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Republicans v. Democracy: The Perpetual Cycle

[ 114 ] July 5, 2013 |

The central question that emerges–and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by meerely consulting a catalog of the rights of American citizens, born Equal–is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes–the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. – William F. Buckley Jr., 1957

Islamists might be determined enough to run effective opposition movements and committed enough to provide street-level social services. But they lack the mental equipment to govern. –David Brooks, 2013

To expand on Read’s point, Brooks’s argument that democracy is a mere “process” that should be disregarded when it produces disagreeable substantive results is quite remarkable. Let’s consider the (largely accurate, as far as I can tell) bill of charges against Morsi — hostility to the rights of women, civil liberties violations, rank incompetence, divisiveness, disastrous misuses of the violent power of the state. So Brooks would have thought that a military coup against the second Bush administration was perfectly OK, then? (Particularly since the election of Bush was pretty shaky on the “process” metric as well.) At what point do the bad (by whose standard?) substantive results of democratic elections trump democratic procedures? Brooks lacks a clear answer, but I suspect it has something to do with the percentage of the electorate that consists of white people.

Even if we want to talk pragmatism rather than democratic theory, support for the coup is also incredibly short-sighted. Authoritarian regimes don’t exactly have a stellar record of protecting the rights of women or religious minorities either, and informing Islamists that elections they win won’t count doesn’t seem like a recipe for either political stability or more liberal regimes in the long run.

More on the, ah, empirical problems with Brooks’s argument:

Algeria is a very strange example to cite of how Islamist governments are always bad, since Algeria has never had an Islamist government. The army canceled elections in 1992 when it looked like the Islamic Salvation Front was going to win, leading to a bloody civil war.

So Brooks is really citing Turkey and Iran as his evidence that Islamist parties always and everywhere are bad news, and therefore the Egyptian coup was justified. But how much are even these two examples worth, really?

[...]

But Brooks doesn’t really know anything about Turkey or Iran, any more than he knows about Applebee’s. He’s just trying to make the point, consistent with his conservative ideology, that democracy is all right so long as the wrong sort of people don’t get elected.

Comments (114)

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  1. Steve LaBonne says:

    On the other hand, informing Islamists that if they win elections, they can’t get away with attempts to rig things so that nobody else can win in the future doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. I don’t think there are any pat answers on this one.

    • Kurzleg says:

      Nope. It looked to me as if the Egyptian military waited things out as long as they thought they could, perhaps in hopes that Morsi would respond to the protests positively or step down voluntarily. But they could see that Morsi’s position was untenable.

      • Steve LaBonne says:

        It really took a pretty staggering combination of arrogance and incompetence by the MB to bring things to this point. It’s just a sad thing all around.

    • Josh G. says:

      Agreed. “One man, one vote, once” isn’t democracy in any meaningful sense.

      That said: how far does this principle go? Would violence have been morally justified against officials in the Old South enforcing Jim Crow? What about Republicans who won low-turnout elections in 2010 and set about trying to disenfranchise as many Democratic voters as they could? Where do we draw the line?

      I do agree with Scott Lemieux that we often hold foreign countries to a different standard. A lot of what happens in the U.S. would be considered the mark of a blatantly corrupt banana republic if the serial numbers were filed off.

      • Steve LaBonne says:

        What makes you think it isn’t so regarded? By many in the US as well as elsewhere.

        • Josh G. says:

          The quality of governance in the U.S. is definitely lower than in, say, Norway or Finland, but I generally prefer not to think of our country as a banana republic. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, though.

          • I don’t mean this to sound as hostile as it inevitably will, but just because YOU prefer not to think that doesn’t mean that plenty of the rest of us don’t anyway.

          • joel hanes says:

            I prefer not to thinnk of our country as a banana republic

            The egregious election-2000 shenanigans in Florida (in which a state government headed by the brother of one Presidential candidate, on the flimsiest of excuses, purposely stripped the registration rolls of tens of thousands of legally-qualified voters who seemed likely to vote for the other candidate; and then failed to complete a legally-mandated recount, which opened the door for a partisan SCOTUS to award the Presidency to the candidate who actually lost the election) should have shown you that your preference is not in accordance with reality.

