Dominoes of Revolution

The first months of 2011 has seen the fall of two autocratic regimes and the imminent toppling of a third. It is a period which will be on the receiving end of scrutiny by  historians speculating in the causes of what is unfolding before our contemporary eyes in generations to come. In order to provide an explanation of why these changes have taken place today one must look to the economic, political, social, demographic and technological factors that has aligned to form a ‘perfect storm’ igniting popular risings.

Hosni Mubarak Facing the Tunisian Domino-Effect (Latuff, 2011)

It is easy to oversee the fact that the financial crisis of 2007 that primarily hit the developed economies also affected the economies of the third world. In the case of Northern Africa, their large tourism industries were affected, causing an economic rippling effect that increased unemployment rates and lowered standards of living among the socio-economic strata that constituted the largest demographic element of these societies. In the case of Tunisia and Egypt, the recession also served to weaken the regimes’ state apparati, reducing their retaliatory capabilities. Another demographic factor would be the large proportion of youths and young adults, especially of those in an age bracket susceptible to politicisation and without dependent families. Their opportunity cost in terms of the risks associated with political activism is lower than of those in older age strata. The principal technological factor was the widespread use of social media enabling both a rapid dissemination of information and a demonstration effect; making manifestations of political discontent more visible. Lastly there was the domino-effect, once one regime could be toppled by popular risings it was clear to others residing in similar societies that their actions could be copied with predictable success. The extent to which this ‘Arab Spring’ will herald the beginning of a more democratic Arab World is yet to be seen, but it is already certain to have left a mark on history.

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About J.F. Gjersø

PhD in International History, LSE. http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/3202/
This entry was posted in Contemporary History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dominoes of Revolution

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