Will the Tunisian revolution inspire actions beyond the Arab world?

Well, this thread’s OP has been answered in the affirmative. After the Tunisian uprising, people all over the Arab world started acting as if it had just occurred to them, for the first time ever, “You can do that?!”

Could the example spread even further, say, to Burma, or the Central Asian states, or Belarus?

I see no serious prospects for North Korea, and the Cuban people are just . . . waiting. Hugo Chavez has no serious unvented unrest to worry about. And the Iranian government has the confidence of a regime that successfully crushed a similar street-rebellion not long ago. So did the Burman government, for that matter.

But what about . . . China? Is it long enough since Tienanmen Square to try again?

Time’s “Top 10 Autocrats in Trouble.”

Hmmm . . . No sign of any yet . . .

Based on several recent threads I’d say that the US is the next up for revolution! We are poised on the knife edge of Americans rising up in righteous wrath to either smite (with ‘great vengeance and furious anger’) the rich keeping them down or the government screwing with peoples lives, depending on your political orientation.

:eek: <—holding breath icon

(I don’t believe that the Egyptians only realized that they could revolt due to the example of the Tunisian revolution, so I am not buying that this is going to cause wide spread revolutions in other countries where the down trodden will equally only now realize that they could revolt. YMMV)


Let’s do both at once! It’ll be novel! :slight_smile:

This article in the International Business Times raises the same question, but fails miserably in providing an answer.

It is a slide show of various protests and demonstrations around the globe and notes that widespread unemployment coupled with rising prices for energy “could be the spark to set off a powder keg of long endured repression, impoverishment and inequality and make 2011 the year of global discontent.”

It think that such a scenario is entirely possible, maybe even probable, considering the state of the global economy, but the article, such as it is, does not present any arguments how any of these protests are linked to one another. Currently it is just a hodgepodge of local or regional conflicts based on local or regional issues which may or may not have causes because of the global economy. I think many of them do, and would like to see a more in-depth article showing those linkages.

I do think that Tunisia will inspire actions beyond the Arab world, but I do not see that many other regimes falling outside of that area. While those regimes need to change, regardless of what takes it place, it will just be window dressing unless those underlying causes are addressed.

Now to hijack this thread…

I think the key issue behind the discontent is not the lack of jobs and rising food prices, it is the lack of means for people to create jobs for themselves and to create sustainable societies that can provide stable supplies of food, energy and other commodities.

I think the record of the last twenty years of the ‘Washington Consensus’ is that economic development and governmental reforms to allow those with means and access to partake in the global economy is severely limited unless coupled with deep social development that allows anyone to obtain the means and access needed to join that economy.

This does not mean government programs, though those have a part, but more important are changing the rules to allow much easier independent job creation and access to commercial credit. Everyone says we need more jobs, and that somehow the existing marketplace will provide them. If supply is not meeting demand, rather than wait for existing suppliers to increase capacity, the focus should be on increasing the number of suppliers.

I do think a very important tool has been developed and is being overlooked - smart phones. These things are the great equalizer. Compared to their alternatives, they are an incredibly cheap means of access to high quality information. Focus has been on how these wonderful devices are helping the revolutions in the Arab world and elsewhere by using social networking, but I think they will be even more empowering when they can be used to provide access to markets.

This will also be known as the year when smart phones replaced debit cards - not for everyone, but for a substantial number. They then go beyond being toys for updating Facebook or playing music to become a much simpler means of providing commercial credit and banking services.

Microlending is the hot topic in economic development, but is starting to fall to the same problems as traditional lending with capital markets trying to turn a service into a commodity and suck up all the profit for themselves.

As part of the backlash against Wall Street, London, Paris and the rest of the international finance community, I think these services will be not be provided by them, but through cooperative banks and credit unions created by NGOs or social enterprises such as Grameen, possibly using a network architecture and management systems provided by the Google and similar IT companies.

The demands are not just political freedoms from corrupt capitol regimes, but economic freedom from a corrupt capital regime as well.

Every Egyptian voice I’ve heard on the matter has credited the Tunisian revolt as proximate inspiration, though of course the conditions had been developing for a long time. Why should we doubt the importance of a small spark to a powder keg?

