Friday, May 13, 2011

Revolutions -- preamble

After hearing Nacht speak at the Doha forum earlier this week about the Russian revolution(s) in 1917, I started reading about it. The February revolution was quite similar to the Egyptian January 25 revolution: Spontaneous, populist, and driven mainly by outrage at how badly the Tsar and his cronies had run the Russian economy and society. It was followed by a brief period of democratic advances, but the latter vanished after the October Socialist revolution laid the ground for the Soviet Union. I do not think that an identical trend will occur in egypt, for many reasons, but it is a useful lesson that (1) revolutions are not over quickly, and may result in secondary and tertiary revolutions, and (2) revolutions may not result in implementation of the ideals or empowerment of the people who participate in them. After talking to a colleague from Mexico, he thought that the Mexican revolution may provide better lessons for Egypt, because the army there was still fully in control after the 1911 revolution, much like the Egyptian army is still very much in control now. So, I have bought two books on the Russian and Mexican revolutions, and plan to read them and see which parallels one can draw to the Egyptian case... More postings as I start to form some thoughts (and try to factor the roles that political Islam may play into the formula).