a year after he got elected. It was a military coup — backed deliriously by the people. And look at what’s happening now — the army has arrested the elected president, Mohammed Morsi, and all the other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is calling the shots again with its old buddies from the pre-revolution era, who are back in business. And “the people,” the millions who filled Tahrir Square this week, are triumphant. They willed the return of military dictatorship to Egypt, after willing its downfall two-and-a-half years ago.
    “And good people everywhere are supposed to sympathize with them. Sorry. This is demoralizing.”

I feel about the same way. I didn’t like Morsi. He was incompetent, clannish, authoritarian, failed to address the economic and security problems of Egypt — and most importantly, he began alienating potential supporters almost from the moment he took power, rather than broadening his coalition as he would have had to, to tackle the enormous problems facing Egypt in this time of upheaval.

Yet despite this, I feel sad, even ashamed, that Egypt’s “revolutionaries” have called on the military to step in and fix things for them, rather than sticking things out through the political process, and organizing for parliamentary elections in the fall. If Morsi’s support had really withered to the point that it seems obvious that it has, then wouldn’t the opposition parties have won a strong parliamentary majority, and have been able to set the country on a new, more progressive course? Instead, we have a complete end-running of the electoral process, just one year after Egypt chose its first democratically elected leader in its 5000-year history!

The argument is that the 22 million signatures claimed by the youth movement Tamarrod (“Revolt”), and the massive crowds on June 30 who outnumbered even those opposing Mubarak in his last days, amounted to a popular referendum against Morsi that obliged the army to act. Indeed, given the way tensions have been increasing among Egyptians over the past weeks and months, perhaps there was no time to waste, and no other way to avoid a far more explosive crisis.

And yet — and yet, I can’t help but wonder how it all came to this. Was it really so impossible for either side to reach out to the other, and make compromises that would permit the different factions to work together, sharing the same political space since they are all Egyptians, until the people could once again be consulted in elections, on schedule and in due time?

So, congratulations to the Egyptian people for toppling your second dictator — and shame on you for how it went down. Let’s hope this is the last time you settle your differences in this way! May those who claim to be democrats stick to democracy from now on.

Comments

Comment from Fatima Saddiqi
Time: July 5, 2013, 10:35

Rien de bon à attendre ni du côté des militaires, ni de celui des religieux. Deux catégories à bannir du pouvoir.

Comment from yahia
Time: July 5, 2013, 18:24

This discourse you’re holding on “democracy” is outraging (“stick to democracy from now on”) because it’s filled with a somewhat totalitarian ideology, selfproclaimed as nonideological because it’s being taken as a value in itself, which it’s not, and instead of which other values matter.

The “democracy” ideology is for instance much worse than the religious ones because, while the latter support their justifications by referring to an external entity like gods, democratic ideology pretends to have its “raison d’être” within itself.

Comment from Marcel Côté
Time: July 5, 2013, 19:33

Yahia, could you explain what you mean when you say democracy is an ideology, and in particular, a “somewhat totalitarian” ideology, because frankly, I don’t see it.

When I use the term democracy, I simply mean an electoral system based on one person, one vote, in which the people are consulted on the overall direction of the country and no views are (pre-)excluded as too extreme, whether salafist, communist, nationalist, anarchist, neo-liberal or whatever.

Democracy does have one other condition, which is that all parties agree to live with the result, win or lose, until the next election — and there is also the understanding that you can’t crush your opponents, but have to share space with them and respect their rights, whether it’s you or them in the majority.

I don’t see democracy as an ideology any more than, say, the rules of football are an ideology — the ideologies are the teams that compete. However, perhaps you feel that certain types of “teams” are excluded from a democratic system, and that’s where your idea of totalitarianism comes in. So if that’s what you mean, I’d appreciate it if you could spell it out.

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