Ok, I give up: Why do demonstrations force regime change?

In t he news the demonstrations in the street seem to have chased out the Tunisian ruler and now about to chase out the Egyptian.

But why does this matter? Why can’t the dictator just let the ‘youfs’ protest and ignore it?

I dont see how people in the city square means the silverback has to leave the tribe. It seems like the masses chase out the big shot, but why? Why can’t the silverback just ignore the little apes?

I’ve always wondered about this myself. But I think it primarily comes down to the fact that power is ultimately psychological.

No one is afraid that the dictator is going to personally beat them up. They’re afraid of goons who obey even bigger goons and so on, who ultimately obey the dictator himself. A lot of these goons themselves dislike the head guy as well, but they are afraid of all the other goons.

In this dynamic, the impact of widespread disrespect and defiance is significant, because it shatters the aura of power and invincibility that the dictator relies on to keep all sorts of people who don’t really like him in line.

I think that’s the core of it. There are also a lot of other factors, including that some of the mid-level goons start wanting to disassociate themselves from the main guy after the risk of his collapse becomes very real, so they turn on him and push him out for fear of the masses even beyond their dislike of the dictator.

The dictator doesn’t have to to anything… unless the demonstraters convince the dictators muscle to join them.
Murbarak was losing control of his armies.

If the regime is only in power because of fear, the demonstration of an inability to be fearful when challenged brings it down.

Wow. You don’t often hear African people compared to apes any more.

Where you from, sassyfras?

WTH does their being African have to do with it? You hear people being compared to apes all the bloody time.

:eek: To be honest, though, the OP’s gorilla metaphor didn’t ring any bells for me about the old racist “Africans = apes” talk until KneadToKnow brought it up.

However, now that it has been mentioned, I can definitely see why this particular metaphor might be better avoided in this particular circumstance.

Still, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the OP didn’t deliberately choose it for the sake of those racist connotations. Sometimes a gorilla is just a gorilla.

This reminds me of the time I ran afoul of the Honcho Anti-Defamation League.

Because when the people you rule over don’t want to be ruled by you anymore, and are starting to making a big enough deal of it, you are either

a) not going to be ruler anymore


b) be a ruler of nothing

(or, more stylized: just understand that all forms of government, from the worst autocracy to the most representative of democracies, still have, at their core a social contract between the ruler and the masses. without the acquiescence of the masses to be ruled by that particular ruler, the ruler can’t rule anymore.)

But it’s not even “Africans = apes”, it’s “black people = apes”, and the protesters don’t look especially black to me.

Agreed – I don’t think the metaphor is prima facie problematic.

I think it’s more than that. If the OP is inquiring into the social/psychological/anthropological component of human governance and exploring the leadership dynamic therein, it would make sense that analogy is made to the default state of nature.

And sometimes the ruler thinks there’s an alternative (c) to “go all-in”: use massive deadly force to restore submission. Problem is, if it doesn’t work right away you get a bloodbath and you’re quickly back on the road to (b).

My racist roots picked up on it immediately but my interpretation of the OP quickly chalked it up as an unfortunate choice of words meant primarily to mean “brutal leader.” But it did strike me as offenderati fodder and I cringed a bit. Particularly troubling, however, is that groups of gorillas are not called “tribes”.

yeah I thought about adding something like that

"c) kill the protesters, then see b) "

So a dictator has to deal with demonstrations somehow. If they continue indefinitely, they disrupt the usual business of the country and make the regime look weak. Right now pretty much everything is shut down in Tunis and Egypt (at least around Cairo). The dictator might be able to discourage the demonstrators, perhaps through intimidation and capturing public support from a larger part of the populous. Or he might employ stronger methods, like deploying riot police with tear gas, and arresting the biggest troublemakers. If that doesn’t work he can deploy the army, even possibly ordering them to open fire on demonstrators. But those orders only work if you have a military or police force willing to brutalize their own countrymen. If they instead allow the demonstrations, then essentially the dictator has no power. How can he rule a country if nobody will listen? Eventually someone will be able to forcibly remove the dictator – perhaps an officer who commands greater loyalty than the dictator in his unit. Or maybe a group of ministers who want to overthrow the dictator for their own gain. Of course, the smart dictator will flee before this happens.

Right now, in Egypt, high government officials are sending out all sorts of orders to try and shut down the demonstrations. Demonstrators are ignoring the curfews, and military units stationed there are doing nothing to break things up.

I just heard a revealing anecdote about a BBC reporter who just arrived at an airport in Cairo. Apparently the airport security is under orders to confiscate all equipment from reporters and journalists. Senior officials are attempting to enforce this, but most of their underlings are ignoring or completely flouting the order. So one guy in charge will manage to take away a few cameras, but then someone else just gives them back.

And Mubarak’s style isn’t really so infamous to suggest he’d take that road.

I don’t either, FWIW. I’m simply curious to know where the OP is from, because culturally, they’re on the other side of the world from me. My WLG* would no sooner have allowed me to post the given metaphor than to call a five-year-old African American male a “boy.”

I only asked “where you from,” not “who the f&ck do you think you are?” :slight_smile:

  • white liberal guilt

I’m half African and it didnt ring any racist bell in me. You probably meant well, but it sounds awfully like you have a major chip on your shoulder.
P.S: the whole gorilla/ape thing refers to blacks, not Africans in general.

As others have pointed out, it’s not the demonstrations themselves that cause regime change. It’s the refusal of the security forces (the army, the police) to follow the orders of the leader.

What demonstrations do is force the issue. They make the security forces pick a side.