Testing Times

Now that the Mubarak regime appears to have instigated concerted attacks against the pro-democracy activists, everyone with an opinion about whether its rapid fall is essential and to be welcomed, or whether there must be a gradual handover that prevents the Muslim Brotherhood taking advantage of a political vacuum, is being put to the test.

Hugely persuasive sense on this can be found at normblog. In ‘Egypt – what dilemma?’, where he surveys the views of various bloggers and columnists, Norman Geras concludes:

The point is that nobody can foresee for a certainty where this process is heading or where it will end. But one cannot profess democratic and liberal values and shut off in advance their possible strengthening and development on the grounds that the democracy established might deliver the wrong result. The result delivered might indeed be wrong. If a people votes in politicians intent on stealing their newly won rights and liberties, that is a tragedy for them and possibly for others. But it’s a risk inherent in the democratic process and has to be worn – by genuine democrats. No democrat, on the other hand, is bound by their democratic commitment to support, much less admire, the political beneficiaries of a democratic process regardless of their political complexion. If a democracy in Egypt were to put in power a new round of tyrants, repressive theocrats or what have you, then this would have to be faced and they would have to be criticized, opposed, constrained, by all legitimate methods. For now, as between that danger and the democratic possibilities, there ought to be no practical dilemma. The people on Tahrir Square deserve our support.

I would add that now, more than ever, as Mubarak is exposed as having lied to his people (not for the first time), the argument in favour of embracing democracy, even if it brings instability, wins hands down.

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