For all the accumulated wisdom of philosophers, political scientist, historians, politicians, journalists, respected commentators and ‘experts’, the most striking aspect of all this is its unpredictability. Recently there has been a lot of talk of something called the ‘Arab Spring’, as if that is something which we all understood and which could be neatly parcelled up and pigeon-holed under a categorial heading like ‘emerging democracy that isn’t Al-Qaeda’ or something of the sort. But this time last year – as with the USSR in 1987 – who, of all our experts, actually predicted significant threats to the regimes of Gadaffi and Assad, for example? Even now we have little idea about how big a role the Muslim Brotherhood will play in the new Egypt, or indeed how that role might sit with our ideas of liberal democracy. But perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on the experts, except in one respect.
Bread Makes a Comeback
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