For many, what is transpiring in the Arab world, bears resemblance to another year of revolution: 1848. When the inevitable reaction to these toppling of regimes takes place, will it recall the sad end of 1848 when the springtime hopes of an entire continent collapsed in the reaction of counterrevolution. Will 2011, be called, in Arnold Toynbee’s phrase, a turning point where history failed to turn? Or, as the Germans viewed the earlier revolt, that “crazy and holy year”?
Though inspired very generally by the ideas of liberal nationalism and democracy, the mostly middle-class demonstrators of 1848 had, like their Arab contemporaries, very different goals in different countries. In Hungary, they demanded independence from Habsburg Austria. In what is now Germany, they aimed to unify the German-speaking peoples into a single state. In France, they wanted to overthrow the monarchy (again). In some countries, revolution led to pitched battles between different ethnic groups. Others were brought to a halt by outside intervention.
In fact, most of the 1848 rebellions failed. The Hungarians did kick the Austrians out, but only briefly. Germany failed to unite. The French created a republic that collapsed a few years later. Constitutions were written and discarded. Monarchs were toppled and restored. Historian A.J.P. Taylor once called 1848 a moment when “history reached a turning point and failed to turn.” Read More: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/02/22/anne-applebaum-arab-revolutionaries-set-to-discover-how-messy-history-can-be/ a
Falling midway between the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917, the uprisings of 1848 had both prophetic and nostalgic elements. The French insurrectionists, wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, “were engaged in acting the French Revolution, rather than continuing it.” Karl Marx predicted the revolution of 1848 was a rehearsal for a proletarian revolt that would not fail.
Raed El Rafei:Gilles Deleuze, the prominent French philosopher, once said about Mai 68 – the famous youth rebellion that took place in France in May 1968 – that it was a “gulp of reality in its pure state”. Deleuze said what characterises people in such moments is that they are in a “state of becoming” – what he called the “revolutionary-becoming”.
For me, this perfectly expresses the televised revolution of the Egyptian people – that of individuals not only reinventing themselves but also instantly reinventing the image we have of them. And the raw footage reaching us from Egypt also introduced a new, powerful idea into Arab households: rebelling against injustice is not just a personal affair. People can pull together and rebel against the unfairness of their living conditions. Read More: http://iwpr.net/report-news/arab-tv%E2%80%99s-morality-tales-turned-upside-down
Before the Tunisian and Egyptian upheavals, the potency of organising and working in groups against tyranny was seldom put forward by the television industry. Drama series internalised the powerlessness of individuals and groups in a system that persistently crushed them. Furthermore, Arab television drama presented uprising as rebellion against foreign forces. Protests and popular movements became somehow relics or icons of the past. Countless television series and films were made about Egyptians or other Arab nations resisting colonial occupation to the point that images of people taking to the streets against the British or the French have become engraved in the collective memory of Arabs.
But the silver screen seldom reflected the idea that Arabs could not only rebel in the present but also stand up against their own rulers. Fresh footage of the Egyptian turmoil and those of the subsequent protests in many other Arab countries are pervading the minds of Arab viewers and will turn our way of perceiving the region and its people upside down.Read More: http://iwpr.net/report-news/arab-tv%E2%80%99s-morality-tales-turned-upside-down
Does reaction follow revolt as inevitably as one tide the other?Or was it simply the swiftness of reaction that was so extraordinary in 1848? In any case, everything about that year has a breathless quality. The Age of Metternich, which had proceeded from the Congress of Vienna in 1815 came to a sudden end in February 1848. Within the next six weeks, a dozen conservative rulers fell like rotted fruit, or bricks from a condemned building. Yet, on the eve of their downfall events seemed under control.
“Liberalism and Change” were the upsetting words in Metternich’s age. His ideal was an autocratic absolutism tempered by salon wit and supported by a loyal army and police, a submissive bureaucracy, and a grateful church. Ideas of freedom were a sickness to be cured, if in an acute stage of contagion, by bleeding- and the Austrian army was Europe’s medical corps, ready and prompt with its treatment. True, France had been feverish with revolt in July, 1830, but in that crisis the Grande Bourgeoisie had simply substituted an anachronistic Bourbon king with the perfect bourgeois monarch: the modest, pear-faced Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orleans.
Anne Applebaum: And yet — in the longer run, the ideas discussed in 1848 did seep into the culture, and some of the revolutionary plans of 1848 were eventually realized. By the end of the 19th century, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck had indeed united Germany, and France did establish its Third Republic. The nations once ruled by the Habsburgs did gain independence after World War I. In 1849, many of the revolutions of 1848 might have seemed disastrous, but looking back from 1899 or 1919, they seemed like the beginning of a successful change….
In the Arab world, we are also watching different kinds of people with different goals take charge of street demonstrations, each of which must certainly be assessed “in its own context,” as the historian wrote of 1848. In Egypt, decisions taken by the military may well have mattered as much as the actions of the crowd. In Bahrain, the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites is clearly central. The role of “Islam” is not the same in countries as different as Tunisia and Yemen. In Libya, the regime has already shown itself willing to use mass violence, which others have avoided. Tempting though it will be to lump all these events together and to treat them as a single “Arab revolution,” the differences between countries may turn out to be more important than their similarities. Read More: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/02/22/anne-applebaum-arab-revolutionaries-set-to-discover-how-messy-history-can-be/
Andrew McKillop: For delirious and malevolent dreamers like Gaddafi, and like the 1968 crop of student and alternate society leaders of the rich world, all and every economic detail was as uninteresting as it was unimportant.
In both cases there was however sufficient fat to trim, or existing wealth slopping around the system to permit these almost 18th century mindsets, more influenced by J-J Rousseau than by Nietzsche or Sartre– or effectively and in reality by Hitler and Mussolini in the case of Gaddafi. Both the type and kind of Flash Mob cellphone and Internet-based revolutions that are possible, today, will be heavily influenced by existing wealth, and the lack of it in affected countries- and as noted the current wave of revolutionary change is potentially global, exactly like the economy. Read More: http://21stcenturywire.com/2011/02/24/youth-uprising-2011-a-planetary-1968/