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.
This book is the perfect introduction to Chomsky’s political thinking, and makes a refreshing read for anyone who is uneasy about the West’s wider role in the world. Beginning with the New York newsstand where Chomsky started his political education as a teenager, the discussion broadens out to encompass colonialism and imperial control, propaganda and the media, the Arab Spring and drone warfare. The authors offer a powerful critique of the legacy of colonialism, touching upon many countries including Syria, Nicaragua, Cuba, China, Chile and Turkey.