Monday, February 14, 2011

Revolution: A Look Through History

Harvard historian Niall Ferguson's slapdown of MSNBC'S Mika Brzezinski is making the rounds in the blogosphere today, with good reason:

In this interview, Ferguson pointed out that:
If you look at history . . . most revolutions lead not to happy-clappy democracies, but to periods of internal turmoil, often to periods of terror, and they also lead to external aggression because the simplest way to mobilize people in a relatively poor and not very well-educated country like Egypt is to point to the alleged enemy within and then, of course, the enemy abroad.
Hyphenated American, a Jewish-Russian-Chinese Cossack who got his history lesson by living through two revolutions, also is looking at Egypt through the lens of history:
[I]t requires sophistication to see that Hollywood Happy Ending is a rather rare thing in real life - particularly when you leave the civilized world and move to the rest of the planet. What are chances that the latest commotion in Egypt will end well? There were plenty of revolutions in the last few hundred years, and only very few of them had a happy ending. It is quite typical to hear of a revolution which starts as a popular uprising against the oppressive regime and ends up with a bunch of psychopaths taking over the country and building an even more oppressive regime - so oppressive indeed that the people wish they never revolted against the previous oppressive regime. Let's go through the memory lane, and take a look at a dozen of significant revolutions.
Hyphenated American argues that the American public have been conditioned by Hollywood and the entertainment industry to expect a happy ending. You will want to read his thoughts on the puzzlingly blithe willingness of many Americans to believe and even celebrate the appealing fiction that democracies can spring up naturally and bloodlessly in Islamic gardens where no democracy of any kind has ever bloomed.

That kind of unguarded optimism is very dangerous indeed for Americans who should know by now that, by virtue of their country's success, they are counted chief among "the enemies abroad" by every dictator on the planet looking to point the finger at somebody else.


  1. It's too bad the Boy Wonder and his friends think the White House is a school.

  2. I caught a couple of minutes of the Wonder's press conference: just enough to hear him say he wishes he were a caseworker.

    He's not the only one!

    Being a caseworker would be an education for the man (and his clients), but it wouldn't have to be an education for the entire country!

  3. Reposting to the A-C page. Thanks for the great information, too bad the deluded will not pay attention to such things.

  4. @Zilla - Thanks. Cicero said it best:

    Not to know what has been transacted in former times is 
to be always a child. If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the 
world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.

  5. THANK YOU for posting this! I really like your blog!!

    Common Cents

  6. I have absolutely no clue how one could describe the Tsars and the French monarchy as "moderately oppressive." Compared to whom? Mao? I'm all for the American Revolution, but to describe a country that depended upon a large slave population based around race for its rural economies at the time as "the freest country on the planet" is highly dubious. And to overlook Pinochet's brutality in Chile is more than a bit much. Further, it seems to suggest that Chinese Communists sprang up to revolt against a well-established Chiang Kai-shek. Nonsense.

    The chart is far too simplistic, subjective, and selective to be of any real value. I notice the Greek coup of 1967 is not mentioned, nor is anything out of Africa. The fall of Muboto in Zaire, collapses in Uganda and South Africa, etc.

    The problematic chart aside, many Americans associate revolution with the American revolution, and really have no clue as to how actually bloody (beyond the battles) that relatively sane revolution became, especially in the South.

    It is difficult to say what will become of Egypt. But even if any form of lasting democracy is instituted (very, very, very unlikely), that would still be a great danger to Israel in particular and the Middle East in general. Look at what happened when the Palestinians held elections...