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[liberationtech] Peter Theil On Arab spring

Larry Diamond ldiamond at
Sun Jul 22 22:50:26 PDT 2012

I think Thiel's view is way too simplistic. He is correct about the rise in food prices, but there were long simmering frustrations over bad, corrupt, abusive governance and the lack of freedom and human dignity that contributed to these explosions. And in any case, he is confusing causal triggers and means of mobilization. I think all the tools of Liberation Technology--from the Internet and social media to mobile phones and yes, in some places Twitter--made an important facilitating contribution to the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and the uprisings in a number of Arab countries that followed. 

See for example the article by Philip Howard and Muzammil Hussain in the July 2011 Journal of Democracy. As they conclude, 
"In each country people have used digital media to build a political response to a local experience of unjust rule. They were not inspired by Facebook; they were inspired by the real tragedies documented on Facebook. Social media have become the scaffolding upon which civil society can build, and new information technologies give activists things that they did not have before: information networks not easily controlled by the state and coordination tools that are already embedded in trusted networks of family and friends." 

This article can also be found in the new book I have c-edited with Marc Plattner, Liberation Technology: Social Media and the Struggle for Democracy . 

Larry Diamond 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Prashant Singh" <pacificleo at> 
To: "liberationtech" <liberationtech at> 
Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2012 10:02:44 PM 
Subject: [liberationtech] Peter Theil On Arab spring 

Hi Guys 

Recently at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen, CO, there was a 
debate between Eric Schmidt and Peter Thiel about Contribution 
of Technology in Our Society . They touched upon many topic but at one 
point of time during the debate while discussing role of technology in 
enabling Arab Spiring and other revolution Thiel said 

"*When you talk about the Arab spring, you can say that it's evidence of 
> Google and Twitter ‑‑ ‑‑ liberating the world through information. But, 
> the actual facts on the ground are that food prices rose by 30 to 50 
> percent in the previous year and you basically had people who had become ‑‑ 
> you had desperate people who had become more hungry than scared, who 
> revolted.*" 

is he being too simplistic ? was there more to the revolution than just 
Food Price ? Would like to know your thoughts . you can see the whole debat 
online at 



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