Populist revolt is hardly new. Whenever and wherever there has been an unpopular government, there has been unrest, but not always has that citizen disapproval manifested in the removal of the offending rulers. In fact, protests have often led to more oppression and tighter controls. Egypt 2011 is the exception.
So far, the uprising has yielded the desired results; the removal of a choking regime that walked the line between freedom and despotism. The next year, maybe ten, will determine if true democracy will flourish in Egypt, but for now, there is success and hope.
Keep in mind that Egyptians were NOT protesting a Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong il-like dictatorship. They challenged a government that was dampening their potential and retarding economic progress.
It is the root of the revolt that gives even more cause for great expectations.
Inspired by similar demands with successful results in Tunisia, young Egyptians; college educated, ambitious, hungry and, most important of all, connected – connected to the rest of the world – rose against forces they saw as oppressive.
There is a line in the movie “The Recruit” that goes “No country with a McDonald’s has ever invaded the United States.” Translated, it means that those who have been exposed to what we have to offer don’t want to jeopardize having more of the same. So it is with the new generation Egyptians. They have lived online through social networks, internet news, YouTube, instant messaging, iTunes and every other form of instant and global communications available in the digital age. They have seen what others have, primarily freedom, but also jobs/careers, fulfilling lives, prosperity and a general lack of want. Even in the rough economic times of the last couple of years, western countries are envied.
So many of the things we take for granted are treasured as luxuries around the world. Some hate us for it, others, like Egyptians, covet our lifestyle and wonder why they are denied.
Egyptian protestors don’t want Jihad, they want jobs! They don’t want mullahs, they want moolah! Careers, not caliphs.
They want a future, the future they’ve seen on the Internet. The future they want is ours.
The Internet has been the messenger of western success. It’s the window to a part of the world millions want to be a part of. The Internet is the medium by which others around the globe sample our music, see our television shows, watch our movies, experience our humor, visit our cities and parks and amusements, see our homes and cars and schools, watch us debate and argue and laugh about our government and interact with each other as individuals.
Education is democracy’s greatest ally. As digital communications and the global information network continue to advance and flourish, so will the prospects for democracy. I wish I could remember where I read about the Berkeley professor who complained that “the internet gives too many people too much information.” How do you think that attitude would rate in Cairo or Alexandria?
I won’t claim that this blog educates, but it and millions of other online journals are proof of the social and, yes, political value of not just free speech, but the availability of that speech.
I also won’t claim to speak for the Founding Fathers, but certainly they would be proud and pleased at what this medium offers and represents. The original Boston Tea Party likely wouldn’t have been necessary if Facebook were available in 1773. The Federalist Papers may well have been the Federalist Blog. And, later in history, slavery would have been more easily (and bloodlessly) challenged, Adolph Hitler more quickly exposed and the Vietnam morass more transparently revealed.
The Internet is, quite possibly, the unsung hero of the 2011 Egyptian Revolt and it’s heroics may yet be further exercised elsewhere in the Middle East.