Fooling people for most of the time is becoming increasingly difficult for double-speaking politicians.
The new printing press.
Just as the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century took power away from the religious and political elite, the Internet has now more than proven to be replicating a similar power shift in the twenty-first century. Keeping a population under control by restricting their access to information and expressing their opinions is now almost impossible for repressive regimes. The events in Egypt in recent weeks have proven without a shadow of a doubt, how powerful the Internet, social networking and mobile telephony are in rallying people together and empowering them against the tyranny of dictatorship and repression.
While Western democracies cheer the events in Egypt in the name of freedom, human rights and all that is wonderfully democratic, these same leaders espouse all that is evil about websites such as Wikileaks exposing their own nasty secrets and lies.
My enemy’s enemy is my friend.
Political and state secrets, propaganda and misinformation have been the successful tools of the ruling elite for a centuries. Up until the Berlin Wall fell, things were happily following the rules of using the politics of fear to keep everything on an even keel. While cracks started to appear after 1989, the events of September 2001 gave the politics of fear a huge shot in the arm and the expression ‘weapons of mass destruction’ became the rallying cry, and lie to keep everyone nicely scared.
It gave democracies the power they needed to push forward with unsavoury political agendas with very little scrutiny. Supporting dictatorships such as in Egypt because of the political and economical benefits, while at the same time crying foul when Gaza elected a government democratically. It’s a wonderful example of two faced Western democracies to label tyrannical dictators as trusted friends and the winners of democratic elections that you don’t like as terrorist organisations. Of course anyone that tries to expose these anomalies are labeled as enemies of the state.
It’s getting harder to lie.
One can only hope that the events of the 11th February 2011 in Egypt will bring a positive outcome, but not only in Egypt. The silence from Israel, the muted response from Europe and the ultra carefully scripted mutterings of the US are a signal that they are all unsure of how to react. Not just to the end of a convenient dictatorship, but to the realisation that the masses are now extremely well informed and organised. The Internet, social networking and political leak sites have empowered people and have made two-faced political double speak a far more difficult political tool to get away with.
It has also highlighted the fall of independent investigative journalism in the past thirty years. State controlled media as well as tabloid journalism and television news reduced to a level deliverable to a four year old child ensured that governments were under little if any scrutiny by the media. The awareness of more informed, inter-connected and organised societies will now make it much more difficult for governments and the media to peddle misinformation. One can hope at least.