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    Arab Spring

    Riots, Rabble and Revolutions:

    Causes and Consequences

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    Outline of talk

    I. What is a revolution? Does the Arab Springconstitute a revolution?

    II. The Arab Spring in comparative perspective

    A. Causes

    B. The fate of revolutionary movementsIII. The possible outcome of the Arab Spring Scenarios

    for the future

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    I. What is a revolution? What is in a

    name?

    Industrial revolution (Britain 1750s on) Social revolution (the 1960s)

    Cultural revolution (again the 1960s; China)

    Political revolutions (American 1776, French 1789;

    USSR 1917, etc.etc.)

    Revolution in military affairs (todays high tech

    warfare)

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    Narrowing the field: Revolutions that

    involve political change

    A working definition of political revolution (JackGoldstone)

    "an effort to transform the political institutions and the

    justifications for political authority in society..

    accompanied by formal or informal mass mobilization and noninstitutionalized actions that undermine

    authorities."

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    But even then

    Types of Political Revolutions:

    Republican revolutions

    (English 1640; American 1776; French 1789)

    Marxist

    (Russia 1917, China 1949)

    Against dictatorship

    (Iran 1979)

    Against communism (East Europe, USSR 1989)

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    Mapping revolutions is thus complex: Multiple dimensions are involved

    Revolutions are short and intensebut what is the

    relevant time frame?

    Sometimes multiple revolutions within the same time span(6 in France 1789-1800)

    We only get a full picture in hindsight. Thus: The owl of

    minerva

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    II. Revolutions in Comparative

    Perspective

    Thinking about the Arab Spring by reflecting onclearcut cases of revolution:

    England 1640-1649;

    American Revolution 1776-1783

    French Revolution (1789-?) Russian Revolution 1917 (March and October);

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    A. Causes of Revolutions

    1. External context and pressure: Economic pressures and taxation (American;

    French; English 1640)

    International war (English 1640, Russian 1917),

    Turkish WW I); Colonial intrusion (Japan and Meji transformation

    post 1853)

    Globalization today? (USSR 1991)

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    2. Existing internal structural tension Economic divisions (class tensions; unemployed, etc)

    Groups that lack political voice (Colonies vs. Metropole)

    Inherited privilege vs. meritocracy (French bourgeois vs.

    feudal prerogatives, 1789) Groups excluded from economic opportunity or

    appointments (corruption)

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    B. What is at stake in revolutionary

    episodes?

    Moments of Madness(Aristide Zolberg)

    Everything appears possible because political events

    change human consciousness

    The world turned upside down

    (Christopher Hill on English Revolutionthe rise of

    Ranters, Levellers, Diggers)

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    Two important interim conclusions

    1. Revolutions create space for alternativeconceptions of social, political, and cultural order

    fundamental transformation of society, culture and

    politics

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    2. Revolutions create opportunities for a) Charismatic leaders

    Non-routine, not rule bound, and not beholden to their

    followers

    The charismatic leader advances an alternativecomprehensive world view, a new future

    The leader re-defines the realm of the possible

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    b) Organizations and institutions that have acomprehensive alternative view

    The Communist partys Iron Vanguard of the Revolution

    Religious organizations (Islamic theocracy in the wake of

    Iranian Revolution 1979)

    C f

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    C. The Fate of Revolutionary

    MovementsExternal Pressure and Structural tensions

    Discontented groups

    Demands on govt.

    Govt. reforms or resists

    Revolutionary movement wins the struggle

    Success then disunity

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    Revolutionary stages

    Impetus behind the revolution: External pressureplus pre-existing internal disaffected groups

    Often not the poor or dispossessed but intermediate or

    rising groups without voice

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    1

    st

    phase: limited demands: e.g. 1789 French bourgeois revolution. (anti-feudal)

    Broad alliance of disaffected groups

    Easy to define what one is against

    The monarchy, dictatorship, absolutist rule, since they bundle allauthority

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    2

    nd

    phase. Various scenarios Government meets demands (controlled reform)

    revolution is averted

    Government succeeds in repressionrevolution is

    suspended but latent Government falls--moderates ascend3rd phase

    commences

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    3rd phase: Moderates cannot fulfill demands. Challenges by conservatives and radicals

    Difficulty in re-aligning with conservatives or crushingrevolutionary comrades

    Moderates have broad membership (loose alliance) vs.

    radicals with unifying ideology (sometimes charismaticleadership)

    Short time frame for moderates to demonstrate change

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    4th phase: Radicals ascend E.g.: Cromwell; Robespierre in French Revolution).

    Agitation against counter-revolutionaries; revisionists

    Rhetorical and political moves against the moderates.Political Outbidding Language of the Chinese Cultural Revolution revisionist

    dogs=USSR; imperial lackeys=those accused of being prowestern or pro-dtente; public trials; public self criticism;neighbor surveillance

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    5

    th

    phase: Dictatorship but less radical in intent. Radicals turn on each other and the revolution burns itself

    out

    Revolution turns external (nationalist fervor)

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    D. Where does the Arab Spring fit?

    Is it a revolution? Yes (multiple dimensions; large group mobilization;

    existing political hierarchy has been challenged)

    Self description by the participants as a revolutionary

    movement: The intent to overthrow the regime and

    transform society, culture

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    E. Causes of the Arab Spring?

    1. External pressure: economic retardationRank of some MENA countries in economic

    development

    Rank in unemployment rate (CIA 2010): Egypt 101;

    Tunisia 136; Libya 176; Yemen 181; Gaza strip 183; But particularly high among the young and educated

    Inflation: Algeria 128;Tunisia 128; Syria 129; S.Arabia

    155; Gaza 163; West Bank 168; Egypt 205 (11 %)

    Perception of relative stagnation

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    2. Internal dissatisfactionCorruption rankings (Transparency International)

    Tunisia 73: Morocco 80; Algeria and Egypt 112 (tied);

    Yemen 164; Libya 168;

    Age distribution (Egypt 33% younger than 14years, Syria 35 % compare US 20%; Germany

    13%)

    Lack of democratic input (Syrian Assad family in

    power since 1970)

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    Unrest due to the gap between rising expectationsand outcomes Educational opportunities improved in some countries but

    not economic upward mobility.

    In Tunisia in 2001 those with higher education (college)

    and those with no to little education faced an 11 %unemployment rate.

    By 2010 almost 25 % of those with higher education wereunemployed, compared to 6 % of those will littleeducation.

    E What next? What might unfold in the

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    E. What next? What might unfold in the

    MENA region?

    Politicians and predictions

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    Do political scientists fare better?

    Steven Weber on business cycles (1997) crisis

    Global capital markets are increasingly efficient

    at managing risk, and providing shock

    absorbers that cushion economic fluctuations.

    And the wider array of funding sources and moresophisticated risk management techniques are

    stabilizers for a gl

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