carl guderian on Tue, 22 Feb 2011 07:46:35 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> A spectre is haunting MENA...

The events of the Middle East and north Africa are leaving many  
scrambling for historical parallels. The turning of Eastern Europe in  
1989 is a popular narrative, at least on CNN. Certainly Muammar  
Qaddafi makes a good Nicolae Ceausescu. Unfortunately, his son Saif  
el-Islam comes off as Feyd-Rautha to his Baron Harkonnen, and that's  
8000 years in the future.

But I think a better parallel is 1848.

1848 has something for everyone. It has a swathe of countries trying  
to throw off the royal and/or imperial yoke. Those of a more cynical  
bent can take the swift rollback of those revolutions as a lesson to  
modern rebels who would follow angel-headed cyberhipsters into the  
meat-grinder of history. Others can note that it caused a permanent  
shift and dare to hope this version will yield immediate victories  
and long-term ones, as modern actors seem to have learned from their  
predecessors' mistakes. At the very least, the revolts have exposed  
the flimsiness of the Islamist bogeyman that justified the ferocity  
of the local dictators and the handwringing of their western (and  
eastern) enablers. And they can remember that 1848 was the year a  
German ex-lawyer wrote up a corker of a manifesto.

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