This is a question I'm sure everyone here has asked themselves. "What in the world is going on? Are these protests organic or are they manufactured?"
I decided to consult my Sociology textbook in search of this answer. What I came up with was a list of things we can investigate in order to come up
with an answer. I will try and relate them the best I can.
A social revolution involves the overthrow of a society's state and class structures and the creation of new social arrangements.
The above is the text's definition of revolt. After looking through the pages for quite some time I was never able to find reference to any sort of
widespread revolt. Either this is a first or it is uncommon. In any event, there is a list of circumstances normally present during revolt...
A good deal of political power is concentrated in the state, so there is a centralized governing apparatus. Accordingly, the state can become the
focus for collective anger and attack.
Here I think this will apply to every nation experiencing widespread rebellion and upheaval.
The military's allegiance to the established regime is weakened so that the army is no longer a reliable tool for suppressing domestic disorder.
The unreliability of the Army increases the vulnerability of the state.
Now we know that this is not the case in Libya as the military is killing protesters under the orders of Ghadaffi. Most likely this will not be the
case in North Korea either if things continue to escalate. The rest I am unsure about as I am wanting to get this out here before I start digging in
on the specifics behind each protest.
Political crises--often associated with long-term international conflicts that result in military defeat--weaken the existing regime and
contribute to the collapse of the state apparatus.
On its face I was thinking that this could apply to every state experiencing unrest, as it could be argued that Western regional influence has caused
suffering throughout the region. But I don't think this applies to Bahrain. Bahrain is home to America's 5th Naval Fleet and is very "westernized" in
comparison to the rest of the region. They have a thriving economy.
A substantial segment of the population must mobilize in uprisings that bring a new elite to power." This is something that definitely needs
further analysis. I'm interested in what constitutes a "substantial segment of the population
I know that in some of these cases these protests only numbered in the hundreds. Perhaps a ratio comparison between number of protesters in Egypt vs.
number of protesters in Libya vs. population totals for both nations??
Natural History of Revolutions
Sociologists and Historians have done extensive studies on Western revolutions in search of a common theme of events surrounding the event and have
formulated a "Natural History of Revolutions." This is another list of things to look for common during these events. For this list I will just quote
the entire paragraph of text. This entire thing needs further analysis. I am just putting the info out there in the hopes that others will help
undertake the research. This is quite a lot to juggle and I'm jumping quite far ahead in class to do this. haha
Prior to the revolution, intellectuals--journalists, poets, playwrights, essayists, lawyers, and others--withdraw support from the existing regime
and demand major reforms. Under increasing attack, the state attempts to meet the criticisms by instituting a number of reforms (e.g., the reforms of
Louis XVI in France). The onset of the revolution is heralded by a weakening or paralysis of the state, usually brought on by the government's
inability to deal with a major military, economic, or political problem. The collapse of the old regime brings to the forefront divisions among
conservatives who attempt to minimize change, radicals who seek fundamental change, and moderates who try to steer a middle course. Coups or civil war
often ensue. The first to gain the reins of power are usually moderate reformers.
At first glance I see things that do fit and those that do not. Egyptian officials tried to meet the criticisms of the dissidents by instituting
reforms, but this happened on the same day the regime toppled. Odd. (that entire chain of events was odd.) Weakening or paralysis of the state? Not in
Bahrain. Once again, this doesn't fit the bill.
In any event, one could get a clearer understanding of the nature of these protests possibly by looking at these two lists and seeing if the nations
under protest fit the mold cast by previous revolutionary efforts.
There is however, another option. One that has been touched upon here and will not be covered in any sociological textbook. This is something that
would be considered entirely new. Entirely new if Karl Marx had not commented on it 100 years ago. Then he was speaking mostly of capitalism, but I
think it applies everywhere. "Marx contended that the capitalist drive to realize surplus value is the foundation of modern class struggle--an
irreconcilable clash of interests between workers and capitalists. As Marx put it, capitalists are thieves who steal the fruit of the laborer's toil."
Is it that the internet has helped these people to see this simple truth and the result is a sweeping revolution based on the sudden emergence of
in these regions?
I dunno, but I'm gonna start crunching numbers.
Ed: The textbook quoted is Sociology, The Core, 9th Edition. Michael Hughes and Carolyn J. Kroehler
edit on 26-2-2011 by JayinAR because: Add reference
edit on 26-2-2011 by JayinAR because: Proper quotes