We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

A plague on (a minimum of) two of your three houses

I don’t know about my fellow Samizdatistas, but I am having a hard time responding to the latest events in Egypt with anything other than a resigned shrug.

My understanding is that this is not one of those enjoyable melodramas where there are Good Guys and Bad Guys, when we here in the comfortable seats (the ones outside Egypt) can all cheer the Good Guys and jeer the Bad Guys. My understanding is that there are the Bad Guys as in the government, the Good Guys as in the people who would just love to be living in a nice civilised country which respects human rights and where there is dignity and freedom and whatever is the Egyptian for apple pie, with a thriving economy for all etc. (with no Jews or Americans screwing everything up) … and then there are the Other Bad Guys, aka the Muslim Brotherhood, who would like nothing better than to see Egypt reduced to ruins, to take charge of the ruins, and then to ruin the ruins a whole hell of a lot more. The Good Guys are now so angry with the first lot of Bad Guys that they either don’t realise or don’t care that they may be playing right into the hands of the Other Bad Guys.

I would love to be proved wrong. Whether I am proved wrong or not, I would still bet that there are lots of others out here in non-Egypt who now think exactly as I do.

58 comments to A plague on (a minimum of) two of your three houses

  • Well, we’ve not got a very clear picture of what is going on, but there doesn’t seem to be a Khomeini figure in evidence. This doesn’t look like a re-run of Iran to me. We’re going to have to wait and see. The Telegraph are currently claiming some collusion from America- but it doesn’t look like a re-run of Mossadegh either. Every one of these things is different.

    I’m hoping for the best for them at the moment. Whenever there’s a revolution, you never know whether it’ll turn out as well as the American one, or as badly as the French one.

  • Gary

    The Muslim Brotherhood are pretty much a non-factor. It does not look like an Islamist movement at all.

    You have been suckered by the ridiculous “Muslim Brotherhood is behind the protests” propaganda, espoused by Mubarak and the right-wing clowns who spout about freedom but think the brown people must never be allowed to have governments that serve them.

    What Micklethwaite is clearly saying is he only supports democracy if it agrees with him. According to that logic there should be no democracies at all just in case the “wrong” people get into power. Its the same contemptible Fascism espoused by mass murderers like Mao, Stalin, Dulles, Kissinger. Shame on you!

    Mubarak is a utterly contemptible, thuggish, dictator and must be removed, preferably in a coffin, or in the slammer like Videla. I applaud the protesters and am in awe of their amazing courage. Mubarak should sod off to the dictator villas in Saudi Arabia and Miami.

    Why should the Egyptian people have to languish in poverty and oppression just so you and me can have cheap oil prices? The selfishness of some Western commentators is sickening.

    And as for Tony Blair, what a hypocritical scumbag.

  • And in either case people die.

  • Another comment seems to have gotten in the way, but of a kind that can be safely ignored.

  • Curmudgeon Geographer

    Yes, Gary, that is clearly what he is saying.

    Gary, you are precious.

  • Gary

    In among the obnoxious and wholly unjustified abuse and the jumping to all kinds of silly conclusions about my tastes in politics, you make some good points.

    If you are right that the Muslim Brotherhood are “pretty much a non-factor” then I will be highly delighted. It is, however, quite possible that although they may not be a factor in these protests, in the sense of having arranged them, that they may still benefit from them. They may, that is to say, as a result of these events, become a much bigger factor. I hope that doesn’t happen.

    I also very much hope that the Egyptian people do not languish in poverty. You don’t seem to understand the difference between what someone fears, and what he hopes. Definitely not the same, in my case. I hope for peace and prosperity and happiness for Egyptians. I fear the opposite.

    As for democracy, my fear is not so much that it will occur, and do bad things (although it often does), but that it will not occur, and hence do no good things (which it also often does) at all. Or, that if it does occur, it will only last long enough to install some new and even worse despots.

    If democracy could get really dug in in Egypt (as opposed to there just being the one lot of elections won by some despots), that would be very good, I think. But will it? My fear is not.

    Just because many Egyptians (of, as you say, undoubted courage) would now like democracy doesn’t mean they’ll get it.

    We both seem to agree that the Muslim Brotherhood are bad people, and we both hope they won’t do well. But perhaps I have misunderstood you on that.

    We shall see.

