Westerners did not get only the Arab Spring wrong
And themselves too. They still do.
Ten years ago, anti-government protest in many Arab countries gave the world, especially the Western world, the impression that a democratic “Arab Spring” was blooming, and that that was due in no negligible part to social media.
But the Arab Spring was misunderstood the, and still is today in the West, says a guest opinionist on AlJazeera. The misunderstanding has several faces and causes, and most if not all westerners should read them all in that post. Here, I only quote, and briefly comment, the three points closest to the mission of this website (emphasis mine):
- “A final misperception to be overcome: the notion that the Arab Spring had - or will ever have - a firm end date.”
- “The demands for greater economic and social justice represent moments along a continuum. [The struggle for freedom is] - and actually should be - a messy, iterative process.”
- “If democracy is ever to take root, the region’s citizens must begin deprogramming and re-programming their minds and learn to coexist with different points of view and ways of life, lest they turn against each other, thus paving the way for the return of authoritarians”
Ten years ago, we all believed. We were wrong
When the “Arab” Spring started (why the quotes? Read the full article!), many people worldwide believed that social media would push democracy, and make getting there as clean-cut, simple and quick as a TikTok or Instagram story. Ten years later, many more people believe the same, about politics in general.
Read those three points again: self re-programming minds, to learn to coexist with different points of view and ways of life is exactly what almost every voter in (at least) all the US and Europe should do today, instead of “paving the way for the return of authoritarians”, by staying immersed in social media that must, in order to survive:
- create and maintain extremist, highly polarized groups
- make users believe that politics, and all life in general, could and should be as simple as posting and reading Tweets, or YouTube videos
Image source: Arab Spring picture composition from Wikipedia’s entry on the Arab Spring