      • ” Would violence have been morally justified against officials in the Old South enforcing Jim Crow?”

        Um…yeah. Any other simple questions?

        • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

          Though Jim Crow was invented by the New South. The Old South had slavery.

        • Rarely Posts says:

          I’m not sure that I agree. We’ve seen that non-violent action against those officials was remarkably effective (though not as effective as we’d like), and I’m not at all sure that violent action would have been nearly as effective. And, yes, the efficacy of a method is relevant to its morality.

          Moreover, violence is itself a bad thing. It should almost always be a last resort.

          I honestly don’t know enough about the situation in Egypt to have an opinion, but I’d prefer a nonviolent, citizen-led movement over a military coup any day of the week.

          • I guess you could look at effectiveness as a component of morality in hindsight, but if, say, a posse of black Southerners had gone out and killed a half dozen Klansmen who were actively terrorizing/murdering black people with legal impunity or had otherwise resorted to a violent resistance of Jim Crow I wouldn’t for a second view them as moral monsters. And I certainly wouldn’t give a fig that Jim Crow was the duly enacted law of the (vote suppressing) state.

            • Gregor Sansa says:

              Right. It would not have been immoral to violently oppose Jim Crow, but it probably would have been stupid, unless you intended to become a martyr.

            • Rarely Posts says:

              But the question was about “officials in the Old South enforcing Jim Crow.” Would violence have been an appropriate response to a police officer forcing an African American to sit at the back of the bus? Or to attend a segregated school? Or to perform a voting rights test?

              “Klansmen who were actively terrorizing/murdering” is not entirely the same issue. Even there, I’m not sure violence would have been effective, but it’s an easier case to make in both efficacy and morality than officials enforcing the “laws” of the land.

              I honestly marvel at the ability of so much of the African American population and the Civil Rights Movement to respond to deep injustice with nonviolence. My personal, innate response is to desire violent justice/revenge. But I don’t think that response is moral, at least in most circumstances.

          • Hogan says:

            But there should be a point at which you decide that nonviolent means have failed, and you’re down to the last resort.

          • cpinva says:

            “Moreover, violence is itself a bad thing. It should almost always be a last resort.”

            violence is diplomacy, by other means. or something like that. Clausewitz, I believe.

            while I certainly agree it should always be a last resort, I kind of wonder if national guard troops wouldn’t have been sent in sooner, if protesting African americans had fought back, and started beating the hell out of the local/state police/KKK attacking and killing them? I honestly don’t know.

            however, as it happens, none of this is an issue any longer, because we no longer have racism in this country.

            • Rarely Posts says:

              “[I]f protesting African Americans had fought back” then I strongly suspect the National Guard would have been sent in to defeat the Civil Rights Movement and African Americans. Nonviolence in response to violence was part of what made the Civil Rights Movement so successful. And, it’s part of the reason that the later Black Power movement was so much less successful — it embraced violence, and thus lost its legitimacy in the eyes of much of the rest of America.

              I am a gay, liberal, nerdy white man. And, one thing my study of the AIDS crisis, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, Zionism, and other similar movements has taught me is that success for small minorities depends heavily upon acceptance (not just tolerance) by the majority. That requires being better and more moral than the majority the vast majority of the time. It’s not fair, but it’s life.

            • Manny Kant says:

              Is a 19th century Prussian military officer really a good guide to present-day political morality?

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Well, if the MB simply wasn’t willing to abide by the results of an election it lost (or prevent a fair election from being conducted), that would be different; that wouldn’t be a coup against a democratic regime. This, however, is not Brooks’s argument.

