Monday, November 21, 2011

Great Minds Think Alike

Ok, my mind is not so great as those of Will Moore and Christian Davenport, but I was glad to hear that I am not alone: the Egyptian political change of 2011 was not a revolution but a coup.  I made this distinction before: here and here.  Changing the leader and changing the political system are entirely two separate things, whether one needs heaps of social change (Skocpol) to count a political change as a revolution.

Mubarak was a former military commander, leading an authoritarian regime.  The "transitional" military folks running Egypt now are leading an authoritarian regime that has a patina of democracy gloss.  Events of this past week suggest that little has fundamentally changed: serious repression when dissent gets to be a bit troublesome.  Sure, constitutions are being written, but until they are actually implemented and until they re-distribute power away from the military, not a revolution, not a regime change, just a coup. 

Do listen to the Will and Chris podcast for a discussion of coups versus revolutions but also far more than that, as they consider the coverage by the media in depth, and raise all kinds of good questions, including:
Who should the media be talking to?  Area experts may know Egypt or Tunisia or Syria well, but if they do not study dissent, social movements and/or repression, how much insight can they shed? 

1 comment:

Rex Brynen said...

...although it ought to be said that 1) dissent, repression, and social movements were probably the three biggest preoccupations of area specialists even before the Arab Spring, and 2) area specialists overwhelming called this one correctly.

It would be interesting to do research on the predictive accuracy of generalists vs area studies folks--I have never seen anything on the topic. The literature does strongly suggest that theoretical and atheoretical eclectics have better predictive accuracy than theoretically driven pundits with a "big idea" (which is why, of course, they don't teach IR or comparative politics theory in the intelligence community.)