Libmonster ID: UK-1305
Author(s) of the publication: E. I. ZELENEV


Doctor of Historical Sciences

Faculty of Oriental Studies, Saint Petersburg State University

Arab countries Keywords:mass political unrestturmoilhistorical knowledge

History is reflexive. Translated from Greek, "history" simply means "study", and study is possible if there is a subject (who studies) and an object (subject of study). Historical knowledge is never just knowledge about something in the past, but it is always knowledge about oneself, at least about one's own relation to something in the past.

As Robin George Collingwood wrote, the historian is not a God who looks at the world from above and from the outside. "He is a man, and a man of his place and time. He looks at the past from the point of view of the present, and he looks at all countries and civilizations from his own point of view. This point of view is correct only for him and for people who are in the same conditions as him. But for him, it is correct. He must hold fast to it, because if it were not for this point of view, he would not see anything at all. " 1

BIFURCATION POINT**: Back to the Future

There are several possible historical points of view on events in the Arab world from a rational and critical perspective:

1. Unrest and unrest, which in some cases turn into an armed struggle with the authorities, have a purely internal predestination, and their coincidence in time in a number of Arab countries is accidental.

2. There is a systemic crisis in an important segment of international relations - the model of public administration in the Arab world.

3. The most important factor is the external factor, which is why all the past revolutions are so similar to each other.

4. We are not dealing with a crisis of public administration or a regional problem, or even an international conspiracy against the Arabs, but with one of the stages of the "reset" of the system of international relations at the global level, the initiative of which comes from areas that are not directly related to the national interests of individual countries.

Let's assume that all four positions have the right to exist, but the last one - the fourth one - is generalizing and indicates that it is close to the bifurcation point - the beginning of qualitative changes of a protoglobal nature (see below) in world politics.

It turns out that events similar to those that took place and are taking place now in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Morocco, Libya, Bahrain, starting from January 2011, are also possible in other countries

The Arab world, and perhaps beyond. Aren't these events similar to those that took place relatively recently in Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Thailand? Is it possible for the opposition to follow a similar scenario in Russia, China, the European Union, or the United States?

The experience of events in the Middle East and North Africa convinces us that, in principle, yes, they are possible, moreover, they are likely. The fact is that the energy of total protest, the passion of universal disobedience, the freedom of expression bursting out from the depths of the human soul did not appear today and are present in a latent form within any society. They are constrained by the lack of freedom of public administration, limited by the local culture of civilized political coercion, the dictatorship of the law in relation to unlimited personal freedom. But freedom is not only and not even so much the freedom of an action as the freedom of our sometimes intuitive inner work, which precedes the action, and in a subtle, " capillary way creates contexts, real content, and semantic and value supertexts of our actions** * "2.

Many scientists believe that true history has four characteristics:: 1) it is scientific, that is, it does not talk about what it knows, but begins with the formulation of questions.-

Robin George Collingwood (1889-1943) was an English philosopher and historian.

** Bifurcation point (bifurcation) - the moment or period of time at which the unpredictable transition of the system to a qualitatively different state occurs (approx. ed.).

* * * Context - circumstances that help to understand the deep meaning of a given action, supertext - more general motives of this action related to the era, generation, etc. (editor's note).

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It tries to answer them based on facts; 2) it is humanistic, i.e. it studies what people have done; 3) it (like any other science) serves the self - knowledge of a person; 4) it is rational-it does not require faith, but justifies its answers based on critically perceived sources.

Meeting all the requirements of this "golden square" means reaching the pinnacle of scientific historical excellence. Unfortunately, this is not easy, and the last fourth position is the most difficult - rationalism of research based on critically perceived sources or obvious facts. This is, so to speak, the interpretative component of historical knowledge - it is objective, since it is based on facts, and at the same time subjective, since everyone understands the "rational" in their own way. That is why the rational approach reflects the personal preferences of the historian. In this case, we mean our own preferences, which in aphoristic form can be formulated as follows: hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

In the Middle East and North Africa, we see with our own eyes an unrestrained flow of human emotions and feelings that was previously bound by civilizational conventions.

European historical scholarship, since the Renaissance, has taken into account the emotional factor in the political context. It was the Renaissance that added to the history of human passions, which since then have come to be seen as a necessary manifestation of human nature. The three great fields of knowledge - poetry, history, and philosophy-were nourished by the three faculties of the human spirit-imagination, memory, and reason (Francis Bacon). History was forced to abandon its claims to predict the future.

