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Ear to the Ground

Questioning ‘An Unreal Government’

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Posted on Dec 24, 2011
Maggie Osama (CC-BY)

Protesters demonstrate in downtown Cairo in April of this year.

A brutal and resilient junta. The myth of prevailing revolutionary secularism. An exhausted liberal class that risks capitulation and oblivion. In this uncommonly thoughtful reflection published at The New Inquiry, journalist Matt Pearce shines light on the flies in the ointment of the Egyptian uprising one year after its inception. —ARK

The New Inquiry:

Look first at the body of violence in Cairo and then at the clumsy and defensive government press conferences that follow, and you’ll see the organizational contradiction of killing without quite meaning to kill, but also without quite being too sorry about it. It was on display in January, in October, in November, and now, in December. There’s no particular reason to believe it will stop. The ruling military still clings to proposed supraconstitutional powers that would still trump any elected parliament, and the youth still cling to the streets in outrage. The junta has not shown that it will become less violent toward them over time. This is nothing new. It’s the continuation of a regime without coherence since 1952 with a million excuses for its own existence: First a force for Pan-Arabism and then a client state for America; first an administrator of socialism, then an administrator of the free market; first a transitional government paving a path to democracy, but ultimately, headed toward nepotism. The military now prides itself as the guardian of the January 25 revolution, once more carrying the torch toward liberty while aggravating the authoritarian circumstances that made revolution necessary in the first place.

It’s an unreal government, and like most authoritarian regimes, it’s upheld solely for the sake of having and keeping power. In philosophical terms, the continuation of means has, in practice, become the state’s only ends, no matter how incoherent.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, December 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

From the article link:

In the best-case scenario, the country’s activists brace themselves for an apocalyptic showdown with the regime that may never come while a real democracy passes them by. In the worst case, they stand helplessly on the precipice of watching the Arab Spring’s greatest success wither into its greatest disappointment, victims of history and of their own disorganization. This is the aftermath of their beautiful revolution.

Stunning. In the latest round of election the liberal party got only 7% of the vote. They certainly could have used a longer campaining season and developed further organization, which would perhaps boost them to 10% or maybe 15% tops. Unfortunately even the hopeful figure is dwarfed by what the Muslim Brotherhood has in its corner, and not only that, but the hopeful figure doesnt approach the votes that went to the more hardline Islamist party which considers democracy an encumbrance.

It is time to face facts. Lets examine the information which was available for years. Perhaps you werent open to doing this before, but you might be more willing to wonder about it now. Let us study a poll taken of Egyptian people while Mubarak was still firmly in power. Better late than never:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/108724/Iranians-Egyptians-Turks-Contrasting-Views-Sharia.aspx

Take note of the very small segment of Egyptian people who responded: “Sharia should not be a source of legislation.” It was so small it didnt get labeled in the graph. Lets say its 3%.

Now look at the group that says “Sharia should be a source of legislation, but not the only source” and we see 24%.

Now consider those who said, “Sharia should be the ONLY source of legislation” and we see a staggering 64%. More staggering because this was in defiance of Mubarak. We can be very sure that the 64% is quite solid.

Now I want to compare this to the recent real election results. First round of voting: the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party garnered 36.6 percent. The Al-Nur Party, a more hardline Islamist group, captured 24.4 percent. Between the two of them thats 61% of the votes.

Now we go to the second round of voting: It is estimated that The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party won 39 per cent of votes. The Al-Nur party, which represents the more hardline brand of Salafi Islam has claimed over 30 per cent of votes in the lists. The total is about 69% this time.

Surprised? You shouldnt be. Remember, we had a poll in 2007 showing that 64% of the population wanted Sharia as the ONLY basis of legislation. The elections express that desire.

Let me take this one step further. Not only shouldnt you be surprised at these election results, you should have seen it coming. Yes, back in the heady early days of Arab Spring, you should have realized that democracy in Egypt wasnt going to bring about what the radicals(anarchists, communists, socialists) hoped for. You should have realised that Egypt is a very conservative and religious country, and religion and conservatism to them equals Sharia law as the only source of legislation.

The only way to avoid this outcome would have been for the radical faction to co-opt the police and military, and rule against the will of the majority.

Leftists banging on drums at OWS calling for “Revolution!”, or chanting “This is what democracy looks like!” have no clue what revolution would lead to, or even what democracy really means, and that the two are not the same thing at all.

At some point those who support OWS have to figure out whether their movement is really for democracy or if it exists solely to empower a small faction of radicals. I suspect that the radicals of the OWS Central Committee know very well which of those options they are steering for. The lower level supporters can imagine whatever they want since OWS keeps everything pretty nebulous, but the supporters really deserve to know.

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