The mother of all revolutions

HISTORY books made us believe that the revolution spearheaded by the sons of the noble, Hussein bin Ali, in Makkah against the Ottoman rule was the ‘great Arab revolution’; only to find out later that the person behind the revolution was an English-Irish man known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.  We also heard about the military revolutions, such as the 23rd of June revolution in Egypt, 14th of July revolution in Iraq and September victory in Libya, during which the Arabs replaced their enlightened democratic rulers with ignorant dictators from the military.

After these revolutions, we witnessed the Arab Spring, which paved the way for the people to replace the military dictators with hardliners from the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups.  We ended up having problems with anyone linked to the term ‘revolution’

Last week, a conversation with a friend led to the Industrial Revolution in England in the 19th century.  This revolution resulted in discrimination among people.  At the time, Africans were abducted from their countries and sold in America to become slaves.  They worked in farms and mines — the sources of income for most people in the US then.  The human trade collapsed when the revolution ended as the people, who were bought and sold for a pittance and treated like a flock of sheep, were replaced with machines.

Our esteemed colleague, Khalid Al-Qashtini — a Middle East newspaper columnist — has penned a remarkable article on the Industrial Revolution which he considers the ‘mother’ of all contemporary revolutions, because almost everything we see around us now can be traced back to that incident.  His article focused on a program aired on BBC TV entitled, ‘Why the Industrial Revolution Happened Here’, in which British Historian Professor Jeremy Black discussed the significant event extensively.

Black, who spent 30 years of his life doing research work on the Industrial Revolution, cited the absence of political liberalism and freedom of thought as the most important factor that triggered the revolution.  He said political liberalism and freedom of thought were non-existent in the European continent at the time due to the restrictions imposed by the churches on intellectuals like Galileo, who was imprisoned and almost burnt because of his theories; yet many contemporary ideas and universal events are based on his theories.  The English revolted against the Vatican by severing ties with it, leading to the destruction of monasteries and Catholic establishments.

On the other hand, in the 18th century, the English embarked on what is currently known as the ‘Age of Reason’, due to the emergence of people with enlightened minds, such as Isaac Newton who discovered the Law of Gravity and greatly contributed to the study of Astronomy.
The English obtained the so-called ‘steam power’ by manufacturing steam machines to pump water from deep workings in coal mines.  This led to a remarkable increase in coal production; thereby, reducing the price of coal.  After this, James Watt invented the steam engine so the transportation cost went down; making the transport of goods around the world easier.  With its vast wealth, Britain was able to colonize one-fifth of the world at a time when Europe was embroiled in conflicts between the State and the church.

This is how inventions continued until they were exported from the Old World to the New World, resulting in the discovery of electricity, cars, airplanes and several others.  If not for these inventions, our way of living would have been like that of our ancestors.  We now enjoy the inventions of the West which is not under any religious authority.  Apparently, the world got to where it is now only when it recognized and embraced the superiority of the inquisitive human brain and refrained from referring worldly matters to the religious authority.

After all these, we have to distance ourselves from claims that the military revolution will have a positive impact on our country.  We should not also expect development from revolutions controlled by religious forces.  We have to bear in mind that the advanced countries emancipated themselves from these forces two or more centuries ago.  We must renounce the Arab Spring because it will not do us any good; unlike the Industrial Revolution in Britain — the ‘mother’ of all revolutions. 


By: Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli

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