  • “What Micklethwaite is clearly saying is he only supports democracy if it agrees with him”

    Why should Brian Micklethwait necessarily give a flying fuck about democracy? Well Brian can answer for himself but certainly as an end in-and-of itself, *I *could not care less about the method the means of collective coercion get applied as I only care about there being less coercion and more liberty… if democracy can indeed deliver that in Egypt, well great, but if not and all that happens is socialists or islamists or any flavour of parasitic statists benefit from an increase in democracy in Egypt, then I am quite happy to see liberty secured at non-democratic bayonet point. It is the ends that matter, not the means.

    Sure, it would be great to see Mubarak go, but just assuming that ‘democracy’ will necessarily lead to a better alternative is naive. It might but democracy is hardly a particularly secure path to liberty.

    And then there is your non sequitur about cheap oil: exactly how much oil do you think Egypt exports to the rest the world? I believe Egypt consumes most of its production itself.

  • Jacob

    The Iran people got a whole lot of democracy out of their Carter supported revolution…

    Revolutions are vastly overrated…

    What is happening in Egypt right now is deeply worrying. All hopes of a good outcome are misplaced.

  • Perry, you rarely get liberty at the point of a bayonet.

    I think here at Samizdata from the past few days there is a definite consensus as to the nature of liberty developing; it can be achieved through some combination of porn, obscure historic computer systems, and something about M3 and M0 that I don’t quite understand yet. And tater tots. I don’t even know what they are, but thanks to Samizdata, I know you can’t have liberty without them.

    Throwing out an evil dictator, that might have something to do with it as well. Me, I’m a bit old fashioned, and I hope Egypt gets a democratic system. At this stage of history, in the autumn of the Middle Period of mankind, it may be the best thing anyone can realistically hope for.

  • Perry, you rarely get liberty at the point of a bayonet.

    I suspect you *only* get it at bayonet point. You seriously think all you have to do it vote for it?

  • John W

    Gary, you may find benefit in reading about Man’s Rights(Link) and The Nature of Government(Link) by courtesy of the Ayn Rand Institute or you may just prefer to watch a video(Link) or two.

  • Alasdair

    Ian B – let’s see …

    Magna Carta – signed cuz of good-will on King John;’s part ? Or at the pointy end of bayonet-equivalents ?

    US getting out from under Lord North’s Privy Council ? Generosity on Lord North’s part ? Or at the pointy end of colonists’ weaponry (and rented mercenaries)?

    Israeli democracy – Allah being the Compassionate and the Merciful ? Or at the pointy end of Irgun and Hagganah and other probably not kosher ‘persuaders’ ? (Numerous times since (and including) 1948)

    European democracy post 1939 – inevitable voluntary stepping-down by Herr Schicklgruber ? Or at the pointy end of actual bayonets and other less-than-gentle persuasions ?

    Are you detecting a pattern, yet ?

  • Samsung

    If the Muslim Brotherhood make a bid for control of Egypt, if Mubarak is eventually toppled, then they may come up against the Egyptian military. The are the REAL power in Egypt. The US has been giving over a billion dollars a year in military aid to Egypt for decades now. If the Brotherhood take over, the US will stop the aid and the Egyptian military stand to lose a great deal. No more top-of-the-range free guns and tanks. No more military might. No more status or influence in their country. I think the top brass in the Egyptian military will make damn sure that the Muslim Brotherhood are kept from ruling Egypt.

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    “One girl told him bluntly: “My mother says that violence never settles anything.”
    “So?” Mr. Dubois looked at her bleakly. “I’m sure the city fathers of Carthage would be glad to know that. Why doesn’t your mother tell them so? Or why don’t you?”
    They had tangled before — since you couldn’t flunk the course, it wasn’t necessary to keep Mr. Dubois buttered up. She said shrilly, “You’re making fun of me! Everybody knows that Carthage was destroyed!”
    “You seemed to be unaware of it,” he said grimly. “Since you do know it, wouldn’t you say that violence had settled their destinies rather thoroughly? However, I was not making fun of you personally; I was heaping
    scorn on an inexcusably silly idea — a practice I shall always follow. Anyone who clings to the historically untrue — and thoroughly immoral — doctrine that `violence never settles anything’ I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and of the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms.”"

