Category Archives: tragic politics

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.

Karim Alrawi: A Time of Monsters: On Alaa Abd el-Fattah’s “You Have Not Yet Been Defeated”

“In a series of personal accounts and short essays, Alaa takes the reader through the last eleven years, as the progress towards democracy in Egypt was rolled back by a degree of repression unknown in the country’s modern history.”

“Nicaragua Descends Into Autocratic Rule as Ortega Crushes Dissent”

“Daniel Ortega became a hero in Nicaragua for helping overthrow a notorious dictator. Now, 40 years later, he has become the kind of authoritarian leader he once fought against.  After methodically choking off competition and dissent, Mr. Ortega has all but ensured his victory in presidential elections on Sunday, representing a turn toward an openly dictatorial model that could set an example for other leaders across Latin America.”

‘What Have We Done With Democracy?’ A Decade On, Arab Spring Gains Wither

Tunisia, birthplace of the pro-democracy uprisings that swept the Arab world, now looks to many like a final confirmation of failed promise.”

Sumanta Banerjee: “Embers of the Paris Commune”

“This year we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune of 1871 – the biggest urban insurrection of the nineteenth century, that led to the setting up of a grass roots based popular government in Paris, albeit for only about two months, before it was crushed by the Versailles troops at the end of May that year. But during that brief period of popular sovereignty, that government – known as the `Commune’, meaning the smallest unit of local governance – laid the foundations of a model of decentralization of power, that has continued to inspire generations all over the world.”