Moldova, Iran, Basra, Thailand, Bangladesh, Kirghistan, Tunisia, and Egypt are only few of the countries that come to my mind in which there was some major uprising in the past 2-3 years. Most of these revolts came into existence for a variety of reasons. It would be silly to say that they were caused by breakthroughs in social media and communications technology, while discounting economic and social factors. Although Facebook and Twitter provide a good venue for exchanging dislike for corrupt governments or individuals, unemployment and social degeneracy are also important factors that can elucidate why people have the courage to go out on the street and risk getting injured.
A professor in high-school once told an apocryphal story how Lenin, the founder of Communism in Russia, recruited people for his uprising. Lenin went largely to regions populated with people who lived in abject poverty, and not to those that shared an anti-czarist sentiment, as one would assume. So, during his recruitment, he would ask a pheasant:
“Do you own a house?”
” We can’t take you. Next.”
“Do you own a house?”
“Do you have a wife and children?”
“Here is your Bolshevik uniform, comrade.”
As I mentioned, the story is likely fictitious and is told only to show that to Lenin it did not matter whether his recruits were actually loyal to communist ideology, because he knew that such things as devotion can easily be inculcated through demagoguery and propaganda. What he cared about is to have followers who had nothing to lose, for whom it is best to struggle through an uprising than go back to a life that did not have much to offer anyway.
Now, when I read the news about the riots in Egypt, I cannot envision how much change there would be after Mubarak’s departure. He has been a president for about thirty years, who in that time probably managed to gain control over every aspect in Egyptian government. The police, the judiciary, the army, the whole damn administration, from the insignificant clerks to high officials, are all in his hands. Even if a new leader is elected that would hopefully value the principles of democracy, whatever they might be, he would have to face a rigid decapitated system that can very well live on its own. Putting a curtain on a dictator and asking him to step down is not enough. This will only turn him into a prompter that will remind his followers what their role is.