The Ultimate Revolution: Nonviolent Information Technologies
Afra Jalabi, a renowned Syrian scholar, activist and friend of SalamaTech, discusses how revolutions in technology can indeed revolutionize Revolution.
By Afra Jalabi
We live in a world that is increasingly interconnected– populations around the world are gaining access to education, information technologies and global media. Along with this interconnected world, there seems to be a rising awareness about the unbearable heaviness of human rights abuses, and as a result, a greater demand for democratization and civic participation.
However, in the post-colonial era, many countries – particularly in the Middle East – are caught between brutal military dictatorships and an outside international order organized around the principles of economic interests and strategic domination, rather than human rights and international law. Even with an international institution like the UN, who – along with a charter and declarations – passes specific resolutions to alleviate some of these problems, lacks the mandate and mechanisms to uphold rule of law at an international level. In fact, the UN Security Council, with its five-state veto power, is part of a world order that blocks the emergence of functional and implementable international law. This allows many states to act with impunity when committing colossal crimes against their civilian populations, while maintaining machineries of complex webs of horrific security institutions and practices.
Amidst such internal constraints and international structural challenges, what are a people caught up under a brutal dictatorship to do? Looking at the catastrophic consequences of the Arab Spring – including the resurgence of counter revolutions in Egypt, the rise of cultish radical armed groups like the Islamic State (ISIS), or the carnage taking place as a result of the armed confrontations to the Syrian regime – one sees the hefty price paid by ordinary citizens. With hundreds of thousands killed, tortured, imprisoned and exiled, much of the landscape in the Arab World has become an earthly inferno that is consuming human beings, resources and infrastructure. So much sacrifice and yet, there has been little gain. Instead, we are regressing and drowning further. These are combustive combinations that create despair, confusion and recipes for radicalization.
How can transitions to democracy, greater freedoms and sustainable economic development occur without such horrific costs?
Can the revolution in information technologies mitigate the devastating consequences of armed revolutions? Can Revolution in technology revolutionize Revolution?
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