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Law and RevolutionLegitimacy and Constitutionalism After the Arab Spring$
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Nimer Sultany

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198768890

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198768890.001.0001

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(p.97) 4 Revolution
Law and Revolution

Nimer Sultany

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that revolution is not separate from the very discourse and arrangements it responds to. Rather, it is subsumed in a legitimation discourse, and it is engulfed by similar tensions. Although revolution may erupt because of a perceived legitimacy deficit, it does not solve the conceptual deficiency of legitimacy. This is because revolution vacillates between an event that inaugurated it and a process that seeks to complete it. This duality makes revolution a contradictory concept that includes its own negation because different protagonists deploy it in contradictory ways. The very qualities that enable the designation of the Arab Spring as a revolution enable the counter-revolution. In other words, revolution does not provide a stable, unambiguous framework within which the new political order can be established. Consequently, the revolution’s attempt to delegitimate the status quo and legitimate the new order re-enacts the incoherence and instability of other legitimation devices.

Keywords:   Arab Spring, political revolution, social revolution, civil disobedience, rebellion, coup, reform, counter-revolution, French Revolution

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