Regarding Jackson Diehl’s July 22 op-ed column, “Egypt’s ‘democrats’ abandon democracy”:

In chastising Egypt’s “democrats” — or “young liberals” — for supporting the military’s dismissal of the elected government of Mohamed Morsi, Mr. Diehl wrote: “This dizzying turnaround is unprecedented in the history of popular pro-democracy movements.”

History is strewn with liberal supporters of popular pro-democracy movements who ended up supporting the reactionary party of order. Such a turnaround almost defines the career of liberalism in Central Europe in the 1848 revolutions, for example. “Democratic” revolutions can often produce a reaction from the liberal classes, who watch as these popular uprisings lead to the end of liberal values, sacrificed by so many democratically elected regimes on the altar of ideology (such as Islamism).

Mr. Diehl appears not to understand the basic distinction and great tension between the liberal and democratic factors within the system of “liberal democracy” that we, very misleadingly, call democracy for short. If he did, he would not be unsympathetic to a group of Egyptian liberals who have been forced to choose the lesser evil because of the failure of the Morsi government to understand what democracy really is.

Steven Beller, Washington