I’m getting addicted to television. And Twitter. Blame it on the Middle East and this extraordinary blossoming of people’s awareness of their rights, all the connection that’s happening. It’s infectious, that’s what it is. One revolution such as the world has never seen before. That points the way for all of us, no matter what our challenge is. Speak out, stay firm, don’t give in to violence, connect with everybody around you. Ghandi would be proud.
I always hear it – and have said it myself a million times – that history repeats itself, and things never really change. All the dictators, all the repression leading inevitably to crisis and violent, bloody revolution. But it’s not really true any more. Something’s different this time round. Don’t forget, it’s the year of the Female Iron Rabbit, generally spoken of as a particularly auspicious year.
Here we are in the west pretty much controlled by the power we’ve given to capitalist kings and queens (mostly kings but let’s face it their wives are right behind them). They are the dictators of this century for us. They’ve manipulated the desires, the honor, the work ethic of the middle classes just as any dictatorial monarch.
But just as the French, the Russian, the you-name-it Revolutions of the past started with mumblings and rumblings of dissatisfaction which gathered momentum, our awareness is growing of how powerless we really are, who we’re sacrificing our lives to. And we’re not so happy about it. We’re doing some mumbling and rumbling of our own. Revolution is in the air.
In the Middle East, the business of dictatorship has been business as usual up until now. Repressive regimes violently punishing opposition. But something has changed. In fact quite a few things have changed. It isn’t just one country, one despot. It’s a whole region, many different countries. The rulers are independent from each other, but it’s as if there are almost no borders between the people. At least no borders that can contain the infectiousness of their courage, their desire for freedom, the fact that they’ve all had enough.
So now each country has the momentum, the kind of mass consciousness of the whole region to back it against its despot. Even somebody like Gaddafi, who lives in an altered reality, much like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, and who doesn’t care who he kills or how he goes about it, doesn’t have the power to suppress that momentum. He may not be able to see it but everybody else does.
And how about this for a difference: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is trying to pre-empt a revolution by promising to spend $3 billion on housing and security. A political commentator on BBC said it wouldn’t work, people don’t want lip service, they want the real thing. He’s 87, by the way, the world’s oldest reigning monarch, and one of the world’s wealthiest men. He stands to lose a lot. He may still be deluded, but at least he’s thinking, watching, paying attention.
Something else that’s completely different to past revolutions is that so much of this one is being carried out by young people, who have vision, energy, courage – and Twitter.