What’s the Latest Development? French social scientist Emmanuel Todd calls himself a “cosine academic”. In favoring statistical models over political or ideological explanations, it is not surprising that he links the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa to very measurable metrics: literacy, birth and marriage rates. In each case he sees a process of modernization that augments individuals’ liberties. “When more than 90 percent of young people can read and write and have a modicum of education, no traditional authoritarian regime will last for long.”
He says it is not strictly due to a policy of regression and that the rise of fundamentalists is due to the rapidly changing milieu people find themselves in. Some react by embracing the new; others by becoming more repressive.
A modicum of literacy, particularly amongst women, seems to be a major spur for the toppling of authoritative regimes. As well as young who no longer want to be as restricted in their thinking. There may be some intermittent rulers who abrogate these ideals, just as the French Revolution led to Napoleon.
In the end, Enlightenment always seems to win.