Why did Arab spring and Iranian green revolution fail, but the European revolutions didn't?

  • Why did the Arab spring back a few years ago fail for the most part, the Iranian green movement didn't get the result it wanted, but the European revolutions (such as French revolution in part or revolutions of 1848) were able to reform a continent with conservative religious views and a set of dictatorship governments into a significantly more free and liberal region?

    Which European revolution? I don't know of a single one. It's more the case that each country had its own. Some of them had multiple events that could be termed revolutions.

    @Brythan - I'm pretty sure that the OP is referring to the Revolutions of 1848. The Arab Spring wikipedia page even makes the comparison, although it doesn't do so more than passingly.

    In what sense do you think 1848 was a success? The more progressive elements were defeated within months and France returned to autocratic rule within 4 years. Germany wasn't unified before 1870 and then also on a authoritarian basis, a far cry from what the 1848er wished. Now, you can also see all that as part of a long process started with the French revolution but in France for example it took over a century to get to a regime that was reasonably stable and democratic, in many places even longer. So it might also be “too soon to tell” (Zhou Enlai) whether the Arab Spring really failed.

    What are democratic parties in "Arab spring"-countries which failed? Could you name a few? What makes you think that those revolutions were democratic at all? Why should they try to make "more liberal region", if they never were liberals?

    To go along with what @Matt said, arab countries aren't very liberal, and they don't exactly believe in democracy. When they do overthrow a leader, they replace him with another dictator. This is buy choice. The people in these regions believe that dictatorships are the best form of government. Furthermore, Arab Spring wasn't some large cohesive movement as most people assume.

    The French Revolution of 1789 replaced a Monarchy with a constitutional convention that devolved into a totalitarian dictatorship and was replaced with a less totalitarian dictatorship and then reverted to a monarchy. There was no increase of freedom for the French Revolutionaries, just a massive loss of life.

    The Iranian green movement only seemed to barely scratch the surface of what a revolution might have been like... according to Wikipedia some ~1000 people were killed just in the demonstrations of the Iranian revolution half a century ago. I'm not sure about you but they really don't look remotely comparable to me.

    @BooleanCheese I think you're oversimplifying to the point of being misleading. Plenty of arab countries are brutally liberal compared to most of Europe, for example - that has nothing to do with democracy. Democracy is still a dictature, you just replaced the dictator with "the masses". There are some pretty good arguments for a liberal dictator, and some pretty good arguments against various democracies. Bahrain's 15% tax sounds a lot more liberal to me than my 70+% tax too, thank you very much. Maybe liberal arabs don't want democracy because they've seen how it "works" for us? :)

    @Luaan "Maybe liberal arabs don't want democracy because they've seen how it "works" for us? :)" I think you're oversimplifying to the point of being misleading. I would have been happy to explain and source my answer, but your comment is just insultingly naive at this point.

    Revolutions are more difficult in a modern world. That and in some cases religious organizations and bad blood due to colonial border lines can corrupt what was a legitimately unified revolt. Several 'revolutions' are failing because of this. Libya is a good example. Syria is a cluster** leftover from colonial times with many cultures and religions fighting for a piece of the pie. Consider that the UK was in constant revolt from the fall of Rome to the 21st century and is still a bit so due to cultural lines and France was nearly 100% catholic and practically homogenous. Not so different.

  • History and Politics rarely accommodate with clear binary outcome. So, as much I would not say that the Arab Spring revolutions weren't a failure as a whole, I would also not say that the European ones were fully a success.

    The European/American revolutions were not fully successful...

    A revolution usually stem from a group of people unhappy about the current regime. They need to be strong enough to take out the regime, but to make it successful, they need to be clear what the desired outcome is. In that sense the American Revolution was successful in building a new independent country. But they failed to extend it to Canada. And whether it was the original intended purpose is also doubtful.

    The French Revolution of 1789 was meant to imitate the English one from a century before. The purpose of many factions was to bring down absolutism, not all were in favour of a Republic. In any case, after the first struggle, the new governments had several phases like the Terror, where it was easy to lose one's head. Arguably, the French revolution could be considered achieved when Napoleon took the power with a Coup d'Etat, after about 10 years. Was it really a success?

    In the comments, Bobson mentioned the Revolutions of 1848 as a resemblance to the 2011 revolutions in some Arab countries. But the Wikipedia page summarised it quite well,

    It remains the most widespread revolutionary wave in European history, but reactionary forces regained control in each case, and the revolutions collapsed typically within a year.

    So, were they really successful?

    What the previously mentioned revolutions did succeed in, was to set some examples, some ideas, propose some alternative, which, in some case lead to some changes years later. Without the French Revolutions of 1789 and 1848, France probably wouldn't have been a Republic. Which it really achieved in 1871. And even at that time, there were discussions of bringing a King back.

    ... and the 2011 Revolutions weren't complete failure neither.

    In 2016 you want to judge fully the outcome of those protests, revolutions, wars. It is probably too early.

    Furthermore, if the revolution idea spread like a wave (partly due to Social Networks), the reality of each country is different. The causes and means were also quite different. To give a few examples

    • In Tunisia, the regime was changed, and (free) elections took place. Even if the country still struggles with terrorism and the place of Islam in their society, a change did occur relatively pacifically.

    • In Morocco, the King authorised a new Constitution, reducing (in name, at least) his powers.

    • In Egypt, the previous ruler was overthrown and some elections took place. But at the end, the "revolution" essentially strengthened the military control of the country.

    • In Libya, the government was removed with a strong support from Western powers. But the result is a completely failed country government.

    • In Syria and Yemen, it resulted in civil wars that haven't, to date, stopped.

    • In Iran, the regime stayed in place, but it possibly helped a more moderate side to win the election in 2013, leading to warmer discussions with the western powers, the end of the embargo, etc.

    Depending on the metric you want to go by, those may or may not qualify as success. Many did bring political changes and often removed the dictatorship government that was in place.

    This is the first I've heard that the American Revolution was intended to include Canada in any way.

    @TylerH I did not write that it was intended. But there were some attempts at extended the revolution to Canada. See for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Canada_%281775%29

    The first government in the US failed as well, the articles of confederation, which led the the constitution

    Arguably, the "American Revolution" is a misnomer, as there is no indication its leaders intended to replace the British government anywhere other than in North America. It was a war of secession, not unlike the also-misnamed "Civil War" in the following century.

    @TylerH - The Articles of Confederation actually included a clause which would have let Quebec join as a new state anytime they chose to. By the time the Constitution was written, though, it was clear they weren't going to. (See article 11)

    The Indian Freedom Struggle was indeed a successful one but with may big compromises and lasted almost more then a century

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM