01-31-2011, 08:19 AM
The contours and consequences of the uprising in Egypt—which, after decades in which Hosni Mubarak destroyed the civil society of his country and stifled the most elementary aspirations of his people, was perfectly inevitable—are still unclear. About the justice of the protestors’ anger there can be no doubt. But the politics of the revolt are murky. Its early stages have not been the work of the Muslim Brotherhood, but it is hard to believe that the Islamist organization will not be tempted to play the Bolshevik role in this revolution: it has the ideology and the organization with which to seize control of the situation, and it is the regime’s most formidable political adversary. The army may decide, with the government seriously wounded and robbed of any semblance of legitimacy, to do more than bring order to the streets. Mubarak, in a characteristic act of a failing dictator, has fired his cabinet, as if the ire of the Egyptian people was directed at his ministers: a pathetic move that brings to mind the memory of the Shah of Iran’s eleventh-hour reshuffle of his doomed government. We know this script. The political popularity, and political authority, of Muhammed ElBaradei is also hard to measure.