Working list on “The Moral Imagination in Social Practice”

This is a working
list on the topic of the Moral Imagination in Social Practice  [11/10/12]. 
[To accommodate requests for notes from a former course.  There is a huge amount of material; this is
only stuff I have used in a course.]
In process
>  I take this to
be what is involved in all social life. 
It is of course manifest in political practice in the sense that all
political interactions are informed by issues that in some sense have a
transcendental significance, since political discourse implies attempts to
frame situations with significance.  So
the moral imagination is involved not only in “religious” affairs but in all
narratives.

Hayden White:  ??? has
argued that all narratives implicitly imply moral orientations

A useful start on the term “moral imagination” can be found
at:
http://www.engr.psu.edu/ethics/moral.asp
What I have in mind by social practice I mean practice in a
sense developed by Bourdieu:  Outline of a Theory of Practice, The Logic
of Practice
, etc.

So the topic, Moral imagination in social practice is
essentially a way of looking at cultural affairs, social practices, so as to
appreciate the moral implications or insinuations in all social interaction.
It’s another way of thinking about culture.  I have defined what I mean by “culture” at:

If I were looking backwards to earlier works of interest I
would include:

The counter enlightenment authors:  See Isaiah Berlin,  Counter Enlightenment.  Dictionary of the History of Ideas.  Key figures: 
Vico, Hamann, Herder, Hume. 
Respondents:  Kant, Voltaire
Max Muller:  In,
Exploratons in Language and Meaning by Malcomb Crick
Max Weber.  On
Religion…

Other important works:
For a course I gave on this topic, here is a list of some of
the readings we examined together: 
            [* =
required of most students],  
            [# =
optional, except for grad students or students who have taken AN3700, in which
case it is required instead of the other],
            [& =
another optional reading in case you are interested and familiar with the other
readings.].

As per my understanding of culture as essentially a body of
forms whose meanings a community more or less share:
* Clifford Geertz. 1973. “Religion as a Cultural System.”
In: The Interpretation of Culture. New York: Basic.
# Clifford Geertz. 1973. 
“Ethos, Worldview and the Analysis of Sacred Symbols.”  In Interpretation of Culture. New York:
Basic.
& Clifford Geertz. 1973. Thick Description. In
Interpretation of Culture. New York: Basic.

Geertz:  The following
are both about art as a cultural system and can be compared with his Deep Play,
which is also about art as a cultural system. 
By comparing them you can get a sense of Geertz’s concept of cultural
system, a topic on which I am not sure many readers have gotten right.
* Clifford Geertz. 1973 “Lost in Translation: Social History
of the Moral Imagination.” In: Local Knowledge.
# Clifford Geertz. 1973. “Art as a Cultural System.” In: Local
Knowledge.

Clifford Geertz:  The following is the
most important article to understand and internalize but it is difficult; it’s
easy to miss the fact that the views he presents first are defective.  Note what is wrong with each.  Hint: 
Look for what he has to say about defining situations.  The definition of the situation is a critical
concept for our topic.
* Clifford Geertz. 1973. “Ideology as a Cultural System.”
In: The Interpretation of Culture. New York: Basic.
Also, Geertz, Thick…[above]

Victor Turner:  all of his works are aimed at understanding the moral imagination in social practice.  He comes out of a different tradition [British Manchester School] and so uses a somewhat different language.  See for instance his Betwixt and Between, and his other works on the Ndembu.

Abner Cohen. See his Custom and Politics in Urban Africa.  Also, his Masquerade Politics. [Also from the same tradition as Turner.  Their mentor:  Gluckman.]

Irving Goffman was an influence on Geertz’s thought, but he comes
out of a “symbolic interactionism” tradition.  This was early associated with Geo Herbert
Mead:  “I” vs “Me”,
as fundamental concepts of the person. 

G. H. Mead. 
1934.  Mind, Self and
Society.  Ed by C.W. Morris.  Chicago
G. H. Mead. 
1938.  The Philosophy of the Act.
Ed by C.W. Morris.  Chicago.
Irving Goffman. 
1959.  [selections] The
Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life. 
New York:  Anchor.    *Introduction 1-16.  * [6th day] Performances 17-76.

