Thursday, 3 February 2011

On Egypt

"One of Francis Fukuyama's better observations, drawing on his study of Hegel and Nietzsche, was that history shows people just as prepared to fight for honor and recognition as they are for less abstract concepts like food or territory... It's possible that people will overlook outright brutality sooner than they will forgive undisguised contempt."
The fact that I am quite ignorant of modern Egyptian history (though not completely ignorant) combined with the fact that I haven't been paying sufficient attention to recent events in Egypt to truthfully answer Lenin's infamous "Who, Whom?" question, means that I haven't got anything interesting to say about what is happening right now.

Christopher Hitchens, however, does have things to say:
"The best of the Egyptian "civil society" dissidents, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, produced the extraordinary effect that he did by... claim[ing] the right to conduct independent surveys of the voters and to publish the results. One can hardly imagine a milder form of resistance, yet, because of the overweening stupidity and crudity of the authorities, it had consequences of an almost seismic kind. Show trials of mild-mannered opinion pollsters and think-tank scholars; dark accusations of secret foreign funding for the practice of political sociology: The whole lumbering apparatus of the Egyptian state conspired to make itself appear humorless and thuggish and to convince its people that they were being held as serfs by fools. Again, the sense of insult ran very deep, and Mubarak's bullies were too dense to understand their own mistake."
And against the likes of this slimy bastard, the immediate implications of Hitchens' closing point ought to be pressed:
"...the supposed attractions of authoritarian "stability" are in fact illusory, since nothing is more volatile and unsafe than dictatorship, which lacks any self-critical method for learning from its mistakes."

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