The Arab Spring: too radical or not radical enough?

1 Feb 2012

To most people, the idea that Mahatma Gandhi was more violent than Adolf Hitler would seem preposterous. When you’re speaking to Slavoj Žižek, however, such a suggestion is par for the course. Žižek has argued that Gandhi led a movement that challenged imperial hegemony and articulated an alternative to it, whereas Hitler’s violence was oriented towards refining and protecting the system rather than altering it in any way.

Similarly, the Arab Spring is often understood and analysed in terms of its potential for radicalism. This test of being, or not being, radical forces it on the defensive. As opposed to the idea that the Arab Spring may become too radical, I would like to advance the proposition that it is not radical enough. It aims at more widespread participation in the system rather than any change in the system itself. An examination of the discursive frameworks within which the Arab Spring has been understood will help clarify this position.

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