the rationale of my optimism

In view of the views I express regarding the Arab spring whenever I politely can (including in this blog) , a close personal friend asked me if I share the optimism expressed in the following Economist article, which has been defined by the friend as "highly optimistic".

Truth is I do. I'm probably even more optimistic.

I do not think that the U.S strength or appreciation should be judged by events in Iraq. These are definitely short term events. I believe that most assessments are based on a misinterpretation of the motivations of the Bush administration regarding Iraq. I think that the U.S policy regarding Iraq aimed at Creating a lightning rod that will attract Islamist extremists from the entire world and assist in the effort of protecting the U.S from terror, while at the same time enabling the U.S to take an active role, instead of a passive one, through which it would be able to change the trends taking place in the Arab world. However one judges U.S foreign policy, one cannot deny that thanks to the occupation of Iraq, a democratic wedge has been stuck at the heart of an undemocratic region. Despite its ramshackle state, I believe this wedge has far greater impacts on the conscience of the area's residents than is perceived by most experts, and the U.S coming departure can only assist to these impacts, wherever Iraq's democracy may go.

As to the claim that the West's power over the Arab world is in decline, I feel it is too soon to tell. No one really knows what will be the preferences of the next regime in Egypt or Libya. The first Arab state to hold full elections was Tunisia, and even though the Tunisian elections were clearly resulted with the largest party being an Islamic party, Ennahda, the very diversified new political map of Tunisia means a rather large coalition shall have to be formed, in order for the country to be governed. This, together with the amazing abundance of participating parties in the Tunisian elections, teaches of a great thirst for democracy. If Tunisia is our model, assuming everyone will keep playing by the rules of the democratic game, it is much more probable that the West will gain more power over the emerging democracies, as they will seek to learn from the rich democratic history of the west,  in regards to the constitutional setup, to state institutions and  to the construction of the economy. Later on they will find a lot of value in the West's legal precedents and the way they shed light on the future conflicts which will surely arise, as they arise in any human society. In that process,  the U.S shall probably have a leading role, as an example to learn with, considering its overwhelming success of constructing a robust democracy that can contain the internal pressures of a greatly diversified society.

But being optimistic does not mean being blind to risks. Flourishing Democracies of the type we all wish to the citizens of the Arab countries, as well as to ourselves, require much more than elections, as the citizens of Africa have been learning in the last 50 years.
It is extremely difficult to assess whether all parties in all Arab countries will be obligated to the true requirements of the democratic state.
Thinking of history, there are examples of countries who made the pass from tyranny to democracy at one step, but there are many more examples of countries who took a step back to tyranny, and sometimes flipped between freedom and autocracy several times, before the democratic roots got deep enough to let democracy a firm stand.
While we discuss the democratic future of the Arab world, we should also remember that democracy in the developed world has been stronger in some places more than others. Can one truly talk of democracy in Russia ? Can one confidently foresee the future of democracies in eastern Europe or south America ? And for that matter, other than the truly veteran democracies (of which the most prominent are probably England, France and the United States of America), can anyone seriously claim to assess the state of democracy in the world in 200 years time ?

Two pillars support my optimism:

  1. When many states undergo a similar process, that process has a better chance of success. That is the clear lesson of the aftermath of the spring of nations. And this is what we are currently seeing in the Arab world. 
  2. We still do not really know how the information revolution will impact revolutions. Theoretically,  there might come a time when Technology may assist the suppression of democracy, as Orwell's 1984 threatens.  Some claim that social networking is the first sign for that time, when privacy shall be a memory of a lost past, and with it the ability to act against anyone who in is power. This may well happen, But currently things are different. At this time, social networks assist people in their grouping and working against tyrants. As long as people will know how to keep the positive side of technology at their side, the incredibly efficient communications technology enables will prevent the silencing of opposition. And as long as the freedom of speech will enable citizens to understand there are many others around who think and feel the same, tyrannies shall be at bay. 

3 תגובות:

  1. אני כבר לא יכול להתאפק. GOLAN מה זה הקטע המוזר הזה שלך עם הLIKE ?????????????? אף אחד לא רואה את זה חוץ ממי שכבר ממילא הגיע לכאן. רוצה לספר לעולם שאהבת משהו ???????????? תעשה LIKE אמיתי ברשת חברתית !!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. אנונימי, למרות שאני נאלץ להסכים עם ההגיון המוצק שמאחורי ההערה שלך, אני מבקש להגן על זכותו של כל מגיב להגיב בדרכו שלו.

    הסטטיסטיקה בעולם הבלוגים, עד כמה שאני מכיר אותה, מלמדת שאחוז מהקוראים מגיב, במקרה הטוב, וכל תגובה היא לטובה.

    גולן, אני מודה לך על הפידבק החיובי (: !