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:
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail