Tuesday, October 4, 2011

IRCPPS in the Links: On the Lessons of 1848 for the Arab Spring

A Foreign Affairs piece by Jonathen Steinberg:
...The lesson from the "springtime of nations" is that it is easier to overthrow the old regime than build a new one. Today, the crowds on the Arab street have no Bismarck to guide them to even limited democracy. New arrivals squabble with the ministers and generals of the old regime, the Islamic religious parties with the secularists, the urban activists with conservatives from villages and tribes. The revolutionaries call for "democracy" and "freedom," but nobody knows exactly what those terms might mean for societies imperfectly modernized and without the European experiences of rights, constitutions, and equality. Happy endings seem implausible.