Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Juan Cole on Egypt's Class Conflict

This sounds so much like the latter days of the Mexican Porfiriato (before the Revolution of 1910): the erosion of the regime's original political base, international economic and financial woes, inflexibility of an aging strongman, and a succession crisis. But who plays Madero (visionary democrat guided by spirits)? Zapata (leader of angry peasants)? Villa (leader of more angry peasants, northern version)? Huerta (army heavy)? Hero (martyr or Machiavellian) of the urban workers? Darling of the intellectuals? Of the middle class (slim as it may be)? Of the regional caciques? The favorite of the religious institutions? What will the U.S. do?

U.S. reporting on Egypt -- and um, whatever happened to Tunisia?-- is embarrassingly poor, though of course, much better at this moment when all cameras are trained on Cairo, but then... expect another near-vacuum. (One small example: why has it taken this many days to start googling up articles about such a key figures as Gamal Mubarak?)

Professor Juan Cole remains one of the few consistent sources of, as his blog puts it, Informed Comment. Another interesting read, after scrolling down the news about his novel, is at Sic Semper Tyrannis. AlJazeera in English is finally having its day. And Deutsche Welle (English version) isn't bad.

Phronesisiacal offers some good Egypt news and background readinglinks.

P.S. The doom and gloom continues over at Jim Kunstler's well-informed-on-oil-issues Clusterfuck Nation. I am beginning to keep a Cheez Whiz count-- the number of times he mentions that all-American processed orange stuff. The "Cheez Whiz" tally is higher this week... Though it's a dark drumbeat in Kunstlerlandia, there is wisdom, and his way-out metaphors always make me laugh. Gotta laugh.

More anon, and not about Egypt.