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Will Egypt be better or worse as a 'democracy'?

WFPD
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Joined: Jan 8 2010

The scenes on my television set remind me of Manila in 1986. The People Power revolution in the Philippines resulted in a democracy, but not the progress and development that Filipinos were anticipating. Instead, the return to democracy in the Philippines became a game of elite interests, with no real attempt to satisfy the demads of ordinary citizens. Even the token land reform measures introduced had no real effect in mitigating rural poverty. Most Filipinos would argue that their country is actually worse off now than it was under Ferdinand Marcos. The country has not developed economically and political freedom has not increased in any significant way.

I fear that the same thing may happen in Egypt. The crucial difference is that the military in the Philippines remained an instrument of elite control, while in Egypt the military seems to be confident enough to challenge elite power. It remains to be seen just how much of a guarantor of real democracy the military is willing to be.

 


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Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

The Philippines is not a real democracy. It's still ruled by an oligarchy of rival rich families. Elections are marred by violence so typical of US-backed thirdworld pseudo-democracies. The Filipino oligarchy's hold on power is flimsier than that of South Korea, Malaysia and Japan where "wealth creation" provides just enough prosperity to keep them from revolting. The Filipino elite rely on the military for oppressing social activists and pro democracy movement in that country

And like Marcos absconded with billions belonging to Filipinos and leaving them in national indebtedness by a similar amount, Mubarak has amassed some $70 billion in personal wealth stolen from Egyptians. It's money that belongs to the Egyptian national pension plan and the people not salted away in Swiss or other bank accounts.


milo204
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Joined: Feb 3 2010

i think any move to democracy would improve the lot of average egyptians.  Might not be much but it will be better, and at least provide some forum for their voice to be heard by those in power.

And by the looks of it, egyptians take their democratic rights MUCH more seriously than we do here in the west, so there is a chance it will have a real impact on egyptian society, provided the usual suspects (US/Israel) don't do everything in their power to squash it, which is quite likely.

but regardless, it is a much better option than staying with the current system.


absentia
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Joined: Jun 5 2010

How can it be worse?

One way: if the present regime is allowed to stay in power, even for a few months, the reprisals and demage it can effect in that time is horrific. The people can't afford to back down and let that happen. The regime can't afford to compromise; may already have decided to gamble on extreme provocation to push the rebellion into hostile action, thus providing an excuse to open fire on the crowd. The army may side with the government at the top brass level, yet refuse to mow down all their kinfolk at ground level... It can get very messy indeed, as revolutions tend to do.

And then?

Then they'll have to start over and build something new. Whatever that turns out to be, better it should be their own.


Enduro Man
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Joined: Feb 5 2011

Even now the Capitalist Shock and Awe vultures are circling.  As they did with the fall of the Soviet Union and as they did with the fall of Apartheid in South Africa and as they did in Poland, Romania and Hungary.

The "Chicago Boys" are set to move in.  They always do.  Privatize to deal with the inevitable economic crisis that follows such "colour revolutions".  Whatever government takes the place of Mubarek's corrupt and toy-story regime will be replaced by a "democratically" elected government under immense international pressure to "stabilize" the country economically.

In other words- the poor will get even more screwed than they were before.

So much for democracy.  Count me as a revolutionary.  Democracy is a dead end.  In the modern world of billions of people?  Democracy can only work on a local level for it to have any meaning at all.

Egyptians are about to find out what "democracy" really means.


absentia
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Joined: Jun 5 2010

Should they have waited for capitalism to fall on its fat ass? But they're hungry now.


Snert
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Joined: Nov 4 2008

Just out of curiousity, what are the plausible alternatives to democracy? 


Bec.De.Corbin
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Joined: Mar 17 2010

  

As long as Egypt has a system of government where people's views can be expressed through a political party and they can vote for them they will be fine. Religious underground political groups like the Muslim Brotherhood were popular because they were the only real political resistance around to the (now doomed) current government. They could "exist" if you will because the government couldn't take its political oppression into the mosques without risking the ire of the people; so, naturally, the only real safe opposition to the government was in the mosques. Now that will hopefully change and the people of Egypt will be free to form or join whatever political party they want.

