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Inevitability of the Power of the People

April 5, 2011

Recent events in the Middle East and North Africa have shown that the “power of the people” can, and has, overcome tyrants. The history of Colonialism is littered with revolutions that have involved a people unwilling to continue with Status Quo and rebelling against it in any way they could.  The American Revolution was orchestrated for reasons extremely similar to the plights of the Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, Syrians, Saudis, Bahrainis, Syrians, Jordanians, and Yemenis who have finally decided that their essentially western-installed dictators were no longer welcome.  These leaders have enjoyed decades of good relations with the West but have highly neglected domestic reform; most countries have oppressive emergency laws, alienate the poor, deny freedom of speech and press and questionably handle their aid money.

A reason that many of these protests have had such success is that many are young, unemployed and disenfranchised- these people make prime candidates for a 3-week camp out on Tahrir Square.  According to John Locke the power of the commonwealth is placed with the people and they have the right to revolution if their natural rights, life liberty and property, are compromised.  These tyrants have compromised the rights of their citizens for years and it is time for the social contract of the people to be fulfilled.

One can argue that this transition to democracy is inevitable; the most stable societies are democracies and it is unheard of for large democratic nations to fight against each other.  A world filled with democratic nation-states can assure that these often-bloody revolutions, staged by people throwing off the chains of an archaic system of governance, have no reason to take place.



The world is taking notice: the People’s Republic of China has cut off any news of these uprisings to their citizens and brutally repressed domestic protest attempts, Syria has continued upon its hardline policy of repressing protesters and hundreds have died attempting to emulate their neighbors, and NATO has recently intervened in a humanitarian effort to free the Libyan people from their dictator.  This last point is especially interesting; democratic states have imposed their military power to decide a people’s revolution before its culmination in Libya. If this is any indication for things to come democratic powers may begin to use their military might to forcibly dispose of tyrannical systems- if they don’t they risk the chance of appearing hypocritical. We descend upon a blood ridden, slippery slope as one asks why Libya and not Yemen, Saudi Arabia (Oil!), Bahrain, Syria, Iran, or Jordan.


The power of the people to pursue their natural rights is inevitable as populations embrace enlightenment ideals and rebel; even if the people do not have the necessary power to rebel, recent events have indicated that the power of the people is backed by other democratic governments.  The assent to democracy will involve brutal struggles, as tyrants attempt to retain their power by any means necessary, but the power of the people and their Lockean rights to life, liberty and property will prevail.

  1. timothyhall permalink
    April 5, 2011 7:48 PM

    To expand a little bit in a different direction, a frustrating aspect of the situations you speak of, in which nations are fighting to regain their freedoms as citizens from tyrannical dictators, is that nations continue to find themselves in these situations. They inevitably happen–in times of political unrest, public opinion can easily latch on irrationally to a new leader with gusto and a stance opposite of the government in place at the time. Castro v. Bautista, for example. We can only hope that history’s example is followed in the future and better decisions are made that will lessen the chances of these situations occurring.

  2. Monica Fadanelli permalink
    April 6, 2011 9:44 PM

    This move towards democracy is a great sign. Hopefully from here on out they will move forward and not regress back into a tyrannical state. Revolution is a powerful and sometimes necessary move, but the hardest part comes after the initial overthrow. It’s up to the people and other democratic leaders to establish a new system and help elect a strong cabinet who is interested in the good of the people. History shows, that revolutions give rise to new leaders who can become tyrannical, for instance Napoleon Bonaparte. I believe that the power of the people can overcome tyranny and so far it seems that democracy is prevailing.

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