the many unknowns of the arab spring


Yet we know that the spring of revolutions is followed by the passions of summer and the discord of fall. At least since Hegel’s analysis of the follies of the French Revolution in Phenomenology of Spirit, it has become commonplace to think that the Revolution will devour its own children. Such warnings were expressed not only by Hillary Clinton in the first days of the Egyptian uprising; the many commentators who have hidden their distrust in the capacity of the Arab peoples to exercise democracy are now rejoicing that the first signs of contention between religious and secular groups are breaking out in Egypt and Tunisia. The journalists and intellectuals of the European Right, who have spilt a lot of ink on whether or not “Islamophobia” is racist, are now attempting to cover their tracks, while Israel’s “pseudo-friends” among European conservatives are prophesying imminent attacks on Israel by Hizbollah in the north and Egypt cum Hamas in the south.[1] None of this is inevitable. It is not inevitable, or even likely, that fundamentalist Muslim parties will transform Tunisia or Egypt into theocracies; nor is it inevitable that Iran will gain ascendance and that the Arab states will conduct a new war against Israel. What we have witnessed is truly revolutionary, in the sense that a new order of freedom – a novo ordo saeclorum – is emerging transnationally in the Arab world.

more from Seyla Benhabib at Eurozine here.