        • Steve LaBonne says:

          Well, nobody cares what Bobo has to say, so we hijacked your post to have a more interesting discussion. Sorry about that. ;)

        • joel hanes says:

          if the MB simply wasn’t willing to abide by the results of an election it lost (or prevent a fair election from being conducted)

          then they would be a functional analogue of the Republican Party in the US, 1998-present

    • Ronan says:

      In fairness, from what I can tell the MB were able to push for more power b/c the opposition refused/were unable to organise into a stable coalition and develop a coherent set of priorities to challenge them, while at the same time the old regime (still enconsed in the state beuracracy, judiciary etc) worked to prevent the MB from governing effectively
      The MB might be incompetent, and illiberal, but as Scott says it’s a democracy. Perhaps if the opposition had been able to organise they would have been able to prevent the MB power grab, and the institutions that were developed over the last 2 years would have been more inclusive and legitimate (all of this under the auspices of the military and security services of course, but its a beginning)

      • Steve LaBonne says:

        The first time around, the military did not have to hold elections on a time scale quick enough to guarantee that the remnants of old regime and the MB would be the only organized political forces; they chose to do so, and over much protest from the revolutionaries. Let’s not pretend that some pristine textbook democratic process has been overturned. It’s a lot more complicated than that.

        • Ronan says:

          Yeah fair enough, but the MB had spent decades organising on the ground in Egypt, and realistically at this stage in the process you were unlikely to weed out the old regime or put manners on the military, but perhaps you could put on enough pressure to push for long term change in the direction you want
          Which is easier said than done of course, especially from my position, but there has to be some blame put on the ‘opposition leadership’

        • Gregor Sansa says:

          Nor did it have to run elections using plurality voting. Remember, neither of the two runoff candidates (Morsi and Shafiq) got even 25% of the vote. Over half of Egyptians voted against both in the first round, and polls suggest that reform candidate Moussa would have easily won with any decent voting system (such as Approval voting).

          • Manny Kant says:

            Surely a two round election with a run off shouldn’t be characterized as plurality voting?

            • Gregor Sansa says:

              Sorry, I tried to reply to this earlier and somehow it didn’t take.

              Yes, plurality-with-runoff is a step up from plain plurality. But that only brings it up to being the second-worst system imaginable.

      • Just saying that something is “democratic” isn’t a real defense.

        • Ronan says:

          I don’t see what your saying

          • “The MB might be incompetent, and illiberal, but as Scott says it’s a democracy.”

            This is sort of like saying “BTK was a sadistic, raping, serial killer…but he treated his family well enough!” At least IMO.

            • Ronan says:

              I don’t think it’s a great argument for casting a vote for them (sure its a democracy, why not?) but for developing representative institutions in a country where they have considerable support I don’t se what the alternative is. You cant exclude them, and the MB aren’t exactly renegade extremists

              • Gregor Sansa says:

                You don’t have to exclude them. Just use any voting system where a candidate opposed by 75% of the voters (as Morsi was in the first round) can’t win. Reform candidates were far more popular overall and if it weren’t for the vote-splitting promoted by the plurality system, Moussa would likely have won.

                • Ronan says:

                  This is a very weak argument, revolution b/c of disagreement with voting system?

                • Gregor Sansa says:

                  That’s quite a leap.

                  Brien said that the MB were bad. You said, yeah but that doesn’t mean you can exclude them from elections. I said, you don’t have to exclude them, they wouldn’t win a fair election. My point was not connected to whether the coup was a good idea or not; I was saying that if the military had been truly motivated by democracy, they would have avoided the need for the coup, which clearly would have been better.

                • Ronan says:

                  But your argument is that if the oppossition could have unified around a specific candidate they could have won, so that negates the election?
                  I’d be interested to see the evidence on Moussa..

                  Another way to look at it is, with elections coming up, the beginnings of an imperfect set of procedures for institutionalising representative government and the main Islamist party showing a firm committment to democracy, those oppossed to the MB and the old regime had the opportunity to begin make demands on the Presidency, the military, the Brotherhood etc..this isnt going to work perfectly first time, it takes time to develop, but that was the oppostunity

                • Ronan says:

                  Sorry, forget the Moussa thing, I read your first argument again by mistake

                • Ronan says:

                  last thing, I dont believe the military is motivated by democracy, i think theyre motivated by protecting their interests..but interests change, and over time the militarys (and security services, and executives)powers can be curbed

                • Gregor Sansa says:

                  Evidence on Moussa: further explained and linked here and here.

