Let’s take, for example, a Tunisia or an EGYPT.
Let’s see – Egypt was basically a British colony. A moderate opposition to colonial rule tried to achieve results, and the Brits used the putative Egyptian king as a counterweight.
In the end, the Brits left, but not very happilly. Not too long afterwards, they and the French tried to maintain colonialism through the “Suez Affair”, which Ike was bright enough to stop in its tracks. BTW, the Israelis were involved there too, but that’s another story.
Anyhow, what the Brits achieved is what is all-too-common – their efforts against a moderate opposition caused major “blowback”. and a less moderate leadership came to power – Nasser.
Well, Nasser was a nationalist, one who aspired to lead a moderate, populist, and slightly left-wing pan-arabist movement. That, of course, was anathema to the US.
We can’t have a foreign leader that goes against corporate interests in “developing markets”, or in places where important prime materials can be exploited (eg. oil) or strategic objectives might be jeoprodized (Suez canal). We can’t have 3rd world countries controlling their own assets or improving their citizens’ lives – that means less profits for our corporations.
So, we’ve closed the moderate alternative, we’ve stopped the “occidental center-left” alternative, and what do the masses turn to? To the fundamentalists, of course.
Who do we support at that point? Autocratic military regimes, such as Saddat’s in Egypt, or the Shah’s in Iran. And given their horrible results, the fundamentalists eventually gain power.
Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood now rules Egypt! Finally, popular will has its way for once – but in the end it was really the third alternative that won in the end. And after seeing the results of a first free election and the paltry results of the Muslim Brotherhood’s management, Egypt is up in arms again.
Bush I famously lost largely due to a clever meme – “It’s the economy, stupid”. Well, the Muslim Brotherhood and its predecessors (excepting Nasser) never realized that the crux of the biscuit is the economy – and social justice.
Needless to say, the Egyptian electorate is not the most informed. However, is it much less informed than the electorate of any given Western Democracy? The MB won because it sold itself (in an inarticulated way) as an alternative to Mubarak and his poor economic reportcard. Without saying HOW or WHY, it merely stated “we will do a better job”, won the election, and proceded to follow its own agenda of fundamentalism and largely ignoring the real reason why they won in the first place.
So why do we do the Bangles and “vote like an Egyptian” if we’re so advanced? Of course, we are NOT so advanced, and every single electorate I know of is pretty much uninformed. The only difference is that the Egyptians had to choose between the 2nd and 3rd best, while we have the wonderful luck to choose between…. uh, well, evil and a lesser evil.
Well, Egypt is up in arms again. Many thousands are protesting yet again, this time against those they chose as an alternative to the last puppet. In many countries, from Brazil to Greece, people are up in arms – because they rightly feel screwed over by a system that they don’t understand, that is fundamentally unfair, and that is leading us (ironically) down a road to serfdom.
Of course, in some countries, such as the US , people are still comfortably off, even if things aren’t as good as they used to be. So between a Dubya and an Obama and a Romney, they can afford the luxury of choosing a “lesser” evil. A “lesser evil”, I might add, that is, in many ways, indistinguishable from the greater one.
I mentioned Ustinov in another thread. His protagonist said at one point, more or less, “I’d rather have a wolf in wolf’s clothing than a wolf in sheeps clothing. I prefer my evil unadulterated.” I think, or hope, that some parts of the world are begining to see the light.
FWIW, here in Spain, for the 1st time, the “2” major parties together no longer garner more than 51% of electoral support. A center-left and a lw party, together, would have a majority if elections were held tomorrow. Lesser evils are not attractive when times really get tough.
Luckily, the extreme rw over here is not viable after 40 years of Franco…. I guess it takes experience to see the light..