Anderson’s reading regarding the Arab Spring introduced and explained the reasons behind as well as the execution of many of the happenings in the Arab world in 2011. She detailed the differences between what happened in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya based on their rulers at the time and how the people as well as the government responded. There were several issues in Tunisia that lead to the people wanting to revolt. Ben-Ali had restricted a lot of free speech and expression, “the Islamists’ claim that the government was prostituting the country for foreign exchange resonated in Tunisia” (322) because they made it seem like it was this great travel place but in reality there were bad conditions, and Wikileaks even revealed that over half of the high up officials were related to Ben-Ali in some way. The military didn’t play a huge role in the protests, and they were spontaneous and not very organized. Mubarak’s overthrow in Egypt was for slightly different reasons. It occurred because the government could no longer provide what the people needed. As opposed to Tunisia, the military did have a large role in the revolt, and the police seemed to disappear during most of it. Anderson mentions that there was a campaign for a blogger who was killed, which represented the high tolerance for free speech. Libya’s situation seems most different. Al-Qaddafi created a system in which the people had no trust in the government at all, and everyone turned to their families instead. Basically all forms of free expression were banned, and Libya had no real ties to anyone or anything during his rule. Anderson points out that now, “Libya confronts the complexity not of democratization but of state formation” (327) which seems like a daunting feat.
While examining the differences in all of these three nations, I could not help but to think about our class simulation of an autocratic government. When Anderson mentioned the blogger who was killed in Egypt, I was thinking about when one of the activists “threw a pen” at the government in our simulation and got deported. The reading along with the activity made me realize how powerful the people are, even in countries where the government is respected. This also made me think about the implications this leaves for social media. What ties can you see between our class simulation and these three countries? Do you think we most closely represented one of them? What does the killing of the blogger in Egypt, and the deporting of the activist in class, say about the power of social media and activism during revolts and protests such as these?