The Arab Spring Is Brighter Than Ever

Brian Whitaker, The Guardian.

Arabs don't talk much about democracy as such, and they tend to be cynical about elections. They do talk increasingly about "freedom", though what they mean by it is not quite what Bush meant. They want freedom from corruption and political cronyism, and the freedom to make their own choices – an end to repression and government attempts to control the minutiae of people's lives.
Democracy may be one way of working towards that but it is rarely seen as a goal in itself, and while regime change is certainly an important part of the revolt, its younger activists (at least) have their eyes set on changing whole systems, not just the political leaders.
The wave of insurrection that broke out in December was sudden but not totally unexpected; the signs of discontent were there for anyone to see and they had been developing for more than a decade.
The process actually began in the 1990s when the arrival of satellite television, and especially al-Jazeera, opened the first serious cracks in regimes' monopoly on ideas and information – and that accelerated later with the explosion of the internet.

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