The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Egypt bans the Muslim Brotherhood

This includes seizing all their money and assets.  Among other things, this is a humanitarian disaster: who do you think feeds many of the poor in Egypt?  Who runs the clinics?

One of my friends worked in Egypt, for the Mubarak regime, for a while.  He’s a man with a strong stomach, but they disgusted him.  His most telling observation was this: “the middle class are all fat.  Obese.  Everyone else is skinny.”

I’ll be straightforward: the Muslim Brotherhood has the right to resist this violently.  They’ll probably lose, but they won the election fairly and the results of a democratic election were thrown out by a military coup.  You really can’t get any more legitimate reason to commit violence than that, except straight-up genocide.  So I don’t want to hear hand-wringing when the bombs start going off: it is the logical consequence of what the military has done, which includes gunning down unarmed civilians in the street.

As for the “liberals” who supported the coup, they have disgraced themselves.  If the Muslim Brotherhood or some much nastier successors do win, you can be sure liberals will have NO meaningful influence in Egypt’s government.  Perhaps they had very little under the Brotherhood, and certainly the constitution was unfair, but this was a coup, and they supported it.  It will not be forgotten, least of all because a lot of blood has been spilled and far more will be.

(Why did the Muslim Brotherhood win the election and not liberals?  Because they had consistently opposed Mubarak and paid the price for it, and because they, not liberals, fed the poor and cared for the sick.)


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  1. bob mcmanus

    Well, I can’t say I supported the Military Crackdown, but I did defend it for a while, based on what I felt was street pressure on the military from urban progressive types. And for the record, I was wrong.

    I am still…disturbed by the opposing forces.

    On the one side the peacetime military and urban intellectual social progressives and economic neo-liberals

    On the other a populist side, economically redistributive but socially regressive and iffy about commitment to democracy. And if reports are true, militarily adventurous.

    I can understand this breakdown and apply it to the US, its kinda obvious but saying for instance that the gay marriage movement/women’s movement is formally connected to the imperial war machine
    promotes some degree of cognitive dissonance and social exclusion if expressed inarticulately.

  2. Ian Welsh

    I’m not a fan of the Muslim Brother at all. But democracy always meant they were going to be the ruling party. And they deserved it, because they were the stalwart opposition and they were the ones who fed the poor and tended their illnesses.

    Also the army in Egypt is vastly corrupt, owns a huge amount of the economy. Very similar to the Republican Guard in Iran, in that respect.

    That said, the MB rammed through a constitution they shoudln’t have: it took an election victory and made it into a permanent Islamic state, rather than something which could be changed by election. That was a mistake, and wrong. But the coup was even more wrong, imo, and this outlawing of the MB will cause unbelievable suffering.

  3. Mad Hemingway

    “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.” – Benjamin Franklin

  4. someofparts

    I’m just imagining the indignation and bewilderment if I suggested to any of the uber-liberals I live around that we should organize to help the local poor.

    For a while I wondered why the most presumably humanitarian people I know always choose to do their good deeds out of the country in central America. Lately I’m wondering if they aren’t just CIA.

  5. David Kowalski

    This reminds me of the Eisenhower era adventures in the 1950s when governments were overthrown in Iran, Nicaragua, and a Christian government was installed in Lebanon. In each case, it was a “cheap” solution that came back to bite the US in its collective ***. It took about 25 years or so for payback, whether Somoza in Nicaragua, the Ayatollah in Iran or a mess in Lebanon that Israel could not handle. I feel that the payback here will happen more quickly.

    The military may see itself as the conscience of the nation or the ultimate arbitrator of what happens. it isn’t and shouldn’t develop this mind set.

    Thanks for the update and the comments.

  6. anon

    It seems to me people who defend the motherhood don’t undurstand its nature or at least what it has becomes in recent decades ( thanks in part to the USA) the word thugs comes to mind very easily also theives terrorists, and along those lines u go. winning an election doesn’t mean they did it fair and square. i can tell u stories

  7. amspirnational

    Some leftists (not liberals) supported the coup believing or hoping that Nasserites would take over the military. People who would cancel the Camp David treaty and start looking out for Egypt from an Egyptian left-socialist, anti-American Empire, anti-Zionist position.
    Surely you would not have objected to this, had it been the actual circumstance. Morsi hadn’t done much for the Palestinians.

  8. Which reminds me of the short-sightedness of the American religious right, which does *not* devote appreciable resources to providing food and health care to the poor, and in fact attempts to prevent the government from doing so with all their political might. Hamas in Palestine and Hezballah in Lebanon (and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt) may be right-wing religious organizations, but they understand that whole “hearts and minds” thing plus the religious teachings of their own holy books, which call for providing food and health care for the poor. The American religious right, apparently… not so much.

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