Shut them down if they shut you down.
February 13, 2011 2:40 AM   Subscribe

Algeria has shut down internet and Facebook as protests mount.
posted by auralcoral (125 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
This usually ends well.

Hey wait, it actually kinda does!
posted by bicyclefish at 2:41 AM on February 13, 2011 [44 favorites]


Here we go again.
posted by reductiondesign at 2:42 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is Algeria even a dictatorship?
posted by empath at 2:46 AM on February 13, 2011


empath, according to Wikipedia, Algeria is a "Semi-presidential republic"...the semi- is probably key here.
posted by auralcoral at 2:51 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Benevolent Generals, we hardly knew ye.
posted by fire&wings at 3:01 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is Facebook accessible other than via the internet?
posted by Gyan at 3:04 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is Algeria even a dictatorship?

No, no, no, no, no, it's a completely democratic republic, with, once in a while, elections in which the voters are entirely free to re-elect their beloved president by a landslide. You know, like Egypt and Tunisia until last month...
posted by Skeptic at 3:05 AM on February 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


"Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried." – Winston Churchill
posted by nickrussell at 3:08 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gyan: "Is Facebook accessible other than via the internet"

Yes, it's called a 'party'.
posted by bwg at 3:19 AM on February 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


||||///_ _ _

Domino, mothafucka!
posted by XhaustedProphet at 3:21 AM on February 13, 2011 [33 favorites]


Is Algeria even a dictatorship?

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the dude currently holding the presidency, has been kicking around in the upper echelons of the Algerian government since 1962, thanks to his ties to the Oujda Group. The Kabyle Berber minority that makes up 40% of Algeria's population appears to not like him very much and the feeling's probably mutual; they "didn't participate" to any great extent in the last election. (Bouteflika's Wikipedia entry seems to have fallen prey to a bit of whitewashing about how free and fair any given Algerian election is these days, and about how corrupt he actually is. Tread cautiously.)

Much like post-Sadat Egypt, Algeria's been in a permanent state of emergency law for 19 years now, with strong state media control. The emergency in question was the appearance and rise to power of the Islamic Salvation Front, a political party espousing a hardline Islamist position. The army decided that ISF rule would be untenable, seized power in 1992, and set about consolidating national control back in the hands of what had been the only legally-permissible party in Algeria, the National Liberation Front.

So, yeah, there's more of an Islamist slant here than, say, in Egypt, but there's also a lot of the same repression and economic stuff going on.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:22 AM on February 13, 2011 [20 favorites]


Dominos fall like this: _ _ /||
posted by mkb at 3:23 AM on February 13, 2011 [95 favorites]


You'd think they'd learn it's texting they should fear.
posted by dglynn at 3:23 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


dglynn, they might hear you! SSSSSHHHHHH!
posted by mkb at 3:24 AM on February 13, 2011


my dominos fall up(rising).
posted by XhaustedProphet at 3:26 AM on February 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


How do they delete facebook accounts?
posted by doublehappy at 3:31 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


For those who don't know: Algeria is a "People's Democratic Republic" which means (like so many others of it's namesake) it's esentially a military dictatorship with vaguely nationalistic and pan-Arabic trappings. The modern Algerian state emerged from the prolonged and bloody war with France (1954-1962) in which nationalist Algerians lead by the FLN (National Liberation Front) wrested control of the country from the French.

This was was followed by a civil war starting in 1991 and lasting until 2002 between the largely secular nationalist goverment and Islamic opposition parties.

The current leader of Algeria is Abdelaziz Bouteflika, (pic here, on left) a strongman who has consolidated all political power under his personal aegis and who rules largely with only the consent of the military. He "won" the last election with 85% of the vote.

When it comes down to brass tacks, the US will probably (once again) support the dictator against his own people. Bouteflika has positioned himself as an "anti-terrorist" leader and has cooperated extensively with the US in fighting Islamic groups within his own country. Any opposition that takes over after Bouteflika is ousted will probably be heavily Islamic, and thus unacceptable to the US, no matter how democratic.
posted by Avenger at 3:38 AM on February 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Or just listen to what fairytale of los angeles said.
posted by Avenger at 3:41 AM on February 13, 2011


I first read this as 'Apple has shut down ...' and got very confused because my MacBook was working just fine.

Then I read 'Algeria', and got concerned instead. I can only hope that this ends peacefully and is bloodless.
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 3:47 AM on February 13, 2011


It seems the Freedom Agenda is working out.
posted by eeeeeez at 3:50 AM on February 13, 2011


What's with all the 'peaceful' rhetoric? The West reserves the right to topple regimes by force, killing thousands, yet the people living under oppression should not be allowed to overthrow their dictator with violent means?
posted by klue at 3:57 AM on February 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


I can only hope that this ends peacefully and is bloodless.

Fuck that. The only thing a tyrant and their cronies deserve at the end of the day is the Ceaușescu treatment.
posted by cmonkey at 4:23 AM on February 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent." (Mahatma Gandhi)
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 4:26 AM on February 13, 2011 [24 favorites]


It's going to be tougher. As this Wikileaks cable attests, part of the Algerian military, including the top brass, is extremely corrupt, and they may be more willing to shoot into crowds. Of course, junior officers may have different ideas, more in line with those of their Tunisian and Egyptian colleagues.
It's true that Algeria is less secular than Tunisia, but the record of hardcore islamism during the civil war is particularly abominable and I can't see the Algerians going that way again.
posted by elgilito at 4:29 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Algeria Internet Not Shut Down, According To Renesys Analysis.
posted by ericb at 4:29 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The only thing a tyrant and their cronies deserve at the end of the day is the Ceaușescu treatment.

That just makes the tyrants more determined to stay in power.
posted by oddman at 4:46 AM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent." (Mahatma Gandhi)

This is subjective. In order to bring about change revolution needs to occur, those demonstrating are typically not violent, the problem is the over bearing military/police that react in violence...I am thrilled that the internet is such a powerful tool for the oppressed it's about damn time!

And p.s. Anyone really up on our current state of affairs? Does anyone really pay attention to what is happening right under out noses in our own country (U.S.A.) What can be done now but the shrinking middle class and poor to create a shift in the those that hold power...The top 8% of the wealthiest control the 92% of the "average" citizens...or is that serfs.

Now...what do do about creating a safe system via the internet that can't be hacked by the corrupt.
posted by gypseefire at 5:10 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck that. The only thing a tyrant and their cronies deserve at the end of the day is the Ceaușescu treatment.

Indeed. Make an example of the fuckers. Let's have some justice for a change.

I hope that Mubarak will still get his lengthy prison sentence (at the least) after his hospital stay in Germany.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:11 AM on February 13, 2011


The nervous nellie in me is starting to wonder if there aren't factions deep within the loonier pockets of Tea Party World™ who aren't watching these uprisings and overthrows and thinking to themselves "We can totally do this, too!"
posted by Thorzdad at 5:19 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can only "totally do this too" if you have the support of the millitary. Or at the very least they agree not to roll in with tanks and shoot everyone.
posted by chunking express at 5:29 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Algeria is not an electoral democracy. However, Algerian parliamentary elections are more democratic than those in many other Arab states.
posted by adamvasco at 5:32 AM on February 13, 2011


From the link, one might have to ? whether Algeria is poor enough to see it through. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, the protestors could keep protesting....because they desired freedom and because for many of them, being in Tahrir Square was not an economic loss in terms of lost wages. It seems to have some resources (enough to field a semi-competitive FIFA team right?) so not sure if they'll fall. It would be great for democracy + peace -- remember, no two democracies have ever warred against each other.
posted by skepticallypleased at 5:33 AM on February 13, 2011


You'd think these countries could learn the American way, where we think we have a lot more free choice than we do and thus don't rebel.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:36 AM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


The nervous nellie in me is starting to wonder if there aren't factions deep within the loonier pockets of Tea Party World™ who aren't watching these uprisings and overthrows and thinking to themselves "We can totally do this, too!"

The fringe birther, PUMA, and Tea Party blogs have been telling each other that they can totally do that too for a while now. Which isn't surprising; it's as easy to talk shit about revolution online as it is to talk shit about anything else.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:37 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


You'd think these countries could learn the American way, where we think we have a lot more free choice than we do and thus don't rebel.

The trick is you have to have two parties who switch in and out of power, rather then just one.
posted by delmoi at 5:40 AM on February 13, 2011 [19 favorites]


The era of broadcast media is in its death throes.
Maybe the era of broadcast government is the next one to go?
posted by crackingdes at 6:00 AM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Worth asking again: How are they deleting Facebook accounts? Is there confirmation of this from any other news source?
I assume the Telegraph just wrong about this since they'd either have a team of hackers on staff and care about breaking into thousands of individual accounts (not likely), found a way to crack Facebook's authentication system that other haven't (even less likely) or they've got someone on the inside at Facebook (least likely).
posted by thebestsophist at 6:06 AM on February 13, 2011


a military that killed 160,000 citizens over a ten year period surely won't mind taking a few more...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:07 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nonviolent protest work when the authority destroys it's own legitimacy through it's reaction. Egypt, Algeria, etc. are showing us that simply shutting down the communications channels, especially the whole internet, does astronomical damage to the regimes legitimacy. Imho, that's massive progress over waiting till the protestor death toll climbs sufficiently high.

Any violent revolution will conversely bring it's own legitimacy into question because violence will originate from only a small group. For example, the Russian Czars were overthrown by a large movement involving both the military and anarchist groups, which was synonymous with agrarian interests, yet after this, the military then closed the parliament & expelled anarchist interests on behalf of the Bolsheviks.

