Protest or revolution – does it matter?

While attention has again shifted to brutally violent confrontation in Egypt, the other story of the year continues to be that of more peaceful mass protest movements organised extensively through social media. Academic Zeynep Tufekci has been observing the protests in Turkey from close range, and in June offered a typology of characteristics that such new forms of protest appear to share. Last month Eric Borja reflected on this eight-point list in the context of Brazil’s emerging protest movement, noting some similarities and important differences.

In a situation where it’s far from clear what has really been ‘won’ by any of these movements, the nexus between analysis and advocacy, especially in Borja’s piece, is complex. In a situation such as in Brazil, (and indeed, for the moment, in Turkey) where all the mechanisms of formal democracy are in place, yet there appears to be a massive popular willingness to launch disruptive protest, it will be intriguing to see if the language of revolution takes hold. It may not be good news for anyone if it does, however.

Update, 22 August: see this chilling discussion from Kenan Malik on how the Egyptian ‘revolution’, and some of its most ‘progressive’ leadership, now embraces military rule, and even condones massacre.


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