Marshal Sahlins.  Sahlins’s
ideas we will spend a lot of time on.
Marshal Sahlins 
1985  Historical Metaphors and Mythical Realities [Selections]
Marshall Sahlins. 2004. [selections] Apologies to Thucydides: Understanding Culture as History and Vice
Versa
            Included is: *”Elian
Gonzales”
            Included is: *“On the
Shot heard round the world”

William Sewell is looking for theoretical frames of reference that
will help historians be more deliberate and conceptually consistent in their
work.  I like the whole book.  I don’t think he understands Geertz but he find’s Sahlins’s structuralist approach [that is, as critically revised by Sahlins] to the study of history
helpful.  [Of course Sahlins sought to
revise structuralism, as in the readings above.]
William H. Sewell, Jr. Logics of History . Chicago:
University of Chicago.Chapter 1
* [ch 3, Eventful Sociology ] Logics of History
William Sewell, Jr. [ch 4, Theory of Structure] Logics of
History:  Geertz
William Sewell, Jr. [ch 5, Concepts of Culture] Logics of
History:  Sahlins
Sewell [ch 6, Geertz]
Sewell [ch 7, Sahlins, Theory of Culture]
* Sewell [ch 8, Translations of Structures]
Sewell [ch 10 Refiguring the Social]

From here many useful studies of the moral imagination
appear in the anthropological journals. 
Examples that I have used follow:
On civil wars [civil wars always provide excellent examples of how competing sides misconstrue and misrepresent each other, so good examples of how moral rhetoric works in social practice:
*Denich, Bette.  1994. 
“Dismembering Yugoslavia: Nationalist Ideologies and the Symbolic
Revival of Genocide.”  American
Ethnologist 21(2):367-390. [ISSN 0002-7294]
Sells, Michael A. 1996. The bridge betrayed:
Religion and genocide in Bosnia.
Berkeley: University of California
Press.
Sells, Michael A.   2002.  “Construction
of Islam in Serbian Mythology.”  In:  Maya Shatz Miller, ed: Islam and Bosnian
Conflict Resoltuion and Foreign Policy in the Miltiethnic states.  Montreal: 
McQueens.
Ben Anderson:  Imagined Communities.
Bruce Kapferer.  Evil and the State, In: Legends of People Myths of State.

Other works of my own [apologies for self-promotion]:
Robert L. Canfield  :
2008c  Fraternity, Power, and Time in Central
Asia. In: The Taliban and the Crisis of Afghanistan, edited by Robert
Crews and Amin Tarzi. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
2004b  New Trends among the Hazaras: 
From “The Amity of Wolves” to “The Practice of
Brotherhood”.  Iranian Studies
37(2): 241-262.
2003.   Symbol and Sentiment in Motivated Action.  In: 
Tom Headland, MaryRuth Wise and Ruth Brend (eds), Language and Life:
Essays in Memory of Kenneth L. Pike

Dallas: SIL International.  Pp
343-358. [This was perhaps too abstract an argument; few people pay attention
to it.  The Linguists think it is too
elementary to be useful.  But the point
is to find a way to describe how signs “resonate” both subjectively and
intersubjectively.]
Other works of interest:

Richard G. Fox. 1983. [Selections] Gandhian Utopia
Fredrik Barth. 1993. [Selections] Balinese Worlds. Chicago: University of Chicago.
Fredrick G. Bailey: [selections] The Prevalence of Deceit. Ithaca: Cornell University

Verdery, Katherine. 1991. “Introduction: Ideology, Cultural Politics, Intellectuals.” In: National Ideology under Socialism; Identity and cultural politics in Ceausescu’s Romania.
Michel-Rolph Trouillot. 1995. “The Power in the Story” Ch 1 in Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston: Beacon.
Michel-Rolph Trouillot. 1995. “An Unthikable History: The Haitian Revolution as a Non-Event” Ch 3 in Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston: Beacon.
Wolf, Eric R. 1999. “National Socialist Germany.” pp 197-273.  In Envisioning Power: Ideologies of Dominance and Crisis. Berkeley: California University.  [What is interesting about this is the effective way that Wolf’s marxist approach turns out to reveal effectively how the moral imagination was constructed and reiterated in German history.]
Fernandez, James. 1986. “The Dark at the Bottom of the Stairs: The Inchoate in Symbolic Inquiry and Some Strategies for Coping with it.” In: Persuasions and Performances: The Play of Tropes in Culture.

