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Camels vs. Google: Revolutions Recreate the Center of the World


When Google enabled access to Twitter services through landlines in Egypt, the American administration erred on the side of caution. Google is the crown jewel of the American empire, but whereas the American administration manages ideas, Google deals in instruments and communication interfaces. During the revolution in Egypt, such tools proved their ability to animate the global public, while politics reasoned by ideas remains, as of yet, incapable of responding to chronic problems. We may then say that this revolution was led by Google and its rivals—there is no doubt America has dominated this new century since the beginning.

The American administration reads a political situation in a particular country through an assessment of its active political and social structures. The protesters in Tunisia and Egypt did not register on the agenda of American diplomacy. Nor did they register on the official agendas of Tunisia or Egypt. CNN, one of the most involved networks, broadcast a talk show labeling events in Egypt a “revolution without leadership,” yet the absence of leadership did not prevent it from leading the headlines. Presumably journalistic instinct allowed CNN to infer that the revolution in Egypt would soon alter the course of history.

The Egyptian regime came to this conclusion as well. They knew from the beginning that they would have to come up with new techniques to halt the revolution. Someone ingeniously thought to invent a touristic form of repression: camels and horses running over the bodies of protesters equipped with the latest communication technology. The obscenity was beyond expectations; barbarians trying to trample over modernity—camels vs. Google. What an astonishing difference between the apple of Adam and that of Macintosh!

This revolution was instrumented in ways that rendered it impossible to disarm. Protesters came from a privileged social class: young, educated, multilingual—and they were peaceful. How could one expect even the most repressive regime to succeed in stopping them? A great deal of praise has been invested in technological progress and modernization, even from the most radical and authoritarian regimes. Now the users of these technologies have begun to revolt. It appears the authorities did not have enough time to shelve their previous discourse and build a new one condemning technology and constricting its use. Somewhat regrettably for the Egyptian authorities, they only realized this at their moment of reckoning. They tried to sever the communication networks, but it was already too late.

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