Back on Sunday I toyed around with the idea of trying to produce an analogy between the anti-regime movements active in the Arab world in 2011 to the European revolutions of 1848. But I couldn’t actually come up with an actual point to make. Anne Applebaum pulls it off:
Television creates the illusion of a linear narrative and gives events the semblance of a beginning, a middle, and an end. Real life is never like that; 1848 wasn’t like that. It’s useful to ponder the messiness of history from time to time, because it reminds us that the present is really no different.
She’s referring to the fact that most of the 1848 revolutions “failed.” But many of the things failed revolutionaries wanted in Germany wound up happening. By contrast, the 1848 uprisings in France “succeeded,” the July Monarchy was toppled and a Second Republic was established. But the Second Republic actually turned out to be a failure pretty quickly and ended up as a dictatorship/”empire” and a very witty Karl Marx essay.