What has happened in Egypt in the past 48 hours is truly an amazing victory for those liberty-seekers there. Peaceful revolution is awesome and nothing makes me happier than seeing happy revolutionaries and a disgraced dictator forced to flee. The primary driving force of the change was the demonstrators, but I think we need to realize what really drove Mubarak from power. It was a Military Coup that happened on Thursday and Friday in Egypt. Mubarak was defiant, but the military leadership wouldn't relent and he was forced to leave office.
Revolutions do have a sketchy track record. For every good one there are loads that didn't end up going so well. Just remember that the American Revolution was unique in many ways, but perhaps the most notable is how well it went. If George Washington had wanted to become King or military dictator he could have. He wasn't selfish though and the brilliance of the founders created a long lasting republic. You just have to look at the closest relative to the American Revolution, The French Revolution to see a Revolution that went way wrong.
With revolutions often come power vacuums. The French power vacuum initially got filled by Democrats* who believed so deeply in Democracy that they became repressive of those that were critical of the Democratic government in the Reign of Terror. Then by one of History's least loathed** horrible men, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Egypt is not suffering from a power vacuum right now. The military is in control and is doing the job well in the temporary function. It is obviously not desirable to have the military in control permanently . There will have to be a transition at some point to a democratically elected civilian government at some point. Here in the U.S. we take smooth transitions of power for granted, but this could be the power vacuum in Egypt.
Is the new government viewed legitimately? Does the government become repressive in the name of liberty***? What if the military doesn't give up power?
Revolutions are such messy business. There is so much that can make them go wrong. I still give the people of Egypt a good chance of making this work well. The revolution was peaceful. The military is intact, friendly to the protesters, and doesn't seem to want a dictatorship. The last guy doesn't really have any one left loyal to him. Those are all good things that will help this work more smoothly.
I think Liberty is one of the most brilliant concepts around. It is freedom, but it doesn't mean you can do whatever you want. I have liberty, but I can't go to the movie theater naked****. The other people at the movie theater have the right to not see me naked by their own liberty. Liberty is freedom to do as you choose so long as you don't infringe on another person's right to do as they choose. I just think that is brilliant.
Thanks for reading and please comment.
*Democrats in that they believe in Democracy not the modern political party in the United States.
**Seriously, Napoleon doesn't get the hate he deserves to get. He was a brilliant General, but a horrible ruler.
***That is so ironic, but it does happen. Regimes become authoritarian without meaning to sometimes.
****No matter how much I want to.