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Monday, January 31, 2011

Reform by mob: does it always work?

Some recent events in Egypt and Tunisia illustrate the whole trouble with street mobs supposedly calling for “reform” – that in a situation described more by anarchy than any sort of clear higher purpose, it becomes difficult to sort the devils from the angels. Reports of looters vandalising ancient Egyptian artifacts and of Tunisian shopkeepers suffering financially from the business disruption of protests there suggesting that some of the rampaging gangs are simply not interested in a return to normal life.

Much of the chatter in “social media” had already collectively stamped a high-nosed “people power” brand onto the escalating unrest in Egypt and similar rumblings in the rest of the Arab world. But is deposing an Arab dictator really a good thing?

Recall the cases of the sort of state that Iran became after its Shah was deposed in 1979. Or what a grand crusade the War-Against-Terror-branded second Iraq invasion seemed to be at the time — before everyone realised there were no weapons of mass destruction. By the time the religious and moral fervor that fueled the US invasion of Iraq died down, the foolish hubris of presuming to resort to direct intervention to topple a Third World “tyrant” had become evident as warlords and Islamic zealots descended upon the political vacuum left by the fall of Saddam Hussein, ruler of what was once a relatively stable mercantile secular state.

So I sit here today quite bemused by the way Filipino pundits engage in quaint chatter as they “monitor” events in Egypt. It seems here that we fancy ourselves some sort of godfather of “people power” politics doting upon fledglings taking baby steps halfway around the world.

But what “freedom” had wrought upon the Philippines in the aftermath of the 1986 Edsa “revolution” — the eventual takeover of the government by clueless Eraptards and Noytards — may not result in as benign an outcome in the Middle East. Indeed, the ominous shadow of Islamic fundamentalism cast by some powerful elements in those Egyptian and Tunisian mobs becomes more evident by the day. “People power” in the Philippines is unlikely to apply today and over there any more than the principles underlying the victory of allied forces against the tyranny of Adolf Hitler in World War II and the rebuilding of Germany and Japan paralleled themselves in the subsequent US invasions of Vietnam and Iraq.

Solutions that worked elsewhere cannot be turned into shrinkwrapped products to be sold in other societies without taking into account the nature of the culture of the societies being impacted. Perhaps we should observe the events unfolding in the Middle East with a more open and critical mind and not colour these with our pre-conceived notions that are propped up by nothing more than relics of 1980′s thinking.

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About the Author

benign0 has written 167 stories on this site.

benign0 is the webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com and also writes articles at GRP@blogspot. Follow benign0 on Twitter at www.twitter.com/benign0

10 Comments on “Reform by mob: does it always work?”

  • The Lazzo wrote on 29 January, 2011, 23:15

    In Egypt’s case, it wasn’t really a secret that the United States supported him from the start, mainly because they tried to invade Israel several times before. It probably explains their ambivalent hands-off approach now. Worse comes to worse, they’ll bolster Israel instead and the IDF probably just obsess over Gaza again since it shares a border crossing.

    It would be especially true if the “al-Ikhwan” (aka the MB) does take over, which is a very likely scenario even if a lot of the #Jan25 tweets try to disown them from their little revolution.


  • anon wrote on 29 January, 2011, 23:24

    25 years later and we still remain gripped in a kleptocracy – rule by thieves.
    and 70 percent plus of the population struggle to survive day to day.
    in many respects and by many measures the philippines has only gone backwards compared to our neighbours.
    so what did people power really achieve.
    the criminals are still there – marcos, arroyo, cojuangcos, estrada, aquino.
    they just pass around the keys to the countrys money bank, make sure they maintain the status quo, and keep people uninformed and subservient.
    they want to be consider themselves asian royalty but the rest of asia has moved on.
    they cling on through legal protection, business monopolies- which they stole – and a code of family secrecy and almost interbreeding.
    the 2 things they fear most is business competition and open information.
    this would destroy everything for them.


    The Lazzo Reply:

    Which is why they’re trying to set it up so that we’re part of the “everything” that business competition and open information would destroy. If they go down, they’ll want to take everything with them.


  • Cy wrote on 30 January, 2011, 0:05

    Well, all I can say is, a mob has no ideas, only force, and therefore, the products of mob labor will always be force. Peace.


  • ChinoF
    ChinoF wrote on 30 January, 2011, 2:45

    I wonder if this is another case of the Filipino’s Culture’s BI to other countries?

    BI = Bad Influence ;)


    kickapoo Reply:

    Yes sir, just like AIDS virus coming from Africa, I reckon People Power virus coming from the Philippines. This isnt good.


  • kusinero wrote on 30 January, 2011, 5:25

    The more i read this, the funnier it gets:


    Very, very unfortunate…


  • jamsetjee wrote on 30 January, 2011, 7:31

    Could be the philippines? corruption is rife, 40% live on less than $2, same GDP growth (6%pa), almost same population, location deemed strategic by US. Member of Next-11. Whilst we have democracy of sorts. in 25 years our politicians have failed grossly to tackle our dysfunction. we need reforms. 1) charter change, now is best time 2) anti corruption and govt bureacracy 3) encourage savings and investments


  • Renato Pacifico wrote on 30 January, 2011, 10:38

    Doing something is change for the worst. Doing nothing more of the same. It is the devil and the deep yellow hordes of Aquinistas.


  • Renato Pacifico wrote on 30 January, 2011, 11:28

    Egypt and Tunisia Revolution versus EDSA Revolution, THE DIFFERENCE:
    1. Egypt and Tunisian Revolution instigated by bloggers, twitters, facebook versus EDSA revolution was started by both corrupt camps in Marcos administration
    2. Egyptian and Tunisian went out in the street with one main focus, CHANGE GOVERNMENT versus EDSA revolution in which Filipinos went out to witness and tsismis who be the victor between corrupt camps. Change government was an afterthought. It was a byproduct of tsimis.
    HUGE DIFFERENCE !!!! It is right in front of them and not one Philippine columnists and PHilippine peryodistas and Philippine analysts able to see it. THEY ARE BLINDED.