[Marxism] Fwd: Q& A: The terrible illusion of the Arab Spring - Al Jazeera English

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jan 31 07:41:20 MST 2016

Al Jazeera: In your book and in your analyses in general, you do not 
refer to what happened in 2011 as the "Arab Spring" or a revolution. Why?

Gilbert Achcar: Most people have used the term "revolution" to refer to 
the initial sequence of events, like when speaking of the "25 January 
Revolution" in Egypt as one that ends on February 11, or even naming the 
"revolution" by the day the autocrat fell, like in referring to the "14 
January Revolution" in Tunis. What I have been emphasising since 2011 is 
that we were only at the beginning of a long-term revolutionary process 
that will go on for years and decades. As in every such historical 
process, there will be ups and downs, revolutions and 
counter-revolutions, upsurges and backlashes. My view of the events is 
predicated on my analysis of the real issues at the heart of this 
revolutionary process, which are issues that I have been studying and 
teaching for several years.

I saw the explosion not primarily as the result of a political crisis, 
as it has been widely portrayed, or as one provoked by a thirst for 
political freedom. This was an important dimension of the uprising, to 
be sure. However, the deepest roots of the explosion were socioeconomic, 
in my view. For several decades, the Arab world has had the lowest rates 
of economic growth of all regions of Asia and Africa and the highest 
rates of unemployment in the world, especially youth and female 

Those were the crucial ingredients of the big explosion. And they are 
not issues that can be settled with a new constitution or a mere change 
of president. They can only be settled through a radical change of the 
social, political, and economic structures. They request a real social 
revolution, one that cannot be merely political.

The problem is that there were no organised forces representing such a 
radical goal and pursuing it with a coherent strategy. That is why it 
was obvious to me that it would take a long time before the process 
comes to conclusion. And there is no certainty whatsoever that the 
process will end up with the required progressive kind of change. What 
is certain is that, short of such a change, the region will keep living 
through turmoil and violence.


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