Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Great Upheaval - Jay Winik

Just read ‘The Great Upheaval’ by Jay Winik, a book covering the period from 1788-1800, particularly with regard to America, France and Russia. I really enjoyed it, especially the bits concerning the fledgling United States. The bloody details of the French Revolution were also quite revealing. In fact, it’s left me wondering why the French Revolution was so much more brutal than the American Revolution and the English Civil War. Was it because France was a Catholic country and the general population were less educated and literate than in Protestant England and America?

It’s hard not to see parallels with today’s Arab Spring and the revolutions now happening throughout the Middle East. Reading about ‘the Terror’ has made me question the logic of starting revolutions in countries where the general population are so poorly educated. I think if I was a western leader I’d think twice about encouraging the overthrow of governments in countries like Libya or Yemen. The older I get the more I realise that democracy without human rights is just mob rule. What use is democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq if one half of the population votes to repress the other half?

I think once human rights are established in a country democracy naturally follows, but establishing democracy in a country doesn’t necessarily bring human rights.

Anyway, needless to say, I enjoyed the book.

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