Philippa Thomas Online

Occasional thoughts about life, books and news.

The Shape of Revolutions?

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How much do we mistake the technology for the story?

I’m always fascinated by the way in which social media networks connect activists and amplify their voices. But plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – how about this observation by New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik ?

“Twitter, spitting out its brief public messages, is given credit for making revolutions – and certainly, throughout the Arab Spring and the Ukrainian and Iranian near-Springs the instant news shared by its tweets raced around the crowds and helped order its actions. But in truth, every popular social revolution since at least the French one has followed (I think) the same pattern – a government weakened by war or financial crisis or both meets popular resistance, which for the first time takes in members of the elite and the masses. They find a meeting space – it could be Tahrir Square or a French real tennis court – and occupy it. Then, in the crucial moment, the army, called on to disperse the mob, identifies with the cause and refuses. The government is forced to surrender. Then, time after time, the best organised of the militant minorities takes over – and then, in 18th Century France or 21st Century Egypt, there is a contest to see if the militant minority can dominate the army or if the army will destroy the militant minority. Whether texted and twittered or papered and pamphleted, the shape of revolution is about the same.”

It’s part of his BBC essay this week – on why HE doesn’t tweet.

 

 

Author: philippathomas

I've been a BBC newswoman for 28 years: reporting from around the world. Currently to be seen anchoring BBC World News TV. Main interests - politics, diplomacy, tech, media, arts and all things American. I began this personal blog as a 2011 Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard. You can also find me talking daily news on Twitter at @PhilippaBBC, and sharing anything from travel photos to my year in books on Instagram at @philippanews. Thanks for reading!

One thought on “The Shape of Revolutions?

  1. socialism will be the best social, political and economic system for u for me and for all, not just for a few rich people like capitalism in fact is

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