Egypt is in the midst of a revolution (China Daily reporting “Egypt to finish constitution amendments in 10 days“), and everyone on the planet is genuinely curious how the country will evolve (The Economist ponders, “Where now for Egypt and the region?“).
We should put things into perspective though. A new constitution and a newly elected government few months from now is not going to all of a sudden solve the problems that sent the Egyptians into the streets in the first place. The verdict of this revolution cannot be judged for at least a decade to come.
What’s real is the fact that the Egyptians may have created a condition for themselves to formulate peaceful transitions of future leaders. That would be a big deal. Many Westerners do not know that when Deng Xiaoping was in power, the Chinese Constitution was modified to limit terms of the President to 5 years, and only renewable once. The National Peoples Congress has the power to elect and replace the position. That was a big deal.
Education, legal society, economic development, and public infrastructure are all parts of an equation that makes for a desirable society. At least the Egyptians do not need to contend with an economic embargo or fear of an invasion. Aside from pledging allegiance to the United States, I do think Egypt has a genuine opportunity to re-engineer herself.
If this revolution had happened back around 1989, “democracy” would be the religion of the day. “Democracy” would have been the panacea for all Egyptians able to afford BMW’s and Mercedes, 200 square meter houses, and stores brimming with goods. Two decades later, even the most zealous purveyors of “democracy” would be careful to not make that connection. Why? Because instinctively they know problems with “democracies” are abound.
Actually, the point I want to make is simply that seeing the world in terms of “democracy” or not is misleading. The world doesn’t work according to “democracy” as if it is some kind of yardstick. Society improves with good governance. Political systems one form or another do not guarantee governance.
Egypt could one day become a case study for a society going through a “reboot.” In that sense, I wish Egypt good luck and truly emerge from this in a much better shape. For countries continuing to decay, they may then follow Egypt’s foot steps. Given that the Republicans and the Democrats can’t solve the myriads of problems in the United States, I think America may one day need a “reboot” herself.
Without saying, the other lesson is that revolution may not work. Egypt could be a case study in that too.
r v says
My American friend said to me today, “At least in a democracy, one can vent one’s frustrations and not have to throw out an entire system.”
To which I replied, “You neglected the 3rd possibility of a Rebellion and Secession, in which many will vent frustrations by declaring independence and/or Civil War.”
*There is nothing inherent in a Democracy that provide “peaceful revolutions” or “peaceful secessions”.
US’s own Civil War should provide an ample lesson.
Good point, but I suspect your friend won’t comprehend, because America is still endowed with so much.
Funny thing, I was talking to a good friend at lunch today about what conditions will Americans start to take to the streets. Say, unemployment goes to 20%? But that is not going to happen, because the government will continue to print USD and dilute everyone’s holdings of USD to “invest in jobs.” (Neat wealth re-distribution isn’t it?) So, unemployment as a problem per se is likely manageable.
I think the more realistic scenario is things become much more expensive in America. The classic problem of the poor vs. the rich will exacerbate. I wager the Democrats are going to win, because then they will have the numbers. Anyways, America is till rich, so if this would to happen, it won’t be for until a long time from now.
There’s plenty of wealth to continue to be re-distributed yet.
Pew’s data indicates that 17% of the Egyptians have favorable view on the US, and 52% have favorable view on China, in 2010. So if you really let people speak in Egypt, methinks a lot of the initial enthusiasm is misplaced.