Re: Revolutions that go wrong
To be honest I don't understand the optimism that surrounds the Arab Spring. I don't think there has been a single revolution in history that didn't go (horribly) wrong at some point. The French Revolution planted the seeds for the Terror and Napoleon's dictatorship, the Russian revolution certainly didn't give the proletariat the freedom from oppression for which they fought and even though the year of revolutions was 1848, most working classes in Europe had to wait till the late 19th or early 20th century before they could actually vote.
I know a little about Egypt, and I don't think a lot will change as a result of the Arab Spring. There are two institutions with a lot of power in Egypt: the military and the civil service (Mahfouz wrote a novella called "Respected Sir" about the latter). Both are strongly hierarchical and neither is accessible to the youth that was the driving force behind the Arab Spring in Egypt. I don't pretend to know what will happen in Egypt, but I wouldn't put my money on any significant changes in the near future. Like Assad and unlike Gaddhafi, Mubarak needed the support of high-ranking civil and military officials to stay in power.
I think Pellnäs has a solid point. I've yet to read an analysis of the causes of Portugal, Spain and Greece's economic troubles that goes beyond "Greeks are lazy". I'd be interested to know if and why Estonia (and Poland as well, I believe) managed to keep economic troubles in check and the Mediterranean countries didn't.
and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years. - Marcel Proust