In Egypt, the government that “came to power in a fair election” represented the only party with a program at the time, such had been the character of Mubarak’s suppression of all political competition, and, indeed, it proved its identity in values by immediate rewriting the state’s constitution to serve its own most undemocratic ends. Notably, it not only maintained Mubarak’s torture chambers but made them its own.
While “the problem” may be labeled “authoritarianism” and attention deflected away from Islam thereby, the primary driver in both unconstrained military and theocratic ambition has been “malignant narcissism” AKA “political narcissism” AKA “civilizational narcissism”. In individuals diagnosed with “narcissistic personality disorder” the signal that is “grandiose messianic delusion” may be quite distinct; in politicians, the same in personality may be recognized too late or — as happens with dictators, secular or religious — abetted by the “gonna get something” mentality of their followers plus the naturally strident and normal narcissism of youth.
Result: ih conflict, the same mentality playing on both sides of the table (“different talk; same walk”).
Against both, the middle in humanity — sometimes I call that the “humanity of humanity” — needs to assert or reassert its interests, and that would seem to involve a unique struggle but one familiar to many of many religions: the revolution on the outside may need to be matched by another within the heart.
Inspiration for the above note: Rodrik, Dani. “The Problem is Authoritarianism, Not Islam.” World Affairs, August 12, 2013.
Q: Why narcissism?
A: Narcissistic mortification.
Causes and encouragements are more probably multivariate regarding contributing factors in producing, say, an actor-producer-director of a personality and a contemporary monster like the dictator Putin-Assad-Khamenei, which is not to suggest that all of their counterparts opposite their position in Syria are honky dory either.
In any case, Dani Rocrick’s essay well covers the “all-for-all” character of the open democracies, the Musketeer quality of my paraphrase extending easily from “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” However, as if with a sharp plane, he criticizes the authoritarianism on the surface of governance associated with the Muslim-majority states.
It may be noted of BackChannels that while I give portion of the “Islamic Small Wars” attention, such as the junta in Burma, Paul Biya in Cameroon, and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe are never far from mind either, nor for that matter at this time is Russia’s President Putin, who appears to have been hastened along his predictable track by his commitment to Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War. “Washington” as if it had a mind rather than contained a collection of such, may have thought that Putin representing Russia’s interests in the middle east would have no investment in Ayatollah Khamenei’s client state and platform for Hezbollah, but it turns out that what Putin, Assad, and Khamenei value most are their respective positions as absolute authorities, achieved or in ambition, in each of their states. That quality also provides a political basis for greater cooperation between China and Russia.
Where fits Muhammad in this?
Approaching the eve of Passover today, some may be reminded that, “So We took retribution from them, and We drowned them in the sea because they denied Our signs and were heedless of them” (Quran 7:136).
Who is “We”?
The Jewish mythos acknowledges God alone as having parted the Red Sea with Moses as merely a leader: “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided . . . . ” (Exodus 14:21).
Repeat: ” . . . all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind . . . .”
Moses, recruited by God in the first place, speaking to Pharaoh as intermediary for God (for it would not do for God to speak to Pharaoh, Pharaoh having confused himself with God), and, by God’s will, leading the Jewish People and a “mixed multitude” down to the sea, may have in “Abracadabra” fashion reached out a foot or two over the lapping tide, but the language doesn’t change as regards who’s Boss, from beginning to the end, alpha-omega, and Who, exactly, “turned it into dry land”.
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