Jan Palach and Mohamed Bouazizi


It’s all gone horribly wrong.
For three weeks the BBC has been telling us that as soon as Mubarak left, everyone in Egypt without a two-foot beard would be hung, and all women locked away in giant kitchen-nurseries.
Instead, we have this ridiculous state of affairs with the people telling the army and all its tanks what to do. And nobody dangling from lamposts or stoned to death. In fact, nothing to crow about at all.
Can we ever trust the media, or our governments, or even the Israeli foreign minister again? And if you can’t trust the Israeli foreign minister, who can you trust? Ho-hum. Since we can’t trust them, better get rid of them. Not a huge problem, any more.
A name strangely absent from the entire media storm is that of Jan Palach, who was the Mohamed Bouazizi of the 1968 Prague Spring. But his generation only had crackly BBC World Service radio broadcasts to shore up their aspirations and a Samizdat DIY publicity machine to organise their campaign. And so they were brutally suppressed by Russian tanks. A full two decades later, Palach’s heirs eventually triumphed against a decrepit regime which the arms race, political sterility and Mikael Gorbachev had been gradually dismantling for years. Compared to them, the Heroes of Egypt were armed to the teeth by the internet. A weapon perfect for the battleground and almost useless to the enemy. And one able to do justice to the sacrifice of martyrs, unlike any other weapon of the masses in arms race of history. (except briefly, possibly, the Welsh longbow).
Even while it was helping re-write global foreign policy, social media such as Facebook were still being routinely sneered at by scaremongerers in the BBC and the gutter press – and governments and business. But then, the word ‘social’ means very little in those circles. She Who Must be Obeyed told them that society was a false god, and that was good enough for them. And the thought of anything cracking open that shell terrifies them.
The other name from another age not mentioned in the last month is TE Lawrence. Which is strange.

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