Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Genie Out of the Bottle

Thoughts on the Egyptian Revolution.

The Information Revolution is a genie. The question before the court is will the governments of the world see it as an evil genie that has to be shoved back into its bottle at any cost.

Two centuries ago the Industrial Revolution reshaped the world. While it was an economic revolution it also reshaped society and caused the death of the prevailing governmental structure, absolute monarchy.

Revolutions in France, Germany, Italy, and Russia led to a mixture of democracies and military dictatorships. When industrialization reached China and Japan their monarchies either fell or became powerless figureheads.

Entire power structures, from kings and dukes to lowly baronets, collapsed. Some lost their heads while others simply fell from being great lords to normal human. The point of this discussion is not who lost power or who gained it, only that it happened.
the last shall be first, and the first last. ~ Matt. 20:16
The Information Revolution may be bringing a similar upheaval of social power. We are certainly seeing it arising in monarchical countries like Iran, Tunisia and Egypt. But the rumblings of social revolution are being heard across the globe.

What will governments do? If the 18th century monarchies knew that the Industrial Revolution would end their power the kings would have shut down the mills, torn up the railroads, and smothered the Industrial Revolution in its sleep even if it condemned their countries to centuries of abject poverty. In Egypt today the government is turning the clock back a hundred years in the hopes of quelling an uprising wrought by the Information Revolution.

Will the nobility of the Industrial Revolution (bankers and industrialists) and the minions who serve them in government decide that the free flow of information is too dangerous? Will they try to silence the information web that encompasses the globe? Will they try to put the genie back in the bottle?

Can they?

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