That is not to say religious political parties won't be popular in Egypt; especially at first; it's probably all most of the people know right now. I think with time there will be a wide choice of parties for the Egyptians to be able to choose from if they stay the course of political freedom.  The key to this is for Egypt to be able to have fraud free elections and for the parties that be to accept the results of the peoples vote (and not just one time in one election). A winning political party should have to keep worrying about winning the next election and step down in a peaceful manner if they lose.

As I said in another thread: Getting rid of Mubarak was the easy part... creating a country with a strong election system based on democratic principles is the hard part. There are many dangerous pitfalls ahead for the Egyptian people; and not all of them are from evil external sources like the USA or Israel.

 


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

Bec.De.Corbin wrote:

That is not to say religious political parties won't be popular in Egypt; especially at first; it's probably all most of the people know right now.

Condescend much? I daresay they are more politically astute than you are, for a start.

The Egyptian working class is probably the most politically aware of any in the Arab world. They have a long and proud tradition of militancy, despite the arrest and torture of many of their leaders, and the bureaucratization and co-optation of the official labour movement by the government. In spite of living under the boot of despotism 25% of the Egyptian workforce is unionized - about the same percentage as "democratic" Alberta (Canada's "economic engine"). They have political parties that have remained functioning underground throughout the Mubarak regime's tenure. They have thousands of academics and political theoreticians who understand how policies of neoliberalism have ruined their economy and impoverished many. The average political consciousness of Egyptians is probbably far in excess of the average level in Canada.   


absentia
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Joined: Jun 5 2010

Egyptians have just pulled off a revolution with more civility and decorum than USians exhibit in a choreographed election.

Nobody in the west had better presume to lecture them on autonomy!


trippie
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Joined: Feb 14 2006

Well what kind of democracy are you talking about? If it like the one we have here, then they can take the Ford brothers taht are about to distroy Totonto as we know it.

 

 


Coyoteman
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Joined: Jul 4 2010

I don't think it is really possible to say, with any certainty, how this Egyptian revolution will evolve over the coming days, weeks or years. What is clear is, that here now, the Egyptian people have had a great victory that all progressives and yes, Left revolutionaries should celebrate for what it is.

Essentially, I think, at this point, it is a simple bourgeois democratic revolution that is, I'm sure they hope, going to bring them into  what they perceive to be the modern capitalist world, as a state independent of imperialist domination. (Which was the essential state of dependence the Mubarak/military regime had them lock into.) Also, let's not have any doubts here, even democracy in the modern bourgeois sense is infinitely preferable and likely to be better for the Egyptian people than the fascist quasi-colonial dictatorship under Mubarak. If early appearance is in fact reality.

But clearly, this revolution has some distance to run yet before it is home free. The Empire is working mightily behind the scenes, as we get some hints of, even from the western corporate media, to cling to its old dominating influence over Egypt, and to exercise influence and control events leading to its its eventual leadership outcome. AND, and a very important "and" it is, to maintain the old Mubarak policies toward and agreements with Israel and western imperialism in the larger Middle East. (The War On Terror.)

Plus, while it's possible that the Egyptian people MAY know their military better than I/we do, or want to test how it will conduct itself, and feel comfortable with the role it is hoped it will play in the future, in allowing the flowering even of an unfettered bourgeois
democracy, I remain less certain and much more skeptical. But again, we shall see. I have been wrong before. Tongue out (And we are talking here, especially, of the uppermost command leadership levels of the army. Who historically are drawn with cash, perks and power closer to the ruling class than they are the lower order levels of the officer corp or the gun toting, tank driving grunt from the working class.)

There is more than one stage to any revolution, such as they have just gone through. We are yet to hear the retort of counter-revolutionary attempts as may yet be mounted by the old guard and the ruling class of Egypt. And how the upper levels of the army may already be manoeuvring with these elements to frustrate the revolutionary gains of the Egyptian people. With or without the interference of western imperialism.

I have doubts it is going to be quite so simple and short run a conflict, to change that old regime, as it has been to here. More typically it can take years to become clear what has actually been achieved and not, after a revolutionary event... and even then?

That said, I wish the Egyptian people well. What they "seem" to have gained at least, be it true, even as a bourgeois democracy, over the coming days, is doubtless much
preferable to what was.


May "The People" ultimately succeed.


George Victor
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Joined: Oct 28 2007

BDC: "As I said in another thread: Getting rid of Mubarak was the easy part... creating a country with a strong election system based on democratic principles is the hard part."

