Category Archives: defeat

Jamie Allinson: “The Actuality of Counter-Revolution”

Counter-revolutions are difficult to circumscribe because they belong both to the past that preceded the revolution and make the future that succeeds it. Or to put the issue in more prosaic language: when does counter-revolution begin? And, what does it counter – does counter-revolution simply restore the past, or make its own new present? What does counter-revolution preserve?”

Carolyn Eichner: “Women at the barricades”

The Paris Commune exploded onto the world stage. At the intersection of political developments, resistance movements, emerging liberatory ideologies and community-based organisations, the Commune resulted from the political will of a wide range of actors to embrace the revolutionary opportunity, and put hopes and ideas into action. They drew not only on their prior liberatory plans and resistant experiences, but also on Paris’s revolutionary legacy – a potent set of available memories embraced by socialists and feminists of many stripes. This combination of history, ideology, opportunity, lived experience and hope facilitated a radically democratic urban experiment.”

David A. Bell: “The Experiment: The life and afterlife of the Paris Commune”

“The ghost of the Commune continued to haunt the regime that had killed it and helped to push the Third Republic and future regimes in the more progressive direction they eventually took. For all of the contradictions that accompanied its short life, the Commune, as Carolyn Eichner insists, played a key historical role.”

Christopher Clark reviews Jonathan Beecher’s “Writers and Revolution: Intellectuals and the French Revolution of 1848″”

“It follows nine contemporary intellectuals – d’Agoult, the novelists George Sand, Victor Hugo and Gustave Flaubert, the statesman Lamartine, the liberal theorist and parliamentarian Alexis de Tocqueville and the socialists Karl Marx, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Alexander Herzen – into the revolution, links arms with them as they pass through its euphoria, confusion and violence, and tracks their steps as they re-emerge into the post-revolutionary world.”

Paulius Vijeikis: “Revolution in progress: Voices of Belarusians in exile”

The Belarus Revolution started in 2020 after a rigged presidential election. It ended, at least to outward appearances, with President Lukashenka’s brutal repression and stricter outlawing of future protests. But, for many, the struggle continues: a new study on protestors’ recollections refutes the perception that the revolution failed.”

Mona El-Ghobashy: “The Arab Uprisings and the Many Meanings of Revolution”

After ten years as the Arab region’s only functioning democracy, Tunisia is now imperiled by a presidential strongman who in 2021 dissolved parliament and attacked the judiciary, and in 2022 rewrote the constitution to reflect his plebiscitary conception of direct democracy. Egypt is governed by a personalized military dictatorship that incarcerates or eliminates all forms of opposition, even its erstwhile business cronies. Yemen, the Arabian peninsula’s sole republic, is ravaged by an air war between a Saudi-UAE alliance and Houthi rebels, rendering 80% of Yemenis in need of humanitarian aid. In Syria, the nationwide uprising did not end the 50-year rule of the al-Assad dynasty. With military support from Russia and Iran, Bashar al-Assad has subjected Syrians to staggering state violence; over half a million have perished and 13 million forced to flee their homes.”

Enzo Traverso: “Revolutions are still breathing life into history”

“The new social and political movements have considerable potential, but they are the offspring of a historical turning point that has evacuated the utopian horizon of the past, identified precisely with the idea of revolution.”

Zeynep Tufekci: “I Wish I Could Ask Alaa Abd el-Fattah What He Thinks About the World Now”

“These days, I wonder even if he would turn into a cynic, observing how far the world has turned its back on the Arab Spring generation of young men and women who dared to hope. Many are languishing as political prisoners, often under horrendous conditions.  I can’t ask what he thinks, though, because he’s been in prison for most of the past eight years.”

Steve Ellner: “The impasse of the Latin American left”

“As the left returns to power across Latin America, the lessons of the Pink Tide have become increasingly relevant. ”  A review of The Impasse of the Latin American Left.  Franck Gaudichaud, Jeffery R. Webber, and Massimo Modonesi, eds. Duke University Press, 2022.

Franck Gaudichaud, Massimo Modonesi, Jeffery R. Webber: “The Impasse of the Latin American Left”

“At the turn of the twenty-first century, Latin American politics experienced an upsurge in progressive movements, as popular uprisings for land and autonomy led to the election of left and center-left governments across Latin America. These progressive parties institutionalized social movements and established forms of state capitalism that sought to redistribute resources and challenge neoliberalism. Yet, as the authors demonstrate, these governments failed to transform the underlying class structures of their societies or challenge the imperial strategies of the United States and China. Now, as the Pink Tide has largely receded, the authors offer a portrait of this watershed period in Latin American history in order to evaluate the successes and failures of the left and to offer a clear-eyed account of the conditions that allowed for a right-wing resurgence.”