Skip to main content

People Power

The advent of still further protest in Cairo, which has now sparked a military coup, might be seen as just another of the convulsions shaking the Islamic world. The Islamist government in Ankara continues to face public outcry and even in Iran, the election of a relative moderate is seen as a significant defeat for the ultra-conservative "supreme leader" of the Islamic Republic. It is easy to dismiss these convulsions as just another example of the instability of the Islamic world in general and the Near and Middle East in particular.

Some wiseacres now suggest that the revolutions in North Africa have been a wrong turn, and that the dictatorships that preceded them were somehow better, since they provided stability and order as opposed to chaos and violence. Personally I find it quite hard to share this opinion. The fact is that the largely military regimes provided the stability of the grave and were long past their sell-by date. The fact that such violence has exploded after the fall of Mubarak et al is a sign of the total failure- not success- of those regimes- they lacked the flexibility to deal with rapid social change with any response beyond repression. Sooner or later repression fails- as it has across the Arab world over the past four years.

As messy and difficult as they are to achieve, the only solutions for the problems of the Arab world are political ones. Thus, the military coup in Egypt is unlikely to be successful, albeit that the military acted with the support of the mob. Mobs are notoriously fickle, and the removal of President Morsi by force- even allowing for the disputes over his own democratic mandate- now leaves some serious questions which the military will struggle to answer: in particular, how Egypt can move towards a more democratic and pluralist government that can address the deep social and economic problems of the country. That the most populous Arab nation is undergoing such convulsions does not bode well for the wider Arab world.

Now the Muslim Brotherhood, which provided the platform for the Morsi government, can genuinely claim that their legitimate political program has been the subject of repression- and even after the coup, millions of Egyptians still support the policies of the now deposed regime. I note that today rallies are being held in defiance of the coup- and I suspect that the violence used to turn out the Morsi government will now be turned against the new regime.

Sooner or later there will need to be a national council and reconciliation- I can only hope that this does not come after a civil conflict on a scale we have- so far- not seen in Egypt. The warning of Syria stands before us, and an Egyptian conflict would be very likely to move way beyond the country's borders.        


Popular posts from this blog

Post Truth and Justice

The past decade has seen the rise of so-called "post truth" politics.  Instead of mere misrepresentation of facts to serve an argument, political figures began to put forward arguments which denied easily provable facts, and then blustered and browbeat those who pointed out the lie.  The political class was able to get away with "post truth" positions because the infrastructure that reported their activity has been suborned directly into the process. In short, the media abandoned long-cherished traditions of objectivity and began a slow slide into undeclared bias and partisanship.  The "fourth estate" was always a key piece of how democratic societies worked, since the press, and later the broadcast media could shape opinion by the way they reported on the political process. As a result there has never been a golden age of objective media, but nevertheless individual reporters acquired better or worse reputations for the quality of their reporting and

We need to talk about UK corruption

After a long hiatus, mostly to do with indolence and partly to do with the general election campaign, I feel compelled to take up the metaphorical pen and make a few comments on where I see the situation of the UK in the aftermath of the "Brexit election". OK, so we lost.  We can blame many reasons, though fundamentally the Conservatives refused to make the mistakes of 2017 and Labour and especially the Liberal Democrats made every mistake that could be made.  Indeed the biggest mistake of all was allowing Johnson to hold the election at all, when another six months would probably have eaten the Conservative Party alive.  It was Jo Swinson's first, but perhaps most critical, mistake to make, and from it came all the others.  The flow of defectors and money persuaded the Liberal Democrat bunker that an election could only be better for the Lib Dems, and as far as votes were concerned, the party did indeed increase its vote by 1.3 million.   BUT, and it really is the bi

Media misdirection

In the small print of the UK budget we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the British Finance Minister) has allocated a further 15 billion Pounds to the funding for the UK track and trace system. This means that the cost of the UK´s track and trace system is now 37 billion Pounds.  That is approximately €43 billion or US$51 billion, which is to say that it is amount of money greater than the national GDP of over 110 countries, or if you prefer, it is roughly the same number as the combined GDP of the 34 smallest economies of the planet.  As at December 2020, 70% of the contracts for the track and trace system were awarded by the Conservative government without a competitive tender being made . The program is overseen by Dido Harding , who is not only a Conservative Life Peer, but the wife of a Conservative MP, John Penrose, and a contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford. Many of these untendered contracts have been given to companies that seem to have no notewo