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Old 2011-02-22, 15:27   Link #1
Kaijo
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From Tunsia to Bahrain; the Global Event of Our Time

Muhammad Bouazizi.

Can one man change the world?

"His economic hardship was regarded as an everyman tale in Tunisia: Bouazizi, a poor 26-year-old who couldn't find a job after finishing college, refused to join the "army of unemployed youth," as it has become known in Tunisia. Instead he started a small business as a street vendor, selling vegetables to support his family. But in the streets of Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia, a police officer seized his goods, claiming that Bouazizi was working without the necessary legal permit. Bouazizi set himself on fire December 17 in front of a government building, and his self-immolation led young and unemployed Tunisians to hold widespread demonstrations against living conditions and the economy."

That one man setting himself aflame, which in turn, has set an entire region aflame. His death led to Tunsia's protests, which led to Egyp's protests, which led to others across the Middle East and North Africa.

For those not quite keeping track, Tunsia and Egypt have ousted their dictators (the latter happening after 18 days of protests, 2 months after Bouazizi died), Libyra is embroiled in a bloody revolution that threatens to ouster 40 year dictator Gaddaffi. There are protests in Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, Algeria, Kuwait and Morocco, among other places.

This is the Soviet Union collapse of our time. The Berlin wall coming down. The many countries dropping one rule and choosing one of their own, and I find it fascinating. What will emerge? Will they succeed? Or will the region erupt into a long cycle of bloody violence and anarchy? Based on Tunsia and Egypt, I do hold some hope, though.

However, the uncertainty and lack of stability is already driving oil prices up, will drive up the price of gas and food no matter where you are. The western nations helped prop up dictators in order for stability to reign, and thus easy access to oil. There is a cost either way.

So what do you think? This is a thread to talk about this huge world-changing event. Or maybe you think it won't be so big, and the protests will die soon. Either way, two countries have changed, and a third is embroiled in a revolution, while a dozen others struggle with hundreds of thousands of protesters.

Let's talk about what we think, what we hope for, and what we fear.

And remember Muhammad Bouazizi's name.
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Old 2011-02-22, 16:03   Link #2
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Now Wiki may not be truth, but this is what I read there

Quote:
Mohamed Bouazizi, was a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation that was allegedly inflicted on him by a female municipal official and her aides—her gender causing for greater humiliation due to mores in the Arab world
Keep in mind, heroes and martyrs tend to get exaggerated
he might have been spat upon and beaten, he also may have been simply 'put in his place' by a government official, but it being a woman, a blow to his pride of unbearable proportions
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Old 2011-02-22, 17:28   Link #3
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This is true, it is hard to know the exact facts. And obviously, Bouazizi didn't have it in his mind to change the world. He was just one person who got so fed up and said, "Enough is enough" then did something dramatic to draw attention. Whether it was because it was a female police officer that hit at his pride or not, I can't say (although I'm dubious on that score; police officers are normally male in such societies).
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Old 2011-02-22, 18:39   Link #4
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The country has a secular culture that encourages acceptance of other religions and religious freedom. With regards to the freedom of Muslims, the Tunisian government has restricted the wearing of Islamic head scarves (hijab) in government offices and it discourages women from wearing them on public streets and public gatherings. The government believes the hijab is a "garment of foreign origin having a partisan connotation". There were reports that the Tunisian police harassed men with "Islamic" appearance (such as those with beards), detained them, and sometimes compelled men to shave their beards off.[101] In 2006, the former Tunisian president declared that he would "fight" the hijab, which he refers to as "ethnic clothing"
Not something you see everyday in a muslim country
and there's not a word about the lady in question being a policeofficer, just a 'municipal offical'
Perhaps something more like a DA accompanying policemen

And sorry to come across as a pessimist, but -for example- the 'joy' of the unification of germany was hugely diminished when it was found out that the only reason it happened was that east Germany was bankrupt

Seeing is believing, as with everything, untill the smoke clears I try to keep an honest scepticism
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Old 2011-02-22, 18:41   Link #5
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What a moron.

He should have at least set the police officer on fire...
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Old 2011-02-22, 20:37   Link #6
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
What a moron.

