Revolution No. 9

“You say you want a revolution, well you know – we all want to change the world.”

But the Egyptian people changed it, in about what they used to call a fortnight. Unbelievable what’s happening before our eyes. It’s hard not to think the speed of this wasn’t a function of the media environment in which we live.

I’ve been talking with some friends and colleagues who’ve spent time conducting research in Egypt in the recent past and have looked at the functioning of different institutions, and will be featuring some of their insights this week.

There are so many questions right now:

  • Is this a genuine transition to democracy? There’s a slippery concept from the literature on regimes called “consolidation,” when a democratic transition has stuck and there’s no going back. It’s hard to conceptualize, let alone measure, but it will be worth thinking about in the days and months ahead. What would be signs of consolidation? A peaceful transfer of power? A new constitution? Multiparty elections? A moment of crisis for a new government where the military could step in but does not (like Argentina in 2001-02)?
  • What will be the role of the security forces? My dissertation looked at the relationship between the army, police, and politicians in Latin America in historical and comparative context, building off a case study of Colombia during a civil war in the 1940s and ’50s. The “security forces” include army and police (as well as other institutions like the air force), which are constituted differently, have different interests, and may not always work together. Are there differences apparent in how different security forces are reacting during this moment? Are there any schisms that the opposition could capitalize on to develop a coalition pushing for a democratic transition?
  • What will be the role of organizations in what comes next? The idea that the Egyptian uprising has been “leaderless” has been bandied about, which is appealing in this age of Twitter, but A) probably doesn’t describe what’s been going on; and B) doesn’t describe what will need to happen next. Who will step forward within the opposition to speak for the people in the negotiation of what happens next?
  • What will be the extent of the domino effect? People in Iran and other countries in the region are picking up the “Tunisami” and pressing for change. As I talked about last week, there are different internal institutional factors that will shape how those regimes respond and how effective they’ll be.

Stay tuned as events continue to unfold….

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One Response to “Revolution No. 9”

  1. The Blog Briefly Known as "Democratizing Philanthropy?" » Blog Archive » Good Golly Miss Molly, what’s that you say donors outside Egypt can do to help? Says:

    […] The Blog Briefly Known as "Democratizing Philanthropy?" BETA version, new title in the works. New post each Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (for now). « Revolution No. 9 […]

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