Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Stormy Summer for Democracy: The Arab Spring at Risk

Originally published on The Huffington Post 7/10/13

The Arab Spring, astonishing and admirable, has been dogged from the start by often unrealistic expectations, a growing and deep confusion about the conditions that enable democracy, and a persistent lack of patience not only by participants but by busybody onlookers trying to jumpstart other people’s freedom march. The spirit of the original uprisings was rooted in compelling historical necessity and powerful moral conviction. But history is not always predictable and morals a less than sufficient guide for politics.

It is the politics of actual democracy that has generated difficulties: for democracy and revolution are not the same thing and not necessarily even causally related. In this stormy summer of an Arab spring in distress, it is vital to review some historical lessons. To be sure, there is no turning back — we can’t rewind history — but going forward demands that we understand just how contradictory and uncertain has been the path of earlier democratic revolutions. Here are eleven lessons history teaches: Continue reading