He should have at least set the police officer on fire...
If he had, he'd just be a criminal. This way he's a martyr who had a hand in starting a wave of protests that have seen the fall of two long standing dictators, and may soon see a third go in Libya.
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Old 2011-02-22, 20:40   Link #7
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Its quite ironic, that the man who had committed suicide, by all means one of the highest sins in Islam, ended up being so praised and hailed by the Arabic Media during the Tunisian Revelation. What adds to this is that the Tunisian Government stance and attitude towards Islam helped to improve his image as a martyr.

To be honest though, he was simply a man at the end of his rope with what happened afterward becoming a channel to release the bent up frustration and anger many had felt the past 30 years. Many sympathized with him because they were living in the same situation, and it helped give everyone a wake up call to how unbearable the conditions got there. After that, others sort of painted him as the result of the corruption of the head of state. Whether Ben Ali's constant desire to redecorate his entire bathroom tiles with wads of money was really the reason the man done what he'd done didn't really matter in the end. It was just a matter of time until something like this had happened. You step on so many toes, eventually you end up pissing enough people to cause you a threat. After that all it takes is a spark.

As for the rest of the changes ... well, the domino is still falling, though I worry that this line is going too fast too soon (not every country is Tunsia, and you can't recreate the same action to get the same result, if that result ends up being any different)
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He should have at least set the police officer on fire...
Well, if he was after revenge he could have vented out on the cop (though it might've not worked, considering that they would be armed and trained(?)) but really, the man struck me as being just hopeless. He was stuck in an impossible situation and decided to put an end to it.
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Old 2011-02-22, 20:45   Link #8
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Just wait till all the current leaders are removed. Then, the holding hands and "we're all in this together" feelings will steeply decline.
Like I've said before, the real problems start when the countries become divided amongst themselves over who will take the new lead.
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Old 2011-02-23, 01:14   Link #9
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snip
Amen to that, I sincerely wish for the protestors success in their struggle.
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Old 2011-02-23, 01:46   Link #10
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Again I'd like to reiterate my words of caution on getting hooked on the euphoria of revolution. Bringing down tyrrany is the easy part, it is the time after that when you realize that making change stick and preventing tyranny's return which is the real test. 20 years after EDSA and my country is still learning that fact.
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Old 2011-02-23, 02:27   Link #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamui4356 View Post
If he had, he'd just be a criminal. This way he's a martyr who had a hand in starting a wave of protests that have seen the fall of two long standing dictators, and may soon see a third go in Libya.
If you've read many of my posts, you should know I hold a great deal of contempt for this kind of lunatic idealism.

Anyone who sets themselves on fire is clearly mentally deranged.

Powerful people in the shadows likely used this poor bastard's insanity to get the protests started--to oust one set of assholes and replace them with a new set of assholes.

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Originally Posted by MeoTwister5 View Post
Again I'd like to reiterate my words of caution on getting hooked on the euphoria of revolution. Bringing down tyrrany is the easy part, it is the time after that when you realize that making change stick and preventing tyranny's return which is the real test. 20 years after EDSA and my country is still learning that fact.
Quoted for truth.

VIVA LA REVOLUCION! ... or not.

Except, it generally just repeats the same problem. New boss, same as the old boss. The sort of people who lust after power are essentially the same no matter what their political views are.

They're all immoral cunts who deserve to be spaced into the sun's gravitational field.
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Old 2011-02-23, 02:50   Link #12
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Originally Posted by MeoTwister5 View Post
Again I'd like to reiterate my words of caution on getting hooked on the euphoria of revolution. Bringing down tyrrany is the easy part, it is the time after that when you realize that making change stick and preventing tyranny's return which is the real test. 20 years after EDSA and my country is still learning that fact.
Seconded. Marcos was ousted but the country hasn't seem much infrastructure, technological and human development since that day. And it went through the 21st century without that.

