Party Under the Pyramids — Wiki-Coups

Revolutions run on many fuels. They can run on guns, diamonds, cocaine or poppies, technology, charisma. But all revolutions depend on two things, oppression and ideas. We could probably reduce those two to one because oppression is itself an idea. The first task in any revolution is to convince the population of their oppression. What constitutes oppression is relative to time and place and local rules. What can be viewed as oppression in Denmark would not rate that high on the Dastardly Scale in N. Korea. The perception of oppression is more important than the particular privations involved. In one place oppression may mean that you are starved, imprisoned or beaten and in another place it might mean that they’ve blocked your access to Facebook. In other words, it’s a matter of Relative Deprivation.

The Poet’s Eye has noticed a sad part of human nature. Those who are oppressed will eventually resemble their oppressors. I don’t mean to get all Patty Hearst on you here, but I’m talking about the way victims come to identify with, even love, their tormentors. It happens in many instances besides kidnapping and political oppression. It also happens in cases of domestic abuse and religious cults or anyplace where the victim is asked to collaborate in his own bondage or oppression. Almost any of us can list the things in our own lives which oppress us yet we love, things like our possessions which we have to guard, store and maintain, our jobs, which suck our time and energy, our family roles, which seem to define our chances for success. These are the mink hand-cuffs that we all wear. This aspect of human nature, the one that causes us to become attached to our prisons, is one of the reasons that revolution is so hard.

The sight of tens of thousands of Egyptian citizens marching jubilantly through the streets of Cairo can’t help but stir the heart of this old revolutionary. The sound of feet pounding the streets to carry forth noble political goals like justice and democracy is stirring wherever we hear it. It’s like the first thrill of love, before the rude little realities of life intrude upon its pure chocolate bliss. Revolution is like marriage, a great party followed by a short honeymoon and then the rent begins, The cold fact is that there is no guarantee that conditions after a revolution will be more desirable than those prior to it. Historically, what usually follows a popular revolution is a reign of terror or liberal chaos followed by the emergence of a strong totalitarian leader.

The pundits and the pundettes are remarking predictably that the internet played a significant role in the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and the unrest that is exhibited in Jordan, Yemen and Lebanon. They are being called Facebook revolutions or Twitter revolutions. I like ‘Wiki-Coups’ because it sounds like something you would say to a baby. The Poet’s Eye doesn’t see much chance of Mark Zuckerberg replacing Che Guevera as a revolutionary T-shirt icon. Certainly the internet played a noticeable role in these uprisings as it does in all other areas of contemporary life. The internet is not the cause of them though, just a convenience. On a tactical level, any revolution benefits from good communications. It’s why we remember Paul Revere.

Not until Jimmy Carter had the temerity to begin speaking on an international stage about the topic of universal Human Rights, did our government address subjects which were traditionally regarded as the internal affairs of other sovereign nations. This attitude made it easier when we entered strategic alliances and offered aid to any number of dubious regimes on the basis of stability without asking too many questions about how they treated their citizens. With regard to Egypt, America was happy as long as the Suez Canal was running and Pharaoh’s chariots weren’t chasing Jews around the Sinai. Those were the days when oceans separated the continents and we didn’t share a back fence with every other person on the planet because of jet-travel, satellite communication and the internet. Technology’s shrinking effect on our world has made it harder to ignore the arguments of our neighbors but at the same time has made it easier to notice the commonality of our struggles. In this way, the internet foments revolution.

But the internet is not an ideology, it’s an environment. Ideas are necessary for revolutions. The first step toward revolution is much like the first step in AA, realizing that life is unmanageable under the present conditions. Egypt and several other Mid-Eastern countries seem to have taken this step. A perception of oppression is there, now it’s time for the ideas. The values and ideals driving the revolutionary movements in these countries are largely Western liberal Enlightenment ideas such as representative democracy, freedoms of religion, press and petition and the freedom to assemble which has come to include the right to internet access. If any single event in the current Egyptian uprising can be classified as a turning-point, it would be the moment the government blocked internet access. Our State Dept. even mentioned internet access specifically in early statements on the uprising, admonishing the regime to restore it. Their failure to do so was the nail in the coffin for the Mubarak regime, the final and irrevocable proof of the government’s intransigence and repression. Oppression now had an emblem.

Revolution is always a pleasure to observe. With every revolution there is at least the chance that things will improve. Modern technology is proving to be a giant inconvenience for the oligarchs. They can no longer control the information flow from the top by simply owning the media outlets. The agenda is no longer theirs alone to set.. Now The Poet’s Eye gives a salute to comrades in the street anywhere they gather, even on Facebook, and continues to hope that the oppressed will not again come to resemble their oppressors. Viva La Revolucion!

So comrades, come rally,
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale,
Unites the human race.
So comrades, come rally,
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale,
Unites the human race.
==The Internationale

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