Sunday,24 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1403, (26 July - 1 August 2018)
Sunday,24 February, 2019
Issue 1403, (26 July - 1 August 2018)

Ahram Weekly

In the heat of July

In the heat of July
In the heat of July

Is it only a myth or does it seem like more national revolutions occur during the boiling month of July?

Could it be that nature’s abundant heat that fans the fire of human emotions compelling man to rebel against conditions that were acceptable or at least tolerable throughout cooler months? 

Revolutions can of course happen all year long — and they do.

Among the most historic revolutions was the Russian revolution of October 1917, breeding a form of government that rapidly spread around the world population. They called it Communism — not entirely a new concept, but acquiring a new name.

Still the question remains — why so many revolutions in July? We can name a few: the US, the Philippines, France, Venezuela, Iraq, Argentina, Peru, Egypt and Belgium among others.

If months had characters, and they do, July would be the month of revolutions.

The thought has been pored over endlessly, yielding countless lessons but one conclusion: the heat shortens tempers.

Revolutions however do not happen overnight. Months, even years of thinking, planning, struggling and negotiating before the balloon bursts, usually on a hot day in July.

In the southern hemisphere the famous Australian Bum Revolution of 1808 started in Sydney in January, which happens to be the warmest month of that city.

Most revolutions are about nation building and that involves a degree of violence, whatever the cause or effect. Nationalists are those prone to rebel against conditions, which brings us to the concept of nationalism.

Nationalism is not to be obscured as patriotism. While both have an unequivocal love of the homeland, there is a vast difference between them. Both show the relationship of an individual towards his nation. They are often confused and frequently believed to mean the same thing. 

Patriotism pertains to the love for a nation, with more emphasis on values and beliefs. 

Nationalism means to give more importance to unity by way of a cultural background including language & heritage. Both concepts are being demonstrated daily in the US with the influx of immigrants, resented by nationalists who imply that only the people of one own’s country should be considered equal.

“Nationalism is the worst enemy of peace,” wrote George Orwell (1903-1950). According to the British author, nationalism is a feeling that one’s country is superior to another in all respects, while patriotism is merely a feeling of admiration for a way of life. To which camp do you belong?

Patriotism is based on affection while its more aggressive counterpart is rooted in rivalry and resentment. These concepts show that nationalism can be aggressive and is more militant by nature, while patriotism is more passive and based on peace. 

Nationalists start revolutions. The American and French revolutions may be regarded as its powerful manifestations.

Because of its dynamic vitality, nationalism is thought to be very old. In fact it is quite young.

It started in the early 19th century sweeping the Latin countries before moving on to Central Europe and by the middle of the century it had pervaded Eastern and South Eastern Europe. Asia and Africa caught on at the beginning of the 20th century, which witnessed the struggle of powerful national movements.

The Age of Nationalism was born in the 19th century but came to maturity in the 20th century.

However, the real starting point of the influential movement was undoubtedly in France. It began with the national and liberal thinking and writing of such philosophers as Voltaire and Diderot.

While Jean Jacques Rousseau often gets the lion’s share of the credit he came to the concept much later. Rousseau was more involved with “universal man” as in such works as The Social Contract and Emile. It was only in 1782 in The Government of Poland that he drew out a long proposal for an education with a national basis. His ideas influenced the nationwide generation of the French Revolution of 1789.

On 14 July 1789, driven by hunger and fear, French citizens stormed the great prison of Bastille in Paris and freed the many political prisoners held there — criminals too. The symbol of oppression was erased.

The English colonies of the New World rejected the severity of their mother country, the excessive taxes, the trade restrictions and their insistence on keeping their soldiers on American soil, they wage war against their colonists and fought for six years before they won their independence, 4 July 1776.

Their nationalist spirit kept their country intact.

It was that same spirit that urged a dozen members of the army, led by Lieutenant Colonel Gamal Abdel-Nasser who plotted and planned and when the time was right to free the people of Egypt from the despotic rule of a corrupt monarch, they stormed his palace at Abdine, on 23 July 1952, and forced him to abdicate the throne. Egypt soon after became a republic.

Warmer climates have been correlated with higher rates of assault on people and property as shown in several studies.

When the temperature goes up an increase in crime is to be expected. 

Undoubtedly temperature has an effect on world revolutions, conflicts, uprisings, violence, anarchy, terror and crimes.

This may be a New Age of Freedom and a triumph of the spirit, but it is also the Age of Revolutions. 

As you soak in the sun during the warm summer months, remember that July sits on a sleeping volcano… ready to erupt anytime, anywhere.

“What is a rebel? A man who says no.”

Albert Camus (1913-1960) 

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