Iran is another good example. Since 1979 the country has still been reliant on their exports of petrochemicals as the third biggest oil producers in the world. But melons are still expensive (Khomieni, the previous nut who headed the state, admitted to that), and people are still unhappy. Russia and China only allied with them for their oil, otherwise that place is just another fluke in the middle east ranting about "US imperialism" when it can't even fix its own socioeconomic problems.

A revolution is easy. Maintaining it then propelling it into a growing state is a different issue. Singapore and Malaysia did a good job after expelling the British in 1963(though they did it diplomatically with minimal violence). Isolation from other states is a no-no, even Krushchev and Deng Xiaoping had to open up to trade with Glasnost and SEZs (Cuba learnt it the hard way. Fidel Castro regretted that.).

How is the mideast going to cope? Unless they follow the model of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Turkey (best examples I could find) and open up while maintaining state and social values, a revolution is simply going to fall through. Like Afghanistan after the mujahideen beat the Soviets - they had no centralised leadership or diplomacy and there isn't even a ruling coalition being attempted.
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Old 2011-02-23, 02:57   Link #13
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Well to be fair to my countrymen while it didn't sweep in massive reform, this was pretty much the political awakening of Filipino society, who after 1986 are now more greatly involved in organized politics making it more difficult for the more effective corrupt politicians to keep the status quo.

It reminded the people not to fear the government, and the government to fear its people.
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Old 2011-02-23, 03:06   Link #14
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Originally Posted by MeoTwister5 View Post
Well to be fair to my countrymen while it didn't sweep in massive reform, this was pretty much the political awakening of Filipino society, who after 1986 are now more greatly involved in organized politics making it more difficult for the more effective corrupt politicians to keep the status quo.

It reminded the people not to fear the government, and the government to fear its people.
But the problem is people fear "Big Corp" who can sue their pants off and take their jobs away from them. Then it goes back to state-owned enterprises which fear the people because of their direct link to the government.

SOEs are FINE actually. Look at the tea-drinkers who pioneered them, other than polluting the Thames River until the fish all died, it pretty much worked for the state finances and economic development. The problem started snowballing when expeditionary troops accompanied the GIOs (Government Investment Officers - basically those who managed the SOEs for Lizzie and her predecessors) started outsourcing to other countries (mostly India and the Mideast in the 1800s, through the East India Company)start solving social problems the hard-and-fast way.

The US came up with the free market idea because they couldn't reach the rest of the world without crossing the Atlantic, so they had to produce and make things themselves. Sadly the good old days of 80% self-employment are trashed when Big Corp started buying SMEs during the Great Depression.
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Old 2011-02-23, 03:54   Link #15
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Originally Posted by MeoTwister5 View Post
Well to be fair to my countrymen while it didn't sweep in massive reform, this was pretty much the political awakening of Filipino society, who after 1986 are now more greatly involved in organized politics making it more difficult for the more effective corrupt politicians to keep the status quo.

It reminded the people not to fear the government, and the government to fear its people.
Yeah, I'm not convinced that these movements can really improve conditions in their countries all that much, but these revolutions are incredibly important simply because they're the long awaited "third option".

For a long time, Islamic fundamentalists have pitched themselves as the only alternative to corrupt authoritarian f***wads (never mind their own authoritarian leanings). If you're wondering what's up with Iran's silly rhetoric about how "Islamic" this revolution is, it's not that difficult to understand... Iran's "narrative" of politics in the Islamic world can't really survive the third option this movement is presenting, it has to be a binary choice.
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Old 2011-02-23, 04:01   Link #16
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Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
But the problem is people fear "Big Corp" who can sue their pants off and take their jobs away from them. Then it goes back to state-owned enterprises which fear the people because of their direct link to the government.

SOEs are FINE actually. Look at the tea-drinkers who pioneered them, other than polluting the Thames River until the fish all died, it pretty much worked for the state finances and economic development. The problem started snowballing when expeditionary troops accompanied the GIOs (Government Investment Officers - basically those who managed the SOEs for Lizzie and her predecessors) started outsourcing to other countries (mostly India and the Mideast in the 1800s, through the East India Company)start solving social problems the hard-and-fast way.

