If we keep selling it as a revolution, will it become one?
I keep thinking about this, what with all the recent chaos over mass dissemination of information as well as the seemingly growing intifada-esque instability overtaking some Middle Eastern countries. Tunisia overthrew Ben Ali and awaits a new era in its governance after over two decades of authoritarianism. Egyptians are flocking to the streets, given an impetus by the Tunisia uprising, protesting against their infamously brutal dictator, Hosni Mubarak whose regime has begun severely clamping down on all protests and protestors, as well as blocking out access to social media outlets in the country. Protests also are emerging in Lebanon, but more so over the nomination of a Hizbollah-backed Prime Minister designate as opposed to the Sunni/West-favoured Saad Harriri. Jordan has also faced minimal protests over unemployment. The Occupied Territories are once again inflamed – this time with the telling release of 1600 leaked documents by Al Jazeera, incriminating the already rather criminal P.A which is now trying to save whatever little remnants of a decently recognizable face it has left.
And then I think about all the Wikileaks brouhaha in the summer and later half of 2010. Wasn’t the American empire set to be brought down? Wasn’t justice finally going to be served? Weren’t we, experiencing the largest influx of mass information ever in human history, finally going to know the truth? Weren’t we supposed to demand the accountability that usually is supposed to follow transparency in a democratic society?
It seems to be that if we keep imagining occasions are what they’re not necessarily they become exact what we wish to see. Can the Tunisian Revolution really be called a Revolution, ultimately? Only time will tell as a revolution often entails a significant upchucking of previous political and economic institutions that helped keep a presumably unjust government in power. So far, it is looking decent for Tunisia.
What about Egypt? According to a recent article in al-Hayat, more people showed up to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein than to march in the streets against the government, in what is being characterized as a sort of January 25th Egyptian Uprising.
I’m not saying our characterization of something as something it is not is necessarily a ‘bad’ thing – it can be good, giving a needed impetus to people. But it does make me wonder if this is the new face of the Revolution – through social media, through our own over-zealousness and our own lack of the ability to see things outside isolation.
We believed that Wikileaks would save the world. We believed that the Tunisian revolution would send ripples throughout the region. And now people are believing that the Mubarak regime is trembling and that Fatah’s days as the representative of the Palestinian people in any shell of a peace process are coming to an end.
While a part of me still holds onto all of these, another part of me is not so optimistic. And for once, I do hope I am proven wrong.
I am working on a longer, more academic-based and polished piece on this subject to be published soon, hopefully. Stay tuned.