The first decade of the Arab revolutionary process

The first decade of the Arab revolutionary process

Gilbert Achcar writes:

The initial months of that ‘spring’ were euphoric, while a wave of massive protests engulfed the region, culminating in six major uprisings in total, as Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria followed Tunisia’s example. Soon after that initial upsurge, however, the revolutionary wave receded, giving way to a counter-revolutionary onslaught. The Bahraini revolution was besieged and suppressed. The Syrian regime managed to withstand the popular uprising, which turned into civil war, until Iran came to its rescue in 2013. A little afterwards, a reactionary military coup took place in Egypt, followed by other setbacks as well as by the outbreak of civil war in Libya and Yemen. This perilous defeat dispelled whatever illusions remained; euphoria gave way to pessimism while many quarters declared the dreams of the ‘Arab Spring’ to be dead.

Both euphoria and dejection though were equally the outcome of superficial impressions in reaction to the revolutionary wave and the subsequent relapse. They both overlooked two fundamental features of the big bang that shook the region in 2011.

The first feature is that the explosion had deep roots in the intractable structural crisis resulting from the transformation of the dominant social/political system into an impediment to development, causing very low rates of economic growth and hence very high levels of unemployment, especially young and female. The ebb of the revolutionary tide and the reactionary onslaught that followed did nothing to solve this core structural crisis, which continued to worsen under the conditions of political instability that have prevailed regionally since the beginning of the crisis. This means that the events of 2011 were but the beginning of a long-term revolutionary process that will not come to an end until the necessary radical change in the nature of the prevailing political/social system is achieved. Should this change not occur, the region risks sliding into catastrophic decline, heralding a long historical dark age. [Continue reading…]

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