Will Egypt Work as One?

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The news is that two groups identified as Islamist won 60% of the vote. These two groups are 40% or so the Islamic Brotherhood party and 20% a Salafist party. Then there is the remaining 40% not identified by the term “Islamist.” This is what happens when a single country or land area or historically-identifiable region or “people” attempts to govern itself by a single state under democratic voting rules, and that’s only the beginning. This will “work,” whatever that means, whether for stability or for progress or for economic improvement, under certain conditions, such as that people do not have strongly-held positions and will compromise, or that enlightened rulers do not try to suppress those in the minorities, which is almost everyone, or the state’s powers are kept strictly limited. It’s all very difficult, because these conditions are usually absent and it often doesn’t work and then something else is tried, including dictatorship.

Why don’t the main groups live and let live, and let those who adhere to different positions have governments of their own within the same land? This especially can be done when the differences are religious, unless a religion insists that any deviations from its beliefs will be met with force, in which case such a religion is faulty and unworthy of the name. In western democracies, we have this insistence and intolerance but the religious aspects are often disguised and parade around under other banners. What’s the great need for a monopoly state that may simply end up being a vehicle for some few persons in power to suppress minorities? Obviously those who feel they can win power and rule will want the single-government outcome, and that’s all the more reason to avoid it as an institutional structure for a society that has divisions (and every society has them) that matter and that really is not one society for many practical purposes and according to the subjective values of many persons and groups. The identification of disparate persons as one society and the further identification of that single society as the ground for a single government and state are at fault here, in my opinion. These false presumptions then are used to rationalize the domination of a few over everyone else, which seems to be the human drive that needs to be mitigated, not given more ground to expand.

3:42 am on December 3, 2011