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[liberationtech] Peter Theil On Arab spring

Arzak Khan azrak_khan at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 23 00:54:02 PDT 2012




Prashant,

I think the sparking of social movements and protest patterns in
Arab Spring and prior to that Pakistan’s black movement are somewhat similar in
nature. All three countries have been an early adopter of information
communication technologies and are perceived as leaders in the adoption of mobile
technologies. Political speech was highly suppressed in Pakistan during
Musharraf regime, in Egypt during Mubarak regime and in Tunisia during Ben Ali
regime but political discourse was very evident in the blogosphere and through
SMS in all three countries. Lack of employment among youth, nepotism, rising corruption
and state repression also made all three countries ripe for a people’s
revolution and ICTs especially mobile phone activism and social media such as Facebook
contributed in letting the youth share their frustration and anger over the
system by organizing street protests and million march.


The protests in Egypt and Tunisia begin from high
unemployment, poverty, and increasing food prices making life of ordinary
people very difficult. The regimes had been in power for an extended period, in
these cases almost three decades. Similarly, in Pakistan President General
Pervez Musharraf a military dictator was in power for almost a decade and a close
ally of the West in the not so popular war on terror having brought havoc for the
country with suicide bombings, target killings, drone strikes, high
unemployment, rising corruption, nepotism and economic crisis.  All these factors and others combined to bring
an end to the Musharraf regime like in the case of Tunisian and Egyptian
regimes. The national uprising was fueled by decades of government misrule
and corruption and ultimately new communication technologies helped the masses
in mobilization and collective action against  totalitarianism. 

Best, 



Arzak 



Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2012 22:50:26 -0700
From: ldiamond at stanford.edu
To: pacificleo at gmail.com
CC: liberationtech at lists.stanford.edu
Subject: Re: [liberationtech] Peter Theil On Arab spring

Prashant,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.
Thanks,Larry Diamond

From: "Prashant Singh" <pacificleo at gmail.com>
To: "liberationtech" <liberationtech at lists.stanford.edu>
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 http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/07/17/transcript-schmidt-thiel/

thanks

-- 
Prashant

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