On Air: Does people power no longer work?

Thailand, Zimbabwe, Burma, Tibet: the last year has seen a string of failed peoples’ uprisings. So does people power no longer work?In Thailand protestors have been occupying the Prime Minister’s house for eleven days, demanding his resignation. He’s steadfastly refused to resign.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is still clinging to power despite losing control of parliament, facing widespread protests and steering his country into economic disaster.

In Tibet this year, street protests were crushed by the military, and in Burma, protesting monks were killed by the ruling military junta, which is still in power after twenty years.

So, does people power no longer work? Are the social revolutions which overthrew governments in the Philippines, Romania, Georgia, Ukraine and South Africa just to name a few, political tools of the past.

Or is it more that people’s movements have changed? Is the new global focus on the environment a result of a grass-roots campaign?

If you think that people power does no longer work, why? Is it lack of inspirational leadership? Or have the incumbent goverments of today just learnt the lessons of the past?

81 Responses to “On Air: Does people power no longer work?”

  1. 1 parth guragain
    September 5, 2008 at 14:41

    people power always works.it is only matter of time.if people power was not applied NEPAL would not have been a republic.

  2. 2 1430a
    September 5, 2008 at 14:42

    hello everyone,
    well,yes,recently the people power has been pushed back.the incidents mentioned above is true but there have been instances recently where people have come up and pushed furthur against the government to decide what they think is good for them.a example would be the one in nepal where the people power forced the king to step down and now nepal is a secular state.
    but on the other hand the points given above are true and it seems a bunch of men are ruling the world.

  3. 3 parth guragain
    September 5, 2008 at 14:45

    no people power always works.it is only matter of time.if there was no people power NEPAL would not have been republic.

    September 5, 2008 at 14:51

    Peoples power works. And this is only in a country where there is enough for all to eat, drink and have access to decent accommodations. But in a country where everybody is hungry, where there is abject poverty and where government policies are that of bread and butter, peoples power cannot work. The age long saying that “a hungry man is an angry man” is still true, but, we should not forget the fact that a hungry man is famished without any strength and hence cannot fight.

  5. September 5, 2008 at 14:54

    Since the birds have learnt to fly without perching, the hunters have also learnt to shoot without missing People power still works. It’s effectiveness is highly dependent on how desperate such leaders are prepared to hang on to power or what military/militia options they have at their disposal.

  6. 6 Bob in Queensland
    September 5, 2008 at 15:02

    I think people power has a history of failing more often than it works. Think of Tiananmen Square or the Prague Spring as well as your examples. Yes, there are some notable successes but for every Berlin Wall or Nepal there are many other failures, often bloody and violent

  7. September 5, 2008 at 15:07

    I have to gree with my precious Bob( agood online friend of mine) in the paste people say that power is the hands of the masses-but today africa has just proved that to be wrong-let me give you two examples.
    in Kenya-millions voted for the Prime Minister to be the president of the republic of Kenya-but Kibaki with a little help of 22 commissioners of Electrol Commission of Kenya (ECK) turned out the results on his favour
    in Zimbabwe-Continue to exercise dictotorial leadership to the Zimbabwe people.

  8. September 5, 2008 at 15:11

    Hi gang James here, Our leaders know our will and resolve has no foundation so we wear out with time.People power like here in Kenya has been hijacked by suspect civil society groups to further their agenda and get noticed by the west. Which is why before i go to the streets and join a movement i do my vetting. The problem with people power these days can be either the thrashing they get or their selfish agendas.That is why not many people would be enthusiastic to join a movement who only the ones at the top get kickbacks.

  9. September 5, 2008 at 15:15

    Yes, People power always work. Second mass movement (Popularly known April revolution in Nepal) is the latest example we have. But it depends on what they are demanding whether for whole people interests or only for elite’s interest, game of chairs only or some other reasons behind it and off course time factor is also play vital role. In twenty first century people are the supreme power. They can do anything together.

  10. 10 robert1987
    September 5, 2008 at 15:21

    I personally think that if the people of any country is not happy with the government of the day then they should take action. If it means that they storm the buildings such as what happened in Thailand.

  11. 11 Ogola Benard
    September 5, 2008 at 15:40

    power depends on the support one holds. people are the power and not individuals. A man cant stand alone and this is why there are riots and things of the like!

