First In, First Out: Promises and Problems of Free Expression in Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary Governments
Maryland Journal of International Law 107 (2016)
74 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2019
Date Written: April 21, 2016
For centuries, revolutionary leaders have tempted their followers with promises of enhanced freedom of individual expression. When the revolution ends and this leader becomes the new head of government, however, the legal and political realities imposed by this new regime usually differ starkly from that leader's revolutionary promises. This article examines several revolutions -- the American Revolution of 1783, the French Revolution of 1789, the Russian Revolution of 1905, the Cuban Revolution of 1959, and the “Arab Spring” revolutions of 2011 in Egypt and Tunisia -- with a focus on revolutionary promises and post-revolutionary actions regarding freedom of expression in these nations. From this examination, the article sheds new light upon freedom of expression’s role as a promise that revolutionary leaders easily make and easily break, and as an objective that many revolution-supporting citizens easily abandon in post-revolutionary societies.
Keywords: revolution, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, American Revolution, French Revolution, Russian Revolution, Fidel Castro, Cuban Revolution, Arab Spring, Egypt, Tunisia, broken promises, government
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