Friday, December 23, 2011

Historian agrees: 1848 revolutions once more

Back in February I noticed similarities between the Arab uprisings and the popular revolutions of 1848 Europe. Both were sparked by an economic crisis that briefly united middle class liberals with the underclasses. Both featured tensions between the victorious rebels after their success, pitting liberalism against socialism and nationalism in Europe, and against Islamism in the Arab countries. The European revolutions quickly collapsed under the weight of these contradictions, leading to the restoration of the monarchs, and I wondered if the Arab countries would suffer a similar fate.

Today the historian Eric Hobsbawm is interviewed by BBC, saying the same thing: it's like 1848 all over again.
"Two years after 1848, it looked as if it had all failed. In the long run, it hadn't failed. A good deal of liberal advances had been made. So it was an immediate failure but a longer term partial success - though no longer in the form of a revolution."

However, with the possible exception of Tunisia, he sees little prospect of liberal democracy or European-style representative government in the Arab world.

Not enough notice has been taken, he says, of the differences between Arab countries in the throes of mass protests.

"We are in the middle of a revolution - but it isn't the same revolution."

"What unites them is a common discontent and common mobilisable forces - a modernising middle class, particularly a young, student middle class, and of course technology which makes it today very much easier to mobilise protests."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.