Thursday, 6 October 2011

Slowing Down the Arab Spring

In reading Harold J. Berman's celebrated Law and Revolution, I came across this pearl:

"A radical transformation of a legal system is...a paradoxical thing, since one of the fundamental purposes of law is to provide stability and continuity.  Moreover, law--in all societies--derives its authority from something outside itself, and if a legal system undergoes rapid change, then questions are inevitably raised concerning the legitimacy of the sources of its authority.  In law, large-scale sudden change--revolutionary change--is, indeed, 'unnatural.'  When it happens, something must be done to prevent it from happening again.  The new law must be firmly established; it must be protected against the danger of another discontinuity.  Further changes must be confined to incremental changes"  

The challenge for Tunisia, Egypt, and now, Libya, is to stabilize their laws and constitutional foundation such that the rapid change of the Arab Spring slows down and sets a new precedent for stability in the region and individual countries.

How does one slow down a revolution (of course, only in those countries for which the Arab Spring has actually produced results - heaven help Syria, Yemen, and others seeking for greater freedoms)?  How does Egypt make sure this constitutional revolution, unlike that of 100+ years ago, sticks?  How do the Egyptians ensure that their revolution happens only once, following the American pattern rather than the French pattern?


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