Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 May 2022
This chapter outlines the conceptual framework used in the book. Contrary to understandings of revolution based on their outcomes – on which basis the uprisings of 2011 are excluded from the definition of revolutions – this chapter argues that only a more open definition can encompass the phenomenon of counter-revolution. Adopting instead the idea of a revolutionary situation, the chapter outlines different forms of counter-revolution as a project of preventing or turning back a revolution through closing a revolutionary situation. Counter-revolution, the chapter demonstrates, cannot rely solely on the elite of the old regime but requires a popular base as well as external support. To succeed, therefore, counter-revolutionaries must unite the ‘counter-revolution from above’, ‘counter-revolution from below’ and ‘counter-revolution from without.’ Yet the social basis of such alliances has changed. Whereas the classic forms of European and colonial counter-revolution relied upon agrarian classes (sometimes united with urban capitalists and the lower middle class) supported by external powers, post-1975 democratising political revolutions were characterised by the absence or acquiescence of such classes and the encouragement of a liberal international order under US dominance. The Arab uprisings, by contrast, faced competitive regional counter-revolutions waged by financial and security elites – bolstered by the inheritance of previous revolutions from above.