Lindsay:. Ch 1, “Presidents and Power” in Faith
in the Halls of Power. Oxford University Press.

Wendy James.  
* James, Wendy. 2000. Postscript to Part I: On Moral
Knowledge. In: The Listening Ebony: Moral Knowledge, Religion, and Power among
the Uduk of Sudan. Oxford: Oxford University. pp 143-156. [James is a product of the Evans-Pritchard approach to anthropology, but she reflects the maturation of that tradition into ethnography that is still very interesting. In the above chapter of the longer work she pauses to reflect on the implications of her ethnographic material.  I found it creative and imaginative; my students don’t get it.]
* M.  Foucault.  Two
Lectures. [and other works]
*Katherine Verdery: The Political Life of Dead
Bodies
* Yael
Navaro-Yashin.  2009.  “Affective Spaces, Melacholic
Objects:  Ruination of the Production of
Anthropological Knowledge.”  JRAI
15(1):1-18.
* Starrett: [on Egypt]
Sorabji, Cornelia. 2006. “Manging Memories in Post-war
Sarajevo: Individuals, Bad Memories, and New Wars.” JRAI 12:1-18.
Stoczkowski, Wiktor. 2008. UNESCO’s doctrine of human
diversity: A secular soteriology. Anthropology Today 25(3, June):7-11.
Backer-Cristales, Beth. 2008. “Magical Pursuits: legitimacy
and representation in a transitional political field.” American Anthropologist 110[3]:
349-359.
Armstrong, Karen. 2000. Ambiguity and Remembrance:
Individual and Collective Memory in Finland. American Ethnologist, 27(3):
591-608.
Eisenlohr, Patrick. 2006: “The Politics of Diaspora and the
Morality of Secularism: Muslim identities and Islamic Authority in
Mauritius.”  JRAI 12: 395-412.
Lester, Rebecca. 2009. Brokering Authenticity. Current
Anthropology. June
Dipesh Chakrabarty. 2002. “Subaltern Histories and
Post-Enlightenment Rationalism.” Ch 2 in Habitations of Modernity: Essays
in the Wake of Subaltern Studies. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Mitt Romney, the Mystery Candidate

Most of us look around the world and we wonder how a society
could become flawed to such an extreme that it accepts, even fosters, policies
that lead to destruction.  We wonder how
the people of Germany
could have allowed Hitler’s National Socialist Party to have total power within
the country and lead the country into a devastating war.  We wonder how so many Hutus of Rwanda could
have been persuaded that they should take up machetes against their Tutsi neighbors.  How could the Serbs of Bosnia become
convinced that they should “cleanse” their society of Muslims, not only to kill
members of their own communities but also to destroy buildings, museums, every
notable structure built by their Muslim neighbors?  We wonder: 
How did these societies seem to have lose all reason.
Is not this country about to do something comparably
irrational?
There is a chance that we will elect as our president someone
about whom we scarcely know anything, a person who steadfastly refuses to tell
us much about himself or even of his future program.  He has, as Professor Garry Wills puts it, a “mystery
box” of solutions to our country’s problems [NYRB 11/8/12], along with a body
of opinions that we know he has changed over time and even now he carefully veils.    
  • On abortion,
    his wife Ann Romney refused to reveal his opinion [she said it was merely
    a distraction.   
  • On the
    loopholes he will plug in order to get to a balanced budget even
    though he plans to reduce taxes even further [they are already close to an
    all-time low]:  he says that that matter
    will be the surprise he will give Congress once he is in office.
  • On
    voter-ID drives that would reduce the electorate [those most likely not to
    vote for him], he said the issue was a distraction.
  • On
    requiring ultrasound exams for pregnant women seeking abortions as many of
    his party support, he said the question was a distraction.
  • Most
    surprisingly, on his actual record he carefully provides few details: 
    • On what
      he did at Bain capital he reveals little;
    • On his
      major accomplishment as governor of Massachusetts, the health-care law, he
      carefully evades mention of it since it was the model for the “Obamacare”
      law that he now denounces.
  • He
    reveals to the public only the last two years of his tax returns.  This is most curious because his father
    published his tax returns for the previous ten years when he ran for President.  Does Mitt Romney think that more than
    the last two years of tax returns should be revealed?  Decide for yourself:  He demanded to see the tax returns of the
    last ten years of those individuals he was  considering for his running mate
    .  Romney has seen the tax returns of Paul
    Ryan for the past ten years [NYRB 11/8/12] but he steadfastly refuses to reveal more than two years of his own tax returns. 
The American public knows almost nothing substantial about
Mitt Romney, and he could be our next President.  What would he really do for our economy?  We don’t know.  What plans does he have to fix the
deficit?  We don’t know.  How will he deal with the incessant conflict
in the Middle East? We don’t know.  What is his policy toward minorities?  Well, this we can guess and he knows better
than to put that into words.
Romney was scarcely liked or supported by his own Republican
Party – he just turned out to be the last one standing.  So why is he a viable candidate for President
of the Unites States of America,
the most powerful leader in the world?  

