Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Burke's comments about the French Revolution still hold true today. Gaddafi, Khomeini, Nasser et al overthrew their monarchs and look what those countries got instead. Gradual change works. Revolutions in general bring rivers of blood and tyranny, with the exception of the US, but that is another discussion. This week marks 60 years since Egypt's self-proclaimed Free Officers overthrew the constitutional monarchy of King Farouq – and the first anniversary when one can imagine the demise of the military despotism that so long has wounded the country. Sadly, its most likely replacement will bring on an even worse rule. King Farouk I (r. 1936-52). The era of monarchy had plenty of faults, from iniquitous income levels to violent movements (foremost among them, the Muslim Brotherhood) but it was an era of modernization, of a growing economy, and of increasing influence in the world. Industry had begun, women threw off their face coverings, and Egyptian soft power had a wide impact in Arabic-speaking countries. Tarek Osman recalls this time in his excellent Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak (Yale) as "liberal, glamorous, cosmopolitan."