Posted by: New Class Traitor | December 11, 2012

Authoritarian vs. totalitarian regimes in the Middle East

Daniel Pipes today discusses the mess in Egypt, and argues that continued rule of the dictator Mubarak would have been preferable over the ‘elected’ Islamosupremacist Morsi. This isn’t so much out of any love or sympathy for Mubarak, but as a choice ‘entre le mal et le pire’ (between bad and worse).

In just three months, Morsi has shown that he aspires to dictatorial powers greater than Mubarak’s and that his rule portends to be an evengreater calamity for Egypt than was Mubarak’s. He has neatly vindicated [Zuhdi] Jasser’s and my point: better dictators than elected Islamists. As I noted in the debate, Westerners should slam the door hard on ideological dictators like Islamists while pressuring greedy dictators to allow civil society. That offer the only exit from the false choice of two forms of tyranny.

Read the whole thing. Effectively, however, and without a name-check, Pipes is restating the Kirkpatrick Doctrine here. Then-US ambassador to the United Nebbich, Jeane Kirkpatrick, made a crucial distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Authoritarian regimes, she argued, only seek to control their subjects’ behavior, while totalitarian regimes also seek to control their subjects’ thoughts and minds. Also, authoritarian regimes typically allow grassroots civil structures to functionThe former type of regime — be it a Latin-American junta or an Egyptian strongman — can be worked with up to a point, pressured toward allowing freedoms, and eventually (given enough pressure) be induced to transition to democracy. No such hope exists for the latter type of regime — be it Nazi, Stalinist, or Islamist — and no realistic room for “engagement” exists.

 


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