I confess that I have a weakness for people who speak the impolitic truth with passion and a total disregard for status quo convention. Thus I am a fan of Gerald Celente who recently wrote this about the current situation in Egypt: 

As we will see in Egypt, military coups will be disguised as regime changes. Already the public is being conditioned to view the Egyptian military as beloved liberators. But in fact they are simply another arm of the autocratic government, no more familiar with democratic ideals than the dictator they replace…who had himself been drawn from the ranks of the military.

If elections are held they are usually rigged and the only change is a change of clothes – from a tailored General’s uniform to a tailored Armani suit.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

The cynical part of me, which is by far the greater part of me, agrees with Celente. I think that outcome is overwhelmingly likely. But what if?

What if the current, what do they call it in the mainstream media?, “unrest” in the Middle East is the beginning of whatever is next, rather than just another step along the road of the current status quo?

If there was a place where civilization started, the Middle East seems to have been it. Wouldn’t it be ironic, or at least a nice history rhyme, if the dawning of a new civilization era started once again in that same region?

Here’s the thing that seems like a potential catalyst of something altogether different to me: the unprecendented ubiquity of HD video cameras in almost everyone’s purse or pocket, and YouTube. 

I think that the fact that there is no real way to keep a lid on multiple sources of good quality video documentation of aggressive military force against un-armed protestors is a game-changing development for military-backed dictatorships. 

In the past, when things got “out of hand” from a dictatorial point of view, the ruling government could pretty easily put the protest down with massive force and then silence and discredit word-of-mouth reporting of the event. Without seeing a smoking gun, the majority of the world will apparently not believe, or at least ignore, reports of atrocities. But when you are looking at obviously credible footage of children being killed by government forces, it changes things.

It changed things in Egypt. If there were a way to bet on such things, I’d be happy to lay down a hefty bet that were it not for the fact that Egypt could not successfully black out all the professional, and especially the amateur reporting of what was happening there (not for lack of trying, but the internet genie is out of the bottle — you can’t put it back in), things would have happened a lot differently and Mubarak would still be in power. 

I think this game-changing development creates a situation where a dictatorship is going to have to betray via public action what it’s real motives, values and intentions are. Faced with popular revolt, there is no longer the age-old option of military action against the protest coupled with denial and spin. They will still deny and spin of course, but there will be too much credible evidence in the public domain refuting the lies and so the consensual reality will be one where their publically documented actions will convict them in the eyes of the world as essentially enslaving their populace and maintaining power through aggressive force.

The big question to me is how will the world at large metabolize this development. Will the world put political or even military pressure on atrocity-committing dictatorial regimes? Or do we remain too entranced by American Idol?