History has its own laws and its own tricks. Dictators, who are inherently antihistorical, do not realize it; yet humanity, in its rich and exciting trajectory, continues to instruct the great dictators and despots of the world about the force of history, in Africa as well as Asia, in America as well as Europe. All the elements are in place for writing the histories of dictatorships, with their attendant bloodiness and social exclusion. Tunisia’s is one such history. Friday, January 14, 2011, became a new date and a special chapter in the periodization of the history of Tunisia since independence, just like March 20, 1956 (Independence Day), or April 9, 1938. This key date will go down not only in the collective Tunisian memory, but also in the memory of the world as a turning point in modern history. Looking at what is happening in Tunisia now, one cannot help but ask how revolutions, or revolts, uprisings, and insurrections, are being born, not only in the contemporary Arab and Muslim world but also anywhere else in the world today. The answer is not to be found in the geography of Tunisia. The roots must be sought in the history, the culture, and the deep psychology of individuals as well as groups, and in the collective national memory as well. In order to have a clear view of the significance of this extraordinary early twenty-first-century Tunisian event, the historian must dig deep, before January 14, 2011.

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