Posted by: mulrickillion | October 9, 2011

1848 and 2011

By Jonathan Steinberg, Foreign Affairs, Sept 28, 2011 —

1848 and 2011 — Bringing Down the Old Order is Easy; Building A New One is Tough

Summary: In 1848, a wave popular revolutions rocked Europe’s authoritarian regimes. How those upheavals played out holds lessons for the future of the Arab Spring.

The similarities between the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt last spring and the ones in Europe in 1848 are striking. In the early months of 1848, the sclerotic and reactionary political systems that the European monarchs had developed after Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1815 defeat collapsed. Prince Klemens Wenzel Metternich, who was the state chancellor of the Austrian empire and a symbol of the despised old order, slipped out of Vienna on March 15 as an angry mob marched in. Along with Metternich, the Austrian empire’s 23-year-old repressive dictatorship vanished. In Italy, France, and the German states, the old order crumbled as well. The scene was not unlike that of Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s own flight from Tunis 163 years later and the wave of revolutions across the Middle East that followed. In both cases, the crowds in the streets were glad to see the dictators go but unclear on the social and political orders that should replace them.

The revolutionaries of 1848 had a model on which to base their fight: the French Revolution. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, which the French National Assembly approved in 1789, had laid the groundwork for upheavals to come. . . .

1848 and 2011 | Foreign Affairs


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