Any revolution should therefore begin through nonviolent means so as to establish legitimacy. In fact, you'll never know yourselves if you're implementing the people's will otherwise, i.e. if the people don't rise up with you, then you must emigrate elsewhere. Conversely, you cannot simply persist with a non-violent revolution against a government who'll happily employ violence. If you've successfully established legitimacy, but your protestors are being killed right & left by the dictators's forced, yeah then it's time for a coup or assassinations.

Interestingly, all the nonviolent protests for Palestinians independence have never really gained much traction with western mass media, primarily because of all their history of "drive the Jews into the sea" rhetoric. We know that rhetoric doesn't hold any water today, but it'll take them decades yet to overcome that stereotype, and only then will western mass media really help them bring Israel to the table.

Also, I'm unsure why the Egyptian protestors didn't pursue some middle path here, Egyptian ex-pats in Britain could've tracked down Mubarak's son's family, and launched rowdy but nonviolent protests outside their hotel. In this way, the protestors themselves could've remained non-violent while simultaneously sending the message that nowhere with an Egyptian ex-pat community will remain safe until he surrenders power.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:11 AM on February 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


So what you're saying is, in the event Mubarak was successful in putting down the protests in Egypt, the protest outside the UK hotel would have forced him to step down anyway? Is that right?

I fail to see how a "rowdy protest" in the UK could have exerted any influence whatsoever.
posted by ryanrs at 6:20 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Algeria Internet Not Shut Down, According To Renesys Analysis.

_ _ / (temporary FAIL) |||||||
posted by elpapacito at 6:22 AM on February 13, 2011


No ryanrs ^ that is not what he is saying.
posted by adamvasco at 6:27 AM on February 13, 2011


So what would be the point of those UK protests? Just to chime in "me too"?
posted by ryanrs at 6:31 AM on February 13, 2011


The nervous nellie in me is starting to wonder if there aren't factions deep within the loonier pockets of Tea Party World™ who aren't watching these uprisings and overthrows and thinking to themselves "We can totally do this, too!"

Someone said it in one of the Egypt threads and I kind of agree, the tea partiers will be the ones on "counter-protesting" the next time anti-globalisation protests happen in the US. And it will get ugly.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:36 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


These generals have got this shit all wrong. If you want to keep your people docile and complacent, you don't shut off their internet. You should buy them all flat-screen TVs. And maybe Xboxes or whatever. It's a hell of a lot cheaper than tanks, and it works great here in America.
posted by fungible at 6:39 AM on February 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


Someone said it in one of the Egypt threads and I kind of agree, the tea partiers will be the ones on "counter-protesting" the next time anti-globalisation protests happen in the US. And it will get ugly.

Well, counterprotesting from their old-people carts with their oxygen tanks will be kind of hard...
posted by delmoi at 6:42 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's primary effect would've been endangering his Mubarak's ability to conduct business in the U.K. by suggesting that anyone they do business with may face protests themselves. If you can identify his Swiss bank, that might've proven an even more effective protest.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:48 AM on February 13, 2011


shutting down communications is a really dumb strategy for autocrats. the logical and necessary step to move from mediated communication to the organization and mobilization of social networks is to get off the phone and get some face time. First you meet your friends, then friends of friends, it snowballs and you've got a mobilization.

For a mobilization to be effective, everybody has to share a goal structure. This is what the communications net (and the lowered cost of communications) establishes beforehand. The goal structure of mobilization for non-violent protests seeking regime change can be a winner if the mobilization is large enough and determined enough.

Two or three weeks is blindingly fast in historical terms. The Montgomery boycott took a year after the mobilization, but there were years of organizing required to make that mobilization successful.

===

RE: Tea Party. Couch potato flash mobs organized by hate-talkers on commercial media don't have the depth or breath for much more than media events. It's not hard to imagine the role of the Tea Party at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Remarkably similar to the pro-regime party militias in Egypt. And we all saw how that went down. Both times. Violence as a media strategy has some definite drawbacks.

===

An optimal tactic for the US information strategy would be to get a little gummint pressure behind opening up US cable networks to Al Jazeera. We don't have the information infrastructure on the ground to do the collection, but we sure as hell could help with the transmission. As Google has demonstrated, corporations don't have to work overtime being greedy, evil and stupid, though that seems to be the default setting for US media and telecommunications.

Excluding Al Jazeera from the US media market seems awfully mercantilist, eh? Maybe a little international media free trade would put these jingoistic monopolists in their place.
posted by warbaby at 6:48 AM on February 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, yes. I almost forgot. The Telegraph is wrong as always.

It's sort of like saying the sun rises in the east.
posted by warbaby at 6:54 AM on February 13, 2011


...and Anonymous is there.
posted by jquinby at 6:55 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


An optimal tactic for the US information strategy would be to get a little gummint pressure behind opening up US cable networks to Al Jazeera.

I'm pretty sure that would only serve to amp-up the "Obama is a muslim" crowd to overload. FOX News would ride it nonstop for at least a month.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:57 AM on February 13, 2011


Fine, let Lieberman do it. It's about time he took one for the team. He wasn't shy about wikileaks.
posted by warbaby at 7:05 AM on February 13, 2011


What's with all the 'peaceful' rhetoric? The West reserves the right to topple regimes by force, killing thousands, yet the people living under oppression should not be allowed to overthrow their dictator with violent means?

The record of violent revolutions in the past century is pretty miserable, in terms of success of overthrowing the dictator and of having a democracy if the revolution is successful.
posted by empath at 7:06 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


People and Power - how the April 6th Youth Movement planned the protests which led up to revolution in Egypt.
April 6th started in spring 2008 and actively took lessons from Srđa Popović of the Serbian movement Otpor!.
posted by adamvasco at 7:06 AM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


The nervous nellie in me is starting to wonder if there aren't factions deep within the loonier pockets of Tea Party World™ who aren't watching these uprisings and overthrows and thinking to themselves "We can totally do this, too!"

This might seem to be a obvious, but for a popular non-violent revolt to work, it has to be

A) Popular
B) Non-Violent

It also depends on massive participation and organization by college educated youth, which, last I checked, support Obama in massive numbers.
posted by empath at 7:08 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


here's hoping for peace. not stability, just not bloodshed
posted by angrycat at 7:10 AM on February 13, 2011


But sure, yeah, I'd love to see the tea partiers call a "Day of Rage" and occupy Trhe Mall. Let's see how that works out for them.
posted by empath at 7:11 AM on February 13, 2011


Man, I am getting so confused. How come the land of the free, home of democracy, always seems to be backing the dicktaters? And the wicked muslim terrorists always seem to be helping the poor huddled masses. The hyperocrazy is tearing me apart. Yeah, I know. Like any corporate entity, only the bottom line matters, but the rhetoric is getting too hollow to stand on it's own. I wish we could have a petri dish country (or planet) where we stay the hell out and see if allah's boys really would come riding over the borders, ullulating to beat the band after turning the prevailing oppressor out. I kinda think they'd go back to infighting their own factions after taking power and the poor common folk would just be trading one yoke for the next.
posted by Redhush at 7:23 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You go Algeria!
posted by timsteil at 7:26 AM on February 13, 2011


I think a lot of y'all are jumping the gun here. Now that the susceptible governments are on high alert, it will be much harder for the next revolution to occur. Police outnumbered protesters 3 to 1 in Algeria yesterday.
posted by perspicio at 7:42 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


How come the land of the free, home of democracy, always seems to be backing the dicktaters? And the wicked muslim terrorists always seem to be helping the poor huddled masses.

There was a great article in Harper's a while ago that touched on this topic: Parties of God: The Bush doctrine and the rise of Islamic democracy. (On MeFi)
posted by chunking express at 7:43 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, I am getting so confused. How come the land of the free, home of democracy, always seems to be backing the dicktaters?

Because in this part of the world, like in South America, we're the bad guys who casually topple popular governance because it doesn't suit business interests.
posted by The Whelk at 7:45 AM on February 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


The nervous nellie in me is starting to wonder if there aren't factions deep within the loonier pockets of Tea Party World™ who aren't watching these uprisings and overthrows and thinking to themselves "We can totally do this, too!"

What I've been wondering is whether the book series The Hunger Games is, on some level, an attempt to prep the youth of America for revolution. No, really.
posted by limeonaire at 7:53 AM on February 13, 2011


Oppressed people should totally never use violence. After all, the USA got its independence from King George thanks to the totally nonviolent Revolutionary Peace-Out and Sit-In.
posted by localroger at 7:57 AM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't believe there are people in this thread who are second-guessing Ghandi.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:00 AM on February 13, 2011


What's wrong with second-guessing Gandhi? I'm an Indian, and while I think Gandhi was pretty amazing, he's far from perfect and his ideas might not have worked in different circumstances.
posted by peacheater at 8:02 AM on February 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


I can't believe there are people in this thread who are second-guessing Ghandi.

‎'He who cannot protect himself or his nearest or dearest or their honor by non-violently facing death may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden.'

'It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. Violence is any day preferable to impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become nonviolent. There is no such hope for the impotent.'

'If the capacity for non-violent self-defense is lacking, there need be no hesitation in using violent means.'

- Gandhi
posted by edguardo at 8:06 AM on February 13, 2011 [20 favorites]


It makes me incredibly happy to hear that the amazing Otpor! has been an influence on these Middle Eastern revolutions. I saw this amazing documentary at a Quaker youth retreat in high school and it completely changed my tiny muddled worldview. Can't recommend it highly enough-- I think it should be required viewing for every discontented citizen of every country... (Yes, I recognize the irony of 'required viewing' of a video about revolution.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:19 AM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oppressed people should totally never use violence. After all, the USA got its independence from King George thanks to the totally nonviolent Revolutionary Peace-Out and Sit-In.

I wouldn't go to a doctor that prescribed 18th century solutions to problems, would you? In any case, the more relevant 18th century model is probably the French Revolution, in which an oppressed populace with very few democratic institutions overthrew a local tyrant, rather than a remote one, and which as we all know, Did Not Turn Out Well.

An even more relevant model would probably be a list of all revolutions, violent and non-violent and their total death tolls and likelihood that they immediately revert back to a dictatorship.
posted by empath at 8:26 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't believe there are people in this thread who are second-guessing Ghandi.

Gandhi is not some high exalted messiah of resistance; the idea that Gandhi disclaimed all violence, as well as that Gandhi was primarily responsible for the exit of the British from India, is a noxious and ahistorical one. It does serve the interests of the powerful, which is why it's so widespread.


An even more relevant model would probably be a list of all revolutions, violent and non-violent and their total death tolls and likelihood that they immediately revert back to a dictatorship.

So in the end you're back to dictatorship but a lot of dictatorship supporters are dead? That's a net gain. Anything that results in people who think dictatorships are acceptable being killed is A-OK by me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:32 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have this faint hope that the traditionally uninvolved Kids These Days in the west see that individuals do make a difference, and get out to vote at their next opportunity.

Maybe, just maybe, if they did that, our own countries would improve.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:34 AM on February 13, 2011


edguardo: Ghandi's point was that Indians should stand their ground. And if they can't hold their ground without fighting back to defend themselves, then they should use violence in self defense. But he would prefer that they stand and die than that they stand and fight. The only thing he was against was cowardice and running away.

The heroes in Egypt did both. They stood their ground and held the square, using violence (rock throwing and petrol bombs) when necessary, but also -- and mostly -- just building barricades and holding them -- prepared to die for their freedom.

I don't think Ghandi would have endorsed terrorism or offensive attacks or bombings.
posted by empath at 8:35 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So in the end you're back to dictatorship but a lot of dictatorship supporters are dead? That's a net gain. Anything that results in people who think dictatorships are acceptable being killed is A-OK by me.

Or you end with Stalin, or Pol Pot, or Hitler.
posted by empath at 8:36 AM on February 13, 2011


"Anything that results in people who think dictatorships are acceptable being killed is A-OK by me."

Destroy the village in order to save it, eh?
posted by jaduncan at 8:36 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, French people are very proud of their revolution, empath. In fact, they snicker every time people talk about Britain's royal family, some even openly laugh that they got to kill their king.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:40 AM on February 13, 2011


The best thing about the non-violent revolution may not be that it's non-violent, but that it must be popular to succeed, and so has legitimacy. A violent revolution can succeed with just a heavily armed minority that is willing to kill, when the other side is not. I don't see how you can impose your will on the populace through force of arms and not end up with a dictatorship in the end.
posted by empath at 8:40 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think Ghandi would have endorsed terrorism or offensive attacks or bombings.

He's right there saying violence is better than impotence. I understand it damages your image of the great messiah of peace to acknowledge that he's not some morally pure always-pacifistic god that heals lepers with his touch, but when you're trying to ignore his actual words, you're basically spitting in the faces of the other people in the discussion just like your pacifism spits in the face of the oppressed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:40 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The best thing about the non-violent revolution may not be that it's non-violent, but that it must be popular to succeed, and so has legitimacy. A violent revolution can succeed with just a heavily armed minority that is willing to kill, when the other side is not. I don't see how you can impose your will on the populace through force of arms and not end up with a dictatorship in the end.

Assumes that violent revolutions are necessarily non-popular, zero points for dishonesty and question-begging.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:41 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know, French people are very proud of their revolution, empath. In fact, they snicker every time people talk about Britain's royal family, some even openly laugh that they got to kill their king.

They can be proud of it all they want, but it failed. It ended in mass murder and dictatorship.
posted by empath at 8:42 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Soooo.....how 'bout those Algerians?
posted by perspicio at 8:43 AM on February 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


"You are a Mubarak supporter and deserve nothing less.

(all pacifists are supporters of dictatorship)"

To clarify, you have quoted me to state that I deserve death because I think that people do not deserve death due to their political opinions? I don't think people deserve death for being taken in by propaganda, no. That doesn't mean that I support Mubarak (and, indeed, I don't).

For directly stating that I deserve to die? I don't even know what to say to that, but I'll limit myself to saying that I shall choose to believe that was hyperbole and that you're better than that. I'm taken aback.
posted by jaduncan at 8:45 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm guessing that part of the problem is that if a newly-elected POTUS decided "Fuck dictators, we're changing our alliances", then that would effectively send the message that the U.S. was not a reliable ally.
posted by Jpfed at 8:47 AM on February 13, 2011


Jpfed: Well, I'm guessing that part of the problem is that if a newly-elected POTUS decided "Fuck dictators, we're changing our alliances", then that would effectively send the message that the U.S. was not a reliable ally.

If the conditions of alliance were transparent and open, you would only be unreliable in the sense that you could not be relied upon to maintain alliance under the conditions you will not maintain alliance under. To make it clearer: if you openly state that you will be an ally of a nation that abuses human rights (not massively far off current discourse) you would be more correctly considered unreliable if you stuck with historical allies despite their human rights abuses.
posted by Dysk at 8:50 AM on February 13, 2011


A "war on dictators" would be like the "war on drugs". Isolationism and innocent people suffering. See North Korea as an example.

