The Defeated Revolutions (The Arab Spring)
There is no revolution in history that has succeeded in fulfilling its political slogans. The Spartacus
Revolution descended into the swamp of criminality. The French revolution - which saw the
beheading of the king and queen - was soon followed by the killing of its leaders (“Robespierre, you
will follow me!”), and only achieved its goals of freedom 100 years later. The Bolshevik revolution in
Russia descended into a long civil war culminating in the dictatorship of the proletariat, which was
just as undemocratic as that of the bourgeoisie. It produced an oppressive corrupt fascist authority
that took society back to the slave age, executed 10 million Russians to strengthen its rule and
eventually saw its power collapse after 70 years of suppression.
The revolution of China succeeded in liberating the country and reuniting it, but was forced to kill
100 million people in pursuit of its goals of cultural reform. After that, it did away with the principles
and culture of communism in favour of the corrupt capitalism system that exploited workers to
reach for the goal of competitiveness.
If we agree with Abdullah al-Nadim’s view that Islam should be considered a political revolution (see
his book on revolution and revolutionary ideology), the political revolution of Islam has –
notwithstanding the spread of the religion - also been unsuccessful. 30 years after the death of the
Prophet, hereditary rule was restored, with a succession of leaders from the Quraysh against whom
the Prophet had revolted. Should we be more surprised, then, by the failure of the Arab spring in
achieving its aims?
Revolution is a creative and unique phenomenon, and there is no similarity between one revolution
and the next, which means that it is not studied as a part of political science. Revolutions are not
valid as an experimental subject. They are not understood by political experts, who attempt to view
them through the traditional lens of relations between states or the comparison of systems.
Revolution is not a rule or system, but the destruction of a rule or system, and takes the
deconstructed form of this system based on its composition and circumstances. It is not the result of
a conscious, planned decision by organized and disciplined forces to be peaceful, military, jihadi,
etc.; instead, it takes its form according to needs, potentialities, and circumstances, and not based
on a decision that could have been avoided. In addition, revolution as the collapsed form of a system
causes everyone to lose and suffer, due to destroyed houses and the division of the community. It is
not fair to compare it with days of stability (“We were existing”).
Revolution as an act of rebellion and destruction occurs when the door to development and political
change is blocked by the tough superstructure (the political culture), and the infrastructure
(production and consumption forces) is pushed to the point of suffocation. This contradiction
between the infrastructure and superstructure – which is supposed to serve the superstructure -
results from the superstructure’s lack of willingness to obey the needs of the infrastructure. It
explodes in the form of a revolution in the streets aimed at breaking the superstructure - that is,
dismantling the political system and challenging the authorities based on it. This does not require
any awareness of what must be changed; rather, the nation moves based on its needs and feelings.
Organized, conscious, planned work cannot succeed in starting a great revolution, especially in
modern oppressive countries, which have a tremendous ability to control, inspect and dominate. In
history, you will rarely find an organized revolution that is aware of its goals; revolutionary
consciousness is an unrealistic and theoretical condition, and regulation and institutional discipline is
also not to be expected. Revolution is a state of mass emotional and spontaneous agitation; aside
from that, it is the conversion of one institution to another or a natural development facilitated by a
somewhat flexible superstructure, whereby the army and security forces refuse to obey orders,
follow the desire of the people and form new institutions that are structurally no different from the
old ones. As such, it is rare that a revolution that springs up against a tyrannical regime succeeds in
achieving its slogans; it often reproduces a state of dictatorship, if it does not destroy its structure
and cultural foundations first, and this is the most important thing. In any case, what is achieved on
the actual morning of a revolution is different than its visions and dreams. When the authorities step
to one side, they quickly return from the other. When an institutional breakdown occurs, a
rebuilding by revolutionaries is difficult, because they retain the culture of the former era.
The reason for this is the dynamic that characterizes social formations (states). This composition has
three dimensions: economic, political and cultural. Movement begins with the economy, which
expresses itself in the culture on which the policies are based. The resulting political system directs
and supervises the economy in apportioning wealth and power for all classes, sectors, and
individuals. Thus, the cycle revolves, and when the door to change is closed and a state of stalemate
is achieved due to tyranny, these structures reproduce themselves through the force of oppression
and the power of the state’s security, military and service apparatus, which are all mobilized to serve
the presence and permanence of the regime.
The revolution breaks this deadlock and cycle of stagnation. Breaking the barrier of fear and
obedience is the basis of a revolution; this is considered a cultural development, expressed as a
rejection of that ongoing dynamic. It does not require the development of different cultures or
institutions, but a desire to refuse and reject (the will of people to overthrow the regime). As such,
after overthrowing regimes, revolutions pass through long experimental stages, experiencing
different things, before settling on the most appropriate form for serving the infrastructure, needs,
and desires of the actors.
The Arab Spring has broken the cycle of stagnation and the renewed tyranny masked by fascist Arab
nationalist ideology. It had to trial Islamic political theories and prove their failure as an alternative
solution before recognizing the culture and values of democracy and the state of contractual
citizenship, law and institutions. It was necessary to pass through the “Islamic Spring” to test the
feasibility of employing heritage in creating a future for nations that face difficulties in renouncing
their old identity. There are no origins of democratic thought in the heritage of Arab-Islamic culture;
thus, the revolutions restored the outcomes of the old systems in one way or another, or attempted
to establish Islamic policies that soon clashed with people’s inevitable feelings and needs and with
the modern lifestyle. Because of this, the success of the revolutions has been restricted to the
understanding and agreement between identity and modernity - a cultural and intellectual task that
cannot be taught, but must be learned by experience. The path of success of revolutions is not
straight, but is long, difficult and tortuous. As Trotsky said prior to his assassination by Stalin, the
important thing is that the revolution continues; that is, that the revolutionaries continue to reject
all that opposes their goals and dreams, even if these things are outcomes of the revolution or
products of it that are stolen for specific interests.