Saturday, March 26, 2011
The Middle East - Full of Twits
Twit (noun) - a) someone a bit stupid, but not a moron, b) someone who uses Twitter, Facebook and other social networking media because everyone else does.
"سنخرج بمسيرات في كل مساجد وكنائس مصر الكبرى متجهين ناحية الميادين العامة ومعتصمين حتى ننال حقوقنا المسلوبة. مصر ستخرج مسلميها ومسيحييها من أجل محاربة الفساد والبطالة والظلم وغياب الحرية. سيتم تحديد المساجد والكنائس ليلة الخميس."
"We will go out and rally in all the main mosques and churches of Egypt, heading to the public squares, and sit until we receive our rights, which have been usurped. Egypt's Muslims and Christians alike will emerge to fight corruption and unemployment, injustice and lack of freedom. We will choose mosques and churches on Thursday night."
- Facebook page for the Egyptian "Organisation of the Angry Revolution", 28 January 2011.
90,000 Egyptians signed up to attend.
Sometimes being as individualistic as a sheep can be an inadvertant boon for the spread of "democracy", or should we say the spread of toppling dictators, or should we say the spread of creating political power vacuums.
Such has been the case in that sizzling dust bowl romantically referred to as The Middle East.
A young Tunisan man, banned, fined and spat on by the police for trying to make enough money to feed his family of eight by selling veges in the street, sets himself on fire to protest a final desperate act of freedom under oppression.
A few hundred thousand tweets later and the Middle East is minus two dictators (others pending) and protesting spreads from Morrocco to Iran. Power to the People?
Let's not celebrate until these power vacuums are filled, and with what...
The Mexican-wave of tweeting revolutionaries seems only to have just begun. And what a shock to the world's Middle East, Islamic and Arab speacialist analysts and subject-matter experts, as they are hauled into the offices of their superiors to explain why this massively significant geo-political phenomenon was not foreshadowed.
And like the astrologer, yelled at for not predicting the death of a customer by her sister at last weeks session, yet predicting she would experience a romance and good fortune, all the smart analysts will be chanting "strategic shock?" recalling the same embarrassing response to 9/11.
- a little lesson for "experts": hospitals seem to cope well with strategic shocks (not knowing what's gonna come through their emergency room doors), so why can't the national security community?
Dictators across the planet must be watching the incoming tide with concern directly proportional to their distance from where it all began - the Middle Tweets.
But don't trust appearances. We are not witnessing an Iranian, Russian or French Revolution, the rise of the workers, the poor, the powerless and oppressed masses against overtly heinous dictatorships. We are witnessing a new outcome of an old phenomenon: herd psychology. Viva La Tweetolucion!
The effect: Accidental Revolution.
Through fast, cheap social networking tools, any social movement can now be greatly exaggerated and run out of control, as massive groups of young networked strangers converge in the cyber-world to promote one thing they have in common, thus empowering them with the objective truth that is "lots of people agree with me".
Why is this a bad thing? Because it's fake. Without Facebook and texting there would be no revolt in the Arab world that we are seeing today.
Here's the real issue:
All the protestors are young men, under 25; the two qualities you need to be unemployed in the Middle East and also the target market for fundamentalist groups and anti-government movements.
The trouble is that all 22 Middle East nation-states have arrived at a population distribution causing a "youth bulge". In Iran, 60% of people are under 30! Most Middle Easterners are under 25.
Why is this a problem? Because 25% of 60% of the Middle East are young men with savvy access to cheap portable social networking and communications technology. Most of them have access to e-social networks.
These protests are not a religious phenomenon. It is the insurgency of the Middle East's youth. It is a Mosh Pit.
It so happens that dictators constantly live in fear of a mass rebellion of the people. They each have an exit strategy in place, ready to deploy at a moment's notice: grab the country's money and run to Switzerland.
So, bored and angry young men mass against a paranoid, ready-to-bolt dictator who knows he shouldn't really be there.
Result: another shit political system will ensure nothing much changes after the dust settles.
The important thing for us Westies to watch out for is the replacements. Will they be better or worse for us?
The Brotherhood's key thinker was Sayyid Qutb, who's doctrine was instrumental to the Islamist movement in the Middle East and the anti-Western Jihad we've been witnessing since before 9/11.
Qutb's Milestones inspired the young Osama bin Laden and countless other jihadists across the globe.
The Muslim Brotherhood has also inspired the most powerful Islamist groups within Tunisia, Libya and Bahrain.
The advent of cheap and accessible Internet, cell phones and social networking tools were all essential to the current upsurge in mass anti-governmental activity across the Middle East. However, past revolutions did not require such.
The herd mentality was low-tech.
Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Algeria, Jordan, Palestine, ... within all countries inspired by the recent "successes" of hoi polloi, waiting quietly in the wings are a legion of malevolent and stupid political groups, rubbing their hands together and preparing to rule.
The reward for revolution isn't always good. It may turn out worse for them and worser for us.