The Domino Revolutions In Europe And The Middle East

1880 words - 8 pages

1848 marks the year that Europeans across the continent revolted against their autocratic rulers in favor of democracy and its advantages. Sometimes called the “Springtime of the Peoples”, this rebellion started in February in Paris, France against the monarchy of King Louis-Philippe, and soon the famous phrase by Metternich “when France sneezes, all of Europe catches a cold” (“Europe In Retrospect” 1) rang true as the revolutionary spirit swept across Europe. Liberal revolutionaries marched united in the streets with a list of demands for their leaders. Not much had changed before rulers crushed these revolutionaries without difficulty, and conservatives assumed authority again in Europe, making 1848 the “turning point in modern history that modern history failed to turn." (“Revs. of 1848” 7) Though, 1848 was for the most part a failure, it would not be the last time Europe had seen a mass change under an autocracy. Over 150 years later, the same revolutionary spirit that swept across Europe rose again in 2010 throughout the Middle East. Beginning this time in Tunisia with the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in December 2010 in protest of police corruption and ill-treatment (Fahim 1), it was the event that triggered major upheavals in the North African and South West Asia region. The protests “united discontented citizens from across political, economic, social and religious divides in opposition to their autocratic governments” (“Arab Spring Uprisings” 1), and actually drove some leaders from their aging dictatorships or promised reforms. The principles of the European revolts were the same as those in the modern-day Arab World. Although arising in different time periods and resulting in completely different outcomes, economic, social and political tension caused the citizens of participating countries of the Arab Spring and European Revolutions of 1848 to revolt against their ineffective government in pursuit of change.
The economic failures of both European monarchies in 1848 and autocratic governments of Arab nations present today are one of the widespread reasons triggering the civil unrest of its citizens. These regions endured poor economies and sought an end to the suffering that came with an impecunious economy, namely the large unemployment rate and GDP. In both cases, widespread economic crisis over the previous years sent food prices soaring and made jobs even scarcer. Crop failures in the years prior of 1848 “impoverished farmers and confronted urban workers with high food prices and unemployment.” (Kilbride 4) Agricultural crises also contributed to the economic distress of Arab nations- for example, in Syria, farmers also experienced a “total crop failure.” A United Nations report found that more than 800,000 Syrians “lost their entire livelihoods” as a result of the droughts. (Friedman 4) Not only had there been hardly enough to feed the growing population, in both cases, the crop failures drove food prices up and profits...

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