Sunday, July 6, 2014

did the Arab Spring end in failure?

"Most academics have been wary of fingering Islam as a fundamental impediment to modernisation, yet some, and not only Western ones, suspect it plays a role. Timur Kuran, a Turkish-American economist, argues that Islam’s rigidly egalitarian inheritance rules have hindered the accumulation and mobilization of capital in a way that hampered industrialization. The unresolved issue of proper relations between Islam and the state represents a chronic conundrum.
For most of the time since the first caliphate governments have outwardly endorsed the notion that temporal laws must be subservient to religious rulings while doing as they wish and ensuring that jurists toe the line. In the 19th century the governments of Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia all moved to trim the influence of sharia judges, not under European pressure but because their unpredictable rulings were an obstacle to commerce as well as to government power.
The modern spread of Islamism as an explicitly political expression of Islamic thought has created another set of problems. Groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, a wellspring of Islamism since its founding in 1928, claim that the founding texts of Islam provide a template for every aspect of life, including government. The trouble is that these texts are open to widely varying interpretations. As the proliferation of Islamist political parties proves, it is hard to balance the notion of a fixed, immutable source with the changing whims of democratic politics. Instead, one dominant party is liable to try to silence rivals, a process which often involves outbidding them in a contest for greater 'authenticity'."

I must admit that I'm depressed thinking of what could have come from the Arab Spring.  But I'm not throwing in the towel just yet.  Many people learned that they could voice their opinion, and work collectively with others to push their views.  People are still learning this, and more and more will.  I'm convinced that the people understand better what they want from their government, and know there are methods for gaining that.  But the elite are well-entrenched.  It will take time to make changes.  Same in the U.S.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Brazilians has a strong digital culture

"'We don’t make a difference by sitting behind our computers,' said Marcelo Tas, a Brazilian journalist with more than 5 million Twitter followers, during a newscast with BandnewsTV the first week of the protests last June. 'We’re meeting up in the streets. And it’s not just happening in Rio and São Paulo. Small towns in the interior are protesting. We have a whole country protesting.'
'It’s a really important moment we’re living right now,' says Bia Granja, of the YouPix festival, which gathers hundreds of thousands together at festivals across the country, and millions together online, to organize around digital issues they care about. Last year’s festival in Rio hosted debates about Brazil’s internet legislation, the persecution of the Rio funk movement, and Globo’s factually inaccurate reporting of last June’s protests, interspersed with food contests, MC battles, a well-attended workshop for YouTube content producers (and Havaianas giveaways).
'We’re seeing big changes,' Granja says. 'Social networks are tools of empowerment we didn’t have before.'”

I had to read down pretty far in this article to start to notice anything very exciting. Maybe the first part was just history building up to the good stuff.

To summarize, Brazil uses the social media aspects of the Internet to give citizens a voice in their government.