Middle East Reaffirms the Power of Protests, and of Food Pressures
Feb 2, 2011

Middle East Reaffirms the Power of Protests, and of Food Pressures

Let it not be said that the largely peaceful assembly of people cannot be a strong force for change in societies.

Consider the results achieved thus far in a short period of time:
1) Tunisia's dictator Ben Ali has fled the county and a full fledged popular revolution has occurred
2) In Egypt, Mubarak has replaced his cabinet, promised considerable reforms and promised to not stand for reelection in september after 30 years of rule.  Protests are ongoing so we may well see further change, but this cannot be said to be insignificant
3) In Yemen, the current leader has promised not to run for reelection in 2013 after decades of rule.
4) In Jordan, King Abdullah has fired his cabinet and promised considerable reforms.

While these changes may be less than many want and while  it is hard to say what will come in further concessions or how these leaders live up to their promises, legitimate change has occurred that outstrips what most would have predicted likely a month ago.

This represents to me a large reaffirming of the power of popular protests and peaceful assembly. In the west we are often very apathetic towards political progress and even among those who care, the sentiment is often that protesting is an ineffective method to enact change. These protests, and the change they have brought, demonstrates how inaccurate such a sentiment is.

One aspect of the protests that I believe is being underemphasized is how much the grievances and sentiments of the protesters are  connected to basic economic issues such as the price of food and unemployment. This theme echoed through protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan.

Typically the presentation has been one of protestors fighting for democracy and representation against corrupt dictators. This is certainly true, but this largely political story is in many ways trumped by people who wants jobs and affordable prices. It is not a coincidence that world food prices are at an all time high right now. Moreover, the political issues are often viewed by people as a means to an end: by removing the dictator we will be able to improve our own conditions such as lower unemployment, and less about democracy in and of itself. 

Thoughts on this post? Comment below!

Share this post:

Tweet It! Facebook Add Feed Reddit! Digg It! Stumble Delicious Follow

1 comment:

Protestation.org said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Post a Comment

Frequent Topics: