‘Power of the People’ Is NOT Greater Than ‘The People in Power’

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Revolution 2.0: The power of the people is greater than the people in power. A Memoir is by Wael Ghonim, an Egyptian executive for Google who helped launch the Arab Spring that toppled Hosni Mubarik in Egypt. He has fled Egypt since writing the book and is now in exile in the United Arab Emirates. Interestingly, I found this book i a UAE bookstore in 2014. In December 2014, Ghonim announced that he has resigned from Google to join a social media/news start-up.

From a few years’ perspective, beyond the initial euphoria of a symbolic accomplishment, his book’s perspective proves to be utopian. The power of the Internet in Egypt, and America, now seems to be have been exaggerated, and the users a bit intoxicated by what they thought they accomplished so quickly. I myself was a believer in the power of the Internet to overthrow the established order, and thought it actually happened when a) Obama beat Hillary in the North Carolina primary, 2008, where I lived at the time — it was a turning point in the campaign; b) Obama won the consistently Republican-for-president-voting state of North Carolina in 2008.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Sisi government in Egypt crushed the yearnings for democracy as expressed by Ghonim. The great movement mobilized for and by Obama seems impotent to the power of Wall Street and Tea Party astroturf.

It would be interesting to interview Ghonim now on what he thinks has become of his country. Alas, it’s a very sensitive topic. Progressive activists from the 2008 Obama campaign remain frustrated and disappointed at what they haven’t been able to accomplish since 2008.

But, perhaps I am taking a short-term view. Who knows what the long-term view is on the impact of social media on politics? The jury is still out.

Drill Deeper:

 

 

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