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I have a pretty limited knowledge in History but I want to know the future (or outcome) of the Tunisian revolution based on the development of current events and also on some data that I know/can provide. I'm not sure if the natural evolution of nations is toward progress or not; and that's exactly what I'm asking: Where are we going?

First, I'll put some information about the revolution and political state to put you in perspective

The roots of the revolution

The revolution was led mainly by jobless/hopeless and kind of lifeless youth. They have little (or nothing) left behind them to care about; so they simply went to the streets to protest. The protests weren't armed but they were violent at first.

1 year after the revolution

Joblessness jumped to 18.6% (and increasing), GDP dropped 1.8%. A citizens elected constitution started working, a constitution formed government has been in place for 100 days.

Then, I'll draw some conclusion as someone who was born and lived for more than 20 years in this country. Feel free to ask for any other information you need

  1. Education 14 years ago, I started school (at age of 6). I remember that the system was pretty solid. I learned languages (French and Arabic), Maths, and some science. The teachers were quite old (50 years or older) but they had a great experience and also they loved their job. Moving from primary school, things started to change. The system was messy and also unfair. High-School was terrible and there were only a few old and good professors. I should call myself lucky that I had a great and free education. The system currently is pretty messy and unless parents have money to finance their children education, they are very unlikely to learn a thing. It's getting worse everyday.
  2. Higher Education Higher education is unbearable. I joined medical studies two years ago and I dropped this year. There isn't even the required equipments for teaching. Some professors don't even prepare their classes/courses. They steal it from French Universities (and sometimes it's plagiarism) and edit it a bit (and make many syntax mistakes on the way). I followed Medical studies because it's (the irony) one of the best higher education institutions in the country.
  3. The jobless Most of them are youth. They hold high-degrees from even worse universities. They don't have any formal/informal training. Few of them pursued other manual tracks (like becoming a carpenter) but most of them are protesting on the streets. Some of them are violent (block roads, prohibit governments institution from operating) and many of them rely on their parents for food, shelter and coffee.
  4. The government I have had many opportunities to visit some government entities (for paperwork, registrations and other things). It's a slow, painful, pretty corrupt institution. However, there is something that attracted me the most: It's very unproductive. We can get more productivity with something like 20% of the employees or even less. The government employs around half a million. The government wages are pretty low, but it's so far the best paying entity on the country. Here are some salaries (usd/month)
    • Engineer: $733
    • General Practitioner: $750
    • Professor: $1,300 (varies a bit)
    • Technical assistant: $300

Post-Revolution

Well, I'll keep it short. There is an ongoing mess right now, and everywhere. Garbage is everywhere in the city, many roads are being ruined and not maintained any more, government services (health, transportation) are even worse, Internet is barely usable (have a 7mbs and get only 1mbs or less), Inflation is dreadful (food prices doubled comparing to pre-revolution). Worse, some government entities (like the local pharmacy for medicines) are being robbed and destroyed by "unknown" and their resources are taken across border (to Libya or Algeria).

So that shouldn't be surprising for a Post-Revolution country. But the question is: With an uneducated/inexperienced youth, a corrupt government, a terrible infrastructure; what's the natural evolution/progress in this situation (based on history/other countries) and what's the very likely outcome?

I don't want to overload the question with information, but if you need any other data/details to build explanations I'll be happy to add to it.

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"Internet is barely usable (have a 7mbs and get only 1mbs or less)" - I remember that my 24/7 first internet connection was 128kbs ;-) –  quant_dev Mar 23 '12 at 22:37
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@quant_dev My first was 56kbs only. But the point is that I paid for 7mbps and not 1mbps. –  Omar Abid Mar 23 '12 at 23:18
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around $20/month. It's little I know, but they don't have pricier plans. –  Omar Abid Mar 23 '12 at 23:58
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@quant_dev true, but back then most people had slow connection, and all the sites were built accordingly. Now you are expected to have broadband, and if you don't you can't do much. –  Lohoris Mar 24 '12 at 16:32
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@Omar Abid, I noticed you have placed a bounty along with a concern that this question isn't getting enough attention. It does seem that quite a few people have viewed the question and 4 people have provided answers. You may want to comment on the answers you have here particularly any you feel are on the right track, to get the author to refine their answer. Or if you feel no one here is close to answering your question you should edit it to make it more clear. –  BrotherJack Mar 28 '12 at 1:59

5 Answers 5

You are describing a chaotic situation. Almost by definition, how things develop out of a chaotic situation cannot be predicted.

For what tiny bit it's worth, here are a few things I think history (both old and recent) can tell us.

