יום ראשון, 19 בינואר 2014

Tocqeville in Egypt

Alexis de Tocqueville had never visited Egypt, but since many consider De la démocratie en Amérique "the best book ever written on democracy and the best book ever written on America", for instance Mansfield and Winthrop in the introduction to their 2000 Chicago translation, it might be useful to explore the way America looks at Egypt from the perspective of Democracy  in America. 

Tocqueville describes at length, mostly admiringly, the Federal Constitution, but according to him the origin of liberty, freedom and democracy is not the formal legal structure/ "Les habitudes, les mœurs et les opinions du peuple," the habits of  mind, the mores of the people, which preceded the formal document are the main reason for and the source of democracy, liberty and freedom. In other words, democracy is not the result of formal statues, constitutions, elections and so on, but the articulation of such documents and events is the result of democratic state of mind of the community, state of mind, which had existed long before formal enactments took place.

G. W.Hegel in his Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts , in different language mocked the attempt of Napoleon to draw  a constitution for Spain:  

Napoleon, for example, tried to give the Spanish a constitution  a priori,  but the consequences were bad enough. For a constitution is not simply made: it is the work of centuries, ... What Napoleon gave to the Spanish was more rational than what they had before, and yet they rejected it as something alien, because they were not yet sufficiently cultivated  [gebildetV  The constitution of a nation must embody the nation's feeling for its rights and [present] condition otherwise it will have no meaning or value .. (Paragraph 274 Addendum Nisbet translation). 

Electrical "democratic" majority didn't make neither Hitler nor the German nation democrats. As a matter of fact it made the situation much worse. The slogan  Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer, became an iron clad root of the German soul, pro-fascist and antisemitic circles in Britain got a new legitimacy for their beloved Third Reich, the war, the crimes of Germans and death of many millions of them became unavoidable. . 

The illicit love affair between Barack Obama, his administration and some members of Congress from both parties with Muslim Brothers stems from ignorance, conceit and feeble-mindedness. De Tocqueville is reserved and cautious in stating self-assured opinions, even on matters, which he deplores, such as slavery:

I do not think it is for me, a foreigner, to indicate to the United States the time, the measures, or the men by whom Slavery shall be abolished.

Present day journos, experts and politicians do not have such qualms. Difference in race, tongue and tradition is never a barrier to their "we know all" stupid ignorance. 

Haj Amin al-Husseini
When American journo-experts are asked about parties in Egypt or elsewhere in the world, their usual retort is, "Well, we have them in Binghamton, New York too, you know, Republicans and Democrats." .They fail to observe that the difference between between any American political party and Muslim Brothers is greater than between such party and Stalin's Bolsheviks or Hitler's Nazis. Muslim Brothers reject the notion of nation-state, their objective is Muslim Caliphate of which Egypt will become just one region. Their notion of law is sharia, not in the sense of Jewish Halakha or Cairo Al Azhar Muslim interpretation. For them any law created or modified by humans is a sin against God, and rulers who practice such law, especially if they are Muslims, are guilty of apostasy, to be punished by death. Notwithstanding the public relations statements in English, to lean about the real spirit of Muslim Brothers one should go to Ma'alim fi al-Tariq, also Ma'alim fi'l-tareeq, ( معالم في الطريق) or Milestones, first published in 1964,by Sayyid Qutb or to Hamas Covenant. Muslim Brothers date of origin, political outlook, antisemitism,permanent suspicion of "plot," and personal friendship share a lot of common ground with Nazi Germany.This antisemitism has nothing to do with Israel, or "apartheid and occupation." One of Muslim Brothers leaders Haj Amin al-Husseini, spent World War II in Berlin, organizing Muslim SS Battalions, while urging Hitler to kill Jews faster. His salary there was twice as much as that of German Generalfeldmarschall. 

Apart from leftist 'democracy' Barack Obama believes that supporting Muslim Brothers is wise realpolitik. His realpolitik is quite simple, always be friendly, nice and appreciative to the bully, because your allies are anyway in your pocket. Apparently he learned his politics working as "community organizer" in Chicago. After reading  the rather boring Dreams from My Father, my impression that as "activist organizer," - I have only vague understanding of the term - he didn't learn much and achieved even less. Obama's realpolitik led him to betray black voters who elected him, their unemployment relatively to whites, is now much higher than it was under Bush, and in foreign affairs to capitulate to Putin on Syria and Iran. 

De Tocqueville was an aristocrat by birth and inner conviction. His parents barely escaped from the guillotine of the terror, which followed the French Revolution. One of the reservations he had about democracy was that the system does not always lead to election of the best leaders the country could offer. He believed that a leader should practice virtue, or rather the Greek arete (ἀρετή), out of conviction rather than political convenience. Leading from behind by a realpolitik Commander in Chief was probably not his dream of a President of the United States. 

Leaving virtues aside, supporting Muslim Brothers is bad realpolitik.Egypt has a 4,000 years tradition of being a nation-state. Alexandria excelled Athens for hundreds of years. It was the city of Philo. Maimonides adopted it as his country. Modern Arab national movements started with Muhammad Ali. Not so long ago Egypt was tolerant to different religions, nationalities and languages. Reading Naguib Mahfouz provides a description of what Egypt was and still might be. Even if it becomes a Muslim state it will maintain its national identity as Iran does. Many Egyptians, perhaps most of them, consider themselves first and foremost Egyptians rather than anything else. They want to live in Egypt as modern nation-state and improve their standard of living. In supporting Muslim Brothers, Obama is betting on a loosing horse. 

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