  12. 12 archibald in oregon
    September 5, 2008 at 15:52

    It seems that the only time people power seems to make a dent in the overall “machine” is when people are willing to die and usually they do. In the face of overwhelming force and/or firepower, the human body can only sustain so much, even if the heart is infinitely committed to the cause. That said, there are billions of people,history has shown, time and time again, that when you get enough of them together, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished…………

  13. September 5, 2008 at 16:08

    In all these situations there is a common theme – the military.

    People power will work if the military keeps themselves in barracks or support the people – other than that you have civil war or the on-going situation where people like Mugabe stay in power.

    These are cases where some sabre rattling can help from more stronger powers.

  14. September 5, 2008 at 16:35

    People power?

    No, the government you live in initiates the thoughts that are wanted the people to think. The people are told to ignore the truth if it is not what the government want the people to think. The reasonings to bring this thought to light are also manufactured for you.

    The whole mass media is one great propaganda machine. It motivates and even makes decisions for you. As long as you are occupied with thought that cultivates in you a passive and acceptive response, the id will be satisfied by the production of the psyche’s stimulation.

    Fearfully this is the world and any attempt to free the world’s people is met with predetermined results.

    Governments commit crimes against humanity. These crimes are being justified. The public are trained to ignore the very reality they are living in.

  15. 15 archibald in oregon
    September 5, 2008 at 16:38

    A better question might be, “How could people win the support of the military?”
    Duty, fear, control and/or money seem to be the main motivations when dealing with any military body, if you remove the uniform, many soldiers are just like the people they repress and/or protect. It seems like that common thread could be exploited by the people seeking change, but it all comes back to the ultimate motivations of a governing body, keeping the people down and handicapped…..

  16. 16 Jerry L
    September 5, 2008 at 16:53

    People power works and always has provided that there is a sufficient percentage of the populace behind the effort and the presure is applied for a sufficient duration.
    The lost causes have not taken into account the mentality of the backers of the rulers and dealt with that first; gotten the military or law enforcement individuals on their side at the beginning.
    The other factor is the support of external entities is also critical.

  17. 17 Lauren
    September 5, 2008 at 17:18

    It seems like the only time people power works these days is if there is violence involved. The governments have military backing so if they are unhappy with any uprising, people get shot or go missing and the rest of the world only takes notice when mass genocide or blatant human rights violations are involved.
    There needs to be political pressure from outside entities in order for the protests of the people to be truly heard.

  18. 18 Robert
    September 5, 2008 at 17:27

    People power works if there is enough people across the whole spectrum of society who will gain more from the new order than the incumbent one. The failed popular revolutions all failed because they in general only had support from the under class of the society and lacked the diversity of support.

    Only when sufficient members of the army, police, judiciary etc believe that they gain more from the in coming regime will they turn and the revolution really happen. If a revolution gains the critical momentum and support of all level will people power it will work.

  19. 19 Jonelle -Los Angeles
    September 5, 2008 at 17:36

    People power works. At the conception of every movement there is people power and what makes any movement thrive is the dedication and passion of people. There is always adversity and obstacles in the way but, true change does not occur over night. Slow and steady makes for lasting impact by people power.

  20. 20 Paul, Liberia
    September 5, 2008 at 17:49

    The question should also end with “who dies or gets hurt in the end”. People power are still working but in a very peculiar way. All of the regimes and individuals in question will come to end one day and I mean soon. People need to present their case in a very special way for now and the result will sort itself out…

  21. 21 Bryan
    September 5, 2008 at 17:51

    Shortly before the demise of Apartheid, there was a demonstration in front of the white National Party offices in Cape Town. By then the riot police had adopted civilised methods of crowd control and they sprayed the protesters with water dyed purple from a water cannon so they could be later identified and arrested.

    The next morning an item with the following headline appeared In a national newspaper:

    Power to the purple

  22. 22 Jessica in NYC
    September 5, 2008 at 17:52

    It depends, unfortunately, on the time, place, what they’re fighting for (ie- do others want it) and who’s watching….

  23. 23 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    September 5, 2008 at 18:00

    First, it depends on the government in power. I can only address myself to the USA and here people power does not work anymore. People are discouraged about a wide range of issues here. So, that causes empathy and we just have enough power to get on with our daily lives. In some ways I think we are still under the weight of 911 and the war.

