Passive revolutions and the trajectories of democratic revolutions in Africa
The Second Liberation Movement and the Arab Spring
Keywords:Arab Spring, Democratic citizenship, Passive revolution, Second liberation movement, Sub-Saharan Africa
Successful democratic revolutions create new ruling groups, transform the order of political rule and extend a regime of citizenship rights as well as vest the agency of the same democracy on the citizens. This pathway of revolutionary success can also be deflected through a conscious resistance to the gains of a democratic revolution. Studies of two important moments of democratic revolutionary ruptures in Africa namely Second Liberation Movement and the Arab Spring render independent accounts of institutional effects of the revolutions without a conscious effort to provide a theoretically grounded analysis of democracy’s trajectories in national experiences. In this paper, I apply Antonio Gramsci’s concept of passive revolution to study the democratic trajectories of states that underwent the second liberation movement and the Arab Spring. I argue that in these two revolutions, the initial successes in change of regimes and the constitutional order could not be sustained and the politics of the affected states relapsed to pre-revolutionary practices. Using the cases of Benin Republic and Congo Democratic Republic for the Second Liberation Movement, Tunisia and Egypt for the Arab Spring, I analyse the recapturing of the machinery of the state by old guards and reverse movements on the rights of citizenship in the entire cases as passive revolution.