    Just a bit of Heinlein, “Starship Troopers”

    Cheers

  • Gary

    As regards Iran 1979, the Shah was a corrupt thug installed by the US at the behest of BP.
    Iran was a democracy, but Britain and America decided they preferred to have a dictatorship, f*** the Iranian people was their mantra. When the secular (and pro-American) Mossadegh was ousted purely for being a bit of a lefty (he worked for free, something which no US politician would ever be selfless enough to do), the US killed Iranian democracy. The CIA eagerly supported Islamists in Iran in the 1950s, so it can hardly complain about the fruits of its own stupidity. Ultimately, blame for Iran should be leveled at the Hitler-loving Dulles brothers.

    There are and have been so many dictators backed by the US that for any US politician to talk about “freedom” is a sick joke. Democracy comes from the native people, not from foreigners, certainly not from the amoral sluts who work at the CIA.

    American foreign policy is, and has been for over 100 years, Communist in nature; it is based on the belief that the US State should interfere in and decide the lives of people in sovereign nations.

  • Jacob

    here I detect an interesting new trend:
    “American foreign policy is, and has been for over 100 years, Communist in nature;”

    When people want to call something a bad name the say “Communist” or “Marxist”, without really understanding the meaning of those words.
    Up until now the term usually used in such circumstances was “Nazi” or “Fascist”.
    That trend should be applauded.
    As to Gary: American foreign policy is mostly idiotic. That doesn’t make it “Communist”.

  • Jacob

    About freedom coming at the end of a bayonet:
    Seems indeed that in most cases freedom came after a violent revolution. The trouble is that the inverse is not true, not every violent revolution leads to freedom, mostly it leads to a worse regime than before.

    For example: I would applaud the toppling of the current Iranian regime by a revolution (the only way possible), with with or without CIA help. (Probably without because CIA’s incompetence). Any regime that replaced the current one in Iran can only be better.

    The same cannot be said about Egypt.
    Mubarak isn’t despotic or corrupt beyond the normal, on the other hand he isn’t an aggressive murderous lunatic like many other leaders in the region are and were.

  • Not only have the Islamists been caught completely on the back foot both here and in Tunisia, but also all the loudest calls for mutual Christian/Muslim solidarity have been coming from the rebels. The vacuum afterwards will be dangerous, yes; but the old regime was not improving matters.

    When the only dissent a government doesn’t quite dare to crush utterly is the fanatical, and then it turns around to position itself as the only bulwark against the fanatics, the question is not whether a diffuse, non-fanatical rebel movement is playing into the fanatics’ hands by running out of patience too soon. The question is whether they have left it too late. At least this way there is a chance, and a much better one than I’d have thought a week ago.

    Yes, people will die, and that is very dreadful. But people have been dying under Mubarak, and in nasty ways, and for fundamentally frivolous reasons. Revolutions are indeed wars, and therefore circle Hell. But wars are not improved by being one-way, top-down, and perpetual, either.

    Sometimes, out of weakness and desperation and no hope of either glory or utopia at all, the only thing to do is to find a strength and a moment to fight back.

    I fear what may come when Cheap Rameses falls down, too. Some of us have much more direct reasons to fear than mine, and it would be presumptuous to expect them to jump for joy just now, even if the choice is only between this now and a worse thing down the line. But it would be a shame to shrug at life and liberty in their hour, just because people will inevitably do something bad with both sooner or later, and neither have ever ended in anything but tears.

    Brian, I can’t say you’ll be proved wrong, because I see an ominously good chance that you won’t. Yet – twice in a week, what I and many better-informed folk have seen, has fallen miserably short of events. In places kept so brutally hushed-up for so long, between the bombast of the kinglets and the rantings of the least prophets – I wonder how much else none of us has been hearing.

  • Samsung,
    The same point could have been made about Iran in the ’70s.

    Anyway you are all missing the point. I’ve just been to the shop and those tired old organs of the Press: The Times, Guardian, Telegraph etc were leading with Egypt. Everything but the Star missed the real story. Apparently Jordan (Katie Price, not the country) is at war with Posh.

    You’re all fiddling whilst ‘sleb-land burns. For Shame Mr Micklethwait. For shame!

  • Perry seemed to be offering a choice between democracy and bayonets. That was the context of my statement.

    With liberty dwindlng in the west, its supposed heartland, I doubt the Egyptians are going to be setting up an anarcho-capitalist ultra-libertopia in the next week, so a democracy free of the dictator and his brutal statzpolizei would be a good step in the right direction, so far as I’m concerned.

