Friday, 11 February 2011

The blog is mightier than the sword

Clearly - as Ewar has pointed out - Mubarak couldn't handle my criticism of his regime and has quit.* One can only hope that another plutocratic tyrant, one Paul Uppal MP, is next to fall.

Slightly more seriously, it is a great day, and hopefully lays to rest the Western prejudice that only white Europeans are capable of democracy. On the other hand, we need to be realistic. Mubarak has handed power over to the army, which is seemingly split. It is essentially an army coup, and Suleiman, the Vice-President and a torture of the first water, is still on the scene. On the whole, armies like power and don't relish relinquishing it. Even in the UK, the Commonwealth was weakened  by the army's refusal to allow the Republic to become a democracy. I can think of very few military coups which have led to democracy: Portugal's fascist dictatorship fell in the Carnation Revolution of 1975 after a group of democratically-aligned army officers staged a coup in six peaceful hours (sticking carnations in their gun barrels to signify their peaceful intentions), transferring power to the first democratic government in 40 years after a single year of stabilisation.

I hope - but doubt - that this will happen in Egypt. The only sure prediction is that predictions will all be wrong. The military is embedded in the economy and in power - it won't give up easily, though it may allow a 'managed democracy' to emerge, as in Russia. Israel, the US and other international bodies will be pursuing their own interests, as will be every faction in Egyptian politics. That's the joy of it though: we can encourage and hope, but we can't dictate the future. It's a messy and joyful business.

*OK, some Egyptians may have helped.

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