The base emotion is anger but it comes in a lot of shapes and forms.
The corruption and injustice, if it is rampant and unchecked, causes physical, social, material and emotional harm to the people.
If the people have no way to obtain justice and avoid corruption, they will experience any of the emotions that are found between light purple and deep crimson, such as embarrassment, betrayal, frustration, helplessness, anguish, resentment, or outright red hot anger.
Nevertheless, these are all various manifestations of anger, a powerful emotion that is easy to exploit and manipulate.
The mechanical response of most sitting governments, when they spot any signs of anger, is to project fear. This has always proven a counterproductive strategy that doesn’t seem to register with the policymakers in general.
It works in the short term only. A population that has been subjected to fear will outwardly remain quiet when confronted with the state power. However, that will multiply the residual anger.
And, there comes a tipping point — it always does, sooner or later.
The fear of loss of life and liberty is what keeps people compliant to the state. We are referring to ‘liberty’ here in a very limited sense: right to freedom from prison or detention if no crime has been committed, right to just and impartial trial in case of court proceedings, right to pursue lawful economic activities and right to worship.
The tipping point comes when the people feel that remaining quiet is no longer a guarantee for the safety of their life and liberty.
Sometimes, an external player can help tip the balance and we will come to that when looking at the third set of questions.
For now, it is necessary to see as to how the people react to the ‘power’ and the ‘proximity to power.’
For instance, the president of a country is the ‘power’ and the son or daughter of the president is ‘proximity to power.’
Even if the people find something wanting in the governance style of the president, they would be willing to tolerate it in the hope of betterment. However, they would have zero tolerance for the excesses committed by the ‘proximity to power.’
This is a lesson repeated in country after country: Fall of Mubarak in Egypt mainly because of his sons, fall of Gaddafi in Libya because of his family, fall of Zain Abedin in Tunisia because of his cronies, ouster of Yanukovic in Ukraine because of his inner circle, flight in disgrace of two presidents of Kyrgyzstan because of their clans, etc.
The sitting governments in Central Asia need to take stock of the situation: What is the behaviour and attitude of their close relatives and friends? Do they feel and act above law? Do their actions in pursuit of economic benefits infringe on the rights of the people? Do they use the state machinery for their own benefit?
Earlier we suggested that the regional governments analyze honestly the situation related to corruption and injustice. Now, we add another dimension to it: careful study of the doings of their own close relatives and friends and how far is it adding to the anger among the population.
The regional governments also need to get rid of the sense of invincibility. This is another one of the lessons from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. When the tipping point is reached, when the balance between anger and fear is lost, when people decide that remaining quiet because of fear is no more an option, things tend to change suddenly.
To be continued . . .