International Affairs — 12 August 2011
From Arab Spring to European Autumn

This year witnessed mass protests by Muslims in the Arab world, against despotic dictators. For years the voices of people had been suppressed by oppressive tyrants. However, with a stunning display of bravery the Muslims took to streets to protest against the regime. The people came out in their thousands, the likes of which the Arab world, had never seen before. These Muslims were met with brute force unleashed upon them by the Dictators. In spite of this, the protesters did not resort to vandalism, thefts and destruction of public property at large. The very dictators, whom the Western democracies had backed for decades, became the object of critique and condemnation once it was clear that they would no longer be able to continue to rule, in face of growing protests.

The governments of Western democracies had hailed these uprising as a yearning for a democracy. Indeed in the recent past (and present) some countries in the West have used military means at their disposal to export democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and lately in Libya. The West has continued to maintain that democracy is the only alternative for the Arabs,
and the people at large, who seek to progress, want justice and prosperous economies, accountability and rule of law.

While the full effects of Arab spring, are yet to unfold, another undercurrent has begun to surface, and this time it is the heart lands of Western democracies. Events in recent years, have brought to limelight symptoms of a chronic problem, which in the past were easily and deliberately kept away from the spotlight. The Western democracies today are struggling to cope with the growing frequencies of economic-quakes rattling their economies. From the financial bubble, austerity measures, to the constant need of bailouts of banks, insurance firms, and now countries like Greece,  all point to the single direction that the chronic problem is
failure of Capitalism. And the Governance model of democracy, has terminally failed to ensure economic justice for the masses which it boasts to represent.

Apart from the issues of economics , viewed as unjust by a sizable segment of society, which has prompted protests in Greece and Spain,  the protests in European democracies also expose the values on which the capitalist had sought to build societies.  The August riots in UK, riddled with vandalism, theft, and burning of property stands in stark contrast to the protests in the middle-east. The culture of materialism, individualism, and secularism has created a broken society, where the concept of demanding rights has fused with unchecked notions of absolute freedom. As one rioter in UK commented that they were showing police and “the rich” that “we can do what we want”.

The mass protests this year in Greece, which historically has been considered the birthplace of Democracy, and the unfolding riots in UK, which has been called the Mother of Democracy, has put both the notion, and credibility of Democracy as a model of governance, and capitalism as a
system into an intellectual and political challenge. Indeed if democracy at its best, in UK, is reaping bitter fruits than it stands no chance, of solving the far deeper problems of countries elsewhere. For example in Pakistan and Bangladesh, some quarters have tried to cover the failure of democracy, by suggesting that democracy needs more time to bear fruits. The failure of democracy in Pakistan and Bangladesh is not coincidental, for a poisonous plant merely bears poisonous fruits, though with variations of climate and geography.

As the Western democracies struggle to cope with their ailments, and the Muslims in the Arab world brave the tyranny of dictatorships, it has become appalling clear, that neither democracy nor dictatorship can give the masses true economic justice and a rule of law without bias of race, ethnicity, or capital. This brings us to question, that what can serve as a viable alternative?  The prospects at hand, with regards to model of governance and system, are either a discredited Communism, or an Islamic solution.  As the intellectuals, and the masses in the Muslim world, in particular the Arab, spearhead their efforts towards a real regime change, it is only wise not to trade dictatorships with democracies. The viable alternative for the Arab world,  is to establish a model of governance based on the ideology of the masses, in other words, a  return to Islamic governance (as represented by a Caliphate).

For now, the trending issues in Europe are only likely to continue, though not as monumental as the Arab Spring, but with respective significance, into what could be termed as the European Autumn. The similitude in nature is fascinating. Spring sees the birth of new flowers, with beauty and fragrance, and autumn witnesses the falling of dry leaves.

 

Sharique Naeem is an automation engineer, and a writer and political commentator. His writings have been published in national newspapers of Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Yemen & Iran. He can be reached at shariq_n@hotmail.com

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect New Civilisation’s editorial policy.

 

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