Comparing the French
Revolution to 
the Arab Spring




The Nature of Political Revolution: Comparing the French Revolution to the Arab Spring

     There are many similarities between the causes of Arab Spring and the French Revolution. In both revolutions tiny minority of people ruled with an iron fist against a huge portion of commoners. In both cases the commoners, although they made up a huge percentage of the population, took decades and sometimes hundreds of years to realize that there was another way to live. There are many social political and economic reasons for revolution. Some of the biggest reasons for the start of the French Revolution and the Arab spring are the availability of information on how other people live and the dissatisfaction of youth.

     Political reasons for revolution in the Arab spring include corruption and absolute monarchies that ruled with complete authority and sometimes unimaginable brutality. Belabbe Benkredda. (2013)."Reclaiming Arab Public Sphere." The Nation. This article  explains the politics in most Arab countries are fused with religion. Many Arab monarchs live a very different lifestyle than the people they rule over. Arab religious rulers and monarchs make up a tiny percentage of the population yet they control everything in their countries. The political process is so corrupt most don't even bother running for election but when they do people's votes do not really count the end result was decided before it even started. The difference between politics today in Arab nations and the French Revolution is the access of information available today. With the Internet and television it is difficult to avoid of tons of easily accessible information. Live broadcasts can be seen by millions of people instantly during the Arab spring. During the French Revolution people had speeches, pamphlets, newspapers and books at their disposal but it was not as instant as the information provided today with technology. In France Louis XVI wielded absolute power in the clergy and nobility barely gave peasants enough to survive. In Arab nations there is also this incredible disparity of power between the governments in charge and the people that they ruled over. The people in Arab nations have almost no say in how their daily lives are run. The political reasons for revolution in the Arab spring and in the French Revolution are very similar, a huge amount of people being ruled by a tiny minority of rulers who treat them poorly.

     Economic reasons for the Arab spring and the French Revolution have some similarities as well. During the French Revolution inflation was so rampant that people literally could not afford to eat bread. Yet the Kings and nobles lived in incredible opulence that peasants couldn't even understand. When information became available to the peasants via pamphlets or speeches that the Kings lived this type of lifestyle while they lived in squalor the merchants and the younger generation decided there had to be a better way. Belabbe Benkredda. (2013)."Reclaiming Arab Public Sphere." The Nation. This article explains that there is a similar situation in Arab countries today. As people become better educated in the Arab world there is a growing number of use with college degrees that find that they have zero opportunities to better themselves no matter how hard they work. In some countries there is a 60 percent unemployment rate for educated young men. And there is almost 0 opportunities for women in the Arab world. During the French Revolution as peasants moved into cities and became merchants they found as hard as they worked they could never better themselves because taxation and inflation so they could never get ahead. Once the peasants of France and the educated youth of their world found out the opulent lifestyle of the leaders of their countries they rose up because of the incredible inequality of it all. The exact same thing is happening now in the Arab world. People are beginning to rise up and realize that there is a very different world out there, and they want some say in their own lives.

     The social reasons for the Arab spring and the French Revolution are also similar, information being the key. Information during French times included speaking in public squares, pamphlets, newspapers, books sometimes with great passion from famous philosophers sometimes by common people who had simply had enough and saw better way to live elsewhere. Elie Chalala. (2013). "The Arab Spring-The Original Arab Revolution? | Al Jadid Magazine. She explains in this article that in the Arab spring social media has changed everything. Leaders find it impossible to fire against unarmed protesters in Egypt because the entire world is watching the live CNN broadcasts. When the Egyptian authorities do fire upon the unarmed protesters the world watches and condemns them instantly. The Internet has changed how we receive information today. Nothing can be stay secret very long. The youth, who number 60 percent unemployed, have nothing better to do than protest and demonstrate it's not as if they have a job to go to. Once the word gets out that one country is having luck with these nonviolent demonstrations and they can see on the television screen, on their computers, on their smart phones that no one is being arrested, no one is being harmed in the streets then suddenly the government has almost zero control over the crowds. Ient has almost zero control over the crowds. It spreads to other countries where more overeducated underutilized angry youth take to the streets asking for changes. During the French Revolution once the word got out that Kings live like, well Kings, people who could not afford a loaf of bread to feed their child who is literally been starving for weeks realized that they numbered 98 percent maybe for the first time. It's easy to be starving and sad if you assume the whole rest of the world is starving as well. When you realize the incredible extravagance that the Kings and Nobels lived in through information and pamphlets and word-of-mouth it gets you angry. Angry, hungry, hopeless people are frightening because they literally have nothing to lose. The common everyday people in both the Arab spring and the French Revolution found that they have very little to lose and everything to gain through a revolution.

     The nature of political revolution is incredibly complex both long ago in the French Revolution and in Arab nations today. Political revolutions are fast. You are asking for centuries of tradition to be changed instantly and that's asking a lot. History is generally slow to change because people get comfortable and they get used to their condition, whatever it may be. Radical revolutions ask and sometimes demand instant change and so far it has not happened without significant bloodshed. There is a complex mix of social economic and political issues that start a revolution. If there was only one issue like social injustice or prices being too high perhaps the leaders could have stayed in power but when you mix crushing political regimes, and economy that is not solvent and going broke quickly, and the social information available it is a volatile mix with no easy answers. Sometimes people are simply hopeless and they see a change of political structure as a solution to these problems. We have a democracy in the United States and many people will argue that the gap between poverty and the wealthy is so great that even with a democracy things are still bad. Treating people fairly and with equality may only come in some countries through a bloody revolution. The monarchs of both France and in the Arab nations live in opulence while thousands strive to survive another day with disparities like these revolutions are inevitable.



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