Jane Young is a leading journalist from Invercargill who now lives in Montreal. Her Pundit blogs are always worth reading. This one on the role of social media in revolutionary change is great.
A new generation of practical revolutionaries in the Middle East is daring repressive regimes to bow to popular reform rather than resort to brutal crackdowns. They are armed with little more than the power of social media and a belief that the basics in life trump Islamist ideology.
No wonder dictators and fundamentalists fear social media as it seems to have played midwife to an extraordinary revolution unfolding before our eyes in the Middle East
Social media has political power, and has done since text messaging rallied crowds whose sheer force secured the ousting of the Philippines’ Estrada at the turn of this century.
The Chinese, Burmese, Iranian and other repressive regimes work tirelessly to shut down any dissident behaviour that threatens to go viral, but with US assistance to the tweeters and facebookers, the mobile phone users and the rest of the texting generation, surely the autocrats can be left playing catch-up.
Once the the world is delivered the genie of information and pictures, they can’t be stuffed back in the bottle. It is fair to say that stage has been reached.
Iranian citizens put up a gallant fight against all odds with their tweets and phone videos, and while they did not win immediately, they must take heart that the Tunisian domino with its perceptible shift from ideological politics to the call for practical improvements and good governance will eventually reach them…and hopefully their Muslim counterparts and Arab neighbours in the region. This new generation deserves indigenous democracy that is creatively and tirelessly supported by the both the wider Arab world and the West.