March 4, 2011 3:33 PM   Subscribe

meanwhile @TED2011 in long beach - "Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazeera, shares a profoundly optimistic view of what's happening"
posted by kliuless at 3:56 PM on March 4, 2011

I'm listening to this with a big grain of salt, having just read Richard Florida crediting his Creative Class of well-educated, twitter-account-having techies like Wael Ghonim for the revolution. Apparently the logic is "Egyptians use Facebook to revolt, therefore they are demanding more American neoliberal capitalism to elevate the creative class." The working class are doing the exact opposite: revolting against the consequences of neoliberal reforms and "economic development" of the 90s.
posted by AlsoMike at 5:18 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

We're seeing the consequences of cultural globalizations that's shown the people of the Middle East and North Africa exactly how westerners live, especially our rhetoric and efforts towards fairness, equality, etc. Ain't too important if that understanding manifests as knowing about Swedish unemployment benefits, union protestors in France, or the relative lack of government interference in small businesses in the U.S.

All these peoples are now understandably pissed that their own leaders never even made any efforts towards equality, just robbing the country blind instead. And such anger applies to a google executive, a street merchant, and the unemployed because the abuses are a fundamental affront to almost biological human notion of fairness that western culture has so embraced. You realize, even the republican's insane tax cute are justified by their notions of fairness, right?

In other words, these peoples have become 'like us' over the last couple decades simply because the internet exposed them to our perspective, but their governments are only now being forced to adapt. Yes, our neoliberalism and business interests will be forced to deal with them as equals rather than surfs, but that's actually good for our economies in the long term.

We should not expect similar revolutions in China because the Chinese government has an entirely different mythology, namely offering vastly more credible claims that their actions are in the public's interests.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:18 PM on March 4, 2011

Ghonim: "We're gonna win because we don't understand politics." I like that. Forget what the officially certified experts tell you is possible. Ignore the game. Just make change happen.

And yes, ignore even Richard Florida, who has had one pretty good idea in the last twenty years and has made a remarkable career out of twisting and bending every fact that comes anywhere near him so it fits inside the lens created by that idea, and whatever you think of Florida should not in any case reflect at all (well or badly) on Wael Ghonim, who did in fact serve a central role in the signal geopolitical event of our time and has in fact been humble in discussing his role and wise in explaining why the crowdsourced movement is far bigger than Facebook.
posted by gompa at 6:20 PM on March 4, 2011

Though there are arguments to be made about the effects of the internet and social media in the revolution, I think those were sufficient to spark - and to sustain the spark long enough for it to catch fire. The Egyptians were ready.

Something to think about is that these kinds of popular revolutions may increase long term stability and security. Like a forest fire, sweeping out years of detritus, each fire means the next one won't be as bad. But they have to happen. Democracy emulates this, through the peaceful transition of power. Everyone has to believe in democracy for it to work though - especially the ones holding the power.

The Arab states have to undergo a major cultural shift to embrace this idea, to incorporate it into their culture, their world view, or it won't work. Maybe the advent of the internet is a positive force for the diffusion of the idea of democracy. History will tell.
posted by Xoebe at 10:24 PM on March 4, 2011

I hope that his dreams are fulfilled. But when I hear him boast about a lack of political organisation I can't help thinking that he will be crushed by people with a more hard-headed attitude to power.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:48 AM on March 5, 2011

In what Egyptian ex-pats are calling it 'Bastille Day in Egypt', protesters have stormed the Egyptian state security services, freed some victims of torture there, and started publishing secret documents on facebook and twitter.

Among the more amusing discoveries has been a room full of sex tapes, including Arab royals like Kuwait's Princess. lol
posted by jeffburdges at 6:07 AM on March 6, 2011

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