It is easy now to see why Egypt’s revolution had to happen, and why President Hosni Mubarak’s thirty-year reign had to end in the spectacular manner in which it did. Given a combustible mix of a failing regime, an aging leader, and a people increasingly willing to confront both, one might conclude that the revolution was not only inevitable, but overdetermined. Yet those of us who study the region not only failed to predict the regime’s collapse, we actually saw it as an exemplar of something we called “durable authoritarianism”—a new breed of modern dictatorship that had figured out how to tame the political, economic, and social forces that routinely did in autocracy’s lesser variants. The institutional underpinnings of durable authoritarianism, however, were far flimsier than previously thought.
PODCAST: Journal Managing Editor Brent Kallmer talks with Masoud about his article as well further developments in Egypt which have taken place in the past few months. Download the podcast.