Monday, February 14, 2011

Reasons of the revolution

What drove the revolution in Egypt and Tunisia? Here are the four factors which may collectively constitute the reason of the movement:

1. Poverty and inequality

No one can be the patriot if she is hungry. In many revoluions, there has been the anger on their living standards, which let people to fight for the better life. In Egypt, 40% of the population is living a day with under 2 dollars. However, although the gini coefficient of Islamic countries looks high, the overall level is lower than some countries which have lower risk of the upheaval (see the map). The inequality and poverty cannot be solely the reason of the revolution.

Source: Economist & UN

2. Lack of democratic process

If you have the proper voting process you can choose the better government through election. But if that is not the case, people have to rely on the violent movement. Still, there are many other countries which don’t have democracy.

3. Illegitimacy of the government

Some people say the revolution is nothing but the anti-American movement. In fact, the potential targets of the next revolution are said to be Yemen and Sudan; Yemen has pro-US government and Southern Sudan’s pro-American rebels just won the independence.

With that said, to treat the movements just as the anti-US movement seems to be too simple. I think, more essentially, the revolution was the action against the illegitimate government. The intervention by US and the other countries would have brought about the issue of legitimacy.

Still, we cannot let the legitimacy alone be the reason of the revolution. There are many other countries which have issues in due process in establishing their government.

4. Proliferation of internet

Some point out the impact of information brought about by wikileaks. Actually the start of Tunisian revolution was wikileaks. Today’s rebels are utilizing SNS which has accelerated speed of people’s action. The rebels mobilize their movement through twitter, Facebook, and the other SNS.

Internet could be the reason of the revolution, but it also cannot fully explain the situation. As some newspapers broadcast, Tunisian knew the corruption of president’s family long before the wikileaks. Also, there are other countries which seem to be suppressed by government and have more access to internet (see the table). The question “why Tunisia, why Egypt?” remains.


Main table: Economist

Additional column:


All the above explain occurrence of the revolution to the certain extent. The poverty, social inequality, lack of democratic process, illegitimacy of the government and proliferation of internet could collectively increase the probability of the revolution. Personally speaking, however, the occurrence and the success of the revolution are ultimately determined by those who lead the rebels. As with new enterprises, what determines the success is the leaders.

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