Rene Descartes, adding theology to the fields of knowledge, concluded that history, no matter how interesting and instructive, cannot claim to be true, since the events described by it never happened as it describes them. The Cartesian or Cartesian school of history was based on three principles: in history, faith cannot replace reason; sources must be compared, avoiding conflicting ones; written sources must be checked by non-written ones. Brilliant minds of the 17th and 19th centuries contributed to the development of historical consciousness and the method of historical analysis: Leibniz, Vico, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Gibbon, Rousseau, Gerder, Schiller, Fichte, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Comte, Mommsen and many others fed the history of kto-original ideas . some of them have great ideas, some of them have great works of genius.

The range of these ideas and writings is so wide that one can only joke that they all fit between two paradoxical remarks. One of them belongs to Blaise Pascal, who wrote in "Thoughts" that if Cleopatra's nose was shorter, the whole face of the world would be different. And the other witty extreme is formulated by Emmanuel Kant and states that historical progress owes everything to two human qualities-absolute ignorance and absolute depravity, because " man wants to live easily and in contentment, but nature forces him to abandon the easy life and inactive contentment and throw himself into hard work in order to use all his abilities for the sake of liberation from evil." the burden of labor"3. Man does not care about the happiness of man, because nature has implanted in him inclinations that encourage him to sacrifice his own happiness and destroy the happiness of others.

Behind all these witty utterances, the principle of historical universalism is invisibly present, which allows us to talk about the Person of the World without knowing and without knowing the true scale of Universal or World History. There are two practical conclusions from the above :first, history, and only history, can teach and learn a didactic lesson based on the past experience of humanity, and, secondly, historical knowledge can ensure the maximum completeness of the human consciousness of the " historical ecumene*", transfer local historical experience to the global level 4.

Today, the "historical point of view" is gradually but steadily shifting from the position of country studies and regional studies in the direction of world knowledge, since it allows us to see disparate events as interconnected and directed to the future, that is, ready to repeat themselves in one form or another everywhere.

In a general philosophical context, history is the science of the future that has become the past. If you will, it is history that, at the expense of the studied past and the probable historically predictable future, gives an almost instantaneous present duration. It is history that helps a person to feel the existence of the present not at one time, but for a more or less long time, which is greatly facilitated by the historical view of the world as a whole.

So, the modern world is experiencing a moment of qualitative change, saying goodbye to the past and rushing into the future.

Humanity, which until recently was sensitive to the past and added the prefix "post -" to various phenomena of the past (postmodernity, post-structuralism, post-Soviet space, post-capitalism, post-industrialism, etc.), today seems to have decided to take a new step - to move from post - to proto -.

Michael Epstein calls this "a radical shift in cultural identity." 5

This means that the modern world can rightly be called a proto-informational or proto-global, not fully global world, but no longer a postmodern world. This new proto-world does not take from the past at all.

* Eikumena - oikumena (approx. ed.).

* * Modernity, postmodernity (modernity, postmodernity) - the division of Modern and Modern history accepted in the world, primarily Western, historical science, starting from the middle and end of the XV century (early modernity). Classical Art Nouveau dates back to 1789 (1815) - 1900 (1914), and later - to the subsequent period. Many experts have identified 1989 (1991) as the beginning of the postmodern era (editor's note).

page 9

not only what we would have liked, but also a lot of things that we seemed to have already left or were about to say goodbye to. The past grows into the future. To capture this trend is the task of the historian. This is the subject of the following historical analysis.


Mass political unrest in the first half of 2011 caused the relatively "peaceful" fall of the authoritarian regimes of the "permanent presidents" Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen. Similar forms of public protest threaten the existence of sole power regimes in Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Bahrain, and possibly some other countries.

But in Libya, events followed a different scenario. Armed confrontation between regular army units loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the NATO-backed opposition has pushed Libya into civil war. Political observers were faced with a very difficult question about how to characterize the Libyan events: as an armed revolt against the legitimate authority, or as a revolution of the masses against the tyrant, a turmoil that turns into anarchy, or a structural reorganization of public life undertaken by the armed opposition.

Gaddafi's death did not provide a definitive answer to this question.

The search for an answer to such questions, born of the turbulent year 2011, has attracted the attention of historians and political scientists not only by the essence of what is happening, but also by its form.

In fact, events in all these countries have developed and continue to develop according to a similar scenario. In certain places, mass gatherings of protesting people of various social backgrounds and political beliefs occur. They organize impromptu rallies, put forward various political slogans, which, in the end, boil down to one thing - the overthrow of the existing political system.

