The Arc of Civil Liberation: Obama–Tahrir–Occupy

Philosophy & Social Criticism, May 2013, vol. 39 no. 4-5, 341-347

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Despite anxieties about the growing power of neo-liberalism, the crisis of the EU and the upsurge of right-wing political movements, it is important to recognize that utopian movements on the left have also in recent years been symbolically revitalized and organizationally sustained. This article analyses three recent social upheavals as utopian civil society movements, placing the 2008 US presidential campaign of Barack Obama, the Egyptian uprising in Tahrir Square and the Occupy Movement in the USA inside the narrative arc that began with the non-violent democratic uprisings against authoritarian governments four decades earlier. In this new utopian surge, however, there is an unprecedented connection of eastern and western impulses, demonstrating that the tide of democratic thought and action is hardly confined to Judeo-Christian civilizations.