Engaging dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, paying them lip service and trying to minimize harm is a valid strategy. Remind the world of the push toward democracy at every turn and support the people when they come out in force and decided they've had enough.
posted by Talez at 8:55 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, we could even use friendly dictatorships as allies in troubled reasons, and support their dictators against their people for strategic reasons!
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:57 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Troubled regions, that is.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:00 AM on February 13, 2011


metatalk
posted by angrycat at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2011


MeTa.

(suggestion: Talk about Algeria instead of PG so there is a chance of salvaging this thread when the mods clean it up)
posted by empath at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2011


How do they delete facebook accounts?

One of my colleagues spoke to an Egyptian protester and blogger last week who told her that someone had hacked her Facebook account and zeroed out all the information, unfriended all of her friends, etc.
posted by orville sash at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2011


vincele, he seems to at least be challenging an odiously callous and almost victim-blaming discourse...
posted by Dysk at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


sorry, couldn't do the link on my netbook
posted by angrycat at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2011


One of my colleagues spoke to an Egyptian protester and blogger last week who told her that someone had hacked her Facebook account and zeroed out all the information, unfriended all of her friends, etc.

It's pretty easy to steal authentication info if you run all the routers and switches.
posted by empath at 9:06 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is Facebook accessible other than via the internet?
posted by Gyan at 3:04 AM on February 13


"It was interesting to see the innovative use of technology when Mubarak tried to control the flow of information. When Twitter and Facebook were blocked, people managed to access the services through their mobile phones. They also turned to third-party applications like Hootsuite and TweetDeck to tweet."

"Several internet service providers outside of Egypt have established dial-up phone numbers that can be used for pokey-yet-usable connections like the ones that have slowly died out in many developed countries as broadband internet becomes more prevalent and less expensive.

And Google and Twitter teamed up to build a speak-to-tweet service that allows people inside Egypt to call one of three international phone numbers and leave a voicemail that'll be transcribed and sent out over Twitter. The messages themselves can be heard at the Speak To Tweet Twitter page."

"As the Hosni Mubarak regime continues its internet and mobile-phone blackout, telephonic tweets from inside Egypt are trickling out and being translated, thanks to Google, Twitter and some heavy-duty crowdsourcing."

The goverment in Algeria has also shut down all professional football (soccer) matches:

"As soccer writer James Dorsey wrote this week, "The involvement of organized soccer fans in Egypt's anti-government protests constitutes every Arab government's worst nightmare. Soccer, alongside Islam, offers a rare platform in the Middle East, a region populated by authoritarian regimes that control all public spaces, for the venting of pent-up anger and frustration." (...) "Even without games, the football fan associations have been front and center organizing everything from the neighborhood committees that have been providing security for residents, to direct confrontation with the state police."
posted by iviken at 9:13 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


skepticallypleased writes "no two democracies have ever warred against each other."

This is of course only technically true. The US for example has essentially gone to war against democracies on several occasions, they just do it by proxy so as not to be officially involved.
posted by Mitheral at 9:20 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


[Several comments removed, go to metatalk if you have any need to discuss Pope Guilty derail stuff further.]
posted by cortex at 9:22 AM on February 13, 2011


Random observations about Algeria from someone with long standing near familial ties:

-The army is conscript
- There are two powerfully-defined ethnic identities beneath the national identity
- The actions of the Islamist side in the recent civil war were quite determinedly on the service of terror was a war aim
- the civil war had a partial ethnic component, although it was not foregrounded
- the Algerian Revolt was launched in the Kabilye, the heart of the Berber ethnic area, high in the mountains and south of Algiers
-many of the precepts of asymmetric struggle in the 20th century were developed during and in response to the Revolt, and this likely informed the violent intensity of the more recent Civil War
- the sand at the foot of the wall of the oasis town Ghardaiya is fine and has a pinkish cast in the light of a January morning

Entered on a phone, my apologies for misspellings and unresearched generalizations of debatable accuracy, this stuff is just top of the head and not learned from study, just absorbed socially and is also last refreshed a bit over six years ago via email.
posted by mwhybark at 9:29 AM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


"in the service of"
posted by mwhybark at 9:30 AM on February 13, 2011


People who use violence to achieve a political end are probably going to use violence to suppress dissenting points of view once they achieve power.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:31 AM on February 13, 2011


You know, French people are very proud of their revolution, empath. In fact, they snicker every time people talk about Britain's royal family, some even openly laugh that they got to kill their king.

