This Stratfor video on Egypt's Geographic Challenge says that Egypt needs a strong centralized government in order to manage its resources and make best use out of the Nile dependent country.

This begs the question, if this analysis is accurate, what makes a country need a strong authoritarian government and what allows a country the luxury of a democractic and decentralized government? I would say the United States would be one of the best examples of a decentralized government are large scale, with the popular meme of "many states as different experiments". It is a country known for its resource abundance and independence, as well as secure national borders.

It is often assumed in public discourse that more democracy = good, but if pushing a country like Egypt towards a fairer democracy would result chaos for the country, that assumption would appear to be misleading. Is criticising Russia for its authoritarian Putin missing a part of the picture, for example (this question is not in scope)?

Also consider this a book request. I would love to know of any books touching on this subject.

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    "centralized" and "authoritarian" are not the same. France or Portugal are the former and not the later. Wht is true is that since Machiavelli's The Prince (or perhaps before) there is an opinion that centralized states are easier to manage in authoritarian way, as power depends of the central authority.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 22 '16 at 9:00
  • If your source is Stratfor, you probably will benefit from reading/listening to other Stratfor material. They generally make the thesis that certain geopolitical configurations require strong central government pretty well known, and explain the reasoning behind it in at least some of their publications (their favourite example is Russia). I don't want to commit to trawling through their backlog to find the exact wording, so will leave that as a comment so someone more adventurous can put in a work of making a real answer based on Stratfor as a source.
    – user4012
    Nov 22 '16 at 21:28
  • Thanks, I only recently noticed Stratfor. I may go for a dive.
    – Dave
    Nov 24 '16 at 1:28

A democratic and accountable state can still be authoritarian even if the people within it are not authoritarian.

Within a democracy, a deeper authoritarian "deep state" can exist, such as in America where the presidents are scared by security advisers and terror alerts, into forgetting their social programs. That authoritarianism can exist in America is due the the first issue on the list here: social organization philosophy.

It's related to a complex group of vicious circles of

  • religious conviction and type, "social organization philosophy"

  • limited democratic tradition or perceived right

  • lack of Industrialization and urbanization to escape from feudal power structures.(industry brings technology)

  • lack of education for all citizens,

  • lack of a powerful middle class,

  • foreign influence and threat,

  • civil wars and distastrous revolutions

  • a tradition of instability and state weakness,

  • a strong independent or factious military

  • low legal protection against Coup D'Etat and social safeguards

  • easily abused sources of wealth that create elites (i.e. oligarchs)

  • poverty, debt, economic mismanagement, inflation, unemployment

Authoritarianism represents a lack of development forwards from feudalism in the actual application of state government. Absense of free press is a tradition of leste majeste, treason, which is directly related to feudal and monarchy types of government.

Every state is different and some generalizations can be drawn when listing them and comparing them:

Russia: highly educated but education stronger for nationalism, state defense, militarism, than for geopolitics, philosophy and democacy. history of internal strife, foreign pressure, tradition of state weakness at a local level, little tradition of democratic right, has never broken out of feudalism, low local wealth due to distance from sea and extreme cold winters.

Algeria: lower education, internal and foreign pressure, easily abused wealth, no tradition of industry, religion that discourages non-religious law.

India: Strong tradition of self determination from: Partition, Death of peaceful leader Ghandi, Indira Ghandi, strong state buildings (massive famous building of public debate and parliament), religions based on sentience and not based on laws, tradition of social cohesion fair social identity, never had a strong factious military.

Foreign intervention is crucial because democracy strengthens national identity and pushes out foreign influence... countries can go through a period of flipping between authoritarianism and democracy before the democratic and middle class.

People try to assert themselves democratically, and colonial pressures try to squash the local national movement... coups in Iran and Chile, pressure against Russia, deposition of houthi electee in Yemen and replacement by an... internationally recognized "president" in favor of S.Arabia/NATO...

The flip flopping and coup d'etats happen before technology apparatus is well distributed and strong, i.e. Venezuela has outrageous pressure from America and the state is failing as a result, and Pinochet in Chile also gained access after a US backed coup against a socialist government and then started torturing the student and middle classes using the football stadium as a holding facility, Egyptian military was financed by Isreal and USA because of it's social philosophy problems(radicalism).

Germany ww2, italy in ww2, Turkey today, they all three had different causes for flip flopping from democracy to autocracy, but they will probably make it in the end if there technology advances.

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    Industrial and established countries like Germany flipping to Authoritarianism seem to be in response to perceived threats. For example Trump is more Authoritarian than Obama, and possibly this is due to his supporters seeing themselves as being under some threat, presumably economic, like Germany post WW1.
    – Dave
    Nov 24 '16 at 1:20
  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. I think it raises more questions than in answers, but that's likely because I understood the question less than I thought I did. I'll probably go look for further reading on the points you raised, do you have any suggestions?
    – Dave
    Nov 24 '16 at 1:21
  • Germany flipped to authoritarianism because of a war lost only 20 years prior, and they were printing more money in germany to combat inflation: in 1924, they were printing 50trillion mark notes: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… , same as the zimbabwe trillion pound note. ... I did month long courses on: NeoColonialism, Multinational Co. Dynamics, Developing/Third World Economies, First World Economies, Energy, Debt, Coups D'Etat, Colonial History, Reductionism, and my teacher insisted on vicious circles, pro's cons lists and flow charts on all Nov 24 '16 at 12:53
  • I'd recommend buying very pretty and expensive used college and university books on the above topics, relatively cheaply, i.e. go to amazon and check course books on neocolonialism, multinational company economics and politics, developing world economies, global economics with lots of lists and flow charts, energy industries, (nuclear oil solar wind, studies of countries, i.e. japan, france, nigeria)... course books on geography, i.e. economics from the UK are pretty good, also i like to read talks about surveillance, US/UK/Russian intelligence, media propaganda by the BBC/RT/CNN/NYT, Nov 24 '16 at 12:59
  • i'd email this guy and ask for course book suggestions about social geography: john dot little at esculham dot net Nov 24 '16 at 13:05

I would say that countries that have a long authoritarian tradition AND big economical and political problems, need that type of regime IN ORDER to be stable and carry on. Interpreting in the Machiavelli's key, a country has a political tradition, and that can be more authoritarian or more democratic in essence. Often, a transition from one to another is almost impossible, as facts show it. Egypt is in the first category.

  • P.S.: I highly recommend you to read The Prince, Machiavelli's masterpiece, in order to have a better view over these issues and politics in general. Nov 22 '16 at 17:40
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    Thanks I'll look into it. I'm biased against older books, so I may end up reading a more modern analysis of the book instead but we'll see.
    – Dave
    Nov 24 '16 at 1:22
  • @Dave, how do you please... Still, keep in mind that 1. the human societies haven't changed much in the last 10.000 years and 2. Machiavelli's book and approach are considered quite modern by today's researchers! Anyway, it's a nice classic to read and not a lenghty book, more like a lenghty essay ... :)) Cheers! Nov 24 '16 at 10:25

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