2011 February 03 Thursday
Illiterate Supporters Of Mubarak In Egypt

The thin professional class in Egypt most wants Mubarak gone from power. Recall that many educated Persians wanted the Shah gone. How'd that work out?

While rich and poor alike have joined the call for democracy, the movement has been led by the professional middle class - lawyers, doctors, university students and engineers. Many of the poor, who constitute the majority in Egypt, said they mistrust demonstrators' motivations and are concerned that the movement has a hidden foreign agenda.

That foreign agenda isn't all that hidden according to the (conservative) Daily Telegraph of London: "The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned. "

The funny thing about the US elite support for regime change in Egypt with democracy is that only a fairly thin elite segment of Egyptian society really supports the Camp David accords. What major foreign policy interest does a large chunk of the the US foreign policy elite see itself has having in the Middle East? Maintaining at least minimally cordial relations between Israel and its neighbors. What will a more populist Egyptian leadership be like toward Israel? Less cordial seems like a really good bet. The only question is just how much less cordial.

Anyone for literacy requirements for voters? A literacy requirements strikes me as well below bare minimum ability needed for voters in order for a democracy to function well.

But back to the WPost. Mubarak went to university. This makes him qualified to lead the illiterates as an illiterate Egyptian mechanic points out:

Sayed, dressed in worn jeans smeared with oil, said no decent Egyptian would insult the president as demonstrators have Mubarak.

"I don't read or write myself, but I know that Mubarak went to university, and since then he's done nothing but serve us," he said. "It doesn't make sense to me that after all that, we're just going to throw him away."

Suppose the illiterate of Egypt get the right to vote. They will not understand the nuances of what competing elite factions are trying to do by gaining power thru the ballot box. American voters are comparatively much better educated and yet they are hardly paragons of rationality or fairness. Take a populace far less skilled, less supportive basic freedoms, and more driven by a religion that is broadly hostile toward non-believers and who will they vote for? This isn't rocket science.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 February 03 08:56 PM  MidEast Insurgencies

A.Prole said at February 4, 2011 1:06 AM:

Randall, you are playing a dangerous game.Representative democracy means just that - one person one vote.
Any attempt to put a qualification on the vote will be seen exactly for what it is - an attempt by some self-interested elitist party to run the country in its own interest.Basically, the proposal is evil and right-think people are justified in the use of force - up to and including killing those implementing the policy.
Giving stupid fools the vote is price that has to be paid, just in the same way as a pauper's life is in a court of law just as worthy as a billionaire's.Any deviation from this is evil.

Florida resident said at February 4, 2011 9:03 AM:

Dear "A.Prole" !
You wrote:
"pauper's life is in a court of law just as worthy as a billionaire's."

For this sentence to make sense, one needs the presence of "court of law."
If it is absent, there nothing to discuss.

To the best of my (pretty poor) understanding of history,
"courts of law" and their general acceptance had to evolve
for pretty long time in quite non-democratic societies.

Respectfully, Florida resident.

A.Prole said at February 4, 2011 12:04 PM:

Florida Resident,
As you are (undoubtedly) a proud US citizen, I wonder if you actually understand the Constitution of your proud nation, or the reasons behind the Declaration of Independence and subsequent war.
Please read it carefully and try to digest it - it is a wonderful piece of writing.
Respectfully yours,
A. Prole.

Check It Out said at February 4, 2011 2:16 PM:

The U.S. constitution is truly a wonderful piece of writing. It inspired so many others. It was conceived in the higest ideals and most noble principles. Too bad it's been stepped on and raped so much particularly in the last decade or two. The U.S. is a country other than the one fifty years ago, thirty years ago.

The Founding Fathers had a true vision: Freedom. They were bold, rebelious and many of them would qualify as "terrorists" nowadays. They were ready to die for an ideal. They wouldn't accept all these new "security laws" like cameras all over your neck, mandatory seatbelts while driving, ridiculous speed limits on the safest roads in the world, etc. They wouldn't believe that any government cares more for them or they children than they themselves.

Meanwhile modern americans seek only security, safety. For every cowardly nation there's always a dictator...

Mike said at February 4, 2011 4:30 PM:

This uprising looks to be following a familiar pattern. A combination of middle class semi-liberals and Marxist theocrats (the Muslim brotherhood) wants to get rid of a conservative-leaning autocracy.

The conservatives go and the middle class liberals take over for a short time, but fail to restore order. Next the Marxist theocrats take over and cause problems with Israel and scare off all the tourists. The poor get a slightly better food ration, but the country as a whole ends up poorer than it started.

Aki_Izayoi said at February 4, 2011 4:39 PM:

I thought you would reference the average IQ of Egypt in such a post.

Aki_Izayoi said at February 4, 2011 4:39 PM:

I thought you would reference the average IQ of Egypt in such a post.

Randall Parker said at February 4, 2011 6:13 PM:


The propety owners rose up and overthrew the British. Once the British were ousted in large parts of the country where was not universal suffrage for white males let alone for everyone else.


