Egyptian Chaos & Popular Will (Political Theology)


I’m trying to make sense of the chaos and carnage in Egypt, especially in response to Egyptian public opinion. This opening paragraph from this recent  article NYT says worlds:  Gathering Thursday morning around a mosque used as a morgue for hundreds killed the day before, many Islamists waited confidently for a surge of sympathetic support from the broader public. But it failed to materialize. 

Just how isolated the Muslim Brotherhood at this moment? You don’t want to blame the victim, but one does wonder as to the extent to which the Muslim Brotherhood overplayed its hand in what is still very much a Hobbesian environment. Someone commented somewhere that the Egyptian political scene is now and has been for some time a zero-sum game. Will the people come to the Muslim Brotherhood in its moment of need or hang it out to dry?

I don’t see how Hobbes and Rousseau don’t speak to the current situation, the Hobbesian sovereign, in this case the military, but always with a monopoly of violence, reflecting the “general will” of a people, not religious authority, as the sole or first source of political legitimacy. Does this include murder and mayhem as “rightful” piece of liberal pre-constitutionalism?

Didn’t anyone see this happening? Egypt back (or forward?) into the dawn of the Enlightenment, or rather the pre-Englightenment? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe current events are reflecting nothing but pure authoritarianism. I’m not sure, and I’m pretty sure it’s not for us to make that judgement from over here in the United States. But the ridiculous, anti-liberal notion that religion is “political” and the insidious notion that politics is “religious,” both of these are going nowhere good on the ground.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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5 Responses to Egyptian Chaos & Popular Will (Political Theology)

  1. noisy22 says:

    Reblogged this on David Chery.

  2. jonolan says:

    It’s a simple as this – Why would you describe Islamists, some of the worst butchers in the world, as victims?

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