David Calling

Where Stands the Arab Spring?


 “A hundred years of tyranny is better than a day of anarchy,” is one of the innumerable proverbs that have always reconciled Arabs to daily reality. Under a tyranny you have some stability, some certainty about where you stand, and you can always negotiate and bribe to find a way through the obstacles. You have to be very trusting, or a devout believer that Allah wills everything, to put up with today’s Arab tyrants, one and all greedy and selfish brutes indifferent to the masses. The educated, the young, have shown themselves willing to demand something better, hence the Arab Spring.  What might look like a protest against injustice and lack of opportunity is taking place in settings without a real political alternative to the discredited tyranny.  This results in the anarchy of sects and tribes and ethnicities struggling to keep their identities afloat and even on top in a free-for-all. What you would expect in a situation as dire as the present is a Bonapartist solution, namely the emergence of a general or strongman who will refashion tyranny in his own image, and call it reform to keep outsiders happy. Islamists are so hungry for power that it is possible they will succeed in taking over.  Muslim clerico-fascist regimes might even be welcomed as putting a stop to anarchy, but they would also guarantee at least a hundred years of tyranny.

David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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