'Technologies don't stand still'

Bob Rae considers Tunisia and Egypt.

Enter the cell phone, the internet, the i-phone and the blackberry.  These are “personal devices” which empower the individual to learn, to communicate, to connect.  Governments try to repress them from time to time but it can’t be done. A generation of young people with no work, plenty of time on their hands, and living in countries where the politics is truly stuck and the economies apart from oil are having trouble growing – it’s the perfect storm.  Add to this mix on the fringes political ideologies and extremism and the storm takes on added strength.

Will this produce instant democracy ? Absolutely not.  Armies and state structures will have their day and their say.  But the social change underway can’t be stopped, and governments are going to need to show a capacity for change, openness, transparency, accountability, and, yes, democracy and human rights.

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