By John Stang
Matthew Yglesias explains at Slate’s Moneybox how the real test to the revolution will be the economic reforms implemented by the new party in power:
The big thing to do today is to freak out over the social and geopolitical ramifications of strong electoral success for Islamist parties in Egypt. One point that tends to get lost in the shuffle of foreign policy commentary is that the fall of Mubarak and the Arab Spring in North Africa are substantially driven by economics. An authoritarian regime that delivers steadily rising living standards for the bulk of the population is going to find it relatively easy to silence dissident intellectuals and political activist. A regime that can’t deliver the goods is vulnerable to mass protests. To give a broad overview of Egypt’s problems, the countries of the developing world are now falling into roughly three groups. First, you have India and China who are driving global economic growth and whose rising middle classes and need for production inputs are increasing global demand for all kinds of primary commodities. Second, you have countries — including much of Africa and Latin America — who are growing rapidly by exporting primary commodities at new higher prices. Third, you have countries that aren’t commodity exporters and that are growing slower than China/India so average people’s incomes can’t keep up with rising commodity prices. This is a dynamic I’ve called fall-behind immiseration and the biggest problem facing any new order in Egypt will be dealing with it, rather than with the various kinds of questions Americans are likely to be more interested in.
So rather than necessarily worrying about whether the big bad Muslim Brotherhood is going to implement shariah in Egypt, it might be more appropriate to be talking about how the parties plan to address income inequality. It makes sense. Most revolutions happen because of economic disparities. The extreme parties tend to promise that one vision of society, such as radical Marxism or Islamism, that will alleviate those problems with a quick fix. Since people like a nice narrative, they will trust those parties. This explains how extremist viewpoints are better at commanding revolutionary activity rather than moderate voices.