Since the so-called Arab Spring people with power and authority intent on obliterating their opposition have learned a lesson: there is one way – only one way – reliably to do it. Crush it. Squelch it. If need be wipe it – wipe your opponents – off the face of the earth.
• Do I need to remind that after more than two months of protests against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro more than 40 people have died and countless others have been wounded?
• Do I need to remind that the second of the recent Ukrainian revolutions, which led to the ouster this winter of President Victor Yanukovych, resulted in a power grab by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the consequences of which increasingly threaten the stability of the European continent?
• Do I need to remind that the attempt to destabilize the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has had consequences that are direr, more destructive and deadly, than anyone a couple of years ago could even have begun to imagine?
• Do I need to remind that just this week in Egypt – the cradle of the Arab Spring – more than 680 members of the opposition were sentenced to death? You read that right – in one swoop nearly 700 opponents (mostly but not only Islamists) of the current government were condemned by the judiciary to die. Though it’s not yet clear the sentence will be carried out, it’s mind-bending nevertheless.
There is more to be said about all this – much, much, much more. And in the fullness of time I will. Suffice it for now to point out that in many places around the world the reaction to people power, to follower-power, has been leader-power. Leaders hell bent on holding on to what they have use whatever the tools at their disposal to eliminate, literally if necessary, their political opponents. Followers, meanwhile, ordinary people, have in many if not most cases yet to discover how to use their newly empowered selves to the best of their own advantage.