Thursday, March 17, 2011

Results of a Revolution - Egypt and Tunisia

Tahrir Square during protests
Once Abraham Lincoln said "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." But what will happen after dismembering or overthrowing the institutions? Well Immanuel Kant also have to something to say about revolution, "Perhaps a revolution can overthrow autocratic despotism and profiteering or power-grabbing oppression, but it can never truly reform a manner of thinking; instead, new prejudices, just like the old ones they replace, will serve as a leash for the great unthinking mass."

Did anyone expect a revolution in North Africa and Middle East? A political change in Tunisia or Egypt? Till some months ago not much people expected about the possibility of a revolutionary wind flowing from Mediterranean to Arabian sea. And now the word Jasmine is giving sleepless nights to various regimes across North Africa and Middle East.

The principle of sufficient reason states that anything that happens does so for a reason. In the case of flower revolutions also it is not wrong. It may be unemployment for some people for others it may be poverty, for the rest it may be some other reason. But the root cause for many of the revolutions have more to do with the representation of common people around the table of power than the table of power itself.

If representation of people is the biggest challenge in autocracy it is the biggest advantage in democracy. Democracy provides a way for common people to express their concern and voice, regime knows that they have to face the people after four or five years. If you have any doubts about it read the election manifesto of various parties in India - it's another matter that many of the points mentioned in the election manifesto will remain there safely till next election. But representational democracy - with all its  flows- gives the feeling that he/she too is a part of the system, at least they have a say in the governmental policies.

Often autocratic regimes are acting on their own. Here a small number of individuals will be responsible for most of the decisions and its implementation. In such a scenario if the dissatisfaction in regime's policies went too far, then even a small spark can explode it. In the recent chain of events people of Egypt and Tunisia forced their head of states to step down. But did they able to bring a complete revolution in these countries?

Do you think that a single person is responsible for all the events - good or bad; progressive or repressive - in a country, even if it is autocratic? Do you think that replacing a single person will correct all the flows of the system? You can argue that a single individual may be responsible for shaping the system, but once the system is in place it knows how to survive.

Simply replacing one name with another will not cut much ice. At this point people of Egypt and Tunisia are able to replace the head of the state, but will they be able to sustain that momentum to bring a complete change to the system? Will they be able to force the system to work on improving the living environment?

This is the time to create a strong democratic and political institutions, to lead the country forward. But this is as much as or tougher than changing the name of the president. Will they be able to do it? Only time can tell... 


Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia


  1. You are such a pleasure to read! Well written article and keep up the work. Super likes.

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  2. How effective such revolutions are remains to be seen... when you read stuff like this you sometimes wonder whether we need something similar..