 

Yes. Post-colonial Canada has been labouring at that for 144 years now, with much slippage and loss of sovereignty in recent years .


N.Beltov
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Joined: May 25 2003

Elections are to democracy as photographs are to film. There's been no "election" in Egypt these past weeks but it is still democracy at work.


wage zombie
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Joined: Dec 8 2004

It is democracy at work and it will make things better for the people.  I salute the actions of the Egyptian people and hope that they can regain control of their country.  I hope that their resolve inspires others across the world.  This is a huge victory.

Beyond the struggle for democracy, Egypt faces massive material challenges that makes the future there look rather bleak:

Egypt's Warning: Are You Listening?

Quote:

How unbalanced was Egypt? Very.

Here are a few quite relevant statistics about Egypt (hat tip to an email from reader Mark O., with credit to Dr. John Coulter) to which I have added a few items:

The relentless math:

Population 1960:  27.8 million
Population 2008:  81.7 million
Current population growth rate: 2% per annum (a 35-year doubling rate)
Population in 2046 after another doubling:  164 million

Rainfall average over whole country:  ~ 2 inches per year
Highest rainfall region:  Alexandria, 7.9 inches per year
Arable land (almost entirely in the Nile Valley):  3%
Arable land per capita:  0.04 Ha (400 m2)
Arable land per capita in 2043: 0.02 Ha
Food imports: 40% of requirements
Grain imports: 60% of requirements

Net oil exports: Began falling in 1997, went negative in 2007
Oil production peaked in 1996
Cost of oil rising steeply
Cost of oil and food tightly linked

...

The interesting part is that these facts have been in plain view for decades, building into economic and social pressures that were suddenly unleashed in a wave of social and political unrest. How was it that such obvious things escaped notice for so long before they suddenly reared up into plain view? Instead of being a surprising exception to the rule, we should instead brace ourselves against the idea that this is just the way things tend to work.

...

My intent here is not to point out the future difficulties that Egypt faces, no matter who is charge, but to use the change that happened there as emblematic of what we might expect elsewhere, especially in the financial markets.

Egypt simply reminds us that anything that is unsustainable will someday change. It is an emblem for the world.

With abundant energy and food, we are treated to expansive and stable economies in which everyone stands a chance of gaining. Not that everyone will, mind you, but the possibility is there  In an energy-constrained world, what was formerly possible is no longer do-able, things don't work right, and there seem to be persistent shortages of everything from growth, to money, to food, to goodwill. What used to work doesn't. It is at these points that the prior stresses and imbalances are most likely to snap and suddenly change the world.

These are the very sorts of changes that are coming to the rest of the world. Perhaps to a country or financial market near you. Are you ready?


Coyoteman
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Joined: Jul 4 2010

"Egypt simply reminds us that anything that is unsustainable will someday change. It is an emblem for the world." wrote image zombie.

 

True, yes, especially your last few paragraphs... for as far as it goes.  But the fact is, even the advanced western "bourgeois democracies", not excluding Canada, all with declining populations, except for what is being augmented with immigration, are all in deteriorating economic difficulties. So, while what you say is true, there are clearly other elements involved in the accumulating indicators of global economic system collapse... which I suggest involve also class "share" issues which compound the other drivers of it you indicate.

Over the period since the 1970s everywhere throughout global capitalism, but especially notable in this instance, the hereto "advanced" countries' economies. All of this driven by a class share crisis initiated by ongoing neo-liberal economic practises which a newly emboldened conservative ruling class has used to undermine especially working class economic share... Which has in turn undermined the critical demand pull effect working class share, as consumers, has on the activity and vitality of the economy.

So in addition to a global energy crisis which has acted to undermine the endless growth need of capitalism, it has also pulled the rug out from under the other goose that lays golden eggs within the system... working class consumerism.

The revolution in Egypt is doubtless a leading edge indicator of both these elements, again compounded by a qualitatively more corrupt ruling class and political order than MAY exist here for example, but it is trailing behind it a total, all inclusive global economic order crisis that is continuing to evolve as well.

How long it will go on, whether the economic order can recover, and what will be the end effect on the dynamic of class relations twixt the ruling and working classes, even in the advanced countries, is difficult to know for certain, as is its final outcome. Egypt is a leading indicator of what is wrong with the world alright, and its economic and political order in more ways than one.