  24. 24 Vijay srao chattarnagar punjab india
    September 5, 2008 at 18:05

    Yes people power does work,however In Thailand the vast majority of the population supports the PM,it’s only a few townies that are protesting the country folk are happy with the present regime which adresses their needs.
    In Tibet people know they are better off under the Chinese only some monks and misguided students bothered to protest at a time when the whole world was looking at the first chinese olympics,the dalai lama cut a deal and as far as I know the dialogue continues.
    If Burma gets democracy and people are allowed self determination about 60 new countries would be created,there are a lot of tribal and ethnic groups as well as the Burmese under the military regime.
    An san syu chi is the daughter of Burmas first President ,whose regime wasn’t exactly enlightened,the people who make up her group aren,t that different to the present government.
    Without the support of Zimbabwes neighbours nothing will change,the people can’t do it themselves.

  25. September 5, 2008 at 18:07

    People power would work if a group had enough support to overwhelmingly support some growing theme. Example: Revolutionary war eventually caused England to realize that it just would not work to keep sending redcoats across the sea to enforce taxes and good conduct and loyalty to the crown.

    If Americans finally got fed up with paying taxes and not getting anything for them they could start a non payment of taxes revolt until some political party decided to solve one or more injustices that are going on.

    Example: our government sends billions of dollars over to try to assist the people of Africa on AIDS help, meanwhile hundreds of millions of people can’t afford to cover their own families with health insurance here in America, and business can’t compete, because of the intolerable cost of health insurance that bandit companies charge for it…..then use brigades of lawyers to actually deny to cover costs even though their people, customers need medical help and they just refuse to cover them.

    The tax payers need to refuse to pay the government anything until they, the gov’t, learn to come up with a social programs, that will support a not for profit health insurance systems. The system we have is filled with racketeers and for the good of the people there needs to be a National Health Copmmissioner at cabinet level authority that can enforce health care companies who want to be in the health care business actually take care of their subscribers, or get out of the business and go grow a garden. People who pay taxes ought to get their health care problems taken care of. Not free they pay their money and enough of it should be able to cover their needs.

    The governement must be responsible so that people do not lose their their homes and businesses due to health problems.

    Presently both our political parties are useless and inadequate at dealing with the main issues confronting our lives as we move into a future of a world economy. The entire nation will go under unless the people take charge of their own destiny and do something about the energy problems, global warming, health care, and price of basic comodities.


  26. 26 Vijay
    September 5, 2008 at 18:14

    Tibet under the Dalai Lama was a autocratic absolutist theocracy,people were in slavery they were ruled by monks there wasn’t any democrarcy and human rights in fact the Dalai Lama hung out with Nazis.Tibet Buddhism isn’t even proper Buddhism it is Animism with a bit of buddhism thrown in.
    The tibetans won’t vote to be enslaved they prefer progress.

  27. 27 Rahel from Berlin
    September 5, 2008 at 18:17

    People power had no chance yet in Zimbabwe or Tibet. All you are seeing is the effects of dictatorship and the silencing of people power, not the voice of people power.

  28. 28 Vijay
    September 5, 2008 at 18:20

    @ troop
    Hey do you still believe in the USA creation myth.

    Businessmen decided they did not want to pay taxes.

  29. 29 Terry, -- Palo Alto, CA, USA
    September 5, 2008 at 18:23

    People power in the US has been undermined by the general press which was cowed into not reporting the full extent of the uprising of the people who demonstrated in 2003 prior to the March invasion.

    Because of this, we the people must be more focused on critical few targets that will LEVERAGE the media to pay attention. In doing so, our power to make news gets bigger so that the media cannot ignore us.

    One of the best leverages we can make right now is to:

    1. Protect the vote in the USA, in EVERY state; and to DEMAND a re-vote when irregularties occur (this has not yet occurred in national elections in recent history.)

    2. Continue to follow closely and take action when the US FCC* plans to take an action that is not in the best interest of the public. We have been successful in changing the plans of the FCC in the recent past. (* Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the media)

  30. 30 Tom D Ford
    September 5, 2008 at 18:25

    People Power works or fails according to the extent that Global Corporations benefit and allow them to work or fail.

    American Conservatives overthrew Democracy in Chile and had Allende assassinated for the benefit of American Global Corporations.

    The colored revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, and etc were/are for the benefit of Global corporations.

    Unfortunately, the lesson that the Far Right learned from Gandhi in India is to be merciless in murdering dissenters to keep them from succeeding.

  31. 31 Eric in Florida
    September 5, 2008 at 18:27

    The huge peace protest against the west taking military action against saddam hussein only gave saddam a misguided perception of support! it led saddam to believe that all of those people supported him and his dictatorial regime! the actions of those misguided protesters caused saddam to reject the saudi offer of exile, because saddam thought the west would not dare to move against him in the face of such a huge outpouring of support for his regime. if the protesters had rallied for him to leave, the war would have never have taken place!

  32. 32 Kimani from Kenya
    September 5, 2008 at 18:31

    I believe people power still works as potently as ever. But you have to put into context recent,supposedly, failures of people power.where people lack genuine concerns,legitimate hate targets and viable revolutionary agenda, people power inevitably becomes useless.i believe thats the case in Zimbabwe and Philipines.in the former,western media stole the local people’s agenda and Mugabe was the wrong hate target.he will go to his grave a revered liberation hero.in the latter, the people’s concerns are vague,a shameless vendata.the peoples real enemy is thousands of miles away,in London!in both instances peoples power is a guaranteed loser.thank you

  33. 33 Bill in Kuala Lumpur
    September 5, 2008 at 18:33

    Any talk about a people’s movement has to look at the successful struggle in Nepal, with the revolutionaries, with massive mass support, have recently come to power

  34. 34 Vijay
    September 5, 2008 at 18:33

    Do you still believe in the USA creation myth.
    It was businessmen who did not want to pay their taxes,of course since then big business has never fooled the people .Americans pay a lot of tax and do not receive much in return,where does the money go?

  35. 35 Marco Lavoie
    September 5, 2008 at 18:38

    Dividend lovers are the true tyrrants of this New World Order like Hilter’s SS as CEOs,Portfolio managers,CFOs apply utopians capitalistics ideologies.The poeple don’t have input in any corporation & financials institutions as shareholders vote & elect executive members center on ideoligical believes systems,a few unelected utopians gather in financials institutions around the world to dictate what societies & local communities should live their life.By a click of a mouse locals are been exploited in the name of freedump.

    People powers is something of the pass a technology have impower the priviledge ones where the mass is been brainwash , oppress or lure into materialistic ideologies. The revolution of electronic informations technology has empower & concentrated power in the hand of few.

    Local values are been over rules in the name of this New World Order by imposing utopians capitalist ideologies threw their institutions such as the IMF World Bank or the WTO. It is the economy stupid.

    May God bless this New World Order,

    In only God I trust,

  36. 36 Vanessa Ruddy
    September 5, 2008 at 18:52

    People Power IS the wave of the future! Do not be fooled by a few setbacks. Have you not been paying attention to what happened in Spain, that was people power, they were fed up with the Iraq war and in 3 days overthrew their government. Look at South and Central America, just last week it was the indiginous people power that is putting indiginous people as their leaders, Parguay for example. This is the beginning of something really great, it may take a hundred years for most of the planet , step by step, but have patience and as your guest said, a real plan.

    Vanessa Ruddy
    Olympia WA

  37. 37 Paul Harbin - Waco, tx.
    September 5, 2008 at 18:55


    One man is not going to come along and save us all like … Jesus, oh but wait, even the belief in Jesus requires a commitment from the people he’s saving.
    I get the underlying sense in Obama’s message, together we can accomplish something.

  38. 38 Kenneth in Portland
    September 5, 2008 at 18:55

    After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the world spoke out loudly with words of support and appreciation for the United States. People expressed how important the US was as an international inspiration and leader, an example of tolerance, freedom, and political, ethnic, and religious plurality. The US clearly had international clout and respect, which gave them influence to oppose many oppressive leaders and movements around the world simply by making it clear that their oppression would not be supported, condoned, or tolerated.
    Following the Bush war in Iraq, the moral authority of the US was largely diminished, and the new norm for the behavior of governments reflected a much lower standard. Aggressive military actions based on fear, anger, and a desire to control dissidents became acceptable like it had never been before. Due process and the rule of law took a back seat as neoconservative politicians in the US stoked the fires of fear, arguing that citizens should give up their rights in order to survive. This philosophy of the ends justifying the means has spread like a poison around the globe, causing unimaginable oppression and suffering to proliferate.
    If there is not a higher standard of human consciousness, an international sense of global responsibility and value for human rights, then any nations attempt to prevail against oppression is severely limited. People power depends on hope. Hope depends on a sense that the common good will prevail. The common good prevailing depends on support of the majority of the community. If the global or regional community of nations does not support the rights of the people, people power is very limited. It is when leaders and nations demonstrate a strong moral example that people become inspired and believe that change is possible. We need to return to a state where morals and the rule of law prevail on the level of nations, especially among leaders like the United States, China, and Russia. People power works when thugs don’t have absolute control of armies, courts, media, and legislatures. When Bill Clinton was president, people power around the world was effective and successful, because there was strong moral leadership. Under Bush, the US has become largely irrelevant, and therefore it cannot play a role of moral leadership to facilitate the resolution of regional and global conflicts as it once did. People power worldwide depends on people keeping thugs out of power.

  39. 39 Amedli
    September 5, 2008 at 19:00

    In Turkey, SE, which is part of Kurdistan struggle has been going on for long time and Kurdish people trying to gain some democratic rights from military backed Turkish government, because the government is so unwelcoming for democracy the Kurdish people’s power has’t overcome to this barriers. I think, “People’s Power”s success depends on beside people’s push to democracy it is also depends on how that goverment is tolarances to any different ethnic groups in the country, in the case of Turkish goverment that is always has been untolarant to any different culture, ethnic groups or even different voices in the country. They usally jails people who voices their different opininon from the goverment.

  40. 40 FK OCLOO
    September 5, 2008 at 19:08

    People power would never work. unless the dictators are slained maybe

  41. 41 Ben in Accra, Ghana
    September 5, 2008 at 19:10

    People’s revolution only yield riots, looting and ’make-shift’ gov’ts which do more harm than good.

  42. 42 Paul Harbin - Waco, tx.
    September 5, 2008 at 19:13

    People feel more inclined to get in and protest John McCain, hundreds were arrested. Obama doesn’t get this, why? What I fear … he might get … is shot. If he did, we would see more than likely, the negative impact of people power, as immediately I think near chaos would sweep America. As to where if he does not, and he wins … we could see the positive impact of real people power.

    Perhaps, we will all be skipping along in a grass fields, holding hands, and singing I’d like to buy the world a coke.

    People power is not something that automatically marks you a fanatic, nor some whimsy idealist. People power is what America was built on, and it is what it needs to rebuild on. The question is, are we (the American people) going to power it?

  43. 43 thomasgatten
    September 5, 2008 at 19:19

    Kenneth, that was a great post, but too long. Concise posts please. Thanks everyone.

  44. 44 Atsu in Ghana
    September 5, 2008 at 19:24

    Majority is not always right. People power can be manipulated by self-serving politicians and special interests.

  45. 45 Gideon-KENYA.
    September 5, 2008 at 19:25

    Peoples power is much alive but leaders have become immoral and senseless to peoples aspiration.

  46. 46 Anon
    September 5, 2008 at 19:26

    People’s power fail because the leaders of such uprisings are just agitators who have no plans.

  47. 47 Robert in kampala, uganda.
    September 5, 2008 at 19:26

    Violaters are no longer moved by people power actions. Just like a virus that mutates and resists a certain drug so are the leaders that do not listen to civic actions. mutation is in form of pretending to be right, unleashing terror, deliberate refusal & disappearence of moral restraint agents.

  48. 48 Susan in Nairobi
    September 5, 2008 at 19:28

    People power has failed, because of the trickery and violence of governments, i agree that internal strong leadership within the protesting public. Too many so called leaders’ self interest creates easy for incumbents to subvert the project.

  49. 49 Dennis in Nigeria
    September 5, 2008 at 19:29

    People power has failed because human lives are worthless to leaders.

  50. 50 Kenneth in Portland
    September 5, 2008 at 19:38

    Regarding your posts, Ben (Ben in Accra, Ghana September 5, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    “People’s revolution only yield riots, looting and ’make-shift’ gov’ts which do more harm than good.”

    and Kate “People’s power fail because the leaders of such uprisings are just agitators who have no plans.”