The police and security forces assigned to maintain order are unable to cope with mass protests and either do nothing or go over to the side of the protesters. There is a collapse of power, which immediately tries to take advantage of the opposition forces fighting for political influence in the country. In many countries, the army plays a special role as an observer and arbiter, who for the time being does not interfere in the political struggle.

Chaos and apparent powerlessness can hardly deceive an attentive political observer: almost all events from the first day of acts of" civil disobedience "to the moment of the overthrow of the" hated political leader " follow an invisible scenario, guided in one way or another by the hand of political manipulators. The victims suffered by the protesters turn out to be "combustible material" that feeds the growing protest movement. Funeral processions gather more and more participants in the unrest, turning into mass processions, which, as a rule, end in clashes with supporters of the current government, new victims appear, further increasing tensions.

Meanwhile, in the Arab political culture, events of this kind are referred to by the term al-fitna ("turmoil"). They are very common in the history of almost all countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, as well as beyond their borders, and represent a stable form of political struggle.

To begin with, the term al-fitna, or in a simplified form without a definite article-fitna and its derivatives are found in the Qur'an more than 30 times, and always with a negative moral assessment 6. Strictly speaking, the term fitna covers a very wide range of phenomena and deeds. The term "fitna" can be translated into Russian as temptation, temptation, rebellion, confusion, rebellion, madness, delusion, and even disbelief. However, the" meaning " of this concept is based on the meaning of the verb base fata-na-to charm, bewitch, seduce.

This puts on all words from this basis a shade of "unconscious" and" involuntary " action, which can not serve as an excuse before the Almighty. The Qur'an says that al-fitna (meaning seduction, disbelief, confusion) is a greater sin than even murder. (The Qur'an. 2: 191). " And fight them until there is no more fitnah (disbelief, temptation, confusion)." (The Qur'an. 2:193). "Kill them until the fitna (disbelief, temptation, confusion) ceases." (The Qur'an. 8:39).

The term fauda ("anarchy") is used in a similar sense. The relationship between these terms can be explained as follows: large-scale fitna usually develops into fa'udah, i.e., the spread of unrest, as a rule, plunges society into a state of anarchy. The term fitna describes a particular state of consciousness of the participants in the performance, while fa'udah rather defines the state of society affected by turmoil.

Despite the moral condemnation of Fitna in the Koran, attempts to use spontaneous discontent for political purposes, to give a seemingly spontaneous protest a controlled character, have taken place in various periods of Arab-Islamic history. For the first time in the Arabic political vocabulary, the term fitna was applied to the well-known events of 656-661 associated with the struggle for caliphal power between the fourth righteous Caliph Ali and the Umayyad pretender to the Caliphal throne, the ruler of the Syrian regions of the Arab Caliphate named Mu'awiyah. The unrest led to a major split within Islam - the emergence of the Kharijite sectarian movement, and in the longer term-the establishment of the ruling Umayyad dynasty and the beginning of a religious and political split in Islam into Sunnism and Shiism.

Events similar to those that destroyed the Mubarak regime in Egypt have taken place in this country before. Thus, the author personally witnessed the "troubles" of 1992-1993, the epicenter of which was also At-Tah Square-

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rir in the center of the Egyptian capital Cairo. Riots that turned into armed clashes took place in Egypt in 1919 and 1882.7 Even the events associated with the coming to power of the Albanian-Kurdish leader Muhammad Ali (1803-1805) were similar in form to the "classic riots" - Fitna.


However, what is the specific feature of modern fitna compared to previous periods? The specific feature, in our opinion, is that with the advent of electoral democracy, fitna ("turmoil") has taken a prominent place in the arsenal of methods of pre-election political struggle.

One of the first examples of this kind is connected with the events in Damascus in 1908, when the pre-election campaign trip of the famous religious and political figure Rashid Rida (1865-1935) to Damascus, where he called for voting for the candidates of the Young Turk Unity and Progress party, provoked thousands of protest demonstrations. It almost turned into armed clashes on a cross-party basis, but the unfavorable development of events was stopped by the intervention of representatives of the Syrian religious elite loyal to the Young Turk authorities. It was the religious elite represented by Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi, Abd al-Razzaq al-Bitar and some other theologians who mediated between the population and the authorities in this case.9

The search for the social and economic background of what happened in this case hardly leads to an adequate understanding of the events that are included in the historical literature under the title "troubles in the month of Ramadan". It is more productive to consider them through the prism of traditional political behavior, in particular, such a stable form of political protest and pre-election struggle as fitna.

