Triumph of the Deep State

by wjw on July 10, 2013

Egypt’s Deep State is back in charge of the country, which may not be such a surprise— but what’s different is the enormous degree of popular support.  Demonstrations in the millions aimed at the overthrow of the democratically-elected Morsi government.  How could the Old Guard resist?

Not that the demonstrators precisely wanted the generals back.  And the generals are promising not to stay— we’ll have a revised constitution and new elections later in the year, and in the meantime civilians are ostensibly in charge, and the interim president, Adli Mansour, is offering to appoint members of the Islamic Brotherhood and the ultra-fundamentalist Salafist Nour Party to the government.  (The Brotherhood has declined, but Nour supported the coup.)

Anyway, I think the generals have made their point.

What Egypt’s brief experiment demonstrates is the difficulty of turning a revolutionary party into a ruling party.  The Islamic Brotherhood was underground for decades.  It was used to making policy in secret and relying on party discipline to carry it out.  While the organization had some experience in social welfare, none of its members had any experience in actually running a country, and were unwilling to trust those who did.

Morsi and his circle made their decisions in secret, tried to enforce them regardless of parliamentary, judicial, or popular opposition, and then blamed conspirators when the policies failed.  (Of course, in the Middle East, it’s never wise to disregard claims of conspiracy altogether.)

Thick-headed, stubborn, and zealous.  Hard to picture a worse combination.

So now the country teeters on the brink, perhaps to be saved by billions of dollars in grants from the United Arab Emirates and from Saudi Arabia, both of whom despise the Brotherhood and welcome the coup.

Most reports don’t seem to mention one of the prime causes throughout the Middle East, which is the rising costs of food and fuel.  Climate change is wreaking havoc with the supply of soft-shell wheat, a cheap staple throughout the region.  Unrest will continue as long as food prices remain high, food prices will remain high as long as there’s climate change, and climate change will continue so long as . . .

(And in all this, I’m struck not by the resemblance to my novel Deep State, but to my novel City on Fire, where Constantine seemingly surrendered the state to religious fundamentalists.  He let them run amuck for a time, until everyone got thoroughly sick of them, and then disposed of them in a military coup.

(Is everybody out there reading my books?  And if so, where are my royalties?)

DensityDuck July 10, 2013 at 7:23 am

CoF was pretty much the first thing I thought of when I heard about the military coup.

You seriously need to write a third book in that series. I would buy the hell out of it. I get sad every time I read “and she topples into dream” because I means that I’ve got to the end, *again*.

John F. MacMichael July 10, 2013 at 9:52 am

I am glad to read this from you since it means I was not crazy for thinking that “This is strangely like the bit about the defeat of the theocrats in “City on Fire” when I was watching the news of the Egyptian coup.

And, yes, please write the next book in the series! You created a great, original world with realistic, vivid, fascinating characters and then left us hanging with multiple mysteries unsolved. Maybe you should do a Kickstarter campaign to raise the the money upfront?

TC/Writer Underground July 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm

When I interviewed you after Deep State was released, I seem to recall mentioning the idea that with Deep State, you’d written a basic manual for revolution in the online age.

Unfortunately, you didn’t sit down and write “WJW’s Little Red Book Of Revolution In The Digital Age.” Now you’re paying the price.

Between this stuff and your interesting take on murder in the Green Leopard Plague, it’s time to recognize you’re simply too treacherous for fiction.

It’s time to become a consultant, and make some real bucks.

Pat Mathews July 12, 2013 at 4:15 am

I will download Deep State tomorrow. (Just got in from San Diego. Law of nature: any flights that originate in SFO will be delayed. As was mine.)

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