It's Not 1989 for Arabs, but 1848

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Anne Applebaum argues in a very nice article for Slate that this is not 1989 for the Arabs but 1848. I stand corrected.

Though inspired very generally by the ideas of liberal nationalism and democracy, the mostly middle-class demonstrators of 1848 had, like their Arab contemporaries, very different goals in different countries. In Hungary, they demanded independence from Habsburg Austria. In what is now Germany, they aimed to unify the German-speaking peoples into a single state. In France, they wanted to overthrow the monarchy (again). In some countries, revolution led to pitched battles between different ethnic groups. Others were brought to a halt by outside intervention.

In fact, most of the 1848 rebellions failed... Historian A.J.P. Taylor once called 1848 a moment when "history reached a turning point and failed to turn."

And yet--in the longer run, the ideas discussed in 1848 did seep into the culture...  In 1849, many of the revolutions of 1848 might have seemed disastrous, but looking back from 1899 or 1919, they seemed like the beginning of a successful change.

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Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

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