It is indeed hard to believe that, less than a month ago, one of the most repressive governments in the world was firmly entrenched in Egypt. And it is even harder to believe that Mubarak's three-decade reign was brought to an end, not by ballots or bullets, but by social networking! Egypt's e-volution truly constitutes a turning point in world history.
Of course, this pattern did not begin with Egypt. Some years before, the Serbian movement Otpor used similar techniques to topple Slobodan Milosevic, based on the somewhat-obscure precepts of American political strategist Gene Sharp, who advocates ways in which non-violent means may be used to undermine repressive police states.
As early as 2005, the Egyptian Kefaya (or Enough) movement was stirring up the political pot in that ancient land. And by 2008, many Egyptian youth began to see that the computer, the internet, and social networking could be keys to the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. A group of expatriate Egyptians even formed an Academy of Change to initiate the steps which led to the beginning of the end for Hosni Mubarak.
One key player in the Egyptian e-volution has been Wael Ghanim, a Google marketing executive based in that nation. He realized the potential of social networks like Facebook, blogs, and similar widely-used tools to bring the Mubarak regime down. Then, those with doubts -- and there were many -- watched as the repressive Tunisian government of President Zine Ben-Ali fell on January 14, proving that it could be done, by determined youth armed with high-tech methods which could not be stopped by conventional means. That heady moment was one final nail in the Egyptian government's casket -- and the rest is history. Wael Ghanim deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his vital leadership.
Undoubtedly, even as this article is written, repressed people in other nations, particularly the computer-savvy youth of those countries, are blogging, emailing, texting, and tweeting their own strategies to achieve democracy in their own lands. They are lending new meaning to the theme of the 2008 Obama Presidential Campaign here: YES WE CAN!
The world will never be the same again; even in those nations whose repressive governments survive, their leaders will have to mend their ways or suffer the fate of the former Tunisian and Egyptian regimes. The King of Jordan is already negotiating with representatives of the Jordanian people for a more-open regime which shares power there. The Saudi government is finding that all of the tacit support it gives to Islamic extremist groups will not preserve its monarchy.
Technology in the hands of competent and determined citizens, combined with creativity and courage, can and will bring about their empowerment. A couple of decades ago, there was much talk in America about The New World Order. Now, in this new millenium, the world is discovering just what that phrase really means: Power to the Peoples!