Revolutions usually do not end in romance; the period just prior to an uprising is of course very dreamy -- fiery rhetoric, visions of a better tomorrow, coated with a thick layer of optimism. The scene takes a total turn for the opposite after the event has happened.
Why am I suddenly talking of revolutions? Well, there was an article recently which looked back at some dire predictions made by the son of the former Libyan strongman Gaddafi.
Just when the Arab world was overtaken by the all-encompassing fervor of “people power,” on the belief that the force of the masses would tear down years of power structure and usher in a new era, a few (with foresight) made some very bleak predictions.
Five years later, we are compelled to take the rose-tinted glasses off and agree, perhaps grudgingly, that the so-called rising of the people, did not make the world better, only created more reasons for suffering.
Take Libya for instance. The country was being ruled by a dictator under whom there was disenchantment, yet, in contrast, the state of affairs were far better than where they stand now.
Ravaged by sectarian/clan-based clashes, Libya is in tatters.
Coincidentally, my uncle has married a Libyan, and according to her, despite concerns about one man wielding all power, Libya was better in the past.
“It had many redeeming features; especially for women, since one legislation enacted by the previous regime ensured that any foreigner marrying a Libyan female would be bound by the law of the country to construct a home for the wife in Libya, as an insurance against possible desertion or divorce,” observed my aunt.
The country at least had sovereignty with an identity.
Sorry, but the vehement arguments five years ago in favour of deposing a dictator now seem a little flimsy.
In fact, one wonders how the phenomenon of the Arab Spring, and the gushing approach to it by some international media houses, would be remembered by progeny.
As we look at the period following what many called the “rise for the call of democracy,” the signs are certainly not something which will glorify pages in history books.
I won’t be surprised if one day, some film-maker decides to make a spoof of this sudden emotional outburst which, for a certain time, fueled a quixotic revolutionary obsession.
The problem is, there is something very potent in the word “revolution;” from time to time, we are possessed by some inexplicable super power, and begin to believe in the impossible.
People will rise and a new dawn will start, leading to better days!
As I think of the “Arab Spring” bug, memories of my university days in the early 90s come back with the campus abuzz with the last remnants of the 70s and 80s socialist drive. All throughout the first and second decades of independence, a major student political wing espoused the need for a socialist uprising.
The avid romantics drew heavy inspiration from Che, Marx, and Rahul Sanskrityayan with a large section of the local intelligentsia providing the necessary rhetorical support.
Alas! Those plans for a utopia fizzled out by the mid 90s. The oft-heard slogan within the campuses: “Duniyar mojdur ek hao” (Workers of the world, unite) is fondly recalled by the so-called crusaders of equality; only now, over bottles of single malt in exclusive clubs or lavish apartments.
Nothing wrong in that, capitalism has always taken over in some form or the other in the heat of the up-surge; links with ground reality are not taken into account.
The same goes for the Arab euphoria. Apart from Tunisia, the surge left all the others in a maelstrom. Outlandish hopes lead to social disasters because, in many cases, the international media also took part in such people’s movements without judiciously analysing the possible outcomes.
There is something very potent in the word ‘revolution;’ from time to time, we are possessed by some inexplicable super power, and begin to believe in the impossible
If I recall, almost all channels went into an overdrive, playing to the tunes of the general people, thronging the streets, taking part in an assortment of highly charged-up events.
These channels, at that time, also aired statements of many influential world leaders, welcoming a wind of change.
More of a wind of disaster as it seems now. World leaders now sideline the issue, or, if asked about justification of their role in supporting a move which went awry, usually resort to prevarication or some incomprehensible logic.
A bit like Tony Blair -- master of obfuscation, who led Britain into a diabolic path, one of the key reasons which led to an entity like IS wreaking global havoc in 2016.
Just like we know that the Iraq invasion was based on flawed information, the futility of the Arab uprising is also dawning on us. But then, history of human civilisation is replete with episodes of romance-fueled revolutions that did not lead to utopia.
Despite this, we keep on rising from time to time, aspiring to achieve the impossible -- a testament to the saying “history teaches us nothing.”