Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How the "democratizing influence" of social media is bringing military dictatorship back to Egypt

The folks at Al Jazeera aren't quite sure which way to jump. At his moment there are four separate opinion pieces about the Morsi situation on their home page.

Al Jazeera tends to be pro Muslim Brotherhood, but at the same time they don't want to be too obviously on the wrong side of history

Our take on social media "revolutions" is this; there's never been a better way to fill a public square with thousands of protesters at short notice. That's been a hallmark among the so-called Arab Springs, Occupy, Idle no More, and the present stand-off in Turkey.

All of these rapidly hit the "what's next?" phase.

Flash mobs can protest, flash mobs can riot, flash mobs can tear down barricades and fill your television screens on the evening news.

But flash mobs can't govern.

In every case where social media has led to the retirement of a despot, more flash mobs have gathered to condemn their replacements. In Egypt this has created an impossible situation for the democratically elected Morsi.

The Muslim Brotherhood won the election last year because they had the strongest by far network of grass-roots organizers. That's something that takes years, even generations. It can't be created overnight with Facebook and Twitter.

It was ironic to see the crowds cheer as those military helicopters overflew Tahrir Square yesterday. Little more than a year ago the same crowds were celebrating getting out from under the heel of the military.

I suspect there was cheering in Washington too.

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