Why is about a quarter of the Egyptian illiterate? Why is it so undeveloped? Hmmm....

Check It Out,

The constitution is not compatible with letting the masses vote. The constitution has gradually given away against the pressure of the masses and their elected representatives.

A.Prole said at February 5, 2011 12:45 AM:

No Randall, the qualification back in those dayys was property ownership.
This was on the justifiable grounds that, back in the day, only property owners contributed the bulk of taxation - and thus actually paid for government.However, since then, the scope of taxation has increased so that the poorest, proportionally pay a bigger burden, and universal military conscription was introduced (previously soldiers were volunteers).
It's very difficult to argue that if a citizen is good enough to give his life for his country, then he is good enough to be represented in government.

A.Prole said at February 5, 2011 12:53 AM:

Anyhow, Randall, as regarding the USA, the least educated (ie Blacks and Latinos), generally make the most rational and intelligent choice in their voting patterns by voting solidly for the Democrats - who fight fiercely for their sectional interests.
The bad choices are made by 'middle class' blue collar and white collar Whites who vote Republican, a party that assuredly DOES NOT represent their class interest #it has pauperized them and shipped off their jobs to China and basically couldn't give a shit if they starve or die, it only cares about fattening the pockets of he country club set#.

A.Prole said at February 5, 2011 1:51 AM:

The American Revolution was inspireda great deal by the hatred Americans had for the entrenched feudalism of Britain, in which accident of birth was the key determinant of an individuals political and judicial status.The revolution was idealistic in its intent.
- How modern Americans forget this is baffling.

Florida resident said at February 5, 2011 4:38 AM:

Dear A.Prole !

1. Thank you for your responses to my post and to other's.

2. Yes, I am proud US citizen.

3. It is revealing that you use the term "accident of birth". This is apparently the term from "the Blank Slate" model of humans: that all humans are born as identical, interchangeable "Blank Slates".  

4. The idea I wanted to express is that some societies are not ready  for democracy. Those societies will not gain from adopting it.
Chances that some gang will usurp the power are high.
Reasons for that may vary. Culture, technology, traditions, history, religion, technology, biology, geography; you name it. 
E.g. I am sure that Europe of year 1200 was not. Another example is Russia in 1918, with subsequent communist terror.

Respectfully yours, Florida resident.

A.Prole said at February 5, 2011 7:26 AM:

Of course, all 'laws' and 'rights' are dependent upon the society in which they exist, as Jeremy Bentham put it 'any notion of natural rights is nonsense on stilts'.
BUT, since the enlightenment certain values and respect for 'human dignity' have come to be regarded by what I might term 'right thinking persons' as sacrosanct.Democracy and universal suffrage are amongst the most important of these, therefore dictatorship, no matter how benign or 'good for the people' cannot be tolerated.
Communism never claimed to be democratic, after all it was the dictatorhip of the proletariat :)

Florida resident said at February 5, 2011 8:14 AM:

Dear A.Prole !
Your comment on February 5, 2011 7:26 AM is acknowledged with gratitude.
Your F.r.

Randall Parker said at February 5, 2011 9:25 AM:


The poor get far more in benefits from the government than they pay in taxes. Smarter higher earners subsidize dumber lower earners. For that matter, smarter higher earners subsidize smarter lower earners who make career choices that have low compensation.

Citizen giving life for country and voting: The US military won't even accept lower IQ enlistees (AFQT has 4 heavily g-loaded sections and the US military is a big believer in psychometrics even while our liberal elites publically deny the value of IQ tests). So a substantial segment of the population is not even eligible to give their life for their country. They are just too dumb to serve. Hard to see why someone who can't pass the AFQT should be eligible to vote.

A.Prole said at February 5, 2011 11:13 AM:

I don't have much time for the duffers either, but one smply just CANNOT call oneself a 'liberal democrat' ie be a defender of 'universal moral values' if we decide to deny the franchise from 'our fellows' due to some arbitralily designated physical or mental attribute.
From my posts, you will see that I'm not a particularly nice or sentimental person, but there are limits to how far I would even go.
Basically a 'civilization' that acted in such a way is unworthy of the name.

Randall Parker said at February 5, 2011 12:43 PM:


Luckily I do not call myself a liberal democrat or a defender of universal moral values. But from your response it is clear you think promotion of universal moral values make sense. So why don't we discuss that?

It seems clear to me that there is quite a wide range of interpretations in the human race for what is moral and what is immoral. There is even a substantial segment of the population that is psychopathic and really doesn't feel much in the way of moral constraints.

Furthermore, a foreign policy based on a belief in universal moral values is fraught with problems. What, the Iraqis do not eagerly welcome our attempts to impose Jeffersonian democracy on them? What, the Persians overthrow the Shah to put a theocracy in its place? What, the Algerians hold an election and the theocrats get a sweeping victory and the military steps in to nullify the election and the country descends into urban warfare and terrorism? I could go on. Throw in Egypt as a likely next example. Will women become more or less free if elections become open to all comers in Egypt?

