FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Revolution Shall be Tweeted

by BINOY KAMPMARK

The prophets of social media are getting excited.  Not only can such forms of media as Twitter and Facebook often prove to be banal time wasters, they can also generate revolutionary excitement.  Communities connected by messages instantaneously gather to promote their demands on political change.  Tribes of cyber connected groups gather to post messages and terrify officials.

The case with Egypt is being touted as a classic example of this movement.  Various facebook groups numbering in the tens of thousands have mushroomed. Their demands are various: an end to the emergency powers that have held the country hostage for over three decades; a desire for reforms targeting corruption.  Protests are being arranged and coordinated through the various formats and the government is worried.

The protesters have derived momentum from the events in Tunisia, which have seen the former leader President Zine el-Albidine Ben Ali ousted.  He is now wanted on an international arrest warrant.  A contagion of popular sentiment is seemingly sweeping the regimes of North Africa, threatening to undermine governments with the swiftness of a tweeted text.  The dynamics of each case will, however, be different.

The Obama administration has found itself in a characteristically awkward position.  Keen to give support to the intangible voice of revolution on the one hand, but clear that outright support would be tantamount to direct interference, it finds itself neatly perched on the diplomatic fence.  Egypt remains an annual recipient of over a billion dollars of US military aid, something the protesters have been keen to point out.  The last thing the publicity machine behind Obama wants to see are Egyptian security forces using American weapons on protesters.

It would easy to mistake the effectiveness of such a movement.  Exaggeration, as Kahlil Galbran reminds us, is a truth that has lost its temper.  And it is with much temper that we are viewing the current revolution by social media in Egypt.  Even the government has succumbed to a sense of terror about the media.  Twitter has been banned for a few days now.  Facebook has been reported to be inaccessible at various stages (PC Mag, Jan 27).  But for all of this, where is the talk these days about the Iranian revolution that never took place, despite being frothed and bubbled along by Facebook followers and aficionados?  President Armadinejad remains in power, his opponents seemingly silent.

The Egyptian rubric of potential revolution is also complicated.  Destabilise the veteran President Hosni Mubarak in the name of popular revolution, and one risks creating a vacuum of resentment that might be filled by the fundamentalists of the Islamic Brotherhood.  Many Egyptians are speaking about a nascent popular revolt, but such inspired movements can be vague in form.  Discussions of the ‘people’ are always abstract and prone to mystification.

In the end, technology cannot, of its own accord, engender revolution.  People, for ill or good, are what drive it.  Perhaps it will be less the incidents of Facebook and Twitter and more the meetings organized through mosques and religious gatherings where the greatest impact will be had.  Mosques, unless Facebook, can’t be shut down or entirely blocked.  Armed ideas expressed in public settings are far more dangerous than tweets typed in rapid form from a gathering of political dissidents.  The medium can never be the message when it comes to overthrowing regimes.  The message must come from within.

BINOY KAMPMARK was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 28, 2017
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
A Paradigm Shift in the Middle East: Iran as the Solution, Not the Problem
stclair
Big Brother Capitalism Strikes Back
Stephen Cooper
Trump’s Pusillanimous Immigration Policy Imperils the Public and the Police
Vincent Emanuele
The Madness of U.S. Empire
Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec
We Need the Endangered Species Act Now More Than Ever
David Underhill
Oops, They Did It Again: Crowd Bowls Over Rep in Beery Alley
John Eskow
Jimmy Kimmel is a Total Dick and Other Reflections on the Oscars
Steve Horn
Trump’s Top Energy Aide, Mike Catanzaro Peddled Climate Change Denial
Jack Random
The Trump Diaries: Week Five
Robert Fisk
The Education of Marine Le Pen
Pauline Murphy
Felicia Browne’s Fight Against Fascism
Mary Lynn Cramer
Fearing the Trump Impeachment
Mel Gurtov
While Our Attention is Elsewhere, Climate Change Worsens
Dan Bacher
Extinction 2017: California Edition
Abel Cohen
The Trojan President: America Never Saw It Coming
February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail