There's no such thing as absolute "laissez faire," and Saudi Arabia isn't Turkey, neither is Iran, none of those three is Taliban Afghanistan, none of those four is the Moghul Empire, none of those five is Cordoba, none of those six is Persia, and none of those seven is present-day Iraq, and Iraq-today isn't Iraq-tomorrow. There are to my understanding multiple traditions of Sharia still alive, and a range of theories about how each might be interpreted and applied under varying circumstances, and then there is the suppressed original version or set of pre-Mongol approaches still evolving under the influences of Greek philosophy and history (i.e., slowed expansion, intra-Islamic division), that most but not all Sunnis do not believe is open to re-interpretation in its major precepts, and that most Shia seem to believe is open to constant re-interpretation relative to the learned-ness and credibility of the interpreter, a matter in turn thought more open to dispute in some traditions, times, and places, than in others. Osama Bin Laden, Khamenei, Sistani, Qaradawi, Badie, El Tayeb, and so on all have different measures of credibility for different followerships, and I don't pretend for a moment to be in a position to sort out their disagreements or to declare any one of them definitively more "liberal" than another.. It would be like a fundamentalist in Waziristan looking at the West and trying to balance out the relative importance and representativeness of the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Roberts, and Jon Stewart.

Not sure what you're referring to by "that argument." And I'm not aware of any opinions I've ever offered on any of those fellers.

We have to distinguish - because everyone involved does - between enforced belief and enforced conduct. Muslims do not believe in forcing people to be Muslims. Liberals do not believe in forcing people to be liberals. Non-coercion in belief is a fundamental tenet for both. Yet each believes that the other does exactly that through the system of limitations and incentives that its praxis imposes on all others. Muslims claim that the Islamic state is in fact the best and only system that allows people of different faiths and philosophies actually to live harmoniously, but this latter goal therefore both pre-supposes and justifies Islamic primacy. Liberals have a mirror image version of virtually the identical belief - as do libertarians, communists, anarchists, and everyone else. To support a political ideology means to believe in one's own right to insist on a fundamental conformity defined by that ideology. This is inescapably true even for people like yourself: You can't get to your no-state except by the negation of everyone else's goal of the liberal or Islamic etc. state.

Part of the difference between you and me is also how we define "the state." To me, it's a neutral term. Every person, group, society, nation, universe of living sentient beings exists in a "state." For a nation, the whole state or nation-state, or culture-state, will produce governance of some type, and the historical form of the latter includes the familiar elected and appointed institutions of government and public administration. But the actual state combines so-called private and civil institutions and associations of all sizes with whatever constituted government. You remain focused on the government and its formal organs of security - police, armed forces - but if someone developed and used a super-bomb that vaporized public officials of all types - senators, soldiers, DMV clerks - and left everyone else unaffected, we would not enter into a realm of utopian freedom. With the whole state, the state other than nominally public institutions, largely intact, society would re-constitute a new government in the process of working out the conflicts over resources, production, safety, etc., and you'd sooner or later have to drop another bomb.

Put that way - which is also the way that most of the international liberal intelligentsia think, but mostly do not want to admit they think - that liberalism is best so get with it and yes that means the end of anyone taking your fairy tales seriously - then, yeah, they'd lose. They lose here, too, whenever their innate and final hostility toward traditional beliefs is exposed, although the evolution has followed a different course, to say the least, wrapped within complicated contradictions within contradictions.

But I think that the eventual Egyptian solution will be mixed, never a complete victory for one side or the other, no matter who holds power.

There's never a "last opportunity." You mean, I think, the last opportunity for now. If you go back to the time of the Fatimids - when Cairo became Cairo - the first extension of Islam across the entire Near East and moving into Spain - the Dar al Islam was already splitting. In historically short order, its movement in the direction of its other - the crypto-liberal other of Greek philosophy - was well under way, then interrupted and frozen in place at approximately the same place that the extremists want to restore, the narrow al-Ghazalian, anti-philosophical Islam that eventually ossified, weakened, and fragmented, while the West, gradually came to embody the opposite principle on the way to achieving its present extent and own self-endangerment.

miguel cervantes: in the early 90s One might think a variation of O’Sullivan’s maxim, any institution that is not explicitly anti Islamist, (Salafi/Wahhabi/Tafkiri) will become so

I think you're saying that any institution in Egypt not explicitly anti-Islamist (or anti-collectivist/anti-communitarian/liberal more broadly), will tend to become Islamist. I think that suggests a general law of development that eventually reduces to "if you're not liberalizing, you're conservatizing" or "if you're not progressing, you're regressing."

Combined with the complexity premise, however, it's quite possible to have an individual, group, institution, and any process or sub-process, that is progressing or contributing to progress in some respects, resisting or regressing in others.

Under a progressivist philosophy of history (not necessarily the same as a "political progressive" or Progressive philosophy), there would nonetheless be some ultimate position toward which all political processes are always tending. It's also the apocalyptic or messianic moment, when "all nations" are joined to "the eternal." For the Hebrew prophets, that meant the time when the Law was no longer necessary because human beings would already be with God or godly or spontaneously lawful or good. In terms of Islam vs. liberalism, that means that there would no longer be anything for Sharia to adjudicate, just as there would no longer be any felt conflict between my freedom and society's needs, thus no need for liberalism. I would always be willing the universal already. My neighbor and I would always be ready to yield to each other completely, so there would be no possible conflict.

It would be a planetary society of "After you, Alphonse."