Protests in a growing number of countries show that citizens have more tools at their disposal to throw their dictators off balance, if not out of power.
Shaam News Network/AP
Certainly dictators have been around for thousands of years, and for every strongman turned out of office in the past few months, there are dozens still holding onto power.
And yet, what protests in a growing number of countries show is that citizens have a greater sense of courageous solidarity and more tools at their disposal to throw their dictators off balance, if not out of power.
"I think the statement, 'The age of dictators is over,' is a bit dramatic and too simplistic, but we have certainly reached a key point in our history," says Gene Sharp, author of an influential book for nonviolent protest, "From Dictatorship to Democracy."
"The knowledge of how to get rid of dictators is spreading," Mr. Sharp says, noting that nonviolent techniques are now being used in Africa, the Middle East, and even military-run Burma (Myanmar). "Nonviolent struggle is not intuitive. It's not spontaneous. It's learning how to think about the problem of authoritarianism, and what to do about the problem. And that knowledge is spreading."
It takes more than a smart phone to take on an authoritarian regime, of course.
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