  • A great comment from Gray, especially if the call for a Muslim-Christian alliance is true. My remark about people dying may have been superfluous, but I feel the occasional need to remind people nonetheless. In any case, it shouldn’t imply my automatic support or rejection of a particular course of action.

    Jacob, you have a very good point in your comment about revolutions. Still:

    Mubarak isn’t despotic or corrupt beyond the normal, on the other hand he isn’t an aggressive murderous lunatic like many other leaders in the region are and were.

    It is very true from our point of view, but apparently not from the Egyptian people’s. It is their country, and they should be free to kick the bastard out – even at the risk of him being replaced by a different bastard, or even a worse one.

  • Yes,
    Let’s hope Gray is right. A sensible Egypt would be a boon to the world. It could of course all go Pete Tong but let’s hope for once. We did back in ’89.

    My one take on North Africa’s current Barnabus Rubble is that both the Tunisian despot and his Egyptian equivalent have been in power for a very long time.

  • so a democracy free of the dictator and his brutal statzpolizei would be a good step in the right direction, so far as I’m concerned.

    It is only a step in the right direction if democracy is not a precursor to something just as bad. The presumption that democracy = good in-and-of-itself is the dubious point I am contesting… if there is a critical mass of people who will vote for a more liberal order, well fine, if not, well not fine at all.

    My point is that if the net sum of liberty is increased by democracy in Egypt, I am all for it. But if the net sum of liberty is decreased by democacy, and it does not take much imagination to see all manner of plausible scenarios where that might be the case, then an army junta replacing Mubarak might more likely to increase the net sum of liberty.

    My contention is that democracy per se is just a tool, not an end in and of itself, and making a fetishist of it is a bad idea when liberty, not politics, is the objective.

  • when liberty, not politics, is the objective.

    Most often (although luckily not always) the objective is ‘liberty for me, but not for thee’ – which is another way of saying ‘politics’.

  • This story says that there are people in Egypt who at least want something very good for their country.

    And this says the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t as bad as I fear it to be.

  • And see also this, about how the Labour Party is linked to Mubarak.

  • Muslims protect and greet Orthodox Christians leaving the church

    Not to sneer at this at all, but it only goes to show that Christians are in dire need of protection from the overwhelming numbers of people who don’t want something good for their country. It reminds me of my grandmother telling me how some gentiles stood at her fathers front door to protect him during the pogroms, and my only point is that the pogroms did happen, and that they defined history in a very crucial way.

    As to MB – please.

    The Egyptian Brotherhood renounced violence years ago

    Was it before or after they assassinated Sadat?

    Sorry Brian. I’m sure there are very many very good and decent people in Egypt (I met many of them while there), but they don’t seem to be influential enough politically.

  • Jacob

    Also a Christian church was bombed recently(Link), with 21 dead.
    Maybe they renounced violence since.

  • Well Jacob, hate to be the devil’s advocate here, but we don’t know who did that.

  • Kim du Toit

    “The Good Guys are now so angry with the first lot of Bad Guys that they either don’t realise or don’t care that they may be playing right into the hands of the Other Bad Guys.”

    And as usual with the Middle East, the contents of each set are interchangeable.

    John Derbyshire had the truth of it:

    “The Middle East contains three hundred million people, and most of them are crazy as coots.”

  • Tedd

    What Perry said (January 29, 2011 12:04 AM).

    But this:

    You don’t seem to understand the difference between what someone fears, and what he hopes.

    is a brilliant observation! I’ve noticed that annoying tendency among quite a few people ever since the “fear” meme in politics came along, but I could never quite put my finger on it.

    Not that I disagree with the idea that fear-driven politics is bad and possibly getting worse, per Frank Furedi. Just that the meme, like all psychology-based ideas in politics, is severely over-used and abused these days.

  • RRS

    The issues are costs of food, cooking oils and cooking fuels, not “human dignity.”

    Among the roots of the causes of costs is the U S ethanol “policy,” just recently expanded to redirect even more of grain resources into subsidized auto fuels.

    Want to see a major blow at food inflation. Have the U S Congress declare and end to, or at least a 4 year moratorium on ethanol requirements in fuel blending.

    That could produce an almost 35% immediate surge of grains into the food supply.

    Then permit import of Brazillian ethanol (sugar will rise, even more).

    Though they may trudge about petulantly from time to time, people with comfortable stomachs do not run riot.

  • John Blake

    Difficult to avoid a sense of weary cynicism here. Over the entire post-WWII era from c. 1946, Egypt has essentially subsisted on U.S. grain imports supplied by Congress as subsidies to midwest farm States (Kansas’ Senator Bob Dole was notorious for this). Through Suez in 1956, recurrent revanchist attacks on Israel, Uncle Sugar has maintained Nasser, Mubarak et al. as panjandrums in Pharaonic style.

    Feckless and irresponsible to the Muslim nth degree, our current peculating Administration is no more capable of advancing U.S. interests, dealing with Mideast reality, than of speechifying without a teleprompter.

  • Alisa, I’m as sure as I am of anything else in this that the various calls for Christian-Muslim solidarity are true, since they make sense in context and are coming from multiple sources. What I can’t know is what proportion of the conversation they really represent, or how successful they’ll wind up. It doesn’t take so many arsonists to light a fire, but it takes a lot more firefighters to put it out again. And the general record recently… hasn’t been a good one.

    Then again, the general record recently does not seem to inspire popular approval.

    On the hopeful side, so far all the aggro I’m hearing about has been (a) directed at or by the government, or (b) committed by opportunistic looters. Allegedly, impromptu neighbourhood committees are springing up to defend against the latter, the police being either otherwise occupied or uninterested. That sort of thing might discourage other styles of freelance thuggery, too. Fingers crossed!

    A general Note: my internet connection is weird and intermittent at present, so my responsiveness may come and go even more fitfully than usual, until I’ve sorted whatever-it-is out.

  • Laird

    I haven’t yet seen any discussion about the effect of the Egyptian unrest upon Iran. Hasn’t Egypt’s military been the primary force keeping Iran’s expansionary impulses in check? If the Egyptian military falls under the control of Islamists, or merely becomes preoccupied with maintaining order within its own borders, won’t Iran be released to invade its neighbors, and maybe become even more belligerent toward Israel? I fear that this would lead inexorably to even greater US involvement in the Middle East, which is not a happy prospect. Anyone here have any thoughts?

  • Well, I’m just some twat with an internet connection, but I can’t see anything significantly “Islamist” about this. It looks very strongly like about as genuine a popular uprising as one can realistically hope for. I think the mealy mouthed bullshit coming from western governments are infuriating; they’re clearly hoping the dictator Mubarak can stay in power with a bit of “reform”. Pathetic and disgraceful.

    I am at heart a ranting revolutionary. At an admittedly purely emotional level, I am praying for success for the revolutionaries, and indeed share their understandable anger at their being pelted with US-made tear gas cannisters.

    On a more general level, this whole thing makes me think a lot about the idea of “foreign policy”. Government foreign policy used to be a pragmatic thing, but in the post-war period it became a committed attempt to influence the development of foreign lands. All we have learned from that is that trying to plan foreign countries is an even more hopeless exercise than socialist planning of one’s own. People and societies are just too unpredictable. Has there ever been a cunning foreign policy plan that has produced the expected outcome? States in the post-war period thought that planning was easy; it turned out they couldn’t even run a coal industry or railway industry. And yet they persist in the conceit that they can manage far away countries and their people with judicious prodding this way and that.

    “We” bear a lot of the blame for the mess in the Middle East; particularly the catastrophically bad and utterly unjust ousting of Mossadegh which is so directly responsible for the condition of Iran today.

    I pray to Gawd that Mubarak falls, and the people of Egypt get a chance, at least, to make their country a decent place to live. This isn’t a time for reform. It is clearly one of those historic junctures when only a revolution will suffice.

    Vive la revolution!

  • Paul Marks

    The Muslim Brotherhood were not in at the start of the protests – but they are moving in now.

    One (major) problem is that major governments (especially the one occupying the Whitehouse) think in terms of the regime (the NDP) and the Islamists.

    Every other political force in Egypt gets shut out – and those considered of no importance by the outside world, tend (eventually) to be undermined at home also.

    “No one is taking any notice of you – you are not important”.

    Already the BBC has started to soften opinion up – they have gone from factual reporting (there was some) about the nonIslamist civil society groups – to……

    Yes you guessed – “the Muslim Brotherhood is not really extreme…..”

    Oh dear – the establishment left getting it wrong (yet again). And that is nice interpretation (the nasty interpretation would be that they know exactly what the Muslim Brotherhood is and are so blinded by their hatred of the West that they actually want them to come to power to lead Egypt into the death-to-the-West camp).

    By the way PLEASE DO ME A FAVOUR PEOPLE.

    The protests in Tunisia started because a man burned himself to death in protest at not being allowed to sell fruit and veg (without a permit).

    It would be nice to think that at least (whatever regime comes to power eventually) at least this permit law would be repealed – but I doubt it.

    Whether it is the “ex” socialist regimes of Tunisia and Egypt (both ruling parties were still members of the Socialist International – as far as I know) or the Islamists, or some nice “liberal” (social democratic) government……..

    It will most likely keep the endless permits and licenses.

  • IanB:

    States in the post-war period thought that planning was easy; it turned out they couldn’t even run a coal industry or railway industry. And yet they persist in the conceit that they can manage far away countries and their people with judicious prodding this way and that.

    This is an excellent insight which ought to follow all foreign policy operators and pundits around everywhere, like a yappy and persistent terrier. May I quote it elsewhere, wherever it will do the most good?

    Right behind you with your wish: a chance is all any of us get ever, and I hope the Egyptians will grab theirs and run with it. Somewhere good in the upshot, I also most dearly hope; but chance comes first, always.

  • Jacob

    I think Ian is a little naive with his revolutionary zeal. It’s all very romantic, but ignores reality.
    As regimes come in the Middle East, Mubarak’s wasn’t at all bad. It was a mild and benign (mostly) despotism, and not overly corrupt either. Above all – not aggressive.
    Chances are that what will replace him will be worse. At least 75% chance, IMO.
    Of course, nobody lives forever and some change was due anyway.
    The sight of this revolution doesn’t fill my heart with joy, like it fills Ian’s.

  • Gray, please feel free :)

    Jacob, right now this feels to me like a Berlin Wall moment in history. This might be the point when the Arab world finds a way forward. I can’t accept that people should accept repressive government because it’s not quite as bad as the even worse one next door.

  • John W

    Average adult IQ in Egypt is borderline retarded – I shudder to think what kind of democratic government you can expect from an electorate of 5 year old children.

  • Laird

    Your own Telegraph is reporting that the US is secretly backing the uprising, while at the same time our redoubtable Vice President, Joe Biden, is asserting that Mubarak is “not a dictator” and the he shouldn’t resign. I wonder: are we playing a deep double game here, backing both sides so we can cozy up to the winner, or is this simply another example of gross incompetence, with one hand being unaware of what the other is doing? My guess is the latter.

  • Well, the Telegraph article seems to me to be somewhat hyperbolic (and, as I said in the comments section there, rather unwise too, but that’s beside the point). The “backing” seems quite minor. The headline almost makes it sound like an old-fashioned CIA-run coup, whereas they basically just greased the wheels a bit for an activist and pressured Mubarak to free some dissidents.

  • Rich Rostrom

    1) Under Bush, the U.S. had a small fund to support democratic reformers in Egypt. Obama shut it off, and also let contacts with the opposition lapse. He is now desperately trying to pose as a friend of the opposition, but they know better. Remember Obama’s state visit to Egypt only 18 months ago. Biden, in his senility, was simply bit late hearing the new signals.

    2) The rebellion is not Islamist per se, but Islamic religiosity is very strong among the rebels, as shown by their pausing for mass prayer breaks. Islamist sentiment has been growing in Egypt for decades, and the Islamists are the most dedicated and organized external force.

    3) Most Egyptians hate Israel and would repudiate the peace. The Islamists are fanatically anti-Israel, which adds much to their mass support. But the reality (which the army understands) is that fighting Israel is extremely foolish and would lose them $billions in U.S. aid. So an open Moslem Brotherhood regime is therefore excluded.

    The most probable outcome (IMO) is a loose coalition of the military, the MB, and some allegedly clean reformers. There will be a selective crackdown on corruption, combined with increased Islamic puritanism. Relations with Israel will go as cold as possible without breaking the U.S. golden cord.

  • Jaded Libertarian

    The western media seems to struggle to grasp that when Muslims protest against their governments they are frequently rioting because they want LESS freedom, not more.

    In the Muslim world protests will arise because they believe the government isn’t Islamic enough, isn’t authoritarian enough and isn’t brutal enough.

    Time and again the MSM eggs on rioters in the middle east, only to act surprised when they thrust some despotic imam into power.

  • peter

    There seems to be a general attitude that we’re spectators of this ongoing drama.
    From where I sit, Morocco’s a blur on the horizon on a clear day. Well within rowing boat distance. If this goes tits up we could have some serious refugee influx here in Spain. The local economy’s a basket case- the official unemployment rate’s 20%, real rate’s much higher-Government policy is to do a good impression of a rabbit caught in the headlights.
    Add a good dose of highly unpopular North Africans to our problems & something very nasty could kick off down here. And spread through open borders all up Europe.

  • The Russian revolution did not at first include the Communists.

    While the people who read the books sat around those big polished tables and talked and talked and talked, Lenin scampered back, dug in his heels and took over.

    Those nice diplomatic sorts will want to compromise and negotiate with the Muslim Brotherhood. I shall allude to another movie here and say that they cannot be reasoned with and will not stop until freedom is DEAD.

    Totalitarians use the ratchet. They compromise on what they care little about. They get the opposite side to compromise on “mere trifles” that result in the very fundamental basis of that stance being fatally undermined and emasculated.

    Unless Egypt is very very very lucky, the future is not good for them.

    As another poster said, this all kicked off over someone committing suicide (oh, if other so called martyrs would act in such a way – i.e. without killing loads of bystanders…) because of a lack of a permit and one must presume, the palm oil needed to gain one.

    If we are not able to secure a Great Repeal from our new bunch of charlatans and soap salesmen, why should we expect it in Egypt?

  • Paul Marks

    Written whilst listening to the Hayek programme on BBC Radio 4.

    Gary is right about one thing – the old regime was useless.

    Sadat questioned the socialism of Nasser – but (contrary to what is often said) he never really overturned it.

    M. (a Soviet trained military man) does not have an economic idea in his head – which is better tnan having bad ideas, but not when you should be overturning a statist system.

    M. does not know what to do – so he has basically done nothing FOR THIRTY YEARS.

    To give people an example about how bad things are…..

    Let us say you manage to grow something on your penny packet sized farm in Egypt (the one that Nasser gave your forefathers -when he confiscated the estates of the evil landlords).

    You can not get the market yourself and NO ONE ELSE REALLY CAN EITHER.

    More than half the food GOES ROTTEN before it gets to the customer.

    Think about how messed up distribution must be for that happen.

    Of course the government also tries to keep the prices of basic food (and other commodites) down – by subsidies and regulations.

    That worked so well in Ancient Rome.

    Will the new regime (whatever it is) deal with the basic statism of the economic system?

    Well post 1979 Iran did NOT.

    The Iranian Emperor managed to alienate everyone.

    He nationalized the oil industry (Gary please note).

    But that was not all he did.

    He broke up the big estates. He set up vast government schemes – the “White Revolution”.

    And he imposed price control and endless regulations. And fiat money inflation.

    The landowners, the merchants, everyone who might be expected to support the monarchy – was smashed by the Imperial govenment.

    So when it was in peril (faced by Islamic nutters) – nobody stepped forward to defend it.

    “But the Americans…”

    They betrayed the Emperor – Carter wanted a different regime (well he got one….).

    “They made him Emperor”.

    No, his father was Emperor before him (it was the father who took power – and made himself Emperor).

    “The 1950s democracy”.

    Actually that was just a brief pro Soviet government – led by a man who also wanted to make himself Emperor.

    “But oil”

    Did people miss the bit when I pointed out that the Emperor (the one who was overthrown in 1979) nationalized the oil business.

    This “the struggle against Communism is really a cover for supporting big business” is older than the Ludwig Von Mises Insitute – it goes back to General Butler.

    Butler was a hero – a great soldier.

    But he was also Cong.

    This “detail” is often overlooked when people cite the hero head of the Marine Corps.

    “But a great warrior can not be a traitor”.

    Benedict Arnold.

    The evidence happens to be plain.

    Many regimes have nationalized American companies.

    They normally are NOT overthrown by American action.

    Why not?

    Because they are not pro Marxist.

    When America acts it has NORMALLY (not always) been because a regime is loyal to another great power (such as the Soviet Union) and collectivist “armed doctrine” (to use Burke’s words) – not because of commercial interests.

    Indeed some American Presidents (starting from Woodrow Wilson) have actually encouraged greater statism in Latin America. Even using force AGAINST leaders who tried to DEFEND American private investments.