                • Ronan says:

                  Fair enough, but I personally dont think thats a convincing argument. For example the UK uses first past the post, Ireland PR, both Im sure have their costs and benefits, but its not really here nor there (and its something to be fixed over time, not take to the streets over)

                • Ronan says:

                  I think you’re overstating how unified the politics of the oppossing candidated]s were aswell(a number of them were old regime stalwarts)

                • Ronan says:

                  That Pew poll evidence(hat more people wanted Egypt to be like Turkey than Saudi) tells us nothing either.. it doesnt say anything specifically about peoples views on the MB, who are not fundamentalist radicals

                • Manny Kant says:

                  Every candidate in the first round was opposed by at least 75% of voters.

                • Gregor Sansa says:

                  Yes, every candidate was “opposed” by a supermajority. But high stakes multicandidate approval elections typically have around two or more average approvals per voter, and polls suggest that in such a system, Moussa would have gotten over 36% (his “strongly support” number) and very possibly over 50% (as his strong+weak support was 81%).

                • Manny Kant says:

                  Are you saying that any country without approval voting doesn’t count as a democracy? You can always play games and say some other candidate would have won if there had been approval voting, but a two-round system with a run-off is a perfectly acceptable democratic voting system used in a lot of countries generally accepted as democracies – France, for instance.

                  Obviously, it’s a system that occasionally has perverse consequences (as French people learned in 2002), but I don’t think anyone would argue that a military coup against Chirac was justified because of imperfections in the electoral system that prevented the left from having a candidate in the run-off. If liberal reformers in Egypt wanted a candidate in the run-off, they should have done a better job of unifying and running a decent campaign. That’s how democracy works.

                  This isn’t to say that the Muslim Brotherhood government didn’t take actions that were contrary to the spirit of democracy. But arguing against the legitimacy of the election because it was conducted on the system used for popular presidential elections in most of the world is kind of ridiculous.

                • Ronan says:

                  The first 25 seconds of this

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ISasEcFeAc

                  Is how I feel about Manny’s last commet

                • Gregor Sansa says:

                  I never said the election was illegitimate or that it was any less democratic than most of the world. I am saying that the problem could have been fixed by being more democratic than the rest of the world. And that if they don’t want to have the same problem again, approval voting would be a useful tool.

                  France is a pretty poor example to cite. Nobody argues that France isn’t democratic. But in both 2002 and 2007, it’s pretty clear that their system let them down, and that the Condorcet winner didn’t even make it into the runoff. And there are plenty of French people trying to fix that.

                  Similarly, I’d never say that the US isn’t a democracy, or that Bush should have been overthrown by the military. But I can and do say that they could do democracy a lot better.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Just saying that something is “democratic” isn’t a real defense.

          If the question is whether a government has the presumptive legitimacy not to be usurped by a military coup, I’d say it’s a hell of a defense.

          • Brett Turner says:

            Presumptive legitimacy, sure. But are you saying there are no situations in which the presumption can ever be rebutted?

            I agree that the bar for this sort of coup should be very high, but Morsi was doing a lot to gather power to himself and the MB, in a manner pretty inconsistent with the democratic principles on which he was elected.

            • Gregor Sansa says:

              I agree; but I also know that that’s what they claimed in Honduras, where it was a big fat lie. So I’m happy to have Scott playing presumpdevil’s advocate.

              • Gregor Sansa says:

                And even if the coup was justified, Bobo still lacks the mental equipment for any job except toilet-paper-nose.

                • Toilet Paper Nose Inc. says:

                  Thank you for your submission. We regret that it does not meet our needs at the present time. We will keep your application on file and contact you if our circumstances change in the near future.