Bec.De.Corbin
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N.Beltov wrote:

Elections are to democracy as photographs are to film. There's been no "election" in Egypt these past weeks but it is still democracy at work.

  

True, but governing by pouring into the streets all the time, while appealingly leftist and revolutionary, is a pretty chaotic way to govern a country over the long run don't you think? In the end a systems has to be in place that allows power of government to change in an orderly manner based on the will of what the majority wants while protecting the rights of the minority.

... Are you hinting at some sort of vote free, rule by committee system? If you are I'd like to hear about it.

 

 


George Victor
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Joined: Oct 28 2007

Bec.De.Corbin wrote:

N.Beltov wrote:

Elections are to democracy as photographs are to film. There's been no "election" in Egypt these past weeks but it is still democracy at work.

  

True, but governing by pouring into the streets all the time, while appealingly leftist and revolutionary, is a pretty chaotic way to govern a country over the long run don't you think? In the end a systems has to be in place that allows power of government to change in an orderly manner based on the will of what the majority wants while protecting the rights of the minority.

... Are you hinting at some sort of vote free, rule by committee system? If you are I'd like to hear about it.

 

 

Hopefully we are looking at the sepia-shaded work of early photography, not much to look at, but lots of potential.


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

They are still a long way from democracy in Egypt. Mubarak's regime and its apparatus are still in place and not going anywhere yet.


Coyoteman
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"...based on the will of what the majority wants while protecting the rights of the minority." bec.de.corbin wrote.

And which "minority" in particular are we speaking of here... one in the abstract, a particular group or class of folks, religion, what?

Revolutions are a fact of life... called up when there is no other choice, and oppression in one form or another just has to be dealt with and/or a great socio-economic change just cannot be put off any longer, and is being resisted by a minority group/class with a vested interest they are not prepared to let go of.


Boom Boom
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Fidel wrote:

They are still a long way from democracy in Egypt. Mubarak's regime and its apparatus are still in place and not going anywhere yet.

I mentioned earlier today that CNN's Fareed Azaria did a show this morning where he profiled the generals on the High Governing Council or whatever they call themselves. Theyr're all friends and cronies of Mubarak. If Mubarak is ever prosecuted, the generals ought to be, as well, because they carried out his orders and allowed massive corruption, graft, torture, and looting of the Egyptian treasury to take place. Did I mention the Egyptian military owns hundreds of factories? And the generals continue to enjoy significant perks of their positions, including lavish lifestyles. Why would they want to ever give all of this up?


Bec.De.Corbin
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Coyoteman wrote:

"...based on the will of what the majority wants while protecting the rights of the minority." bec.de.corbin wrote.

And which "minority" in particular are we speaking of here... one in the abstract, a particular group or class of folks, religion, what?

 

One in the abstract.

 


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

I wonder what "rights" Bec would like to see accorded to the "abstract" minority that profited from the Mubarak dictatorship and helped to maintain his despotic rule.

Should they, for example, be accorded the opportunity to regain power in Egypt?  


Coyoteman
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Bec.De.Corbin wrote:

Coyoteman wrote:

"...based on the will of what the majority wants while protecting the rights of the minority." bec.de.corbin wrote.

And which "minority" in particular are we speaking of here... one in the abstract, a particular group or class of folks, religion, what?

 

One in the abstract.

 

 

My point being essentially the same one as the person, I believe Fidel, immediatley below you. The ruling class in genersl, those of special wealth and privilege in most status quo societies, and those like politicians and Generals who serve them, in this case Egypt, are a very small minority with a huge power over the majority (typically the various strata of the working class.) I'm sorry, hypocrtically, but revolution is a constant risk for these folks... and it simply has to be that way.

Indeed, the right to revolution is one which cannot be taken away from this majority working masses. One may try, and it may even be frustrated for a time by ruling class terror, of the type we saw from Mubarak's thugs, but if the seed and need for real revolution is there, laws, jurisprudence, hoisted pinkies, privilege and established power will, eventually, be over-run anyway.

