"Hence, then, is a large lesson about the relationship between a well-functioning system of free expression and citizen's well-being. Free speech and free press are not mere luxuries or tastes of the most educated classes; they increase the like-lihood that government will actually be serving people's interests (Republic.com 2.0, p. 98)." The above quote taken from the reading of the book Republic 2.0 shows us why there is unrest in Libya. For example, Muhammad Bouazizi set himself on fire in an act to protest against high living costs and joblessness in Tunisia. Then, in Cairo Egypt, a demonstration broke out over high food price inflation, high unemployment, corruption, etc. Now there are demonstrations taking place in Libya. Libya has an unemployment rate of 30% along with the problems of health issues and poverty. As the above quote states, all of this revolves around the issues of freedom of speech and the standard of living costs for citizen's in these arab nation states.
The main question is "What happens after people get their freedom and over throw the pre existing tyrannical leaders?" Egypt right now has removed president Mabarak and most of the people in the government who supported. The military is now in place to keep the country functional until a new civilian government can be elected. This is not the case in Libya. If people were to overthrow Gadaffi, then who would step up to take his place? Would the current military be able to govern the country temporarily? Or would another radical group or tyrannical leader take over?
According to Najla Abdurrahman, a Libyan-American writer and activist, writes, "After all, Libya lacks political institutions which means it could descend into years of bloody civil war. And Libya is full of Muslims so Islamic extremists could take control of a new government and further destabilise the Arab world. Do Libyans even realise where they're headed? Have they forgotten about Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq? Gaddafi is admittedly unpleasant, even brutal, but he has held the country together and kept extremists at bay for decades (Libya: Making something out of nothing, Aljazeera)."
According to the above author, if Gaddafi were to be overthrown, Libya would be in disarray and possibly be taken over by Islamic extremists. So if the anti Gaddafi supporters had Gaddafi removed from office, would a radical group or dictator step into power and still keep the people of Libya oppressed? The problem is this could be a possibility considering the issue of extremist groups within the Islamic communities. If we look back at the beginning of this blog, I took a quote from Cass R Sunstein's Republic 2.0 which stated that "Free speech and free press are not mere luxuries or tastes of the most educated classes; they increase the like-lihood that government will actually be serving people's interests". The people's interests will not be served if a ruler or group comes into power who will still oppress the Libyan people. If the issues of poverty and joblessness are not fixed then the people will still continue to suffer. Cass R. Sunstein is very optimistic that if the freedom of speech and freedom of press are achieved then the government will serve the people's needs. This could have the opposite effect in Libya in that with the people achieving freedom without a structured plan to rebuild, could fall prey to a more oppressive regime or according to Najila "descend into years of bloody civil war". The question is, "will overthrowing Gaddafi give the people what they really want?"
The leaders in these arab countries need to listen to what the people want and make sure people have what is needed to sustain themselves in their daily lives. If people do not have their basic needs meet, then revolutions will continue to take place. When the government starts to suppress or cut off cell phone and internet communication services in response to these demonstrations, then this just adds to the suppression of the people's freedom of speech. If the mentioned arabic countries do not resolve the issues of their people, then they will continue to face uprisings in the name of freedom and democracy.