For all the talk about hashtags and Facebook, al-Jazeera is the primary vector of this democratic infection. Most Tunisians first learned of the early protests in Sidi Bouzid from al-Jazeera. Egyptians watched the overthrow of Ben Ali on al-Jazeera. Al-Jazeera broadcast the Egyptian mass demonstrations to the Yemenis. Social media may be important pathways for secondary infection, but this is an al-Jazeera revolution.
Today’s Arab revolution is no less significant than those that preceded it in recent decades in Eastern Europe and Latin America. This time, Arabs are not being led by their leaders — from colonialism to pan-Arabism or Islamism or any other “ism” — as was the case in the past.
Propelled by the young and the digital revolution, citizens will demand nothing less than the right to choose and change their representatives in the future.
January 28, 2011: Larger, and more violent, anti-government demonstrations are showing up in Algeria, in the last two weeks (since the dictatorship in neighboring Tunisia was overthrown).
If you talk to pro-democracy advocates in the Middle East, they understand the issue — the clear danger of, say, an Islamic republic in Egypt. But as one told me, it’s not just about elections. It’s also about freedom of speech, freedom of press, foundations for democracy. If the only choices for people are dictators and Islamic fundamentalists, there’s no choice at all.
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said protests in Egypt, Tunisia show the era of ‘Western-backed dictators’ in the Arab world is over.
It was at this stage that the true revolutionary character of the self-organisation started to emerge. At this third stage, the prolonged popular protest of the organised poor emerged, with women and youth taking the lead in calling for the arrest of the dictator and for a new government of the people. It is at this delicate stage of this revolution that it is most necessary for revolutionaries all over the world to stand together with the Tunisians, and to draw the positive lessons that can spread the revolution like a fire to burn off the corruption and destruction of capitalism and neoliberalism.
The capitalist classes have been wounded in Tunisia and they want to do all within their power to contain this new wave of revolution. However, their ability to undermine this revolution will depend on the vigilance and support of revolutionaries internationally. We must remember that revolutions are made by ordinary people and that there are millions who want a new form of existence where they can live like decent human beings.
Phi Beta Iota: We are ignoring the “need reform, not revolution” blithering by those that do not actually know anything about revolution. It’s called revolution, not reform, because it “flips the tortilla.” Water looms, followed by disease. This would be a good time for the US Government to realize it has no intelligence worthy of the term.