Not counting the petro-potentates (more about them later) and strife-torn Lebanon, Tunisia is the richest of [all Arab and Maghreb African countries]. Its per-capita income is almost twice as high as neighboring Morocco, and it is ahead of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria by similar margins. The country is more urbanized (67 percent of the populace) than either Morocco (56 percent) or Egypt, (43 percent). Tunisia is also more educated: Its literacy is a bit higher than Egypt’s and a lot higher than Morocco’s, and it spends much more on education7.2 percent of GDP, while Egypt devotes about half as much, and Morocco comes in at just 5.7 percent.
Such numbers would have made Karl Marx clap his hands in delight.
Looking at the Tunisian upheaval he would have cried out: “I was right.” About what? About the “contradiction” between regime and risers, between an ossified power structure and what he called the “bourgeoisie.” If you are poor, you have neither the time nor the energy to engage in politics. If you are not educated, you lack the cultural skills to articulate your demandsto agitate and organize. And, if you are poor, uneducated, and thus isolated, as much of the Arab world is, then you have no benchmark against which to measure your misery. Sociologists call this the “demonstration effect.”
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