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Lecture 17

NATS 1700 Lecture Notes - Lecture 17: Community Theatre, Authoritarianism, E-Government

Natural Science
Course Code
NATS 1700
Dov Lungu

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What We will learn today:
-the internet and authoritarianism: the optimistic view
-the internet and authoritarianism : the pessimistic view
-the internet in several authoritarianism countries
The Earlier Optimistic View:
-The internet is clearly a long term threat to authoritarian regimes because it makes more
difficult to control the thoughts and behaviour of citizens (people will know everything, and will
not accept dictators in their own country and will bring about democracy everywhere!..
however, no one can close the internet and people will always find the truth in the end)
-Authoritarian regimes cannot counter the Internet threat effectively because the internet is to
too anarchic to be controlled by anyone.
-Area of challenges to authoritarian regimes:
-The public is exposed to outside ideas and images of transition to democracy in other
-The emergence of a domestic business elite is encourages
-International Community play a key role in mounting campaigns to encourage international
pressures in favour of democratization in the target country. (Ex: Canada will want to reach
out to other countries and help them when they find out info)
-“The Net is the worlds only functioning political anarchy but it could soon become a major tool
for democracy by allowing anyone anywhere access to information and opinions of anyone
else, anywhere else”
-Cairo: Tahrir Square - February 2011 in Egypt people communicated through twitter, social
networks etc to communicate in a huge number and revolt against president and toppled over
the government: huge demonstration of powerful internet.
The Later Pessimistic View:
-Social Media is not an instrument for deep changes because it does not require deep
commitment from participants.
-Authoritarian rulers can respond to the Internet challenges to their regimes with a verity of
reactive measures: (democratic/dictator rulers can pro/con to their/other governments and
have power to do so.. they can switch off internet connection to Libya for example because
rulers are afraid of internet… other rulers can manipulate the internet but not cut it off but
know how to use it for their own purposes)
-Prohibiting Internet Use
-Restricting Internet Accesset
-Filtering Content
-Monitoring on-line behaviour
-Moreover, the new technologies can be proactively used by determined authoritarian rules to
their won benefit by:
-Distributing propaganda on the Internet both domestically and internationally
-Building stage-controlled national Intranets that serve as a substitute for the global
Internet (local internets, In Cuba is an Internet which looks like our internet but its
the cuban internet, a network which includes only servers from Cuba, all you can
search are sites within Cuba.. everyone has access to this intranet but no one has
access outside.. except a few thousand people that are trusted by government that
have access to the real internet)
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