The right to self-determination is one of the rights that every human across the globe has recognized as an essential one, without which his existence in a country seems meaningless. Revolution that sparked in Tunisia spread like wildfire to Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and some unrest can also be seen in a few other countries like Jordan and Algeria.
A revolution to attain freedom from a foreign tyrannical rule is not something new. In the history, there have been many such similar revolutions to overthrow the foreign regime, and gain freedom. Be it the Russian revolution, Indian freedom struggle or the American Civil War; the objective was common, to gain independence from foreign rule, and establish democracy. What separates these revolutions from the ones taking place in Africa, and the Middle East is that the citizens are revolting against their own government, and the social media, which was non-existent a few decades back has shaped the struggle. Another factor that separates the present movements from the past ones is that the movements in the past had a manifesto, a philosophy, an ideology, and a vision for the future. The revolting leaders envisaged this manifesto at that time. The ideology was then disseminated to masses, debated, and after a majority consensus, was adopted as an agenda to forge the free country.
The Declaration of Independence (1776), the Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789), The Communist Manifesto (1848), writings by the Russian revolutionaries Lenin and Trotsky; Marat and Danton of the French Revolution; selections by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Tom Paine, Emma Goldman, Mohandas Gandhi, Mao Tse-tung, and others not only shaped the future governance of their respective revolutions, but also influenced many other movements all across the globe. Nothing similar can be traced in the recent revolutions. It is virtually impossible to forge a new country in absence of an ideology, to which majority of the citizens agree to. This is all the more necessary in Islamic countries divided on the grounds of shia and sunnis; or tribes who have different views about the governance post revolution.
The social media no matter how strong is incapable of expressing complex ideas that runs into a few hundred pages, and involves critical thinking and analysis. Tweets, Facebook status messages, and blogs, flooded the cyber space with divergent views, and proposals on how the countries should be governed post revolution. But these cyber messages have so far been unable to put forth a major ideology that can be adapted to forge the countries in the future. Another major factor where social media fails miserably is that, it is accessible only to a few elite and wealthy citizens, and not the masses.
The common thread that runs across all the countries where the citizenry has revolted against its own government is a history of military coup d’état. The military dictatorship, unbridled power, and military influence on the politics are key issue that needs immediate attention among others. As of now we have magnificent examples of democracies both old, and young in action that can serve as a role model for establishing the new governance philosophy in the countries facing unrest.
Apart from the above vital issues, which will continue to haunt the countries facing unrest until firm;y addressed there are factors like oil, and the geo-political location of such countries that also needs attention. As of now oil is a commodity that shapes the policies, economies and business decisions of countries, and corporations alike. Oil not only vests tremendous amount of power to the oil producing countries, but also acts as a bargaining chip in the international politics. This is the reason why the entire world has its eyes on Libya. In case of Egypt it was the vast Arab gas pipelines that run across Egypt supplying natural gas to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. Egypt also controls Suez Canal, which happens to be the lifeline of the maritime industry. It is because of these vital economic and geo-political location issues that Tunisia, although a triggering point for the present revolutions could not attract as much global attention as Egypt, and Libya did. It is therefore essential that such economic and geo-political issues be taken into consideration before embarking upon framing a new governance model, and in developing new international relations.
Freedom comes at a high price, and has to be nurtured by blood. It is therefore all the more essential that the countries where the revolts have taken place should have a clear vision for the future before another military leader like Mubarak or Gaddafi seize the opportunity to place themselves as a dictator. The reforms should be clearly outlined, and consensus upon them should be reached as soon as possible to bring stability in the region.
The recent developments also calls upon the world powers to intervene especially in the case of Libya to immediately stop genocide, and facilitate harmonious environment for the citizenry to debate, and determine their future. The reluctance of the international community in adopting military intervention is justified, as it would claim more civilian lives. But in countries where the government has started slaughtering its own citizens by committing genocide demands immediate action by the United Nation, and the members of the Security Council.
Whatever the history or the recent quest for self-determination might have taught us; it surely has made one thing implicit that without an ideology a revolution no matter how strong is futile, and reaffirmed what Edward Paul Abbey once quoted:
“a patriot must always be ready to defend his country against its government”