A fact of life that just needs to be sucked up by the ruling class, and those who serve them... when the time comes. In this case again, we are talking Egypt, of course. Cool


George Victor
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Joined: Oct 28 2007

Meanwhile, mainstreet Canadians can't afford justice, being "shut out of a justice system that caters primarily to the very rich and the very poor," according to a Globe story. "Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada said...that the midle class cannot hope to pay legal fees that average $338 per hour, leaving them little option but to represent themselves in court or go away empty-handed...."  

But back to the fate that awaits Egyptians. 


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

Egyptian military officials moved to clear the remaining few dozen protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Monday, and also were expected to effectively ban strikes.

Reuters reported that about 40 protesters remained in the square, the scene of anti-government demonstrations for more than two weeks. Some protesters told the news agency that they had been threatened with arrest if they did not leave.



Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2011/02/14/egypt-protesters-strike-military.html#ixzz1DwoCAgRZ


NDPP
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Egyptians Urge Army To Give Up Power

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/165221.html

"Thousands of protesters in Cairo have demanded the new military rulers hand over power to a civilian government as soon as possible. The people want a clear timetable for the transfer of power to a civilian government. The new demonstration in Cairo's Liberation Square comes as the army remains defiant in the face of the people's demands.."

Democracy Now: There Is A Pre-History to This Revolt

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/2/14/there_is_a_pre_history_to

"As Egypt's military bans labor strikes, Mona El Ghobashy examines how Egyptian labor and social movements laid the foundation for revolution.."


Bec.De.Corbin
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M. Spector wrote:

I wonder what "rights" Bec would like to see accorded to the "abstract" minority that profited from the Mubarak dictatorship and helped to maintain his despotic rule.

Should they, for example, be accorded the opportunity to regain power in Egypt?  

I have no idea where you're trying to go with that... but please feel free to run down that road if you'd like. I woun't be following you.

Anyways what I meant with that statement that seems to be the focus of several here's attention for some strange reason is covered in this link. It's also the source of where I got the idea for my post. If you disagree with that (the below link) I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on an alterative system.

http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/treatment/minority.htm

another link...

http://democracyweb.org/majority/principles.php

It was a general statement about a system of governing. It will be up to the Egyptian people to work out the details of how their new government will function and who will be held responsible for the past. There are still interesting times ahead.

Hope that cleared things up a bit.

 


NDPP
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Joined: Dec 28 2008

Egypt's Military An Economic Giant - by Andrew Ross

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23211

"It's a business conglomerate, like General Electric. It's represented in virtually every sector of the economy. It's holdings, include vast tracts of land, including the Sharm el Sheikh resort, where ex President Hosni Mubarak resides in one of his seaside palaces. Bread from its bakeries have helped fend off food riots.."


Coyoteman
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"It's a business conglomerate, like General Electric. It's represented in virtually every sector of the economy. It's holdings, include vast tracts of land, including the Sharm el Sheikh resort, where ex President Hosni Mubarak resides in one of his seaside palaces. Bread from its bakeries have helped fend off food riots.." quote courtesy nodifference.

I was some aware of this, but not much of these particulars. Thanks for this.

It certainly demonstrates that if even the modest gain of the Egyptian Revolution is going to have any significant impact on their society, the revolution is far from over. There is often this great historical tendency of the masses, including in the "advanced" Western so-called democracies, to presume they achieved what they wanted too quickly. (And I know it is much because of the need to work to feed families, and no backup resources for prolonged conflict. Still, they are going to have to prepare to come back to it again, or watch it all dissipate for naught.)

And while I, nor anyone else knows for certain of course, I have a sense given this latest great epic rising of theirs, that one can expect it. Once the fear is overcome, there is a tendency to not soon go back to what was. Though over an extended time, like say six months... which US Imperialism, the Zionists and the Egyptian military, you can be sure, know. Which overcoming fear phenomena we need to see in this country no less. In my view.


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

Islamists dominating Egypt's election results for party lists

It sounds very similar to the way in which the US and Britannia prevented democracy from happening in 1950s Iran.

US and British hawks tend to want to deal only with other right wing religious extremists, like themselves. And it's because right wingers have an easier time predicting what other right wing extremists will do next. They understand one another and even tolerate one another for decades at a time. 

Paving the way for right wing extremists is all a part of the Anglo-American right's overall plan to murder democracy and go on a killing frenzy from now to world domination and global dictatorship.


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