A failure to organize, by @DavidOAtkins

A failure to organize

by David Atkins

The world was deeply inspired by the people power that brought about the Arab Spring. It was a leaderless loose assemblage of citizens gathering into public squares, doing nothing other than peacefully demanding change and the removal of longstanding dictatorships.

In its aftermath, we're also seeing the Achilles' Heel of that anarchistic approach:

Egypt looks set for weeks of tension and uncertainty after the first round of its landmark presidential election produced a runoff between the candidate backed by the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and a former general who is seen as a hangover from the regime of the deposed Hosni Mubarak.

In what many described as a "nightmare scenario" that will mean a polarised and possibly violent second round, Mohammed Morsi of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party polled around 26% in the two-day first round. Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister, came second with 23% when 90% of the votes had been counted.

Amr Moussa, the former head of the Arab League, who tried to capture the centre ground, was knocked out. Late on Friday there was only a slight chance that the final picture would change when votes for Cairo and Giza were in.

Turnout was said to be around 40% of the 51m-strong electorate. Official results are yet to be published but a combination of exit polls, centrally collected data and reporting by the candidates appeared to confirm a dramatic runoff that many supporters of the revolution consider a catastrophic outcome. "It feels as if the revolution never took place," lamented a despondent George Ishaq, a founder of the leftwing Kifaya Party.

"The Brotherhood are despotic and fanatical and Shafiq is the choice of Mubarak. It is a very bad result. The revolution is not part of this contest."
Those who fail to organize will always be at the mercy of those who do. Religious and secular authoritarians alike have no trouble with this principle. Neither do hardline Maoist/Leninist regimes. Champions of liberal democracy, on the other hand, seem to have a unique problem here, which leads to our defeat time and time again.