Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 14 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/18/11

What Can Americans Learn From Egypt

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   5 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Bob Burnett
Become a Fan
  (23 fans)

As the world watched, millions of Egyptians engaged in an eighteen-day democratic revolution.  For those of us fortunate enough to live in the United States, there are five lessons to be learned from the insurrection in Egypt.


Democracy remains the world's most precious commodity .   The Egyptian revolution was a spontaneous uprising of millions of ordinary people yearning for democracy; a movement no doubt inspired by US history.  We should take pride in the fact that America has become a beacon of light to billions throughout the world who yearn for freedoms that many of us take for granted.


Nonetheless, we should remember that democracy is hard work.  Winton Churchill famously observed, " No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."   The struggles of the Egyptian people remind us how precious US democracy is, how fortunate we are to live in America, and the reality that an effective civil society requires our active involvement.


It helps to have a job .   While the Egyptian revolution involved specific political complaints, such as the lifting of martial law, there was a significant economic component.  The Egyptians who took to the streets yearned for opportunity as well as freedom; they wanted a better life for themselves and their families.  Under dictator Mubharak, many Egyptians, particularly young people felt they were trapped in a dead-end existence.  Unemployment was high (more than 10 percent) and most educated young Egyptians who could not find meaningful work.


The insurrection should remind Americans that a vital democracy also provides economic opportunity.  In addition to the right of free speech and assembly, and the other civil rights that we hold dear, there are important economic rights the US needs to pay more attention to: the right to hold a decent job paying a living wage, to work in a safe environment, and to organize and join unions; as well as  the right to adequate education, housing, and healthcare.


The new technology has reshaped the face of protest .   A lot of attention has been paid to the key role of Facebook in the Egyptian revolution, but in general the eighteen-day protest demonstrated that, over the past thirty years, developments in information technology -- the Internet, satellite TV, and mobile phones -- have made the world a global community and thereby facilitated democratic protest.


At an early stage of the Egyptian revolution, the Mubharak government tried to snuff dissent by turning off the Internet, restricting cell phone traffic, and beating up foreign journalists. The fact that this didn't work is a testimony to the bravery of the protestors and reporters, and the robustness of the new media.  (By the way, shutting down the Internet turned off Facebook but had the side affect of blocking most forms of Egyptian commerce.)


The free-flow of communication is a precursor to democracy.  The new technology not only makes global communication easier, but also protest.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Interesting 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Bob Burnett Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Ten Telltale Signs of Republican Disease

Big Liars and The Voters Who Love Them

Obama vs. Romney: The Bottom Line

The GOP Chooses Fascism

2011 Budget Battle: Obama Wins While Democrats Lose

Obama vs. Romney: The Popularity Contest

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend