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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
May 2022
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Book description

The 'Arab Spring' has come to symbolise defeated hopes for democracy and social justice in the Middle East. In this book, Jamie Allinson demonstrates how these defeats were far from inevitable. Rather than conceptualising the 'Arab Spring' as a series of failed revolutions, Allinson argues it is better understood as a series of successful counter-revolutions. By comparing the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, this book shows how these profoundly revolutionary situations were overturned by counter-revolutions. Placing the fate of the Arab uprisings in a global context, Allinson reveals how counter-revolutions rely on popular support and cross borders to forge international alliances. By connecting the Arab uprisings to the decade of global protest that followed them, this innovative work demonstrates how new forms of counter-revolution have rendered it near impossible to implement political change without first enacting fundamental social transformation.


‘The Age of Counter-Revolution provides the most perceptive insights into counter-revolution since the work of Arno Mayer some 50 years ago. It combines a richness of detail alongside a striking command of theoretical debates. The book contains a simple, powerful message: for revolutions to fail, counter-revolutions must succeed. In this way, counter-revolutionary projects, founded on logics of preservation and defence, are just as powerful as revolutions. The book is the hallmark of a skilful, creative operator within the history-theory loop. It is essential reading.’

George Lawson - Australian National University

‘This book is a crucial intervention in the current debates about the Arab uprisings and their aftermath. Allinson brilliantly invites us to question our theoretical toolbox by shifting the attention to the role of counter-revolution in shaping the unfolding of these revolutions. Thoroughly researched, empirically rich, and theoretical compelling, The Age of Counter-Revolution is a must read for anyone interested in the Arab uprisings and theories of revolution more broadly.’

Rima Majed - American University of Beirut

‘This is historical sociology at its very best. Allinson utilises Marxist concepts to offer us a theoretically rich, forensic investigation of the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Libya, and Yemen. The Age of Counterrevolution carefully documents how these revolutionary movements were defeated by the combined efforts of the armies, the states, the elites, and the regional and international hegemons who conspired against them. It suits the powerful that their central role in smashing revolutions and movements for a better future remains hidden in the shadows; Allinson instead shines a glaring headlight straight at them. And yet one of the main messages of this book leaves us with hope for the future: that neither the success nor failure of revolutions is predetermined; better outcomes were achievable, another world was possible - and will be again.’

Mandy Turner - University of Manchester

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