Saturday 5 February 2011

The Brotherhood has changed its spots? Of hopes, fears and Pink-hued analysis...

It seems to me the difference between the Left and the Right on their views of the future of Egypt is this: that the Left analyses based on what it hopes and wishes might happen; the Right analysed based on what it worries and fears will happen. 
A cautious soul, wanting to cover both possibilities, would “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”.
The Left hopes and wishes that the demonstrations are the outpouring of liberal-democratic aspirations.  That the outcome will indeed be a flourishing democracy, the “voice of the people” having triumphed.
That “…foreign policy under a democratically-elected government is likely to look in broad terms a lot like Turkey's foreign policy under a democratically-elected government.”  [Ref]
The Muslim Brotherhood is not as nasty as the Right makes out; they have eschewed violence and embrace social programs.  The leopard has not just changed his spots, the spots have evanesced, like the grin of the cat in wonderland, replaced by a rosy pink hue of optimism and wish-analysis.  This is the triumph of not seeing the spots for the cheers….
…. The Brotherhood has a track record and it speaks the language of justice that many Egyptians, from the poor to the middle class, want to hear.
Two Cheers for the Muslim Brotherhood, John Feffer, Huffington Post, Feb 1, 2011.  [my emphasis; for one might add “and the western Left also “want to hear”]

The Right meantime, points out that democracy is more than just the hardware of elections and election machines.  It’s more importantly the “software” of habits of mind, which take decades, not months, to develop. 
…. it requires the development of civil society, meaning such complex and counterintuitive institutions as the rule of law, an independent judiciary, multiple political parties, minority rights, voluntary associations, freedom of expression, movement, and assembly. Democracy is a learned habit, not an instinctive one, that requires deep attitudinal changes such as a culture of restraint, a commonality of values, a respect for differences of view, the concept of loyal opposition, and a sense of civic responsibility.  (D. Pipes in The Economist, Debate on democracy in Egypt, February 4, 2011, here. [Also here]

And on the Brotherhood, I’ll give last word here to Marc Ginsberg, former US Ambassador to Morocco, writing of worries and fears:
No matter what its real membership, history suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood is a potent force ruthlessly able to maneuver, survive and thrive. In the coming days, Mubarak's continued obstinacy provides the 'Hood more time to shape events on the ground to its purposes to gain political advantage from the disorganized idealists who may be unwittingly serving Egypt up to its waiting platter.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s “Hood”, Amb. Marc Ginsberg, Huffington Post, February 1, 2011.