Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Morning Musings - Egypt, communications & collapse

It will be tomorrow or Monday before I complete the discussion that began with Belshaw's blogging restructure 1. I find that I need more time, and will be away today.

Weren't the events in Egypt amazing? I didn't comment on them because I really had nothing of value to add.

All Governments require some form of acceptance from the governed to survive, even if it's just the desire of most people to get on with their lives. Listening to President Hosni Mubarak's somewhat rambling speech, it seemed to me that he had lost it, was just too out of touch with reality.

When I first looked at the history of Europe at the end of the First World War I was surprised at the collapse of Governments, at the fluidity and chaos. There were still people trying to do their jobs, some things still worked, but overall there was a crazy mixture of groups and players; final outcomes seemed and were quite uncertain. Collapse was progressive.

I do wonder what would have happened in Europe at the time if today's communications had existed then. Would it have altered results, or just speeded processes up?

The big difference between Europe then and Egypt today lies in the way that the technology and supporting infrastructure facilitates civil mobilisation. The patchwork quilt of European groups lacked this. The disintegrating dynasties - Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman - collapsed in different ways and at different paces.

I suspect that modern communications would probably not have affected the overall disintegration process, but might well have affected who came out on top at the end. One could probably play with this a bit by taking events in one or two cities at the time, add the communications, and then speculate on the impact.

Still, that's a matter for another day.  

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