Today, the Egyptian military broke-up two pro-Morsi protests, causing carnage and increased unrest. The current government just declared a month-long state emergency, including a 7 p.m. curfew for Cairo and other cities. Since Mubarak's overthrow in 2011, Egypt has been caught in a battle to solidify a democratic state. This struggle has not been isolated. Throughout history, progress toward achieving a sturdy democratic nation has been difficult. Following the American Revolution, displeasure with growing economic dysfunction and taxation lead to two uprisings, which ultimately helped shape future American policy and authority. The movement toward democracy has always proven to be tumultuous, sometimes to a greater extent than others, but if the purpose remains genuine, then ultimately the goal can be achieved.
Four years after the end of the Revolutionary War, in 1787, a group of individuals in Massachusetts organized an armed uprising known as Shays' Rebellion. The motivation behind the rebellion was primarily financial. The post-war economy of the U.S. was extremely stagnant and in order to reduce the debt, the government had instituted strict economic policies. Land had been a primary measure of individual wealth, and the market economy of the U.S. was based upon merchants. Following the war, the lack of tangible U.S. currency caused foreign partners to refuse granting the U.S. credit. Out of frustration, war veterans organized an armed group and confronted a privately- funded army raised on the orders of Massachusetts Governor Bowdoin. The skirmish resulted in 6 deaths and the rebellion was squashed. While it was small, the affect on American government was substantial.
The rebellion highlighted the lack of power the Articles of Confederation gave the U.S. government. Upon drafting the U.S. constitution, Shays' rebellion influenced those who had originally opposed the creation of a stronger central government, to reverse their stance. It was recognized that the government needed have the authority to effectively and efficiently respond to local upheavals. When the U.S. constitution was finalized, it gave more executive authorityy to utilize force, which would be readily used to suppress another uprising.
In 1791, farmers in Pennsylvania violently protested the whiskey tax imposed during the presidency of George Washington. Farmers readily converted their leftover grain into whiskey and used it as a type of currency. As a result, the government felt that this form of exchange should be subject to an income tax in order to fund the wartime debt. The Whiskey Rebellion resulted in a similar outcome as Shays', including the amount of casualties. It marked the first time that the executive power, being (President Washington's,) had been able to use force in order to quell violent action against federal law. Eventually the whiskey tax was repealed.
The Whiskey Rebellion proved that the government would no longer accept fanatical protests. Instead, individuals could have an influence on the governing body, but through voting rather than violence.
Egypt's dilemma is much more intense, violent, and deadly. But the concept of an unstable transition to a democratic nation is applicable to what occurred during following the American Revolution.
As of now, Egyptian state TV reports that 195 people have been killed and over 1,500 have been wounded in the military's most- recent crack down on non-violent protesters. It is evident that the two opposing sides will remain at odds: Pro-Morsi supporters are unrelenting in their effort to restore the deposed leader and the military is maintaining its position. For peace and effective change to occur, both sides need to strike a balance and come together to create a dialogue that can restore a democratically elected government to Egypt.
The world is watching in fear of total disarray, but we must understand that history has shown us that this path is not uncommon. Countries with diverse populations include many people with opposing beliefs, which can who often clash at the beginning of a new regime. Each faction wants to instill their own ideals, and promote their own guiding principles. As these ideas clash in Egypt, we can only hope that, as history has shown, the strife will ultimately result in compromise and a conclusion that restores democracy and peace to the country.