How they did it
The protests in Egypt and Tunisia that toppled dictators began with the youth, and this is how they did it; hat-tip to Father Milovan. who notes the link to the Serbian youth group that helped to topple the dictator Slobodan Milošević in 2000.
As protesters in Tahrir Square faced off against pro-government forces, they drew a lesson from their counterparts in Tunisia: “Advice to the youth of Egypt: Put vinegar or onion under your scarf for tear gas.”
The exchange on Facebook was part of a remarkable two-year collaboration that has given birth to a new force in the Arab world — a pan-Arab youth movement dedicated to spreading democracy in a region without it. Young Egyptian and Tunisian activists brainstormed on the use of technology to evade surveillance, commiserated about torture and traded practical tips on how to stand up to rubber bullets and organize barricades.
They fused their secular expertise in social networks with a discipline culled from religious movements and combined the energy of soccer fans with the sophistication of surgeons. Breaking free from older veterans of the Arab political opposition, they relied on tactics of nonviolent resistance channeled from an American scholar through a Serbian youth brigade — but also on marketing tactics borrowed from Silicon Valley.
Twenty-one years ago, in the annus mirabilis of 1989-90, when dictatorships fell all over Europe, and in South Africa too it was bulletin boards (BBSs) and fax machines that played a role. The Fidonet echo conference ASIAN_LINK was a channel for the youth movement in China to communicate with the outside world, though the Tianamnen Square massacre put an end to that. But in Russia the tanks withdrew, with women shouting to the soldiers “you are our children”.
Well, it just goes to show that the youth can use the Internet for something more significant than celebs and brand name clothing.