Spengler speculates as to whether Egypt is governable by anyone. Revolutions follow a predictable course. Popular passion sweeps away the old system, and political actors- who may or may not have instigated things, it doesn’t really matter- try to create a new system out of the turmoil.
If the new rulers can meet the needs and wants of the people and create a durable system, they have succeeded. Usually they can’t. This is the fate of all revolutions and all democracies- that the expectations of the masses, once raised, can’t be controlled.
But who would think that they can? People as individuals are not realistic or reasonable. People in large groups are much less so, particularly if you have large numbers of uneducated, unsophisticated, low IQ people in the mix. All regimes, even the totalitarian, must maintain credibility with the mass of people in some way; in North Korea this is done almost entirely through fear, but even a normal dictatorship has to keep people from going hungry. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies buy the population off with oil money. Egypt has neither a developed totalitarian system nor massive natural resources.
Once the revolution is underway, those that hope to be the new rulers must get a grip on things. The enemy is no longer the old elite; they are dead or gone. The enemy now is their political rivals and the people themselves. Normally in a leftist revolution political repression is established to maintain control. This worked for a while in the French Revolution and much longer in the Bolshevik Revolution. The socialist government elected in Spain in the 30’s started to try to control society on its own terms, and likely would have succeeded but for excessive insults to the church and the proximity of a mercenary army under the control of its political opponents.
The pattern of Western democracies in the 20th century was to deliver a modest amount and promise more. Some people would receive directly from the government; others from a private economy fostered, regulated and consistently grown under the supervision of the government. That has worked for some time, but appears to be coming to an end.
While permitting mobs to attack the embassy of any ally with whom Egypt has a treaty may seem mad, in the short-term it may be president and Moslem Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi’s best option. He can’t suppress the riots; a strong, credible government could send riot police to calm things down, but Morsi has neither strength, credibility nor riot police. The riots keep his most angry, agitated followers busy doing something and focussing their anger elsewhere while he tries to buy time.
Totalitarian and authoritarian governments maintain control based on power and some credibility. They must have systems of control and belief in place. A “democratic” government must meet the expectations of the mass of people. This appears to be impossible in the long run, but as the patron saint of democratic economic provision, John Maynard Keynes, said, “In the long run we’re dead”. Keynes is dead, but his theory lives on. Milton Friedman had a much more hands-off philosophy, but it amounted to the same thing- government management of the economy, if only by managing interest rates, would deliver durable prosperity. Friedman is also dead, but his theory is alive too. Trouble is neither theory seems to work any more.
As I believe Spengler has said before, Morsi’s best bet is that the Moslem Brotherhood take over food distribution, and that economic collapse and food shortages gives them the power of hunger over the population. All they have to do then is threaten or cajole other countries enough to keep the money or aid coming. It’s worked for North Korea for over twenty years, so there is no reason it won’t work for Egypt. North Korea has a large army, a nuclear program and a close-by hostage, none of which Egypt has, so they will need to rely more on pity than fear, but they also have the card of “you have to help make democracy work”.
The Western social democracies actually have it harder; they need to be able to borrow money, lots of it, to keep the population mollified. When they can’t- “the day the EBT card stops working” in Paul Kersey’s choice phrase- the only alternative is more authoritarian control.
Every regime must solve the same basic problem or set of problems. Wheels that don’t get greased, come off. As the sign on the first sergeant’s door said, “Around here squeaky wheels don’t get greased, they get replaced!” Maintain, repair, or replace; governments or cars, the options are the same.