I. M. Smilyanskaya, a Russian historian and expert on the Middle East, identifies the following main forms of unrest, which depend primarily on the breadth of the masses involved: unrest (go-rab); clash, revolt (tamar-rud); mass action, rebellion (isyan)10.

Arab political culture, as we can see, subtly divides protest actions, which are united by the concept of fitna.

Various researchers have analyzed this form of protest at various times: I. M. Smilyanskaya, M. S. Meyer, Suhail Rimaoui, Emil Touma, and many others.11

Their observations and assessments, along with the author's own conclusions, allow us to give a general description of the turmoil as a modern social and political phenomenon in the Arab world.


So, the public protest movement in the form of troubles is characteristic, first of all, of urban life. Turmoil can be defined as a traditional form of political behavior, which, however, in earlier times was used extremely rarely. It was mainly the lower strata of the city and the youth who resorted to turmoil, when they no longer had anyone and nothing to hope for.

The psychological basis of the turmoil is born of a sense of despair and recognition of the impotence of the population before the authorities or any external forces.

Turmoil is an active expression of collective discontent. By their actions, its participants show full readiness to resort to non-peaceful methods of struggle if the authorities refuse to meet their demands. This is the last stage before rebellion, mutiny, insurrection, but it is not yet a declaration of war. It is precisely this pre-revolutionary nature of the movement that makes it possible to question the right of the authorities to respond with repression to this form of protest.

The guarantee of impunity for the participants of the speech is its mass character, which, combined with external spontaneity, becomes an argument that proves the legitimacy of collective demands, which are usually very specific and can be immediately fulfilled.

The social or ideological background, where it exists, does not add up to a meaningful program of action, is not recognized as a theory.

As a rule, those involved in turmoil are not fully aware of the political tasks facing them, and their goals are vague and emotionally formulated.

The ideological baggage of troubles is usually limited to a few demands-slogans, the most typical of which is: "Down with so-and-so!". These requirements rarely include specific positive suggestions.

This shows the social function of turmoil, which consists not so much in solving any problems, but in pushing those on whom it depends to solve them.

The turmoil may not have a social and economic background and obvious organizers. But at the same time, social tension serves as a favorable background for the emergence of unrest, and the apparent lack of leadership does not exclude, even suggests, the existence of an internal spring hidden under superficial observation that triggers the mechanism of unrest. As a rule, these are the political interests of public groups that carry out certain organizational work. Participants in the troubles, feeling the results of this work, for the most part do not realize that they are involved in it.

It was already mentioned above about the scenario in which the turmoil occurs. Usually, in the beginning, there is a local conflict, a street clash, which is presented by the participants of the troubles as the root cause of the speech, while the true goals are carefully masked. Crowds are concentrated in places of natural gathering (market, square, mosque, street cafes, etc.). From there, having accumulated strength, participants splash out on the streets and squares, break up into groups and move to various objects of the city, chosen by the final goals of the movement-

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either they are concentrated in one place. There are spontaneous gatherings of people near these objects, and there is a period of indefinite waiting time when the authorities are trying to assess the degree of danger posed by participants in the troubles and choose methods of suppressing riots. The crowd waits, as if giving the authorities a chance to make the right decision, while not wanting to cross the invisible line that separates the legitimacy of collective protest from the lawlessness of rebellion.

At this stage, the authorities may misjudge the nature of the speech, declare it a mutiny or even an uprising. The reason may be a deliberate overestimation of the level of protest by the authorities, based on a cold political calculation, which entails a bloody massacre of its participants. Or maybe an overestimation of the danger, since the turmoil is outwardly approaching an uprising. In fact, the critical mass of participants in the turmoil under certain circumstances (we are talking, first of all, about the nature and level of organization of the speech) makes it quite possible to turn the turmoil into a much more dangerous form of protest, for example, a revolution.

Under normal circumstances (without the obvious instigation of unrest from outside), the authorities are not vilified, on the contrary, the masses turn to them, and it even seems that the people want to help them. The tension goes out when intermediaries appear, often in the person of religious figures (the real organizers of the troubles keep their incognito for as long as possible). In general, the search for mediators for negotiations is the most important task of the authorities, who are striving for an early compromise and reconciliation.