              • Manny Kant says:

                Was it a complete lie? My understanding is that Zelaya really was seeking to consolidate power in undemocratic ways. I don’t think that justifies the coup, but we should try to avoid romanticizing quasi-authoritarian populist regimes.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  Meh; this may be more or less true about Zelaya, but no one in the Honduran oligarchy had any problem with consolidating power in undemocratic ways. Their problem with Zelaya was that his undemocratic power consolidation also threatened to empower the poor. For that, a coup was in order.

                • Gregor Sansa says:

                  I don’t particularly doubt that Zelaya wouldn’t have stopped at consolidating whatever power he could get away with. But all they actually had on him in that sense was vague suspicion and analogies with Chavez. Yes, he was trying to reform the constitution, and various status quo interests were unhappy about that, but there’s every chance he would have stayed away from the electrified provisions on term limits, precisely because he didn’t want to be impeached.

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  Zelaya was attempting to undo the Honduran constitution’s term limits on Presidents…but he was attempting to do this in a referendum that would have been held on the same election day that picked his own successor, so he would have been out of office even if his proposal had passed.

                • Gregor Sansa says:

                  JfL, he clearly wanted a constitutional referendum, but his stated reasons for that were not to abolish term limits. Unless you could read his mind, you have no basis for being so sure that that’s what he wanted. Of course, you are certainly entitled to have a suspicion.

                  (I know you’re mostly defending Zelaya, so in the end, we agree on the conclusion, just not on how to get there.

            • mpowell says:

              I agree with this sentiment. The military effectively overturned the old regime and then held a quasi-democratic process to bring a new government to power. The process didn’t go very well and the result was apparently unsatisfactory to the majority of the public. Now they’re going to try again. There is nothing super special about holding a single vote for the government. Democracy means a lot more than that. I’m not going to offer a strong vocal opinion on this particular situation because I don’t know much about Egypt but I’m certainly not holding a strong presumption that it was a bad thing.

              • Dave says:

                It was certainly unsatisfactory to several million people in the major urban centers. I’ve yet to see a shred of evidence that an actual majority of the adult population – which would be some tens of millions – felt the same way.

    • Loud Liberal says:

      This observation about islamists would seem to be for support my long held premise that far, right wing, conservative, extremist, islamists, and far, right wing, conservative, extremist, republicans are two sides of the same coin.

  2. Hogan says:

    It has become clear — in Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Gaza and elsewhere — that radical Islamists are incapable of running a modern government. Many have absolutist, apocalyptic mind-sets. They have a strange fascination with a culture of death.

    Asked for a response, Turkey said, “The fuck did I do?”

    In OP blockquotes, Books s/b Brooks)

    • Hogan says:

      Ah, you got there first.

    • Josh G. says:

      The current situation in Egypt is actually pretty similar to what has happened in Turkey several times: the Army acting as a final court of appeal against Islamic extremism. The Turkish army has made it clear, multiple times, that while Islam-leaning parties may be allowed to win, they can only go so far, and the country will remain primarily secular.

      • Hogan says:

        Possibly, but Erdogan has been prime minister since 2003, over three general elections, so I’m not sure you can argue that he and his party are “incapable of running a modern government,” leaving aside the bullshit about apocalyptic mindset and obsession with death. And the protests in Turkey have nothing to do with Islamism as far as I know.

        • John F says:

          The protests in Turkey are about many things, and the Government’s Islamist bent is certainly one of the issues the protestors have.

          • Foregone Conclusion says:

            Yeah, and I wouldn’t vote for him, but he’s more George W. than Osama Bin Laden in terms of his religious fundamentalism.

            • Timurid says:

              This. Parties like the AKP and especially the Muslim Brotherhood are more like the Christian Dominionists and their closest Republican allies than Al Qaeda. They want to rule secular society not blow it up. Their center of gravity is in the business and professional classes (and the rural “gentleman farmer” class), and their social conservatism is complemented by fiscal conservatism. They make sure to render unto Caesar (and unto Mammon). Religion for them is as much about order, discipline and social control as it is about salvation. Groups like AQ are their lunatic fringe, roughly equivalent to Eric Rudolph and Westboro Baptist… people who despise both secular society and the “mainstream” Islamists that they see as frauds and hopelessly corrupt…

        • Kurzleg says:

          I thought I’d heard that some more restrictive laws had been passed – possibly involving alcohol – and that is what caused the protests. Or maybe I’m thinking of Egypt.

