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Archive for February, 2011

Revolution: The New Fad

Sometimes, when we are up late studying history for some boring test the next day, we forget the significance of what we are reading. I, personally, find it hard to see the relevance of random wars and power changes on my life. I rush through the reading and memorize the dates but most of the time I couldn’t care less about the time period I am studying. But, today’s news will be history in just a few days from now. And, the great thing is, that ten years from now, students all around the world will be complaining about their test over the “The Middle Eastern Revolutions of 2011”.

It started with a small country in North Africa. In December 2010, the people of Tunisia stood up to President Ali and ultimately overthrew his regime. Apparently, his administration had let the country go to ruins. The high unemployment, inflation, and violation of rights were becoming to much for the citizens. A revolt would certainly be a welcome change to the status quo. Was is the right choice? I guess we’ll see.

This sentiment then spread to Egypt. President Hosni Mubarak had been in power for 30 years. His inhumane regime supported a plainclothes police force hired by Mubarak’s party, the Baltageya. Amid numerous police brutality cases and human rights violations, Mubarak’s rule has also featured a plethora of political corruption. The case for revolt in Egypt is convincing too. Will it turn out well for them? Actually, it probably will. They are lucky enough to have a responsible military. But what about the countries that don’t?

I think some people forget that after revolution comes reconstruction. It’s easier to tear something down than it is to build it back up. And to construct a better version of the government you just tore apart? That’s tough.

With the power of grassroots movement, the government is actually very vulnerable. The past few months have shown that. But, what’s to say the people will do any better running the country? Will they elect a leader that is more altruistic? Maybe they will. But, if the next leader is just as greedy and selfish, they will be back to square one. Except now they also have hundreds of deaths on their hands.

So, when people talk about revolt, there should probably be a threshold for what they really mean. The situation should be bad enough so that ANY change would be favorable. The economy and/or societal welfare should be so terrible that one would risk worse conditions just for the chance of a positive change.

I’ve heard some people in the past few months complain about the U.S. government. They think that because Congress is so ineffective, we should radically change the system of government. Some people even say we should break it down and start all over.

My main question is, why would anarchy be any better than what we have right now? Why would tearing down the constitution that has served as a model for countries around the world lead to a better system? Revolution breeds change. But, it’s up to the people to make that change a good one. If one person can win the support of the movement and slowly become a fascist dictator, well then, your country will be like Germany in the 1920s.

Was revolution justified in Tunisia and Egypt? Probably. They had enough problems with their government that it was worth the risk of tearing it down and starting over again. But for those who think tearing down the U.S. government would help (libertarians included), you should probably think harder. Do you know more about politics than the founding fathers did? If you do, then maybe you should elect some better leaders or maybe lead a class action lawsuit and stop complaining.

Sometimes, though, change is needed. The revolutions of Egypt and Tunisia are both historic and inspiring. But, let’s not get carried away…

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