  • When you finally let everyone have their say (vote), rather than just the activated people in the streets, you are likely find they are suprisingly reactionary. (See recent elections in Egypt and Iraq, the Second French Republic)
  • If things get bad enough (sounds like they are there now) and someone comes along who somehow credibly promises and end to the chaos, the public are likely to embrace him no matter what his politics. This is typically how democracies die.
  • (related)The next time things come to a free and fair vote, whoever is in charge during a downturn as bad as you describe will almost certianly be voted out, no matter whose fault the situtation really is or how odious the opposition is.
  • If your society is corrupt (eg: bribery is a way of life), it really doesn't matter much what form of government you have. If you want things to get better, the way people relate to each other and the government has to change.
  • If things eventually do get reformed as a result of this, there will (quite rightly) be statues and monuments to Mohamed Bouazizi all over the Middle East.

Everything hinges on good people keeping engaged and not letting the sacrifices that others already laid down for them go in vain.

But you are there, on the ground, with at least some small ability to influnce what will happen. So really we should be asking you.

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This could go anywhere.

The French revolution:

Started with the overthrowal tyrannous rule and ended with the beheading of many people, a failed republic, and many years of turmoil. France was surrounded by many sates, and so, was at war a lot, impoverishing people everywhere. In France, the revolution wasn't good for the people

American Revolution:

This revolution was a revolution against the government breaking the laws. It started off with years of war, then turmoil because the Federal Government had no power, then became a world super power. It should be noted that America was isolationist, and so, didn't go to war to often.

Egypt:

The revolution started off against tyranny. The rebels were divided. Some were secretly hoping for power, others were sincere in trying to liberate Egyptians from tyranny. Today, the military runs the government, and it might go the way of America, or the way of south America(below).

South America:

These revolutions started off against colonial rule. Like Egypt, some rebels had good intentions like Simon Bolivar, but others, just wanted power. These revolutions ended up creating all powerful governments.

Chinese Revolution (#1 in 1911)

The revolution was against a corrupt rule and succeeded. The revolutionaries were united by Sun Yat Sen, and changed China into a republic. Unfortunately, there were evil people who took advantage of the system and became dictators. China stayed poor.

I'd say that Tunisia is quite a bit like Egypt right now. Though it probably will not become a super power, it could stabilize, but it could also just end up with all powerful government.

I'd also like to add that sometimes, an authoritarian rule isn't always bad. Take for example, Singapore, it is a nanny state, and controls the lives of its people, yet, it is doing quite well. Also take China as an example. If the first revolution was a failure, then the second, using communism, was successful. Today, China isn't a Stalinist state anymore, but a emerging super power.

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"Despots themselves don't deny that freedom is a wonderful thing, they only want to limit it to themselves; they argue that everyone else is unworthy of it." - Alexis de Tocqueville –  jfrankcarr Mar 24 '12 at 3:08
    
I have to downvote this answer: It provides no analysis of the socio-economic condition of the populace and its revolutionaries at the time of the revolutions,the single most important factor in the outcome of any revolution, point which was crux of the entire question; Its assertions re the listed revolutions, particularly re post-revolutionary USA, are not particularly accurate and are unsupported;list of revolutions seems arbitrary and irrelevant to Tunisia; "I'd say that Tunisia is quite a bit like Egypt right now": no analysis or sources for this analogy, the foundation of the answer. –  user2590 Aug 18 '13 at 4:36

What happens after "widespread social chaos" is difficult to predict as it often depends on local conditions combined with regional and international considerations. There are often two requirements that a nation needs to fulfill after any internal disorder, those being economic sufficiency and a need to establish a system of just governance. In many cases, particularly after very violent confrontations, people trade the elements of the latter requirement for the former and promote the rule of a strong leader. This is particularly evident in the French revolution where the near-genocidal reign of terror lead many of the French towards supporting Napoleon, a leader who though despotic was both sympathetic to the revolutionary goals and brought military and economic success to the country. The former has particular importance as the revolutionary goals encompassed in the saying of "fraternity, equality, and liberty" were the social motivation that lead to the revolution. Napoleon would have been incapable of mustering such widespread support without appeasing the social/economic grievances of the French proletariat.

Tunisia's case is difficult for the reasons stated by Omar in addition to regional and international elements. While Tunisia is more economically advanced than most of its neighbors, it certainly does not have the massive oil wealth boasted by some of the Arabian states, the cultural influence of Egypt (mostly Cairo specifically), or the military power (and unwavering American support) of Israel. Thus while the "strongman solution" is likely given the current internal factors of Tunisia, it is also very unlikely due to the relative regional insignificance that Tunisia will be able to recover via economic or military conquest (like France in the aforementioned analogy).