          • mark f says:

            There was that and something about replacing a public park with a shopping mall and condos. I think most of the other issues brought up were the same sorts of complaints you’d see in problematic secular governments, like press crackdowns.

            • Steve LaBonne says:

              The public park in question also happens to contain an Atatürk monument dear to secularists, who took its proposed razing as a deliberate provocation.

              • mark f says:

                And now that I see that the proposed building would replicate an old Ottoman barracks that had been on the site before, I guess I can see their point.

          • Hogan says:

            From the NYT:

            The Turkish Parliament passed legislation on May 24 to ban advertising of alcohol and outlaw sales of alcoholic drinks between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., except in tourist zones. Alcohol sales near mosques and schools were also prohibited.

            The closing of Gezi Park was what started the protests, and the heavy-handed response to those protests made them bigger. Per the Wikipedia article, the June 4th demands by Taksim Solidarity didn’t mention anything about alcohol restrictions.

        • Steve LaBonne says:

          And it should also be noted that Erdogan’s bullheaded behavior has attracted some remarkably pointed criticism from within his own party. Erdogan is not the AKP except in his own mind.

          • Hogan says:

            So he’s a repressive authoritarian (like Ataturk), and even some of his friends don’t like him. I’m just saying that pace Brooks’s Orientalist fantasies, Erdogan and the AKP have proven themselves perfectly capable of running a modern state. And I’m not sure military insistence on official secularism is any more democratic than political insistence on official Islamism, assuming that’s where the AKP is going.

    • TT says:

      ….are incapable of running a modern government. Many have absolutist, apocalyptic mind-sets. They have a strange fascination with a culture of death.

      A good many neoconservatives fit that description to a T, as do a fair number of regular conservatives.

  3. John F says:

    Sadly I think the only alternative was going to be a Civil War… and Egypt may well get one anyway, but apparently the non-Muslim Brotherhood Islamists signed up behind this coup as well.

  4. Josh G. says:

    It seems to me that in the modern world, there is a general tendency for the rural citizenry to favor right-wing religious rule, while the cities are in favor of left-wing secular rule. We know this is true in the United States, and based on my (admittedly cursory) reading of the news it seems that it’s also true in the Middle East, especially Iran and Egypt.

    Was it true in Russia as well? This might explain (though not excuse) the ferocious state action against “kulaks” under Stalin’s regime. Communist countries tended to favor the urban proletariat and despise the peasantry (Pol Pot’s regime was an obvious exception). Modern-day China has the urban part of society firmly in charge, with rural Chinese basically confined to their farms. Many urban dwellers in China favor building walls to keep the rural population out of their cities.

    Europe is probably the most urban continent on earth, so it’s not surprising that governments there usually trend towards secular social democracy. Oh, there are rural populations, but unlike in America they generally don’t get voting districts gerrymandered in their favor (there is no equivalent to the U.S. Senate) and they aren’t numerous enough to outvote the city dwellers.

    Since we’d all rule out the Communist solution on moral grounds, how *do* you deal with a bunch of religio-fascist hicks who hold back the country’s progress and that the modern economy doesn’t need?

    • Random says:

      +1 on this, it seems to be one of the fundamental issues in modern democracies.

    • Foregone Conclusion says:

      This is true up to a point, although it’s far more extreme in America than it is in most of Europe (e.g. the Conservatives win most rural seats in England, but these MPs aren’t notably more extreme on social issues than their urban counterparts). And the Socialist Party in France wins great swathes of southern rural France.

    • Alon Levy says:

      In Argentina, Buenos Aires is more right-wing than the rural areas, which benefit from state welfare.

      In Israel, Tel Aviv is somewhat (and I really mean somewhat) less racist than the rest of the country and much more secular, but is no more left-wing on economic issues; Jerusalem is right-wing.