    Dismissals of the importance of people power is not supported by a look at history. The US was founded on people’s revolution, as was the French democracy and as were many other governments that reflect the democratic representative will of their people. The will of the people of South Africa, of Nepal, of the Czech Republic and the rest of the former Soviet republics, was brought into power based on people power. Patient, peaceful, and persistent people power in many cases. Dismissals of the importance of people power, and the responsibility of every person to wield their voice responsibly, only accommodates the oppressors. Hope is important, as is voting, and showing up to help with the common cause in any way you can.

  51. 51 Babagana in Nigeria
    September 5, 2008 at 19:46

    If those in power would provide their people with basic needs and dance to their tunes there would be no anti goverment demostration and violence

  52. 52 Arthur in Kenya
    September 5, 2008 at 19:47

    democracy as a faith is much weaker where cultural values are much stronger , people power is often only about this.

  53. 53 Marco Lavoie
    September 5, 2008 at 19:47

    To turn back the clock of oppression in the name of freedump, where universal utopians guidelines for acceptance are impose on sovereign countries eager to be accepted into their elite & priviledge club membership, IMF, WTO G8..7 & World bank a just a few that come sin mind. Social contracts are been overrules , void in the name of greater rates of returns for the elites ones (preferred shareholders), ” go and spend your easy money ” “go and enjoy life” as we will conduct proxy wars in the name of peace those are the fruits of this New World Order. Someone tell me What is so go that is coming out of the beast belly, Starbuck, MacDonald, Exxon, Coke corporation to name a few…I have seen growth in my community over the last tee years where; $0.35 cent /liter is now $1.25/liter , rent has increase five fold & the housing make is overrated yet government officials , high financiers & businessmen talk about economic growth where new 7/11 , Esso, Starbuck, MacDonald, Pizza Huts, Safeway are been built in the name of freedump at minimum wages & second jobs are now the norm….that is why those fruits call the American Dream are of the pass and elected government by the people for people would have to rules with an Iron fist not to oppress its people but to regain is stature of ruling for the majority not for the few privilege ones, social harmony is no longer acceptable.

    May God bless this New World Order

  54. 54 Daniel in jigawa state,nigeria.
    September 5, 2008 at 19:48

    People power cannot work where dictators are disguised in politicians garb.

  55. 55 Kule in Kasese-Uganda.
    September 5, 2008 at 19:48

    People power works among civilised societies. Among less civilised, leaders build strong armies against the people.

  56. 56 Emmanuel in Nigeria
    September 5, 2008 at 19:49

    Thailand case is an awkward imitation of Peoples power. Groups are seeking to sack an elected Government &replace it with a military one.

    September 5, 2008 at 20:00

    The regime will not relinquish power because of placards. Marx thinks that violence must be the midwife of the change, but he is overruled by Adolf who failed in this in 1923. People power must be organized by an elite liberator. ALUKO FROM NAIROBI.

  58. September 5, 2008 at 20:56

    @ Vijay,

    USA Creation Myth? Have no idea what that is. Colonists did get a bit uppity with all the taxes the mother country started levying. They threw tea over board and all that to anger the Mother Country. The final straw was when the redcoats tried to take away the guns from the Americans. That got the people up set and they started shooting to show those folks the Colonists did not like gun control atop tea tax and stamp taxes.

    @ Paul,

    Once again, as you well know living in Waco, The common citizen did not like the government coming along trying to take guns away hense the little people ended up shooting a lot of the ATF agents, and it was a ruckus as you well know

    The people out there who attacked America on 9-11 they were upset at Westerners coming to the holy land, and got really religous thinking some god wanted them to kill Americans.

    Clinton, allowed the people, the bad ones, to get away with the first world trade center attack and a lot of the other terrorists acts done against us. Bush also was a not take the bad weird people seriously at first, but when they attacked us and killed a lot of Americans ……. He decided to react against the bad people or the crazies as most interpreted them, finally after we figured it out that we were in a war that had been going on for 30 years only we did not know about it.

    A lot of people ask me from oversea what I think about Bush. My answer is, the world deserves Bush. He actually did the right thing and stuck by his actions when all the stupid people seemed to think they were smart and Bush was all wrong.