I am not particularly knowledgeable on Tunisia, but from what I do know it does seem that the Tunisian revolution was largely successful. Many of the political demands seems to have been met (even if in a limited fashion). The more corrupt and autocratic elements of the government likely realize that American support is too tepid to be of assistance and that reliance on the EU economy will mean allowing more political freedom. Given this, I doubt that Tunisia will devolve into the state it was prior to the revolution in the near future, but like I mentioned before, the temptation of having a "strong leader" will be ever present. With the advancements in establishing a "system of just governance", the importance now will be in economic development. If the economic expectations of a large number of Tunisians becomes more likely to be unfulfilled, it is then quite likely that a sufficiently charismatic leader could install themselves and roll back advancements made in political freedom.

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You speak of political freedom as if its holy and of utmost importance, and yet, many states might be benefited by a benevolent dictator. There is a difference between Democracy and Constitutional Liberalism, the first, used to select a leader, and the next, the idea of protecting rights. In Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, people don't vote for their Chief Executive, (there are a group of 1000 people from various industries who vote) but yet, it is very good at protecting peoples rights. –  Russell Apr 4 '12 at 8:30
    
@Russell I don't see that in what I have written. I do mention the need for establishing a "system of just governance". What this means is entirely dependent on the specific political desires of a population. In the west (such as revolutionary France) political freedom is typically a central component of such desires. The point is less what type of government is formed but if it is responsive to the demands of its people. –  BrotherJack Apr 4 '12 at 15:56
    
I thought your analysis was quite good (although Egypt also gets enormous military support from the USA, not just Israel which has never had a revolution so isn't really relevant), but IMO Russel is quite correct: You emphasize "political freedom" and seem to villainize the idea of "a strong leader". As Russel has aptly pointed out, those factors are not necessarily valid for assessing the 'success' of a revolution' –  user2590 Aug 18 '13 at 4:49

After the Mazdak revolution in Persia in 6th cent(with slogan: slaves, ground and women must belong to everybody), the population was practically annihilated, so Arabians came almost to the empty place later. After the 184—204 riot in China there remained about 7 out of 50 millions of population.

After French revolutions of 1789-1871 the France became a country much more convinient to the simple people. And as for victims, there were not more than tenth of thousand of them - incomparable to about 7 millions od the Russian revolution(with civil war), for example.

According to the theory of ethnogenesis of Gumilev, ethnics have several kinds of turmoils.

  1. Turmoil at the start of a new sound ethnic - in this case the near future (100-200 years) is very violent - the life is too creative for a normal being, but the most of the people are not normal, so it is OK for them.
  2. At the apex of ethnic's existance (War red and white roses in England). - after it the even and creative time of civilization changing later to stagnation comes.
  3. At the end of the ethnic existance - the stage of obscuration comes - very long total moral degradation that longs until all resources created by previous stages are consumed.
  4. Start of a new ethnic with bad base idea (communism, mazdakizm, yellow sky of justice), about 20-80 years of utmost cruelty and degeneration. The annihilation of the previous ethnos is sure thing - only biological heritage remains, morals are absent). This variant is the worth at all, similar to 1+3 mixed together.
  5. During civilization phase it is difficult to provide the necessary structure changes, but people sometimes need them. So, lesser revolutions come. ( French revolutions ). I think, the Egypt revolution is of that sort. But you should make these necessary system changes you need. Or else another revolution will come, and another... And after that you won't have active people. And the 3rd variant will come.
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It very much depends. Post-Soviet economies after 1989 had less social turmoil and crime, but experienced much more severe economic crises. If people are willing to give democracy a try and there is foreign assistance (esp. in economics), there is a good chance of success. The most important thing is to preserve order. Once you slide into chaos (riots, rampant crime, destruction of property, terrorist attacks) it's very hard to fix the system.

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it's very hard to fix the system Okay, I know that. We are there. What will happen after that? –  Omar Abid Mar 23 '12 at 23:19
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+1 for the russia and hard to fix point. -1 for try out democracy. Though democracy is great and all, not all places are ready for it. Sun Yat Sen of China tried to implement a republic/democracy, and people just abused the system. In Egypt, democracy gave them an OK leader (I think his name was Nazzar) but then, they got Mubarak. If we look at the USA, and their rise to democracy, we'd notice that they had had several decades of a democracy under the Brits. In some places democracy works, In others, the culture hampers it, and I personally dont know if democracy will work in Tunisia. Sorry. –  Russell Mar 24 '12 at 0:16
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@Russell - You are thinking of General Nasser, who took over Egypt in a coup, and promptly banned all political parties before any "election" was held. Not really much of a Democracy in my book. The main idea you have that I'd agree with is that changing the form of government in Tunisa won't likely help much if the same old corruption stays in place. –  T.E.D. Apr 3 '12 at 20:03
    
An extremely important factor is freedom of speech. If you have independent media, corruption becomes less of a problem, because it is exposed. –  quant_dev Apr 4 '12 at 9:47

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