Is that the French or English who laugh? 'Coz the English had a civil war, overthrew and then in 1649 beheaded their king (Charles I). Thence a republic was declared, which lasted 'till 1660. Oh, that it would have lasted longer.
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:39 AM on February 13, 2011


That also ended in massive bloodshed and dictatorship.
posted by empath at 9:45 AM on February 13, 2011


C'mon, people, cut it out. Obviously we need a top ten Eurocentric revolutionary moments thread to neener neener and natter on comparatively about, but let's try to keep this to multisourcing updates and info about Algeria, please?
posted by mwhybark at 9:51 AM on February 13, 2011


C'mon, people, cut it out.

yeah, my bad.
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:56 AM on February 13, 2011


When it comes down to brass tacks, the US will probably (once again) support the dictator against his own people. Bouteflika has positioned himself as an "anti-terrorist" leader and has cooperated extensively with the US in fighting Islamic groups within his own country. Any opposition that takes over after Bouteflika is ousted will probably be heavily Islamic, and thus unacceptable to the US, no matter how democratic.

I really doubt that we're going to see the American administration coming out in favor of the Algerian government, at least overtly, after Obama's speech so clearly signaled their support for the Egyptian protesters. Seems that any distinctions they might want to draw (playing up the Islamic threat in Algeria) wouldn't play very well at home or abroad.

I imagine that they'll stay on the sidelines, if Bouteflika comes out on top they'll say nothing and continue as usual, if the protestors (and they're going to have a much harder struggle in Algeria than their counterparts did in Egypt) manage to win out, there will be another speech giving our imprimature to their victory, possibly with an implicit warning about letting religious elements take over.
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:02 AM on February 13, 2011


Useful analysis of the current Algerian situation + Yemen on AJ: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLx-fNDwjSI
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:05 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, dunno about the Islamist thing. As I noted upthread, my perception is that there was an ethnic component and it would be unlikely to see another popularly elected Islamist party come to power after the war, because you won't have 40% of the population on board and at the same time only a subset of the balance. It would fracture the nationalism that has been key to these recent revolutions.

But what do I know? Not a damn thing, that's what.
posted by mwhybark at 10:22 AM on February 13, 2011


Re: Pope Guilty:

"In 1989-90 alone, fourteen nations underwent nonviolent revolutions, all of them successful except China, and all of them nonviolent except Romania. If we total all the nonviolent movements of the 20th century, the figure comes to 3.4 billion people, and again, most were successful. And yet there are still people who insist nonviolence doesn't work! Gene Sharp has itemized 198 different types of nonviolent actions that are a part of the historical record, yet our history books seldom mention any of them, so preoccupied are they with power politics and war."
- Walter Wink

And now I'm slowly turning into bevets.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:11 AM on February 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I hope it spreads to Saudi Arabia.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 11:13 AM on February 13, 2011


Algerians should demand to be part of France again with full citizen ship and instant EU membership. Haiti too.
posted by humanfont at 11:14 AM on February 13, 2011


The nervous nellie in me is starting to wonder if there aren't factions deep within the loonier pockets of Tea Party World™ who aren't watching these uprisings and overthrows and thinking to themselves "We can totally do this, too!"
In the immediate aftermath of Mubarak stepping down, a guy I knew a long time ago posted something like the following to his Facebook wall:
I wonder if we all took to the streets if Obama would resign too or just throw us in jail
Even ignoring the fact that these people have made a big show of taking to the streets, which didn't result in them being jailed, it struck me as so incredibly divorced from reality, as if a duly elected leader under a longstanding democracy, who they would get a chance to vote out in less than two years, and who in no case would be in office for more than six more years, was the same thing as an autocrat who was held unelected or pseudo-elected power for thirty years, and showed no signs of giving it up, not to mention the immense difference in basic freedoms available to the typical person in the two countries.

Then again, I'm getting kind of the same vibe from some of the posts in this thread, just from another angle, to tell you the truth.
posted by Flunkie at 11:18 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


no two democracies have ever warred against each other.
This is often said, but it's simply not true.

Example off the top of my head: Britain invaded and occupied Iceland during WWII. Iceland was a neutral state. Both were democracies.
posted by Flunkie at 11:21 AM on February 13, 2011


Finland was an Axis aligned power during WWII. I suppose they only really fought the Russians though, who were not a Democracy.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:33 AM on February 13, 2011


How come the land of the free, home of democracy, always seems to be backing the dicktaters?

OMG! Mystery solved! We now know the derivation of the MeFi meme now. It all makes sense. Dick - TATERS!
posted by ericb at 11:43 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Algeria Internet Not Shut Down, According To Renesys Analysis.

The Media and the Algeria Internet Rumors
Well, here we go again... the mainstream media yesterday jumped on rumors that Algeria had shut down the Internet, with seemingly no effort to check facts with people on the ground. This wouldn't be the first time that an unsubstantiated rumor of this sort was spread by so-called professionals; last week, a similar statement about the Syrian Internet was made, despite protest on Twitter from Syrian users, who were accessing the site just fine.

This time around, journalists didn't check Twitter either; if they had, they would have seen that Algerians were tweeting throughout the supposed blackout.

