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The symbol of the Muslim Brotherhood's resistance to Egypt's military rule.

The symbol of the Muslim Brotherhood’s resistance to Egypt’s military rule.

David J. Blacker recently returned from a trip to Egypt, and he has tales to tell. A couple of years back, the Egyptian police abandoned their duties and left the country in a state of lawlessness. The brief period of “anarchy” left the country scarred and anxious for any authority figure who promises to bring order and stability. David says the experience of Egypt should give privileged anarchist poseurs in the West pause and to be careful what they wish for.

  • Glafkos Thrassakis

    I am not a vault subscriber, so I will just be commenting on the writeup.

    I used to consider myself an anarchist when I was younger, but I have realized it is generally an immature utopian movement that to a large extent ignores actually existing social reality and dynamics. That said I don’t really think academics are in much of a position to criticize them. For one, does David J. Blacker actually know Arabic? I mean you cannot tell much about a society if you don’t know the actual language most people speak, if you go as a tourist, hang out with only the highly educated English speaking ghetto(since most Egyptians don’t know English) in resorts, hotels and restaurants all with staff that only represent that comparatively privileged subset of the population, what do you know about Egypt at all? With that said I don’t disagree that Egypt is highly violent in the face of its government chaos. But in Turkey, another Mahometan country not undergoing total government meltdown, about a half of doctors in hospitals and clinics are subjected to threats and assaults by the families of patients! The violence in Egypt is largely a part of something inculcated by Islam that just merely grew without the state of strongman to impose some type of order. In Islamic countries most husbands still regularly beat their wives and their children. Those with the most power impose their violence by force from the micro level of the family to the macro level of the state, and when the state breaks down in such societies different groups get space to emerge and try to establish themselves with violence. The state in such cases does have a tempering influence.

    However I do agree that in the USA a government breakdown or even a huge economic downturn would result in massive deaths, violence and societal breakdown. But it is due to the way that Americans think about themselves, their neighbors and society. All my immediate family except me were born in Greece, where they have universal military conscription of males. Yet with rare exceptions few Greeks own firearms outside of hunters and a few military geeks, not that is easy to own them — and few have a desire. But in the USA we have a peculiar American ideology predicated largely on social darwinism, ultra-worship of capitalism and built on genocide of Native Americans — owning a firearm to protect yourself, your family and property against your American neighbors has become a normative value especially in the socially and politically backward South and Midwest(with much more recent histories of driving off and murdering Indians and enslaving and then intimidating through Jim Crowe millions of African Americans). If I went to Greece and preached the type of American gun advocacy that is accepted here, everyone would think I was a lunatic. How people think about themselves and those around them is what regulates how they would behave in a breakdown of the state. Take Greece, do you think if the USA would have had a similar economic situation since 2009 that there would be an increase in societal violence by the gun and other means, to the point that we would overtake, say Brazil, a colonized nation with extreme wealth inequality? Yet in Greece, despite the economic hopelessness do you see any trend that it is going to overtake the USA in violent deaths per capita? From your writeup it seems this academic has an immature understanding and just wants to make a pot shot against anarchism. Things are not so simple.

    • http://c-realm.com KMO

      David J. Blacker was staying with relatives who live in Egypt, so he was not confined to the cultural/linguistic bubble you describe. While the content is not identical to the Vault episode, David talked about his experience in Egypt on the Extraenvironmentalist podcast:

      http://www.extraenvironmentalist.com/2014/02/11/episode-73b-revolutions/

    • http://c-realm.com KMO

      David J. Blacker was staying with relatives who live in Egypt, so he was not confined to the cultural/linguistic bubble you describe. While the content is not identical to the Vault episode, David talked about his experience in Egypt on the Extraenvironmentalist podcast:

      http://www.extraenvironmentalist.com/2014/02/11/episode-73b-revolutions/