      Conversely, in South Korea, Saenuri lost Seoul, though only by a small margin. But in some other parts of the country there was a 20-point difference between the capital of a province and the rest of the province.

      • Gregor Sansa says:

        Does your Buenos Aires example involve colonialism? Because the one I know of (San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas) and your other example (Jerusalem) certainly do.

        • Joey Maloney says:

          Jerusalem’s current politics have less to do with colonialism (I mean, no less than anything else anywhere in the country) and more to do with a 20-year influx of extremely right-wing, extremely religious Americans.

          • Confused says:

            Has there really been a large influx of American immigrants to Israel? My impression that the big migration of authoritarian, religious, right-wing Jews over the last 20 years had been from Russia.

    • Dave says:

      Well, if the rural population is in the majority, and your attitude to them is that they are “a bunch of religio-fascist hicks who hold back the country’s progress”, I’d say you should go and get yourself fucked, you arrogant prick. But what the hey!

  5. Funkhauser says:

    Look, their political institutions just outran their level of development, just like dead Sam H. predicted. Better dictatorship for them.

    • firefall says:

      what exactly do you mean by development? their level of integration into the capitalist syndicate? their subservience to America?

  6. Another Anonymous says:

    You and Larison are on the same page.

  7. Patrick Pine says:

    Both Buckley’s statement and Brooks statement are repulsive and should be rejected out of hand. These broadbrush stereotype and racist statements are not acceptable from individuals who are supposedly educated and civil. There are dozens of “Christian” denominations with a broad difference in beliefs and practice – as there are “Islamists” who run the gamut of belief and practice (i.e., Sunni vs. Shiite). Morsi and his supporters are but one slice of the many who claim to be Muslim. The same can be said of Buddhists and Hindu “believers.” It is utterly irresponsible of Brooks to make the statement you quoted here.

  8. Brett Turner says:

    The argument in favor of the Egyptian military has to begin from the premise that they did not remove Morsi simply because they disagreed with him, or even because a lot of non-Army people disagreed with him.

    Rather, they removed him because he was trying to stack the electoral deck in ways fundamentally dangerous to democracy; in effect, trying to subvert democracy itself.

    Bush may have done this on the very very margins with minority turnout, but there is no basis for claiming that he was trying to rig the system so that there would be no elections, or so that Democrats could never win elections. Morsi was a danger to the democratic system itself to far greater extent that Bush. Bush was a small-d democrat playing hardball politics, Morsi was a totalitarian wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    Maybe Morsi wasn’t as dangerous as the Western media claims, but the number of Egyptians marching against him—the great majority of them Islamic—would tend to suggest otherwise. As noted uptopic, Islamic leaders outside the Muslim Brotherhood seem to support what the Army did.

    • Brett Turner says:

      This is not to defend Brooks; the quoted statement is horrible. Muslims in general and even fundamentalist Muslims are not genetically too dumb to form a government, that’s 100% racist.

      There is reason to question whether the true motives of the fundamentalists are to participate in a democracy, or to gradually convert said democracy into a fundamentalist totalitarian state. But this is a matter of motive and intent, it has nothing to do with genetics.

      • It’s also worth pointing out that, while Republicans certainly do it with more gusto and in more despicable ways, Democrats aren’t totally above playing games with the loopholes and finer points of election law. And these games largely stem from the reality of our really screwy but long established electoral system.

    • Random says:

      Good points, I think it’s somewhat misleading to label this a ‘military coup’ in the first place, as if it were the exact same thing as Pinochet. After decades of dictatorship their first try at representative government had collapsed into perpetual massive civilian protests. By the time the military stepped in Morsi wasn’t really in power.

      • Who said that “military coup” has to mean “the exact same thing as Pinochet”?

        Of course this was a military coup. That doesn’t mean Egypt is now Chile c. 1974.

        • Random says:

          Not really, no. There was a complete collapse of the government and no democratically-legitimate institution still in place. Calling it a ‘military coup’ simply because the military was the only institution left in the country with enough democratic support to establish order after the government’s collapse isn’t really true to the actual sequence of events that transpired.