Bahrain’s abuse of its own citizens — with American complicity

We and most of the world rightly have condemned the Syrian government’s abuse of its own people, but what about the similar situation in Bahrain?  There is a difference:  In Bahrain there is a Naval base that is crucial to the United Sates in the Gulf.  So the US tolerates the abuse of the people in Bahrain and condemns the abuse of people in Syria.  

Shame on us. 

How can the United States not  be considered complicit in these abuses of the Bahrani public?  

Bahrain has convicted its own doctors for treating the injured in public demonstrations
Bahrain convicts medics for role in uprising – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

And Bahrain has, with the rest of the world looking elsewhere, continued to abuse their own people with impunity
Bahrain: Shouting in the dark – Programmes – Al Jazeera English

The price of breaking our own rules

Barry Wingard is a Lt Col, Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the Air Force, has served 28 years and is a war veteran, and in civilian life he serves as a public defender in the city of Pittsburgh.  His statement of the reasons for American problems of remaining in Iraq are so on point that I think it should be more widely read.  However, I wish this had been published in a prominent American paper.  Thankfully, Al Jazeera would publish it.  From the Jan 18, 2012 site: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/01/20121141418247919.html.

Rule of law in full retreat

‘How can the US set the standard for equal justice and human rights when its own moral authority lies in ruin?’

Washington DC – President Obama recently announced that, by the end of 2011, all United States military forces will be withdrawn from Iraq.
Reportedly, the US would like to have established some lasting military presence in Iraq (similar to that in Kuwait and other friendly nations); but this scenario was not possible because the US and Iraq could not agree upon the terms of a “status of forces agreement” (SOFA).
Such agreements generally permit the United States to exercise jurisdiction over certain criminal matters involving United States service members, rather than having service members prosecuted by host-nation authorities. So, in essence, the reason the US had to withdraw all its troops is because the Iraqis do not trust the United States’ legal system.
And who can blame them?
In recent years, Iraq watched the US’ response to the widely-publicised atrocities at Abu Ghraib by prosecuting only the lowest-ranking offenders (with no meaningful accountability at higher levels). Iraq also witnessed a complete lack of accountability when American employees of “Blackwater” allegedly killed dozens of Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square.
These were not exactly shining examples of “American justice in action. 

But perhaps the most obvious reason the Iraqis might be suspect of the American legal system is that, for the past 10 years, the most visible example of “American justice” has been the confinement of Muslims at Guantanamo Bay without a trial of any kind.
Reaping a poisonous cropFor 10 years, the US has clearly demonstrated it applies one set of legal rules to Americans and another to non-Americans. The first set respects due process, the rule of law, individual rights and the concept of innocent until proven guilty.
Unfortunately, the second set involves enhanced interrogation, indefinite detention and a presumption of guilt without any opportunity to prove innocence.
So, having planted the seeds of legal inequality, the US has now begun to reap a poisonous crop. And its inability to negotiate a SOFA with Iraq is likely one of many serious consequences.
While the US continues to characterise its policies in easily-digestible terms for domestic consumption (such as “war on terror” and “homeland security”), the world opinion of the US and its commitment to justice is on decline and has changed forever.
How can the US set the standard for equal justice and human rights when its own moral authority lies in ruin?
The Arab spring has presented opportunities for meaningful change throughout the Middle East. Unfortunately, the US has placed itself in a poor position to extend the hand of friendship or to provide an example for new democracies to follow.
This is especially true for those countries still represented amongst the suffering population of Guantanamo Bay, 95 per cent of whom will never receive a trial or an apology for the treatment they endured or their ruined lives. Why does the US assert its right to hold human beings for life without trial in its never-ending battle against “terror”?
The only justification that I can see is “because it can”.

