Small Wars Journal

The Internet and Revolutions in 1964 and 2011

Tue, 01/17/2012 - 4:00pm

The Internet and Revolutions in 1964 and 2011

by Ryan Evans

Free Radicals

The late great sociologist Talcott Parsons writing in 1964:

Since in social conditions the most effective action is collective action, the most important liberty is liberty to co-operate with others to participate in collective action. Furthermore, the most important single condition of effective co-operation is communication with others. The most important deprivations of liberty are therefore those that block communication, in order to limit or prevent altogether co-operation with others.(Talcott Parsons (1964) “The Place of Force in Social Processes,” in: Eckstein (ed.) Internal Wars (New York:Free Press), pp. 41-42)

Activist and, dare I say it, revolutionary Wael Ghonim in his new memoir, Revolution 2.0:

Minimal or not, April 6 sent out a clear signal to everyone that the Internet could be a new force in Egyptian politics. The security force's reaction was to develop a new division dedicated to policing the Internet. Similarly, the NDP established an "Electronic Committee" rumored to have legions of well-paid young men and women whose mission was to influence only opinion in favor of the part through contributions to websites, blogs, news sites, and social networks. (p. 36)

Together, we wanted justice for Khaled Said and we wanted to put an end to torture. And social networking offered us an easy means to meet as the proactive, critical youth that we were. It also enabled us to defy the fears associated with voicing opposition. The virtual world seemed further from the oppressive reach of the regime, and therefore many were encouraged to speak up. (p. 66)