Raging debates in academic circles notwithstanding, Marxist ideologue Tariq Ali is right in claiming "that there were no revolutions, not in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, nor Yemen in the 2010-2014 period." Fundamentally, Arab Spring, was nothing more than misguided uprising which was bound to fail and give rise to counter revolutionary and extreme reactionary force like Isis. In essence, Arab Spring resembles what classical academician Louis Proyect asserts. It looks like the false revolution what Vietnam experienced in 1975 when it expelled the Americans and overthrew the landlord-capitalist clique in Saigon.
Deep down, Proyect's analysis of the Vietnamese revolution is spot on. "Vietnam had no revolution when it drove out the American imperialists. Just look at the millionaires in Vietnam today, profiting off of sweatshops." The so-called national revolution in 1975 changed little as the same class against which the Vietnamese revolted still continues to rule the nation.
One may disagree with Leon Trotsky's classical and Marxist concepts of revolution and his refusal to recognise a revolution as a revolution if it is not Socialist. But, when it comes to Arab Spring and the dramatic rise of counter revolutionary bigot force like Isis Trotskyism is perhaps the best tool for analysis.
History testifies that since the failure of the French Revolution none has succeeded except the proletarian uprisings. And this proves beyond scintilla of doubts that only socialism can create real democracy. "The bourgeois, democratic, national, and agrarian revolutions that Marx and Lenin discussed throughout their careers just don't count."
Quintessentially, Arab Spring which has gone horribly wrong and has spawned dangerous counter revolutionary forces including Isis and proto-dictators almost everywhere across Arabia, has been a bourgeois, democratic and nationalist uprising. This uprising naturally created a horrifying incubator which produced Isis and created situations which we are seeing in Libya, Syria, Egypt and Yemen.
Much like what happened in the wake of the 1975 revolt in Vietnam we are today witnessing the rise of deep-state across Arabia — reversal of all the "tenuous democratic gains," and restoration of the "unchecked power of the old regime."
If we look at the turn of events in Arabia, failure of Arab Spring, dramatic rise of Isis, collapse of the map of Middle East, alarming fragmentation of Arab society along the sectarian fault lines and the raging civil wars across the region can we denounce Trotskyism as an irrelevant and renegade archaic concept? I am afraid, we cannot. And all the more when we read Gilbert Achcar's well-researched and incisive book, The People Want. A radical exploration of the Arab uprising, Gilbert, a Trotskyist academic, offers us perhaps the best insight into what the Arab Spring has led the region and the emergence of radical elements who he has rightly described as fundamentalists.
More than offering what the people wanted the uprising in Arabia created counter revolutions, chaos and anarchy. In some places the old regime against which the people revolted is back with the military reasserting its role in domestic politics and elsewhere fundamentalist forces hijacked the initial uprising turning it into a counter revolution and a civil war reopening ancient sectarian hostilities.
In fact, the growing appeals of Isis and its control in Iraq is a backlash Arab Spring and vindication of what Al Qaeda has always postulated. It always insisted that return to religious ideologies was the only way to topple long-entrenched Arab rulers. Though peaceful non-violent movements toppled dictators in Tunisia and Egypt in Syria and now in Iraq the modus operandi has changed. The march of Isis towards Bangdad show how awry the Arab Spring has gone.
The uprising was fundamentally flawed and lacked in ideologies. And that was the reason why it got hijacked by forces like Al Qaeda and Isis. Arab Spring, because of its stubborn opposition to Socialism and anti-capitalism, lost its focus and allowed Al Qaeda to take over the hegemony and steer its away towards fundamentalism.
The factor that contributed most in the sad demise of the Arab Spring was the lack of participation of the middle class in the uprising. This made the Arab Spring essentially a bourgeois movement destined to fail. Arab Spring stopped far short of creating the basic platform upon which the secondary levels of the movement could have been launched. In short, the movement did not have fulcrum.
Thus, what could have been a successful proletarian revolution the Arab Spring actually turned into an appalling counter revolution without the participation of working class, "wage labourers but also farmers, small proprietors, the perpetually unemployed and under-employed, street vendors, urban and rural poor, and oppositional elements of the bourgeoisie."
The conspicuous absence of the savagely exploited wasted the self-immolation of the twenty-six-year-old street vendor in Tunisia, which set off a contagion across Arabia.
The Middle East is fast racing towards what Shakespeare said in Richard II:
"Peace shall go sleep with Turks and infidels,
And in this seat of peace tumultuous wars
Shall kin with kin and kind with kind confound;
Disorder, horror, fear and mutiny
Shall here inhabit, and this land be call'd
The field of Golgotha and dead men's skulls."
The author is the Opinion Editor of Times of Oman. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.