The Arab Spring was marked by spontaneous revolts, lack of charismatic leaders, youthful exuberance, and disdain for more traditional forms of organizational discipline. That is what made these revolutions so appealing. Institutional obstacles to democracy, however, require institutional responses: speaking truth to power is no longer enough. Success now hinges on the organization of power by the former insurgents and their ability to deal with the armed forces, the bureaucracy, religious institutions, and the global economy.
Revolution is a daunting task but running a country the day after is perhaps an even more daunting proposition. New liberal republics in economically disadvantaged circumstances will need to navigate a swirl of conflicting economic interests and illiberal institutional claims. These are not discrete concerns though, in each circumstance, the art – not the science – of politics is required to provide an integrated set of responses. Ignoring the logic of power is no solution. Only by confronting reactionary and exploitative interests with an eye privileging the common needs of the disenfranchised and the oppressed will a fresh breeze sustain the Arab Spring.