A popular line of attack against the Arab Spring goes something like this:
“So – yeah – with all those killed in Libya and all those dying in Egypt, what Arab Spring are you talking about? All you did was take tyrannies and make them into failed states. Haven’t you had enough death and anarchy?”
We hear this argument frequently, but that shouldn’t distract us from its raw stupidity.
Anyone who spent any time thinking about politics will intuitively know that for a country to go from tyranny to democracy, an interim period of instability is unavoidable. In fact, I’d argue that it’s even beneficial (but that’s a topic for another conversation).
So, to highlight the profound bozosity of this potshot, let me try to place it in a different context.
Imagine some smart aleck mocking the American patriots some time around 1781, when British economic warfare caused their currency to rapidly depreciate, and then completely collapse. “What good did your Declaration of Independence do you?”
Or perhaps, someone mocking the Indians in the late 1940s, in the aftermath of independence & partition, when over a million died in communal violence. “Haven’t you had enough death? What did independence bring you? You should have stuck with British Rule.”
Or point out to the Algerians in the 1960s, in the aftermath of their war of independence, that all they brought upon themselves was massive unemployment, homelessness, and a complete breakdown in public services. “Do you miss the French yet?”
What’s Behind This?
But then, before wondering about the mental capacity of those peddling these hollow arguments, you should know where they come from. Sooner or later, the argument will turn to a rant against “imperialism”, or a rant against Arab & Muslim culture.
The first case is “You sold out your country to the imperialists. You should have stuck with your great leader.” According to this, a revolution must be completely self-sufficient, or otherwise it is not a revolution at all but a foreign plot.
(So the Americans were selling out America to the French when they signed the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778. Or perhaps they were hypocrites for accepting the help of an aristocratic monarchy in order to build an independent liberal republic.)
The second case is “Muslims don’t understand democracy. All you’ll get is instability followed by another tyranny.” Basically, we Arabs are too, you know, Muslim. We need to become less Muslim in order to be prosperous and free.
Freedom is Not Free
Either way, it’s time this dismal bozo argument is put to death.
Ultimately, it’s not the going out of port, but the coming in, that determines the success of the voyage. There will always be naysayers, and there will always be those who prefer the safety of the harbor to the uncertainty of the sea.
Revolutions take time, and freedom is not free.