Lt Col Wingard is a military lawyer who represents Fayiz al-Kandari and has served for 28 years in the military. When not on active duty, he is a public defender in the city of Pittsburgh.

A glimpse into the world of the super-rich: The little help Romney gets from his friends

It’s hard to believe what politicians say when they are seeking election.  Mitt Romney has said that he didn’t inherit his huge wealth but earned it. Strange thing to say of the son of the former President of American Motors, former governor of Michigan, and once a candidate for President of the United States.
Here is an excerpt of what the New York Times says about the financial support that Romney is now getting from his friends.
The securities and investment industry has given more money to Mr. Romney than any other industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and some of its leading figures have donated millions of dollars to Restore Our Future, the “super PAC” bolstering Mr. Romney’s campaign. Goldman employees are also the biggest source of donations to Free & Strong America PAC, a group Mr. Romney founded but no longer controls.
But Mr. Romney’s personal finances are particularly entwined with Goldman.
His federal financial disclosure statements show Mr. Romney and his wife, their blind trusts and their family foundation to be prodigious consumers of the bank’s services. In 2011, Mr. Romney’s blind trust and the couple’s retirement accounts held as much as $36.7 million in at least two dozen Goldman investment vehicles, earning as much as $3 million a year in income. Mrs. Romney’s trust had at least $10.2 million in Goldman funds — possibly much more — earning as much as $6.2 million.
Tax returns released by the campaign this week also highlighted some of the privileges Mr. Romney enjoyed as a friend of Goldman: In May 1999, a few months after he left Bain to run the Salt Lake City Olympics, Goldman allowed Mr. Romney to buy at least 7,000 Goldman shares during the firm’s lucrative initial public offering — a generous allotment even among Goldman clients, according to people with knowledge of the deal. When Mr. Romney’s trusts sold the shares in December 2010, a few months before he formed his presidential exploratory committee for the 2012 race, they returned a profit of $750,000.

Discovering that “history” was myth in the Bangladesh war

Social science research often clashes with popular understandings. We tend to remember the stories that impress us, often for personal reasons. And societies tend to retain stories about the past that fit well with their own images of themselves. Actual events, social realities, are I suppose complex because human beings experience situations differently and remember them selectively. We internalize the significance of events through frames of reference already meaningful to us. And besides the natural tendency of human beings to simplify and gloss events there are always interests involved in what they choose to remember and talk about.
So the world needs serious research, empirically grounded examinations of social conditions and historical events as they can best be established. Sarmila Bose, a Bengali Indian historian, decided to examine in detail what took place during the bitter war of 1971 when Bangladesh [then known as “East Pakistan”] broke away from West Pakistan. Her book, Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War, consists of the recollections of participants on both sides. She thought she knew the rough outlines of what happened, but the stories that people told her differed acutely from what she had grown up with. She did it as a research project, oblivious to the fire-storm that her book created even before it had appeared.

My aim was to record as much as possible of what seemed to be a much-commented-on but poorly documented conflict – and to humanise it, so that the war could be depicted in terms of the people who were caught up in it, and not just faceless statistics. I hoped that the detailed documentation of what happened at the human level on the ground would help to shed some light on the conflict as a whole.
The principal tool of my study was memories. I read all available memoirs and reminiscences, in both English and Bengali. But I also embarked on extensive fieldwork, finding and talking to people who were present at many particular incidents, whether as participants, victims or eye-witnesses. Crucially, I wanted to hear the stories from multiple sources, including people on different sides of the war, so as to get as balanced and well-rounded a reconstruction as possible.
As soon as I started to do systematic research on the 1971 war, I found that there was a problem with the story which I had grown up believing: from the evidence that emanated from the memories of all sides at the ground level, significant parts of the “dominant narrative” seem not to have been true. Many “facts” had been exaggerated, fabricated, distorted or concealed. Many people in responsible positions had repeated unsupported assertions without a thought; some people seemed to know that the nationalist mythologies were false and yet had done nothing to inform the public. I had thought I would be chronicling the details of the story of 1971 with which I had been brought up, but I found instead that there was a different story to be told.

[Click on the title above for a link to a review.]

