Mar 28 2011
The New York Times (3/27/11) features an opinion piece by British historian and writer Simon Sebag Montefiore on current Arab uprisings and their historical precedents. Although all revolutions have differences because they are “local”, he emphasizes that historical parallels can offer us “clues to the future.”
21stCenturyWaves.com has previously identified the decade just prior to (or early during) Maslow Windows, over the last 200+ years, to be dangerous times of international conflicts, wars, and upheavals. The classic example is the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis early in the Apollo Maslow Window that could have led to a major nuclear exchange. Indeed, recent conflicts with North Korea and Iran suggest that the world system is approaching a “critical state.”
See: “Near-Term Wars Threaten the New Space Age“.
The question is: Do the Arab uprisings of today — and their historical parallels — support that pattern?
According to Montefiore, there is something to be said for spontaneity.
Leaderless revolutions without organization have a magically spontaneous momentum that is harder to crush … This time, headless spontaneity has been aided by Facebook, which certainly accelerates the mobilization of crowds — and the transmission of Western culture…
Montefiore believes that for today’s Arab uprisings, “technology’s effect is exaggerated…” For example, in the stunning European revolutions of 1848,
uprisings spread from Sicily to Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Budapest in mere weeks without telephones, let alone Twitter. They spread through the exuberance of momentum and the rigid isolation of repressive rulers.
As Montefiore surveys uprisings over the last 200 years, the revolution of 1848 is
the revolution that most resembles today’s.
Like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the watershed European revolutions of 1848, began early in their Maslow Window, suggesting both were influenced by the ebullience of the approaching critical state. Although the United States was not directly involved, it was certainly affected by this mid-19th century zeitgeist. Indeed, against all odds, a smaller-than-life man — President James A. Polk — achieved the impossible by “engineering the triumph of Manifest Destiny” (NY Times) in only 4 short years.
See: “How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience”.
Interestingly, Dr. Lawrence Beale — a 77-year old African American, retired pastor, college counselor, and college administrator — sees parallels between current Arab uprisings and the U.S. civil rights movement during the last Maslow Window.
The Middle East and North Africa seems to be taking a page from the history of the civil rights movement in America during the 1950s and 1960s when black Americans demonstrated in the streets to gain the freedoms guaranteed by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
At least some of the freedom-fighters are directly inspired by U.S. history. According to Dr. Beale,
Middle Easterners, North Africans, and now Chinese have taken to the streets in largely peaceful demonstrations crying out for human rights—the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. On CBN Tuesday, a woman was asked by a reporter, “What do you want.” She responded, “We want freedom.” When she was pressed by the reporter about what she meant, she cited one part of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but could not remember the rest. So she concluded, “We have been taught that freedom is not a right.” But she continued to insist that she wanted freedom.
Dr. Beale concludes that, “Like the civil rights movement, the demonstrators are unsettling their nations.”
Maslow Windows are identified by economic, technological, and political patterns over the last 200+ years. Parallels between the European revolutions of 1848 and the current Arab uprisings — as identified by historian Montefiore — and parallels between the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s and current Arab uprisings — as identified by Dr. Beale — support 21stCenturyWaves.com’s expectation that similar civilization-altering events are likely to occur just prior to or early in Maslow Windows of the future.
Therefore, the current Arab uprisings offer further empirical support for the arrival of another 1960s-style transformative decade — including an Apollo-style, international Space Age — by 2015.