Does Arab spring mean the beginning of world system reconfiguration?
In a previous article, The Coming Epoch of New Coalitions: Possible Scenarios of the Near Future (Grinin and Korotayev 2011), it was preliminarily demonstrated that the turbulent events of late 2010 and 2011 in the Arab World may well be regarded as a start of the global reconfiguration. The subsequent events have confirmed this supposition. That is why in the present article we develop this important theme. The article offers a thorough analysis of the internal conditions of Arab countries on the eve of revolutionary events, as well as causes and consequences of the Arab Revolutions. The article also offers an analysis of similar historical World System reconfigurations starting with the sixteenth-century Reformation. The analysis is based on the theory (developed by the authors) of the periodical catch-ups experienced by the political component of the World System that tends to lag behind the World System economic component. Thus, we show that the asynchrony of development of various functional subsystems of the World System is a cause of the synchrony of major political changes. In other words, within the globalization process, political transformations tend to lag far behind economic transformations. And such lags cannot constantly increase, the gaps are eventually bridged, but in not quite a smooth way. The article also suggests an explanation why the current catch-up of the World System political component started in the Arab World.