Friend of Blog "jollyspaniard" wrote (among other things):
Facebook and Twitter are a big help in getting the word out which is one of the biggest logistical challenges in organising protests. Traditionaly this had been done by distributing leaflets which can be a bit tricky in a totalitarian state. Now for a totalitarian state to stop people getting the word out they need to shut off the internet and the phone network which isn't viable. People who think this came from nowhere haven't been reading the news for the past few years. Egypt has been on the verge of boiling over for years according to a lot of reporting. What has happened recently is that Egypt suddenly became un-ignorable.
Needless to say, useful tools are useful, and ingenious humans (some of them tyrants) use them.
I don't agree that Egyptian discontent is the "somewhere" from which the Revolution has come, strictly speaking. Sufficient injustice and discontent to incubate resistance and revolution has existed in Egypt for over a generation, as elsewhere.
Organization met opportunity, discipline responded to distress -- what mattered indispensably was the organization and the awareness and the discipline.
This cannot be stressed enough: In the absence of the organizing, eruptions of perfectly righteous resistance would very likely have been squashed, diverted, assimilated in the usual manner.
Of course, distraction and reaction can still circumvent or domesticate the democratizing force of the ongoing Revolution if the youth movement loses its focus or fails to shift its organizational strategies to meet the rapidly and radically changed circumstances of the post-Mubarak political terrain. I will say that the First People's Communique and news of fledgling dialogue between youth leaders and representatives of the military as well as with El-Barade'i are encouraging in this regard.
Those pundits who now speak of an insurrectionary "trend" that autocratic regimes need to be worried about are no doubt right that sympathetic protests may spring up elsewhere, but in the absence of actual democratic organization those autocratic regimes likely have little to worry about.
Like most people who think "trend-spotting" is an argumentative or deliberative mode (my pet targets, the futurologists, provide the conspicuous illustration), rather than just another debased marketing and promotional mode in a "public realm" entirely reduced to advertising and self-advertising in the service of eating the present, are revealed as usual to be useful idiots in a blaze of flashbulbs.
And those who propose that democratic revolution will crystallize spontaneously wherever enough people have cellphones are exactly as dangerously deluded as those who pretended war could be ended by getting a McDonald's franchise in every nation. Democracy is not a spontaneous order, it is a consensual order, depending for its legitimacy on a scene of consent that must be instituted and maintained by political means in ethical terms not one of which is spontaneous.
On this, Anglo-American parochialism and privilege yields disastrously facile readings of both our histories and hopes -- whether right-wing libertopian fantasies of perfectly efficient perfectly ethical natural markets (markets are of course totally artificial and historical and as readily demand injustice as ameliorate it) or left-wing hippie or technocratic fantasies of post-political massified kindness or pre-political elite design (of course one can be a Nazi and yet kind in one's personal life, and all designers, however smart, however well-intentioned, are individually parochial in ways that no democracy can afford to be).
That the Egyptian Revolution is another profound example of the power of nonviolent secular democratic education, agitation, and organizing but that even most of those who are inspired by Egypt fail to grasp the substance of hope this provides us all or to grasp how vulnerable this misconstrual makes the very achievement that presumably inspires them is, I have to admit, a bit demoralizing.