As of the evening, neither the Telegraph nor Mashable -- the two outlets primarily responsible for the rumor--had bothered to issue retractions, despite hard evidence. This morning, Mashable corrected their post to state that there was no countrywide blackout.

The Telegraph's report -- which Mashable and the Associated Press based their own reports on -- was simply obscene. Not only did the Telegraph claim the Algerian Internet had been shut down, but their subheader also stated that, "Internet providers were shut down and Facebook accounts deleted across Algeria." Really? Facebook accounts were deleted? The article doesn't mention anything to back that up, so I have no idea what the intent was. Did users delete their accounts out of fear? Were they phished by the government and then deleted? Did Facebook delete the accounts of users utilizing pseudonyms? Did they really mean that Facebook was blocked?

Turns out, none of the above. In fact, the Internet didn't go down countrywide at all, but that didn't stop Mashable from parroting the Telegraph report. Algerian commenters quickly jumped in, however, to point out that the story had not been verified and that the Telegraph was Mashable's only source.

... Now, there were indeed reports from some Algerians on Twitter that the Internet was intermittently unavailable, which I see no reason to doubt. @EyesOnAlgeria, precise location unknown, reported earlier today that his (her?) Internet was unreliable. It is also possible that the Algerian government slowed Internet traffic, similar to what happened in Iran in the summer of 2009.

Other Algerians say that Internet outages are relatively common and frequent in their country.

As for the Facebook "deletions," well...no evidence of any kind has surfaced as of yet.
posted by ericb at 11:52 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


This morning, Mashable corrected their post to state that there was no countrywide blackout.
Update: Though there are reports of access to the Internet allegedly being cut off, sources from within the country are reporting they have access with slight disruptions in some areas and Renesys reports services are running “normally.”
posted by ericb at 11:56 AM on February 13, 2011


Example off the top of my head: Britain invaded and occupied Iceland during WWII. Iceland was a neutral state. Both were democracies.

Another example off the top of my head: Israel's 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza and the ongoing blockade. Hamas wants to destroy the state of Israel but they did win the 2006 Palestinian elections and therefore achieved power democratically.

I think the problem with the idea that "democratic nations never declare war against each other" is that the term "democratic nation" is actually a stand-in for "Pro-American" or "Pro-Western" nation, rather than anti-American or anti-Western democracies (which do exist, but are assumed to not exist when framing the statement in that way).
posted by Avenger at 2:28 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, (duh), the American Revolution and the American Civil War.

Also the Franco-Roman war of 1849 and the Anglo-American war of 1815.
posted by Avenger at 2:35 PM on February 13, 2011


What's important to keep in mind about Algeria is that it came out of an extremely bloody civil war not ten years ago. There's plenty of unresolved business, and things could become very messy very quickly there.
posted by Skeptic at 3:11 PM on February 13, 2011


I'm wondering what the situation will be in Iran on Monday. Rallies planned. This could be the green II, or just fizzle out.
posted by humanfont at 4:50 PM on February 13, 2011


When I was watching CNN the other day, when Mubarak hit bricks, they had an oil company analyst from Egypt on their little Moneytime or whatever the fuck finance show, and he was saying that one of the first things that his bank was doing was getting meetings with ministers in Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Libya where they were advocating for the immediate implementation of democratic reforms ("and they have to be meaningful," he said), because otherwise the countries were likely to explode and have catastrophic effects on international markets.

Now, I realize that it's cynical (and fits in with the traditional leftist critique of liberalism), but I was kind of glad to see that market forces were advocating against the status quo and for more democracy. The urgency that he said it with too, it was really striking: "This has to happen now, changes have to be announced today."
posted by klangklangston at 5:08 PM on February 13, 2011


When it comes down to brass tacks, the US will probably (once again) support the dictator against his own people. Bouteflika has positioned himself as an "anti-terrorist" leader and has cooperated extensively with the US in fighting Islamic groups within his own country. Any opposition that takes over after Bouteflika is ousted will probably be heavily Islamic, and thus unacceptable to the US, no matter how democratic.

State Department has called for the internet to be turned back on and the right to protest respected. I think that's the right thing to say.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:55 PM on February 13, 2011


They need to get around geting internet shut down, satellites or something
posted by Ironmouth at 7:56 PM on February 13, 2011


I read an article somewhere saying we could supposedly deliver the internet to people in situations like this, I guess with wifi but it seems kind of hard to believe.

Of course you've got Joe Liberman who wants to give the U.S. government the same power...
posted by delmoi at 8:40 PM on February 13, 2011


(psst, the initial reports of the internet being turned off in Algeria seem to be unfounded and poorly reported, pass it on)
posted by mwhybark at 10:32 PM on February 13, 2011


ZOMG GUYS! I just heard that Algeria is blocking access to my blog! I checked my stats and NO ALGERIANS!

Now they'll never know what songs will be on my zombie apocalypse playlist! Will the tyranny never cease?
posted by klangklangston at 10:47 PM on February 13, 2011


Eye on Algeria (Al Jazeera)
posted by adamvasco at 9:29 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


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