Some points that needed to be clarified asked here https://twitter.com/FaheemHus/status/499579789892919296.
1. Reasons of action vs liberal reasons
The reasons why authoritarian regimes did what they did in Algeria and North Africa in general, as you say were not necessary for liberal reasons. I don’t dispute this. But I’m not concerned about ‘reasons for actions’ but rather ‘liberal reasons’.
Whats the distinction? Well, people do things for many reasons; hatred, material interests, power, hatred of religion, experience, including for the sake of religion, liberalism even truth, freedom God, amongst others. But this does not exclude the fact that there may indeed be liberal reasons to justify the ‘coup’ in particular, but support of authoritarian regimes by liberals more broadly, that I call an ‘authoritarian compact’.
One can of course have material interests as well as philosophical ones ‘mingled together’, (I appreciate ‘ideological reasons’ has its own Marxist connotations which I want to avoid). There may even be a convergence interests between two parties each with different reasons of actions but that converge together. Either way I am concerned about liberal reasons, generally, and abstractly
My subject matter then is; can the coup be defended on ‘purely’ – that is philosophically ‘abstractly’, ‘generally’ – liberal grounds, and this is what I concern myself, and perhaps the subject of philosophy. Why people did what they did, or not as the case maybe, I leave for students of politics, political science and history.
2. Liberalism ‘broad’ or ‘narrow’?
Second of all how are we to understand liberalism?
Firstly there is common usage when discussing Egypt or Arab world in generals; liberal elites secularists are said interchangeably without making much distinctions and broadly, they may include those such as the army who may or may not do it for ‘liberal’ reasons.
Secondly, perhaps more liberals are used broadly eg. Fareed Zakaria usage broader traditions of philosophy politics and economics even poetry, he mentions Wandsworth.
Thirdly, there is liberalism as a philosophical tradition from Hobbes, Locke, and so on, Mill, Rawls and which dominates Anglo-Analytical philosophy [I confess my knowledge of continental philosophy is shallow]. And it this I will concern myself with.
Note however I say tradition of liberalism. I do not say, that Mill is correct, while Locke is wrong, or that Rawls is correct whilst Hobbes is not a true liberal, and so on. I give reasons why well you get the idea and the other is not a true liberal. Or that our contemporaries are true liberals while previous ones should be discarded – for all the reasons I suggest here http://wp.me/p3Dkhh-aG. The point is then how do pick and choose without having to pick and choose who are ‘proper liberals’ – which would be pretty tiresome – whilst having some consistency in defining what liberalism is. I choose then to define liberalism as a broader philosophical tradition, rather than narrowly, admitting that there is enough ‘family resemblance’ between them to do so.
Building on this broad tradition, I suggest that some Lockean reason why Egyptian were consistent liberals. Furthermore, that Egyptian liberals were not – and are not – considered ‘true liberals’ primarily because contemporary (esp. Western) liberals can no longer relate to them. Instead their situation is analogous to that of the philosophes of 18th century to give a concrete example.
3. Constitutional democracy / liberal democracy
In practice, away from theory, things are not as perfect as they wish to be; and that for a number of reasons. For us to criticise or build on a theory, fairness obliges us to present a recognisable conceptualisation of a theory, and this whether we agree it or not. It helps also to show that we are talking about the same thing, or even to show that if the best version of the theory, which has been presented fairly, fails or is deeply problematic, then the less said about the weaker versions, the better.
Acknowledgements in helping to clarify
Thanks to @Shanfaraa, @CK_Mcleod, @MehmentMSahin, and especially @laseptiemewilay for questions beginning here https://twitter.com/FaheemHus/status/499579789892919296.