          • The sequence of events is that the armed forces seized control of the country, by force, from the previous government. That’s a military coup. No value judgments on the merits of the coup, just a statement of fact.

    • bob mcmanus says:

      Rather, they removed him because he was trying to stack the electoral deck in ways fundamentally dangerous to democracy; in effect, trying to subvert democracy itself.

      Nah. The Egyptian Army was given a choice. The alternative to a coup was mowing down the crowds, as was done in Turkey.

      This is what I presume Lemieux and most of the commenters here think was the best plan, since, ya know, elections and rule of law and whatever. Shoot a few thousand kids.

      If you, or in this case young secular Egyptians, can get a few million in the streets opposing a current gov’t and keep them there, the Army is just gonna have to shoot somebody.

      This is politics.

  9. Manta says:

    “Support for the coup is also incredibly short-sighted.”

    Why? As far as I know, Egyptian military is quite supportive of US, while the MB is more hostile.

  10. Sly says:

    To expand on Read’s point, Brooks’s argument that democracy is a mere “process” that should be disregarded when it produces disagreeable substantive results is quite remarkable.

    I suppose it’s remarkable if you ignore the centuries-long tradition of the conservative intellectual’s hostility towards democracy. But, in all honesty, I would have been surprised if Brooks or someone like him came to any other conclusion; conservatism’s deep and abiding fear of democratic power is the ideological equivalent of “being genetic.”

    • To be fair (in a general sense, at least, since I very much doubt that BoBo applies this with any sort of rigor), the idea that democratic results should be tossed aside when they reach disagreeable (read, un-Constitutional) goals is basically the foundation of liberal democracy, and I’m certainly okay with that.

      • Sly says:

        The “tossing aside” of popular policy because it contradicts with the rule of law may be an important component of liberal democracy (I would disagree that its the foundation, but that’s a whole other discussion), but that’s not the heart of Brooks’s support of the coup:

        This week’s military coup may merely bring Egypt back to where it was: a bloated and dysfunctional superstate controlled by a self-serving military elite. But at least radical Islam, the main threat to global peace, has been partially discredited and removed from office.

        It’s entirely results-oriented. The value of the democratic process is that it allows for the political tension that exists between various constituencies within a given polity – all of whom seek to both advance and protect their specific interests – to work itself out without those constituencies killing or subordinating one another. Brooks discounts that process because, in the end, that process runs counter to his preferred outcome; he wants particular constituencies – the ones he likes and identifies with – to subordinate others. And that’s the heart of the conservative animus toward democratic power.

  11. herr doktor bimler says:

    a strange fascination with a culture of death.
    No conservative European movements have ever espoused a culture of death.

  12. Timurid says:

    Dictatorships and oligarchies spend decades devouring the state from the inside out, destroying its civil society and making all forms of political and economic expression other than bribery and coercion pointless… and then when they finally eat themselves to death and collapse, all of the Serious People are shocked, SHOCKED that the state can’t function anymore.

    So maybe next year some famous person will end up totally riddled with cancer, and the doctors will nearly kill the the poor guy cutting, nuking and chemo’ing all the tumors out, leaving him a virtual cripple… and David Fucking Brooks will run to the bathroom and start shitting out a column entitled “CANCER: UNDERAPPRECIATED AND MISUNDERSTOOD.”

  13. jkay says:

    Make up your mind, Brooks! Was installing democracy in brown-skinned, Islamic Iraq good or not? And I’ve found the conservative addition Turkey to their Axis of Evil funny because they’re on the same political side.

    • JustRuss says:

      Good point. As I recall, one of Bush’s justifications for toppling Sadam was that it would lead to a wave of democracy sweeping across the Middle East. I eagerly await Mr. Brooks’ column explaining how wrong-headed and naive the neocons were.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      Thank you for bringing this up.

      I spent a good five years being called a racist who didn’t believe Arabs were capable of democracy because I didn’t think the Iraq War was going to work.

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