Counterrevolution as international phenomenon: The case of Egypt

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Abstract / Description of output

This article argues that the case of the Egyptian 2011 revolution forces us to rethink accounts of counter-revolution in International Relations. The debate over whether the events of 2011-13 in Egypt should be considered a ‘revolution’ or merely a ‘revolt’ or ‘uprising’ reflects an understanding of revolutions as closed and discrete events, and therefore of international counter-revolution as significant only after revolutionary movements have seized sovereign power. Against this account, which maintains the idea of sovereignty as the boundary between domestic/social and international/ geopolitical phenomena, I argue that counter-revolutions can operate across boundaries during revolutionary situations before and to prevent revolutionary transformation and therefore affect whether a revolutionary sovereign power is established at all. Such counter-revolutions draw upon both the ideological inheritance of historical strategies of international ‘catch-up’, and the cross-border class relations that these different strategies bring into being. In the Egyptian case, the counter-revolution thus relied upon two factors deriving from this strategy: the ideological inheritance of Nasserism as a response to international hierarchy, and the integration of the post-Nasser Egyptian ruling elite with Gulf financial, and US security, networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-344
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number2
Early online date25 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • revolution
  • counter-revolution
  • historical sociology
  • Arab Spring
  • Egypt


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