The US came up with the free market idea because they couldn't reach the rest of the world without crossing the Atlantic, so they had to produce and make things themselves. Sadly the good old days of 80% self-employment are trashed when Big Corp started buying SMEs during the Great Depression.
State owned enterprises aren't really a big issue here. Our equivalent of the Corporate Government is Kapamilya Incorporated, otherwise known as government giving government contracts to consanguineous parties. A lot of the time big business tends to be at odds with the government as well as labor rights groups. Majority of companies here are private or family-run.
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Old 2011-02-23, 04:06   Link #17
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To be fair, I do believe revolution could be successful if the people behind it have what it takes to bring that change about. Russia almost succeeded following the fall of Tsar Nicholas. It was simply bad luck that Lenin died of illness and Stalin was a dirty politician. Granted, the USSR under Stalin made great advances but at the cost of many lives, most of them unjustifiably so. However, knowing this, I do believe revolution can happen and be supported after the tyranny is gone. A lot of it really depends on how the revolution is carried out and if it is organized properly and its leaders have good intentions. Revolution hasn't always worked, but it doesn't mean it's impossible for it to work. It's just bloody difficult.

I don't see a set leadership behind the revolution in the middle east now, for instance, the way Lenin led the Bolsheviks into the Tsar's palace. Granted, the people are all leaders of the revolution right now, but there's no one specific to take place in the government and are relying on the military (and thus the system they have in place) to make the reforms for them. Perhaps it's the only way for it to work there, but in the long run, will the protesters truly get what they want, who they want? That's the real issue.
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Old 2011-02-23, 04:20   Link #18
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One problem I'm seeing in Egypt is that the protesters have no patience. They "won" more or less. However it takes time for changes to happen, especially if the idea is to hold elections in six months.

Of course Egypt is not alone in lacking patience. American voters don't have any either. Once Congress writes in a law that will take a few years to get rolling, then the people elect a new Congress because the law they wanted passed hasn't done anything for them yet. The new Congress either repels the law or mucks with it causing it to delay more, or become an endless money pit, or become covered in red tape. The process might repeat itself again if the people elect a new Congress (or President) again because of the lack of visable progress.

I had a conversation I think eight years ago with the person who use to cut my hair. She asked me about what I thought about the nation's economic and political problems. I figured from historical results, that any major economic and political problem takes at least two full adminitrations to change, so that the third president in line is the one that sees the change. This could take anywhere from 12 to 24 years. So I'm not actually expecting the problems that showed up early in the more recent Bush Administration to resolve themselves until after Obama has left office.
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Old 2011-02-23, 04:34   Link #19
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Originally Posted by MeoTwister5 View Post
State owned enterprises aren't really a big issue here. Our equivalent of the Corporate Government is Kapamilya Incorporated, otherwise known as government giving government contracts to consanguineous parties. A lot of the time big business tends to be at odds with the government as well as labor rights groups. Majority of companies here are private or family-run.
When I mean SOEs, I mean something like Temasek Holdings. They don't hand out contracts, they have a monetary stake (and a large one) in many critical industries like communications, banking, trade, etc.

Shareholding power is a way to prevent companies from eating up the citizens while making it seem privatised. In essence, it is a function of a mixed economy, the government are competing in the private sector with taxpayer money, and the product goes back the the taxpayer at a lower price (since the tax already foots for part of it).

It is ingenious, though the bad part about it is bureaucracy, which hinders economic and social adaptation if a wave of change comes along.
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Old 2011-02-23, 05:18   Link #20
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It is too early to say if the revolution was a good or a bad thing. The most famous revolution of all times (the French one) led to tens of thousands being sent to the guilotine by a bunch of crazy rebels and journalists.

Mara was a man who had skin disease and to throw his anger at the world condemned thousands of not-really-worthy-of-death fellow countrymen. He was assassinated by a peasant girl who found out the truth but as a result HE became a martyr and SHE was executed as a vile criminal.

By the way, the revolution ended by sending all its leaders to the very guilotine they initiated and placing Napoleon as the new monarch. And we know what liberal person he was...

That example is what makes me be very skeptical of any rebelion. But I don't condemn them either. I am just taking a neutral stance at this event.
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