I agree, you’ve got a handle on the central problem … the world’s financial institutions are cannibalizing the economies that support them, turning services into commodities and then creating complex financial instruments … like derivatives … that allow them to turn the commodity into a no-holds-barred gambling game that is no longer linked to any real world increase in good and services, but leaving the real world people holding the bag. (That’s not to say that financial marketers don’t suffer losses when the dice don’t roll their way … I mean, when their financial instruments fail … but a guy who has made $400 million in the financial markets and then lost three quarters of it still has $100 million … which is not “ruined” by most definitions.)

I think we are seeing the limits of capitalism here … it is creating widespread poverty instead of widespread wealth as the uncontrolled power of the financial markets has turned it into a sinkhole.

I think the real limiter for revolution will be the willingness of governments to use violence against protestors, up to and including large numbers of them. An outfit like Iran would of course happily slaughter protesters by the thousands, being the bloody-minded fanatics that they are. And a lot of African dictators probably would do the same. It’s one thing to put your life on the line, taking a risk with it. It’s another to set yourself up for a role as the meat in a meat grinder.

What about China? Has the leadership grown any softer on that point since 1989?

I really do not know enough about the Chinese leadership to say, BrainGlutton.

I would say not really. While they have vastly improved personal freedoms and introduced some political freedoms, in some ways things have also tightened up. For example, the media is able to discuss a variety of occasionally very controversial topics relatively freely…as long as they do not criticize the legitimacy of the party. While many things are changing, anything that threatens to disrupt the power structure in any way is still right out. Things like black prisons, monitoring of personal communications, etc. are still common. So while some of the window dressing has changed, the structure is still there.

My direct experience with China is nil, but I’ve been told that Tiananmen itself was the result of a “liberal” period, and that there is no question but that the regime has been tougher ever since.

Wikipedia has a (constantly-updated) page on 2010-2011 Arab world protests, with a section on “Similar concurrent non-Arab-world protests”:

So, not much, yet. Ah, well, perhaps the world can only handle a few revolutions at a time. They’re sometimes worth having, but they’re such unpredictable things. Even when they revolutionaries can be sure of winning, they can never be sure what is actually going to replace the status quo.

Nope , I believe we are probably done for regime change across the big blue marble. Every country thats at risk for regime change has probably started to take action on their known agitators and trouble makers and monitoring the various social media.

Any local dissent is probably going to be either crushed utterly or marginalized with rolling internet and telephony blackouts.

Iran is probably in my opinion, the one country where the populace might simply try again. Cuba is worried that various satelite wifi hotspots have been set up covertly for the day when their balloon goes up.


You are thinking only of the obvious, Declan. For (a probably tired, coming from me) example, Cameroon’s wildly unpopular relic of a dictator is up for another rigged election next year. It’s a pretty common story: installed during cold war manipulations, propped up by overseas powers for the sake of “stability” and grudgingly accepted by a population who perceives that economic stagnation is better than the threat of civil war.

Now people are starting to see the stagnation is actually a decline, and that change may not mean war and chaos. Now might be the time to throw off these cold war legacies and regain the independence Africa was promised five decades ago.


Not that the common folks around the world don’t want regime change, its just that the element of surprise has worn off and the old guard are wary enough not to take chances. It only took about 16 days for Egypt to go from start to finish, with a couple of days for mubarak to finally realize he was done.

The smart ones will stomp on the embers before they catch, only the stupid dictators remaining will be the ones that get caught up in the revolutionary spirit.


The Iranian opposition is calling for demonstrations on Monday. I don’t know if a Tunisia-style revolution can succeed in Iran right now – when it came down to it, practically nobody really supported the rulers of Tunisia and Egypt; but Iran does have a kindasorta-elected government, and if Ahmadinejad does not represent the views of the majority, he does represent the views of a very large and zealous and organized minority. If this played out in Iran it would be much more of a two-sided street fight.

Add Algeria to the list. While I don’t think further regime changes will happen as quickly as in Tunisia and Egypt, I think seeds have been sown that will not be easily uprooted. By the end of the year, I think Algeria, Iran and others will be planning free elections. No idea on who will win those elections, but the old guards are on the way out.

Plus the Iranian leadership is a lot more comfortable with killing their own kids. Weren’t they the ones who were rumored to have used children in human wave assaults during the Iran-Iraq war? Killing off a few thousand students or even tens of thousands of students would be, well … child’s play … to them. (Note that although there are some questions about the reliability of the use of children in human wave attacks, nobody denies the human wave attacks.)

Let us hope the new guards are an improvement of sorts.