    American policy in the 1960s was actually to support the non Marxist LEFT (both in Latin America and elsewhere).

    It was just found that the nonMarxist left (in Chile and elsewhere) led to economic collapse – opening the door for the Marxist left.

    The policy of “reform” (in the statist “Progressive” sense) tends to backfire.

  • Are you saying you support the toppling of Mossadegh, Paul?

  • joel

    When has one of this mass uprisings resulted in a good outcome? They always seem to result in a greater tyranny.

  • Paul Marks

    Ian B.

    At the time or with the benefit of hidesight?

    At the time I most likely would have – the evidence that he had allied with pro Soviet elements was strong (that is enough for a death sentance as far as I am concerned – it was, and is, a globel war with the Marxists).

    However, with hidesight no – because the young Emperor proved to be a total tosser.

    A better policy might well have been to speak to Mossadegh on the following lines…..

    “Sir – we know that your family has at least as good a claim to the throne as the person presently sitting on it (whose father just took the throne by force)”, but if you choose a Republic that is , of course, your choice” .

    “However, these allies of yours who helped you win the election…..”

    “You are wise man – you know they are not really your friends, they will betray you and your family….. they will destroy all the traditional great families such as your own….”.

    “Should you feel the need to defend your family against these false allies you can count upon our support – our TOTAL support Your Excellancy”.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way one of the most interesting CHANGES since the 1950s has been the defacto alliance between the Marxists and SOME (not all) Islamists.

    Both Sunni and Shia Islamists.

    On paper it should be impossible – after all Marxism is athiest.

    But just as with Marxist “Christianity” (the “Liberation Theology” and “Collective Salvation” put into a black context by Cone and passed on to J. Wright – who passed it on to Barack Obama) the Comrades have working hard to make the “impossible” a reality.

    Not just in the Hyde Park area of Chicago – where leading Marxists and leading Islamists got on really well (going to each other’s houses – giveing each other money and jobs, often from the charitable trusts they had taken control of, money left by well meaning but rather innocent dead Republican businessmen), but AROUND THE WORLD.

    Something called “Islamic Socialism” has grown up – for example it is the ideology of the “Party of God” in Lebanon, and the President of Iran is deeply sympathetic to it.

    Indeed he and Chevez often chat about it – even though Chevez is not a Muslim.

    In the Sunni world the Muslim Brotherhood (the people CNN and the BBC say are so cute and nice) have formed alliances with various Marxists.

    All good fun – even if Glenn B. is rather horrified to be given this information.

    By the way I think the Comrades are going to be in for a surprise at some point.

    They think they are manipulating Islam, just as the manipulated stupid Christians (Comrade Barack is about as much as Christian as you are Ian, but then you know that).

    However, I think the Islamists are manipulating them – and will turn on them at some point.

    Of course with these various tribes of orcs it is hard to predict exactly who will turn on who and when.

    And (again of course) they all want us dead (or enslaved).

    We live in interesting times.

  • With the news that Jordan’s cabinet has been sacked, it occurred to me this morning that the economic pressure from the global financial house of cards falling, might turn out to be a good thing, as a rotten regime or two gets replaced with something more competent. Here’s hoping.

  • Darryl: won’t happen.

  • Alas, Alisa, I fear you are correct.

  • Yeah, Darryl, would love to be wrong there – my neighborhood, after all…

  • Chuck6134

    Yeah, damned if we (US/West) do and damned if we don’t…

    I actually thought our chief moron was doing fine by laying low like he did during Iran’s election problems but then he had to go and open his mouth…Again he proved that he is as deep as a puddle…

    Maybe it’s because Egypt is a (former) US friend and they can be dumped on without fear of media blowback?

  • Paul Marks

    Chuck6134

    Yes.

    In fact the MSM are even saying the Muslim Brotherhood are fluffy.

    And, of course, I denouncing as crazy anyone who points to the links between the Islamic Socialists (such as the MB) and Marxist and anarchocommunalist (red flag and black flag) groups in the United States itself.

    Of course a certain perso (1700 Eastern Standard Time – right now in fact) will publish all the evidence – regardless of the consequences to himself.

    I still find that very hard to get used to.

    I am not supposed to go and watch the evidence on television every day.

    I am supposed to shake my bony fist at the screen shouting “why do they not tell the truth – THEY HAVE BEEN SENT THE EVIDENCE”.

    Errrr – I can not do that any more.