As I see it, civilization can't be defended with a mythology that departs too far from reality. I want civilization for myself and my friends and family. I start from that point. The continued existence of civilization is far from assured. Civilizations decay, especially when their populaces become less supportive and less able to be supportive of what makes the civilization work well.

A.Prole said at February 5, 2011 2:12 PM:

But Randall,
I'm talking about idealism, the healthy polis as recognised by the ancient Greeks and others, the idea that 'citizenship' actually means something.What to do with the duffers is a problem, but there are certain lines that the polis cannot cross if it is not to become a tyranny.

Mike said at February 5, 2011 2:33 PM:

A Prole,

It may not be in the working class whites interest to vote Republican, but it isn't in their class interest to vote Democrat either. The US doesn't have proprotional representation so there is no party that reflects working class white interests. However, this doesn't mean proportional representation would work either.

It's highly likely that if there was a pro-white working class party it would struggle to form a working government with either the Republicans or the Democrats, as neither of the main parties would agree to the blue dog party's demands for immigration restrictionism, protectionism, repeal of AA etc.

In New Zealand we have a pro-white working class party called New Zealand First, but neither the mainstream left or right want anything to do with it, so it's and is only useful as a protest party for when the main parties start to crank up immigration.

Basically western democracy is starting to break down because there are just too many different ethnic and class interests to accommodate, and no one party can please all the different factions.

Randall Parker said at February 5, 2011 2:37 PM:

[This comment was delayed by my own spam filters]


That you can even have that idealism in the first place, that you can look upon models of citizen involvement in government, (I think of New England towns with citizens debating each other and their elected councils) is because some populations have the characteristics needed for an involved responsible citizenry. Not all areas have a healthy polis.

It is folly to pretend all possess these qualities. I think of What happens when these characteristics are not in sufficient abundance is painful to see in one's own country:

IT'S HARD TO THINK of a locality more ripe for ethical reform than Prince George's County. It's not just that the former county executive faces federal corruption charges; that his wife, who is also accused of federal crimes, is a sitting County Council member best known for stuffing $80,000 in her bra to escape its detection by FBI agents; that a current state senator faces trial on bribery charges; that a former schools superintendent is serving a prison term for taking cash kickbacks; that elected officials in the recent past used their county-issued credit cards to rack up personal expenses; or that cadets in the county police academy were suspected of cheating en masse.

Can you imagine this happening in Vermont on such a scale? I can't, at least not with its current population.

Randall Parker said at February 6, 2011 11:29 PM:


Another point: that healthy polis in ancient Greece made up a small fraction of the total population.

no i don't said at February 10, 2011 7:08 PM:

It would be really nice if we started defining such subjective and little-meaning terms like "semi-liberals", "conservatives", "Marxist theocrats" "conservative-leaning autocracy", "middle class liberals". I mean, if everything in the U.S. is right and ultra right wing, and if millions of Americans think Obama is a Socialist(!), then... who exactly are all these people above?

"Marxist theocrats"??? Really? Is there such a thing? and if so, what?

Hey I got a few of those fluffy meaningless terms my own; how about: "aristocrat-marxist" or "capitalist-socialist-monarchicals". Maybe: "Lower class-semi-conservative-communist-republicans", "agrarist-conservative-terrorist", "elitist-democrat-fundamentalists"..., ..., ...

Realist said at February 13, 2011 8:54 AM:

Excellent point on literacy in Egypt but you can't have a "Facebook revolution" if you can't read. I think literacy in urban areas is much higher than the national average of 71% due to decades of free education in Egypt (someone needs to verify this). Perhaps higher urban literacy has created the conditions for organized protests. The vast rural illiterate were not a significant factor.

The real problem is the high cost of food. Egypt's challenge is to deploy the high number of unemployed people in urban areas to produce food. In a desert nation that is not easy. Could Hydroponics or other more efficient food production methods help reduce hunger and increase employment?

no i don't said at February 15, 2011 10:46 AM:

Here are some more fluffy meaningles terms:

"wars of agression", "financial aid", "trade deficit", "happy meal", "pre-board", "pre-cook", "pre-heat", "spiritual life", "disney dvd", "final destination", "virgin birth", "physically challenged", "shower activity", "50% probability...", "80% chance of..." ..., ...,

No wonder why people are unable to deep or abstract thought.

All those and many, many others are terms that when translated into another language, people just go, "What the hell are you tallking about, man!?"

So, if you have the word "probability" -which means uncertainty and implies lack of knowledge- then "100% probability" can only mean a complete and full uncertainty, -a complete and full probability-.

"Oooooh, I think I'm going out to the park today without an umbrella, because they said on the news that there's an 80% probability of rain, which means that there's not even a complete full probability that it will rain. If it were 100% probability I might still take the chance and go out without an umbrella, because it is only completely -100%- probable -?- that it will rain".
Now when anybody who is able to bring his subconscious into conscious thought hears that, they just go, "Fuck man!, I it's only probable that it will be probable..., holy crap!, It won't rain today!

"Ooooh, now we're ready to pre-board the plane, which means that we're getting in the plane before we get in the plane"

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