I don't have a lot to say about what's going on in Egypt, but here's what comes to mind. On one level it's complicated, but on another it isn't. It's just about people who have reached a breaking point. People in poor countries reach the breaking point more quickly than people in richer countries. The power elite in poorer countries don't have the sophisticated control techniques richer countries have, and so they have to work with more primitive tools.
The American people have no real power until they take to the streets, and they won't until they reach a breaking point. That's the great advantage now that the U.S. power elite has. There's more of a cushion here. Lots of Americans are feeling uncomfortable, but they aren't anywhere near the breaking point. American politics is an insider game played between different factions in the American power elite. For the rest of us it's a kind of spectator sport.
What we get on FOX or MSNBC or talk radio is no different from the analysis we get on ESPN or on our local sports radio shows. It's amazing how much time, thought, analysis goes into all the sports talk. Is it qualitatively any different from the political news and analysis we get down the dial? How does any of it really affect our lives except for feeling good when our side wins and bad when it loses. But nothing fundamental changes unless it's something that the currently most powerful faction in the power elite wants anyway. The electorate has as much influence on what happens in Washington as the fans have an influence on decisions made by the NFL and its owners.
And so the power elite in this country can pretty much do as it pleases knowing there won't be any repercussions. Americans are couch potatoes, and if I'm in the American power elite, I don't care how bad things get for these coach potatoes so long as they stay on the couch, and they will so long as things don't get breaking-point bad.
Ultimately the people who get power are the ones who have an unhealthy, compulsive need for it. And that's how things will play out in Egypt. Mubarak might be pushed out in the next week or so, but things won't fundamentally change. Too many people with power and money--within Egypt and outside of it--have a vested interest in the Mubarak system. They want stability, and the definition of stability is business as usual--the rich getting richer, and the poor, well, staying poor, but not so poor they reach that breaking point. That was Mubarak's only failure, that he let things reach the breaking point. And he will have to pay personally for that, but the system will remain in place.