Saturday, July 06, 2013


I can see the Guardian leader now. We are in some fictitious past. The German army, alarmed at the threat to its power and the direction being taken by the new, constitutionally legitimate Nazi government, takes action and removes it from power. The Guardian pronounces sternly,
It is clear that Herr Hitler has made some mistakes and some of his actions smack of illiberality, but one fears for the future of German democracy if ... etc, etc, interminably for the next god knows how many months.
We now know that the action that never was would have saved fifty million lives.

This is not an analogy. I hate analogies. Most of all I hate inappropriate analogies with the Nazis. What this illustrates is a point that Paulie makes here about undemocratic outcomes of democratic processes, something not lost on the protestors, together with the awful convolutions of people who saw the Muslim Brotherhood as progressive liberals.

If there is a comparative point that can be made it is about tactics. Morsi appeared to be practising the well-established method of eliminating opponents and removing their power bases one-by-one, something, following the Hungarian Communist Rákosi's description, known as salami tactics. If, and I mean if, Morsi intended to neuter Egypt's nascent democracy, the opposition set about destroying his legitimacy in response.

There is a lot to be concerned about. Military coups do not have a happy history, regardless of their initial popular support. In their decision to resist, rather than stand in new elections that they would lose, the MB could be opening up a long-running conflict. We don't know, but the least we can do is to acknowledge the general point that at times we cannot escape making judgements about the nature of regimes based on their ideologies and actions, rather than justify them solely in terms of how they came to power.

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