In 1848 there were revolutions all over Europe. In 1990, the Soviet Empire collapsed as did apartheid.
We seem to be witnessing in North Africa & the Middle East the collapse of the Islamic World being ruled & governed by capricious dictators. But it so hard to know, to predict the future. The collapse of empires always come as a surprise. Tunisia, Egypt more so (if Egypt has in fact changed that is) but the overthrow of Gaddafi seems totally amazing. It came out of the blue. The trouble is we got so used to North African & Middle Eastern countries being ruled by dictators that we seem to have come to assume that it is what they in fact wanted.
In Libya, both sides have burned their bridges. For either side the consequences of defeat look like being fatal. It looks like Gaddafi’s time is up. He has ruled Libya in a capricious & dictatorial way for years. There have been revolts against him in the past but he has put them down. This time it seems to be different.
The way things are unfolding in Libya is somewhat like the Roman Empire which experienced civil wars from time to time usually by dissatisfied generals who raised armies & waged wars against the state. Then as now, woe betide the loser, the winner took the spoils, loser lost either his life or his liberty. Civil wars are usually said to be the most tragic because it is brother against brother etc. Forgetting that we are all the human race. It is extraordinary the way Gaddafi is behaving. He thinks of himself as a god who is allowed to do anything. He clearly believes he is going to emerge from this debacle intact. Some hope.
There are similarities & differences between the events of 1990 & now. Mainly the difference is that the Soviet empire was monolithic whereas the countries of North Africa & the Middle East are mostly independant with slightly different forms of government. But it has been a case of one country following in the footsteps of another. Sort of viral. We are in the middle of it. I somehow doubt that all much will change. Even if they do, what will they change to? When the dust settled in the Eastern & Central bloc many people considered that things were worse than before. Many people decided in retrospect that things were better under socialism.
When the dust settles in the Islamic world of North Africa & the Middle East….many people who are so jubilant now might look to the past with nostalgia.