Tunisia: A Digitally-Driven, Leaderless Revolution

Tunisia Revolution

Screenshot/Russia Today

Revolution in The Air

  • World watches nervously as protests bring down a government and force its longstanding leader into exile.

Extremely Fast Moving 21st Century Revolutionary Dynamics

1. Wikileaks exposure of corruption in Tunisia confirms public distrust >>

2. Out of control food inflation becomes an accelerant to smouldering discontent >>

3. Spark of the first few food and anti-corruption riots flickers out of control >>

4. Amplification of riots by mobile telephones, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube >>

5. Rapid evolution of self-assembling dynamic networks in streets enabled in digital space >>

6. Proliferation of food riots in different towns and cities across the county >>

7. Digital incubation and catalysis of disgruntlement over two to three weeks >>

8. Large scale mass protests erupt in capital overwhelming fears of government reprisal >>

9. Spontaneous combustion in under 48 hours >>

10. President flees and revolution gathers momentum >>

24/7 Digital Incubators and Catalysts

  • Self-organising communication systems facilitate self-assembling dynamic networks without the need for individual leaders;
  • Mobile telephones communicate global news, immediate local news, peer-to-peer text messages, multimedia video, voice and images;
  • Protesters use Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Wikileaks documents, YouTube and other digital tools to organise, mobilise and report;
  • Facebook and Twitter mean that a mass of information and intelligence, not always reliable, is integrated about events even in remote parts of the country;
  • Web-based e-mail and 24/7 local and international news;
  • Flat screen multi-channel worldwide television gives 24/7 live coverage of events; and
  • Information and intelligence picked up inside and outside a country may readily intertwine with events in neighbouring countries or elsewhere.

Copy-Cat Digital Infections

  • What are the chances of worldwide copy cat digital infections via self assembling dynamic networks?
  • This digitally driven leaderless revolution has demonstrated a prototype which has been watched by peoples everywhere in the world;
  • Points to vulnerability of authoritarian regimes not only in the Arab world but also amongst other critical powers; and
  • Most vulnerable to digitally driven leaderless revolutions are undemocratic countries, in such diverse places as the Islamic world and China, North Korea, Burma and Central Asia.

Underlying Causes
This 21st century digital revolution is not driven by irreconcilable tribalism, religion, abuse of human rights or gender; and

  • This is about corruption, extremely high unemployment, out-of-control food and fuel prices and the disruption of the daily lives of ordinary people.
  • Background: Spreading Food and Fuel Riots
  • Tunisian protests began when unemployed graduate set himself on fire after his fruit and vegetables stall was confiscated;
  • Food prices are now at an all time high, and are trending higher, indicating that this may be only the beginning of the food riot problem;
  • Surging food and fuel prices are sparking skirmishes and riots across the world;
  • Outbursts ignite concern that the world is due for a repeat of the 2008 food protests that rocked countries as far apart as Haiti, Senegal and Bangladesh;
  • China and India, like much of emerging Asia, are grappling with an escalating inflation problem. That problem is rising food costs which are disproportionately hitting the lower to middle income Chinese and Indian consumers; and
  • Rising food and fuel inflation has sparked violence across the Middle East, Africa and Asia as well as South America over the last few weeks, as demonstrators protest the high cost of staple commodities like sugar, corn and rice as well as fuel.

Digitally-driven, leaderless revolutions have potential to generate chaos.

This is the first post in a two-part series. You can find the follow-up piece, 2011: Self-Assembling Dynamic Networks And Boundary-less Tribalism here).

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.