Did the Arab Spring have an impact on the changes that are taking place in the Western world, in countries like the US, Spain, France? The question may seem a little strange given the failure of the Arab Spring in the Arab world, with the exception of Tunisia. And pragmatically, an air of regeneration can not be expected to derive from a region immersed in dictatorships.
The political meaning of the term Spring indicates revolution, and political scientists generally prefer not to talk of revolution in the West but are inclined to approach the changes taking place in Western societies as political and social regeneration. They explain that the West had their revolutions in the past, from the Renaissance to the French Revolution, and the rest, like May 68, are just major political events.
The Arab Spring is one of the greatest historical events since the beginning of the 21st century and in the Arab world’s recent history. Young people in the Arab world fought, and continue to fight, the military-political-trivial Establishment. This is not a limited revolution but a prolonged action across time. In our book “Revolution for Dignity in the Arab World, from Indignation to Renaissance” (Icaria, 2012), we have suggested that we must see the Arab Spring as a Renaissance that requires sacrifice and time.
And we live in a well connected world. Everything that happens around the globe has a direct or indirect impact, especially now in the era of the internet, social networks and satellite television. We are living in the era of the Gutenberg Galaxy, using the term coined by Marshall McLuhan, a great researcher in the field of communication.
Since its outbreak, the Arab Spring has been featured in the media around the world, including aspects as positive as the success of the democratic revolution in Tunisia, and the tragedies of the revolution in Syria. From a sociological perspective on the reception of this Spring, it has had a significant impact on the world’s public opinion, which partially explains the changes that are taking place today across several Western countries.
The impact can be seen as a general movement, not targeted against dictatorships but against the influence of financial establishments on the social and political lives in various Western countries
The Arab Spring encouraged young Greeks to fight for change in Greece, a change that is embodied by the leftist party Syreza. It ended the financial oligarchy that led the country to ruin.
In Spain, the former government’s president, Felipe Gonzalez, acknowledged that the rise of 15-M is a direct consequence of the Arab Spring. The 15-M militants are the promoters of Podemos, Compromis and other organisations of the radical left that ended the control that the IBEX 35 (Madrid Stock Exchange) exerted on political life in Spain, and the end of bipartisanship in the elections on December 20, 2015.
From the very outset, in September 2011, the activists of the US “Occupy Wall Street” movement declared that they wanted to turn Zuccotti Park Square into the new Tahrir Square of Cairo, but this time in protest against Wall Street. At the time, the American press was full of articles that discussed the impact of the Arab Spring on the youth of Zaccotti.
The spirit of Occupy Wall Street is the same that prompted many Americans to bet on the former Democratic candidate Sanders, whose platform included ending the financial establishment’s control of the political and social lives of those in the US.
Looking in depth at the impact of the Arab Spring, we can say that its great contribution has been to encourage people from all around the world to fight against the power of the Establishment, be it political-financial in the West or political-military-trivial in the Arab world.
In the Gutenberg Cyber-Galaxy, influences travel in two directions, from West to East and vice versa. That is why the answer to the question we posed at the beginning is Yes. The Arab Spring contributed to the fight against the various Establishments around the world, from Tahrir Square in Egypt to the Sander’s movement.