With the help of intermediaries, the specific requirements of the participants in the troubles can be taken into account, but the root problems that gave rise to it are not addressed. After that, the turmoil fades, the crowds disperse, but the authorities remain faithful to the agreements reached and do not seek to punish ordinary participants in the turmoil, which in itself is difficult, as mentioned above, because of the mass nature of the protests and the low social status of the participants, which deprives their arrest of political meaning. Instigators and organizers of troubles, on the contrary, try to identify and roughly punish, usually there is no leniency towards them. The lawfulness of persecution is based on the negative assessment of involvement in the turmoil recorded in the Qur'an, which, in particular, states that those who are involved in the turmoil deserve shame in this life and a great punishment in the Hereafter (Qur'an, 5:45).

The threat of reprisals against the instigators is significantly reduced if the turmoil leads to the displacement of the ruling elite, but in this case the assessments of what happened also change. The turmoil that ended with the change of power, sometimes imperceptibly for ordinary participants, "self-organizes" and is renamed the revolution (saura), which begins to live its own life according to its own laws. But the turmoil that got out of control turns into an ominous incylab - an uprising, the armed nature of which opens the door to civil war - a terrible disaster that means a serious illness of the state and society.

to be continued...

To conclude this analysis, I will leave the readers to reflect on the extraordinary fate of the oldest form of political protest - the troubles - in the new historical realities.

I will only note that in the current conditions, turmoil is losing the character of a local form of protest, but it is increasingly becoming a universal tool of pressure on the authorities where there are no other, more civilized forms of dialogue between the people and the rulers. Turmoil becomes not only a form of behavior, but also a stereotype of thinking, an informal model of protest action, and who knows, it may also be an element of liberal political culture.

In the modern information environment, turmoil as a form of expressing certain political demands is likely to be used by a wide variety of political forces, and it is very convenient to" launch " turmoil using mobile communications and the Internet, but this is nothing more than a simplification of the task. Mechanisms for mobilizing people in the context of the Arab turmoil are also well-established at the traditional communication level. Therefore, while agreeing with the moral condemnation of the turmoil in the Koran, we are forced to admit that, at least in the Arab world, in the foreseeable future, events that are close in form to the turmoil (Fitna) will create a background for the election campaign and the actions of opposition forces. Political stability will depend on the ability of the authorities to cope with this traditional form of protest, introduced from the past into the new conditions of the proto-global world, the image of which has not yet been formed, just as the generally accepted global ethics has not yet emerged, which will guide the world human community - the human ecumene.

Collishead R. J. The idea of history. Autobiography, Moscow, 1980, p. 105.

Rashkovsky E. B. 2 Smysly v istorii: Issledovaniya po istorii veri, znaniya, kul'tury [Meanings in History: Studies on the history of Faith, Knowledge, and Culture]. Moscow, 2008, p. 21.

Collishead R. J. 3 Edict op., pp. 98-99.

Braudel F. 4 Vremya mira [Time of Peace], Moscow, 1992, p. 13.

Epshteyn M. 5 Znak_probela. On the Future of the Humanities, Moscow, 2004, pp. 24-25.

Abd-al-Baki, Muhammad Fuad. 6 Al-Muajam al-mufahris li-1-alfaz al-Kuran al-Karim (Indexable dictionary of the Holy Quran). Al-Kahira, 1987, pp. 511-512.

Goldobin A.M. 7 Egyptian Revolution of 1919, L., 1958; Koshelev V. S. Egypt. History lessons. The struggle against colonial rule and Counter-revolution (1879-1981). Minsk, 1984; Zelenev E. I. Muslim Egypt, St. Petersburg, 2007; Vasiliev A.M. Egypt and Egyptians, Moscow, 2009.

Zelenev E. I. 8 Muhammad Ali. The Struggle for Power in Egypt (1801-1805). St. Petersburg, 2002.

Osmanizm i ego rol ' v obshchestvenno-politicheskoi zhizni Syrie [Osmanism and its role in the socio-political life of Syria]. (The second half of the XIX-beginning of the XX century). L., 1990, pp. 68-70.

10 Smilyanskaya I. M. Gorod bunt (Syria, Egypt of the XVIII-early XIX centuries) / / Vostok, 1991, No. 2.

11 Meyer M. S. Osmanskaya imperiya v XVIII v.: Cherty strukturnogo krizisa [The Ottoman Empire in the XVIII Century: Features of the Structural Crisis]. Filastin fi'l-ahd al-uthmani. Jerusalem, 1983; Ar-Rimaoui Suhail. Safhat min tarikh al-jamiyya fi biladi-sh-Sham (1908-1914). Hizb al-la-markaziyya. Di. mashk, 1982, N 15-16.


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