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What Happens If Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Fails?

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Egypt’s steady slide toward economic ruin continues, as the Economist reports. Read the whole thing to absorb the magazine’s grim outlook for Egypt’s economy, and then consider an interesting question: What happens if the Islamists fail?

Under Nasser, Egypt’s secular nationalists failed: they could neither build a modern economy nor defeat Israel. Over the past 200 years Egypt has tried many ideologies and many methods of government, and none of them have worked. It’s more than likely on the present course that the Islamist path will also fail: wearing long beards, praying five times a day, and generally carrying out the rest of the moral program of the Brotherhood will not produce a strong economy or a strong military.

What then? Where would Egypt turn next?

In the short term, more radical forms of Islamism will surely be one option, though these also seem unlikely to do the job.

It may not be all that long before Egypt (and some other places too) are in uncharted ideological territory: a post-Islamism world, where the program of Islamist revival as a cure for society’s ills will no longer have the mass appeal it enjoys today.

This is certainly not something to expect tomorrow or the next day, but ideological fevers do burn themselves out. Enthusiastic young people were once willing to kill and to die for Lenin and Stalin. Now their books mostly moulder on the shelves.

[Image courtesy Getty Images]

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  • Andrew Allison

    The Abrahamic religions have been around for over 2000 years . . . . A post-Islamic world seems rather unlikely. Perhaps we should hope rather for a de-radicalized Islam, although its history makes this unlikely.

    • Bill_Woods

      Well, he didn’t say a “post-Islamic world”, but a “post-Islamism world”.

  • rheddles

    I see something solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short in the future of much of the Middle East.

  • Blaton Hardey

    I’ve never been to Egypt. I imagine regular Egyptians as rather fatalistic and/or down to earth people. But Egyptian politics, like in the entire middle east, is completely nuts… It’s a big drama, but nothing ever profoundly changes, like “The Sopranos”. Maybe after the Brotherhood’s brothers had their try, Egyptians will just put an end to all the monkey-business in their everyday politics? Like, “All right, we’re screwed, but let’s just straighten things out, sober up for once and make the best of it” But then again, they seem to enjoy the big drama…

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