Karl Marx proclaimed a successful revolution was the dictatorship of the proletariat. As of today, the Egyptian revolution is the dictatorship of the middle class.
If ever there had been a truly democratic election in Africa – even including South Africa – it was the election of Mohamed Morsi as president of Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood had trained in western institutions and democracy for years. And they won.
They won because the common Egyptian, the Egyptian of the lower classes, the less educated, the less likely to be employed, the more likely to have been oppressed or even tortured, had the vote. And they voted for the one thing that they had maintained through generations of oppression: their religion.
What’s specially ironic and intellectually stinging is that they were a movement of conservative Islam whose level of violence was low. That isn’t to say it didn’t exist (the horrible murders by the recently appointed Governor of Luxor stands as the example), but compared to Hezbollah, Hamas or the Joker fringes of al-Qaeda, they were choir boys.
Many contend that it was the old dictator, Mubarak, who made them so, crushing them when they misbehaved and rewarding them ever so slightly when they towed the line.
And like African movements across the continent, from the opposition in Zimbabwe to the thrice failed people’s movement in Kenya, they displayed generational patience unfathomable to us in the west. Learning the ropes, so the speak. Patiently waiting to achieve a democratic victory.
But .. All for naught.
The most cogent argument still founded on democracy being used by the supporters of the Egyptian coup is that the Egyptian constitution under Morsi had no feature to allow for impeachment, and that the mass demonstrations of the last several weeks against Morsi were sufficient to constitute impeachment.
The second most cogent argument was that while Morsi was elected democratically, he has systematically dismantled government institutions based on democracy and was crafting a dictatorship for himself.
In my opinion this is true. He packed the legislature and tried to emasculate the judiciary, without any constitutional or legislative authority. He started muffling all opposition media. He kept interrupting the otherwise routine schedule of upcoming elections.
In other words, like every dictator before him, he was using democracy to end it.
But what is disingenuous by the opposition is to claim this while suggesting they aren’t now doing the same thing.
The middle class has at least for the moment come to power. This elicits great sympathy from us, because we are the middle class in America. But they did not come to power democratically. And they won’t stay in power democratically. If they remain in power, it will be through a dictatorship of the middle class.
General Sisi and his underlings have indicated there will be new “democratic elections” by the end of the year, and yet another referendum on a yet another “democratic” constitution.
But no sane person believes that Morsi or the Muslin Brotherhood will have much hope of being integrated into this process. They will be excluded.
And the regime will claim they are excluded “because they aren’t democratic.”
We’ve now created the most distinguished non sequitur of democracy: We’ve proved that democracy doesn’t exist.
In America it doesn’t exist because money and other non-issue components drive elections, giving a distinct advantage to the rich. Democracy is supposed to be a debate of ideas, not bank accounts. Yet we see how quickly this gets muddled in America if a democatically achieved idea condones the advantage of money and other non-issue but controlling mechanisms like seniority and filibuster.
So democracy in America disadvantages the poor and weak. Advantage, upper classes. Same as Egypt. And by the way, the mechanism is the same:
In America so-called “democracy” may not be exclusively defined by money, but money is a principal definer. In Egypt democracy is now clearly defined by the military, and for the moment at least, the military and Egyptian middle class are allied.
And what begets the Egyptian military?
About a billion dollars annually from the U.S.
In today’s world, money is power and reigns, whether in the U.S. or Egypt. Those of us in the relative comfort of the middle class are OK with this, because we are rich enough.
But the poor and weak are not OK with this.
In Karl Marx’s time the “proletariat” was the poor and weak but undeniably the largest segment of society. As it remains today in Egypt. But in America today the “middle class” is the largest segment of society.
And in the globally connected world America has now if not imposed at least facilitated the middle class dictatorship in Egypt. Not directly, of course, because we are fooled by our own ideas. But by the very nature of capitalism, by the means by which we defend our own middle class, so must Egypt become.
This paradigm has but a single peaceful and morally correct outcome: that everyone become Middle Class. To the extent America, or Egypt, or Kenya or South Africa – or China – moves rapidly in this direction, there will be peace. To the extent societies don’t move rapidly enough in this direction, or reverse it, there will be war.
All hail the Middle Class. Long Live the Middle Class.
But don’t be hoodwinked by democracy.