Downloading freedom in Tehran.

Historians may conclude, with the clarity of hindsight, that the unfolding events in Iran this week maybe the first Internet revolution.
If you have been of a mind to follow what is happening in the aftermath of the Iranian election you will be using you tube and, increasingly, Twitter.

The introduction of the printing press into Europe i8n the 15th century revolutionised politic discourse and subverted the power of Popes and Princes.
It is almost certainly no coincidence that 70% of Iran’s population is under 30 years of age.
They will be, in the lexicon of new media “digital natives”.
They live in a fundamentally different mental universe that the grimfaced mullahs who are, as I type, deploying thugs to batter these young people off the streets of Tehran.
Yesterday there were 100,000 people demonstrating on the streets of the capital against the recent election result.

In 1979 a pro-western dictator-the Shah-was toppled by people power.
It was a Bastille moment for the Middle East.
The Shah had been put on the Peacock Throne in 1953 by a CIA organised coup.
The Iranians, as they toppled America’s man had plenty of reasons to detest “the Great Satan.”
Tragically the democratic republic of Iran became the Islamic republic of Iran largely because the Mullahs could command a monopoly of street violence.
The only thing that has changed is that the Mullahs now have state power.
These men are not democrats and do not understand the young pro-American urban sophisticates who wish to decide their own future.
The people who run Google and Face book have been facilitating this drive for freedom by enabling their sites to operate in Farsi-the language of Iran.
Just as CNN with its electronic newsgathering cameras and satellite uplinks were the media story of Gulf War 1 then Twitter is the new media story of the Iranian uprising.
One could write a history of political upheaval entirely from the perspective of ruling elites wishing to control the supply and quality of information to the common people.
The technology which allows you to read this article on a website anywhere in the world were there is an Internet connection is so epochal that we cant actually grasp it.
It is, like the wheel, the internal combustion engine or nuclear fusion, a game changer.

Although they have the best wished of the entire free world the democrats in Tehran might not, this time, be successful.
However the rule of the Mullahs flourished in isolation and ignorance after 1979.
Iran’s educated young people are not isolated the way their parents were.

President Obama has proved in a few short months to be a catalyst for change in the region.
Firstly with his direct appeal to the Iranian people then with his speech in Cairo.
The Mullahs who are the real power in Iran were delighted with President George W Bush’s “Axis of evil” reference in the state of the Union address in 2002.
Nothing facilitates a society to cohere like an outside threat.
“W” was a godsend to the Mullahs.
A Yankee Imperi8alist out of central casting.
Barack Hussein Obama is a much tougher proposition for the mullahs to dismiss.
With relatives who are of the Islamic faith, this considered, urbane, erudite man knows that the USA has to reach some kind of rapprochement with the Islamic world.
If that is achieved then the zealots who follow Bin Laden and his ilk will have much less water to swim in.
This week I found myself re-reading a book I bought in the 1980s.
“Third Wave” by Alvin Toffler.
The American “futurologist” spoke of the creation of the “de-massified media” within the “infosphere”
This website is proof that Toffler was displaying amazing prescience in his early 1980s book.
New technology can be a gift to any tyrant employing largely automated mass surveillance techniques.
However the green revolution in Tehran-whether it is successful this time or not-is strong evidence that the next revolution will be downloaded.
New media, new game.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion