Beware of dogs! Tech version to politicians

BY: Lawrence Mantey
Image credit: shutterstock.com
Image credit: shutterstock.com

Property owners and tenants have a smart way of warding off criminals and intruders from their residence by placing the inscription, “beware of dogs”, at the entrances of residences. The trick actually works and helps keep them safe from thieves.

For a long time, people have endured under authoritarian regimes where abuses, exploitation and injustices abound. There is only one thing that makes such situations possible.

The vulnerability of the masses to challenge excesses in government through self-expression, most often cunningly orchestrated by the ruling class.

Such vulnerabilities are becoming a thing of the past now. Governments with wicked agenda are increasingly finding it difficult to hold sway in many jurisdictions around the world.

The masses have found a useful tool to break that vulnerability of self-expression. The cunning manipulation of the masses by the government is not working anymore.

On-line Info

New communication technologies and quick access to a varied range of on-line information is opening up possibilities for citizens to engage with one another and with their governments in a potentially more democratic ways.

They have also helped in contributing to social and political change by enabling the spread of opposing and different ideas, of official news reports or government pronouncements.

Today, non-performing governments are being chased away in many countries. In January 2001, thousands of Filipinos protested the action of their Congress, in relation to corruption proceedings against their President, Joseph Estrada.

What brought the crowds to Epifanio de los Sontos Avenue was a text massage sent around rapidly for people to mobilise in protest (“Go to EDSA. Wear blk”).

Arab Spring

The presumed link between the communication revolution and political change became a key element of the story of the Arab Spring in 2010 and 2011, beginning with the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia in December.

The most widely and dramatically reported of the Arab Spring, a series of confrontations between citizens and authoritarian governments in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula took place in Egypt, culminating in the resignation of Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, in February 2011, after 30 years in power.

The Western media interested in the events in Egypt have much to do with the mechanism through which protest against the government was organised.

As Mona El-Ghobashy writes, “after CNN correspondence Ben Weidman reported within two days of the uprising, calling it ‘a very techie revolution,’ in the following days, every major news outlet framed the uprising as the work of wired, savvy 29-something, awakening the liberating potential of Facebook.”

Many of the political changes sweeping through the world with regard to authoritarian regimes would not have happened as quickly and efficiently as it did without social media, and may well not have happened at all.

In the absence of a functioning civil society, a free and open space for debate and exchange of ideas, social media and other enabling tech-outlets became a crucial space for people to voice their frustration and organise themselves to do something about it.

Now, like the “beware of dogs sign”, technological advancements have been the version warding off wicked politicians.

Humanity will always be cursed with power hungry politicians and the rule of law and justice will not automatically flourish in all places at all times, but with so many people connecting with each other every day, the world is now less hospitable to authoritarian regimes.

Thanks to modern technology, participatory democracy is now a reality.

Governments are finding it harder to keep their people isolated from one another, to censor information and to hide corruption and issue propaganda that goes unchallenged.

Slowly but surely, the weapons of mass oppression are becoming extinct. Politicians, therefore, need to beware of that “dog.”

The writer is with the Institute of Current Affairs and Diplomacy. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.