The Internet and democracy.

There’s been a lot of ‘talk’ about how the Internet (and, in particular Twitter and Facebook) have helped bring about the move to democracy in the middle east/North Africa.

I think we should hesitate for a moment before passing judgement on either the Internet role or whether there is a real move to democracy.

It’s all to do with perception and we should be careful that what we perceive turns out to be the reality.

Let us first take ‘democracy’. Democracy for us is one thing. But, much like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. If a foreign country’s democracy doesn’t fit our picture, then we consider it not to be democracy. But democracy is different, even between countries in Europe. The idea is sound, the reality something different. Many voters in the UK, for certain, often feel disenfranchised, feeling that ‘their vote’ is worth nothing.

More importantly is that these uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere leave a vacuum. Take Egypt specifically. The army has run the country for years. The army are running it now. Sure, the top man may have gone and some of his cronies but, much like in the UK, the Government isn’t actually run by the Government but by the people in the civil service (or, for Egypt, the army) and regardless of the top figures, they are the people who decide what actually happens and, more importantly, how it is implemented. In other countries, we are equally likely to see one dictator replaced by someone similar even if his/her views are slightly different. We should be careful what we wish for. Change may not bring about the change that we actually want.

I’m sure, when books were printed for the first time, there was a feeling by those in power, that this was ‘dangerous’. This meant that the people get to know too much. And people knowing things is always bad – at least for the people in power. Then there was the telephone. It was said the the loss of Vietnam by the Americans was down to television and how quickly things were beamed into people’s home, showing the reality of the war. And now there is the Internet.

Did you know, for example, that in spite of our headlines in the West about how China restricts access to sites they don’t like the US does it too! OK, so that was a ‘mistake’ but it does show how easily they can do it. More importantly, they DO do it. It may be for good reason but how do we really know? To whom are they accountable? And the Wikileaks thing, where they advised that no governmentaly employed person, nor their families should access Wikileaks?

As usual, it all comes down to fear. It’s not the Internet that’s really the problem but that the Internet allows things to be distributed to a larger audience faster, even, than television. It’s better than a phone call because it includes video. It is proof of a terrible thing (even if, in reality, it is not actual proof at all, since it can be faked).

And have you noticed what most of these uprisings seem to be based upon? It is the young people who say they have no work, no chance of bettering themselves.

And, in the West, we think we’re immune from this? Why? We don’t have young people? We don’t have huge amounts of unemployed young people? We don’t have these young people with little sign of things improving soon?

The student protests was one thing. The tax evasion protests another. I predict there will be more. I predict that, sooner or later someone getting beaten by the police when on a peaceful march, will die. Sorry, just in case there is doubt, I mean in the UK. It has already happened in Egypt and Bahrain. Fro the UK, remember the video footage of the guy in the wheelchair getting dragged across the street by the thugs? Ooops, sorry, the police. And the guy that was badly beaten and ended up in hospital? You may think it’s a far cry from Egypt or any of those other countries but it’s the same really.

If we continue to pound the young people with this unemployment or, when they are employed, we tax them so high as to make life too hard for them, you think they won’t, at some time, rise up against the ‘regime’?

Coming soon to a town centre near you – rioting and unrest!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.