Category Archives: tragic politics

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?”

“In a Hospital Ward, the Wounds of a Failed Democracy Don’t Heal”

Tunisia’s road to democracy began with a self-immolation, and such cases have filled hospital burn wards ever since, as elected leaders failed to deliver on a promise of prosperity.”

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.”

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.”

“Economic Neglect and Political Instability Unraveled Tunisia’s Democracy”

“Tensions across the religious-secular fault lines in the country could not be reconciled, and freely elected leaders failed to deliver on the 2011 uprising’s cry for bread, freedom and dignity.”

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.”

The tragedy of Haiti in history, drama, and performance

Last week, as I read in The New York Times the four-day series
“The Ransom – The Root of Haiti’s Misery: Reparations to Enslavers”
and I continued work on Aimé Césaire’s superb drama The Tragedy of King Christophe (1963, 1970)
for my book-length project The Tragedy of Revolution,
I took the train to Chicago and caught the last performance of the wonderful American premiere of this Shakespearean tragedy.
On the way home, I was reminded of what the Martinican Césaire said when talking about a visit to the Caribbean island:  “In Haiti I saw mainly what should not be done!  A country that had supposedly conquered its liberty … and which I saw more miserable than Martinique, which was a French colony! … It was tragic.”
30 May 2022

“The Root of Haiti’s Misery: Reparations to Enslavers” (ΝΥ Times)

“In 1791, enslaved Haitians did the seemingly impossible. They ousted their French masters and founded a nation. But France made generations of Haitians pay for their freedom — in cash.”

“Naomi Klein on How Egypt’s Failed Revolution Continues to Inspire Struggle Worldwide”

“But,” Alaa adds to his stark assessments, “the revolution did break a regime.” It defeated much of Mubarak’s machine, and the new junta that is in its place, while even more brutal, is also precarious for the thinness of its domestic support. Openings, he tells us, remain. In this way, Alaa acts as the revolution’s toughest critic and its most devoted militant.