A third serious setback was Egypt. The collapse of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011, amid giant protests, raised hopes that democracy would spread in the Middle East. But the euphoria soon turned to despair. Egypt’s ensuing elections were won not by liberal activists (who were hopelessly divided into a myriad of Pythonesque parties) but by Muhammad Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. Mr Morsi treated democracy as a winner-takes-all system, packing the state with Brothers, granting himself almost unlimited powers and creating an upper house with a permanent Islamic majority. In July 2013 the army stepped in, arresting Egypt’s first democratically elected president, imprisoning leading members of the Brotherhood and killing hundreds of demonstrators. Along with war in Syria and anarchy in Libya, this has dashed the hope that the Arab spring would lead to a flowering of democracy across the Middle East.
The days of European colonialism are over. “White” people are a shrinking minority in an ever more interconnected world that is increasingly uplifting the people “whites” previously colonized with their exploitative racial caste system. Most of us “white” people, along with most of humanity, want to move on figuring out how to live together peaceably side by side with the rest of humanity. A few “white” people want to reclaim myths of lost greatness. I suspect Gilley is one of them. All I have to say to these “white” people is: the “white race” can’t afford you any more.
Of course this was pre selection of a PS candidate. Many of the Socialists agreed with my analysis that once they had chosen the candidate, they needed to unite behind that candidate, resist their historic predilection for factionalism, run a campaign that was fresh, energetic and based upon a programme totally focused on the future and one which addressed people’s concerns. They agreed too that the PS could no longer look down its nose at communication, but had to see it not just as an essential element of campaigning, but a democratic duty at a time when people have so many pressures on their lives and living standards, and concerns about the world around them. But though they agreed with the analysis, some worried about the Party’s capacity to deliver upon it. The fear of another defeat ought to be enough, surely, to deliver on the first and essential part: unity. As someone on the progressive side of the political divide, I continue to think the French left’s over intellectualisation of politics, its focus on never-ending debate instead of agreement around big points and unity behind one accepted leader remains a problem.