Saturday, February 5, 2011

Egypt: Changing Times

"Shake-up in Egyptian ruling party"
BBC Mobile US & Canada (February 5, 2011)
An Egyptian protester describes what life is like in Cairo's Tahrir Square

"The politburo of Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has resigned en masse, in an apparent response to anti-government protests.

"Two key allies of President Hosni Mubarak, including his son Gamal, were stripped of their posts.

"Hossam Badrawi, a reformer and top physician, took both positions.

"US special envoy Frank Wisner welcomed the resignations and said President Mubarak should stay in power to steer the transition.

"Protesters still occupy Cairo's Tahrir Square, but their numbers have fallen from Friday's huge rally.

"President Mubarak has also held talks with his ministers to try to revive the economy.

"Banks will reopen on Sunday, but Finance Minister Samir Radwan said the economic situation was 'very serious'.

"Analysts say the uprising is costing the country at least $310m a day...."

Today's World: Not Boring

Any way you slice it, this is not a dull period in world history.

The Lemming thinks that what's happening in Egypt, what happened in Tunisia, and what may soon happen elsewhere across north Africa and the Middle East, isn't isolated to that region.

Here in America, the dominant culture seems - in the Lemming's opinion - to be having an increasingly difficult time dealing with the Information Age. 'The masses' have options other than accepting what traditional information gatekeepers think we should know - and we're using those options.

The Lemming's discussed information gatekeepers before:
Managing the Lower Classes: 'For Their Own Good,' of course
Basically, an information gatekeeper is someone who decides what information gets passed along to other folks in a culture - and what doesn't. Also, what spin gets put on the information that is allowed through.

In America, during the Lemming's 'good old days,' information gatekeepers included news editors, media executives, teachers, and publishers. Happily, many of those folks thought they believed in freedom of speech. Problem is, they weren't always - in the Lemming's opinion - aware of their own biases.

Then there were fashionable ideas like 'don't let facts get in the way of Truth:' In other words, if you really want something to be so, it's okay to make up your own facts.

It wasn't just 'those liberals.' The Lemming remembers when 'regular Americans' had an inordinate level of control over what ideas were allowed in public. Between McCarthyism and political correctness, the Lemming has little reason to be nostalgic about the 'good old days.'

And that isn't another topic.

Egypt: Even Autocrats Should Listen

The Lemming doesn't think that there's a single "correct" way for folks to run their countries. Being a constitution-based federal republic with strong democratic ('small d') traditions and a bicameral legislature works fairly well for the United States. The Lemming's written this opinion in another blog: The best form of government is one that works. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (January 24, 2011)

In principle, a country could, in the Lemming's opinion, be ruled with an iron fist by one person: provided that the chap in charge had the good sense to delegate authority to obsessively-conscientious altruists; and to listen to what the citizens said.

In practice, autocracies don't tend to work that way. Probably, in the Lemming's opinion, because autocrats tend to be know-it-alls who are convinced that they, and they alone, know what's best for the masses. That's a best-case scenario, actually. The Lemming suspects that many or most autocrats do what they do because they like giving orders.

Egypt has had the same president since 1981. That's 'stability,' by some standards. The Lemming's run into the assertion that it's more a matter of having election rules that pretty much guarantee a Mubarak victory.

If the Egyptian president had the good sense to listen to complaints - maybe this wouldn't have happened. As it is, Egypt was a world leader in arresting bloggers who didn't say the 'right' things.

That is not, in the Lemming's opinion, any way to run a country.

Which brings the Lemming back to America: and that's been discussed in yesterday's "Related posts."

Today's related posts:


Brigid said...

missing an apostrophe: "nostalgic about the 'good old days."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Got it! Thanks!

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