Worry about a stamp commemorating Muslim holidays

An email is being circulated expressing concern about a new stamp being published by the American government commemorating two Muslim holidays. The Arabic script on the stamp says “Mubarak Eid” which translates “Eid Greetings” [See: http://islam.about.com/od/holidays/a/uspsstamp.htm]. An email is going around telling people not to buy this stamp because so many Americans have been killed by Muslims. [And no one knows what the Arabic means!]
Whoever is promoting this view seems unaware that there are over seven million Muslims living in this country, many of them citizens, many of them refugees from countries whose wars and internal disturbances have made life difficult and in some places untenable. Moreover, their concern ignores the fact that the Islamists that they refer to – Al Qaeda and others allied with them — have killed far more Muslims than people of any other faith. Of the 1.4 billion Muslims in the world Al Qaeda cannot represent more than .007% of the total. Also their concerns about Islamic symbols play exactly into the hands of Osama Bin Laden who claims that the American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are fighting “Islam.”
This is a time when all over the Muslim world – notably at this moment in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Iran – folks are asking through their public demonstrations for more open societies, in many cases at the risk of life and limb. The animating force of these movements is a desire for differences of opinion and faith to be tolerated in their societies as they seek popular suffrage of a sort they admire in this country. Not one of these demonstrations is animated by a desire to establish Islam or Muslim institutions in their governments.
This is a time, that is, to encourage our Muslim neighbors and friends, in the hope that as these affairs take place they will indeed succeed in producing societies with more openness of inquiry and more diversity of thought, even in faith and politics.
The behavior of those who would circulate such a notice prompts me to speak to them also, to encourage them to seek better ways to deal with what has become a fact of nature: that we are all living in a world whose diverse interests and perspectives and agendas are crowding in upon of us, forcing us to deal with the diversity of the human condition, requiring us to put into practice the fundamental premises of the American experiment: that is, to allow perspectives and opinions different from our own to be voiced, to accept those who have suffered, who need to be welcomed, no matter where they come from, what religion they practice. We want to demonstrate to each other and the rest of the world what an open society can be like.

[2/25/11 Addendum: Information on the artist who created the map, Muhammad Zikriya, can be found at:
http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00xcallig/modern/zakariya/zakariya.html]

The Islamists never generated such public movements as these.

I wonder what the demonstrations in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, and Albania mean to the Islamist leaders — Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, especially. These demonstrations have an appearance of spontaneity that the Islamist demonstrations in various places never had. In those demonstrations the core among the activists were the students of religious figures — this was the element that could be counted on to help the movement. But here we have demonstrations that appear to arise from a broad sense of distress among the abused populations of these countries, and they are animated by ideals very different from the call to return to a strict practice of Islam. In fact, the Islamists never generated such broad based expressions of public outrage, even though admittedly they did represent the frustrations of many. These populations have suffered for so long under repressive regimes that any expression of public outrage was accepted and in many cases, supported by the public. But there is good reason to suppose that even then it was not religious concerns that motivated the popularity of Osama Bin Laden and other radical Islamists. It was instead an authentic quest for relief, for recognition as human beings by rulerships that could not bear to be questioned.

Lawrence Wright says in the Looming Tower [p 49] that in the 1980s the the Egyptian Islamists believed that the assassination of Sadat and other key officials would unleash “a popular uprising against secular authority all over the country.” It never happened. And it was this disappointment that led the Islamist theorists to decide that the Egyptian people, and indeed Muslims everywhere, were so infused with the decadent values of the West that they were hopelessly delusioned. Only extreme measures could save the Muslim world from its decay into the moral depravity of the West.

What must they be thinking now? A popular uprising now taking place, and not only in Egypt but also in Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan and elsewhere. But the moral animus of these demonstrations is not Islam but the demand for democracy. The secular — that is, the non-religious — ideals that drive these movements are too evident to be ignored.

The Islamist movement is not dead, but other ideals are being promoted and it looks like they have more authenticity and power to represent the public frustration than many of us expected. I surmise that the Islamists are astonished.

The continuing question is, how will these movements be harnessed into structural changes of the sort that so many crave? The Iranian Revolution was as authentic a public movement as has ever happened — rich, poor, educated, illiterate, all were opposed to the Shah — but as the new regime took form it became evident that the movement had been co-opted by a ruthless element [not all] of the clergy. Let us hope and pray for something better in these cases.