    Where does all our money go? We waste it. We give too much of it away trying to help people in trouble like Aids in Africa, and a whole host of people who have had natural tragities unfold. Plus we do have to waste money on development of ideas and just trying to stay ahead.


  59. 59 Latoya Allen, Jamaica
    September 5, 2008 at 21:27

    I think people power still works. the important thing is for people especially those in democracies is to realise that we have put these people in power and if they do perform as they ought to, we can demand that they leave or do what the people say. Jamaican people tend to let the government have their way; but i remember when they tried to impose a value added tax on gasoline. The people rioted and that tax have never been mentioned again. If people are serious, we can get what we want, after all there are more of us than them. it takes unity and willpower.

  60. September 5, 2008 at 21:33

    In Tibet, the Dalai Lama does not equate to the People. When is the BBC going to learn that?

    What we saw in Tibet earlier this year (3/14) is chaos caused by a few disenfranchised monks – not mass disenfranchisement (you can gauge that by how unprepared the police originally was).

    I am not going to argue that there are no resentment in Tibet (or any other part of China). But ethnic Tibetans – as full citizens of the People’s Republic of China – will in due time (like all other Chinese) find the voice they need in the government to address all their problems.

    It will be a shame if the Dalai Lama, a son of China, cannot join in the effort to build a new, Modern China. But his Tibetan brothers and sisters are not going anywhere. They will pull themselves out of poverty. They will work with the central government to make sure that Tibetan culture, language, and customs will thrive within a prosperous China.

    No one individual – including the Dalai Lama – is so great as to be indispensable to the development of China.

    And let’s not make the mistake of equating the Dalai Lama and his undemocratic theocracy to be the people (that he once enslaved) again!

  61. 61 Thubten D
    September 6, 2008 at 00:27

    Allen makes some outrageous and indefensible claims about the Dalai Lama and Tibet. Anyone who has listened to or read the words of the Dalai Lama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the highest award of the United States of America, the Congressional Gold Medal, knows that he is immeasurably wise, educated, thoughtful, and kind. He navigates the difficult course of a nation responding to invasion and occupation by the Chinese, and a culture holding on to over a thousand years of tradition and independence. Allen claims that the Dalai Lama enslaved his people. That’s pure Communist Party of China fabrication, like their claims that he organized the widespread peaceful protests that were violently shut down by the occupying Chinese military. If you speak with any Tibetan (the ones who speak the ancient and unique language called Tibetan, not the recent “Han Pioneers” that have been shipped in to try and assimilate the land), you’ll most likely find that they deeply revere their spiritual and political leader, Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama. They would surely rise up en masse at a moments notice to take back their country with force if the Dalai Lama requested it. He has not, because of his wisdom. He knows that war is hell, and that causing suffering is wrong. He honors the Buddha’s teaching that patience is golden. He knows that everything changes, and diligence and perseverance along with steadfast moral behavior (he’s a Buddhist monk) are the path to happiness. Whether or not he represents the people of Tibet politically you can argue about, but whether he represents their spiritual tradition of loving kindness, wisdom and compassion is without doubt. The Dalai Lama truly lives in the hearts of most Tibetans, because he lives by example, and that example can scarcely even be compared to any modern political leader. When his people see him, they often cry tears of joy. Does anyone do that for your political leaders?

  62. September 6, 2008 at 01:21

    Thubten D,

    I respect your comments even as I stand steadfastly by mine.

    Chinese culture will not be Chinese without Buddhism, and I hope the Dalai Lama does represent the true spiritual tradition of loving kindness, wisdom and compassion.

    If history is kind, the Tibetan exiles and the mainland Chinese will be reunited and working together as one soon enough …

  63. 63 Listener
    September 6, 2008 at 02:44

    Chinese government has being diminishing ordinary people’s power to struggling with the government by offering the free market system and family plan policy. When people are not starving to death, it will have less trouble for the government. Western freedom concept hasn’t being fully explained and demanded by the younger generation. Make the price too big to pay is their strategy.

  64. 64 Vijay
    September 6, 2008 at 04:11

    That’s right the usa wastes its tax revenue,the people do not get value for money.
    Per capita the usa does not give as much as other countries to developing countries nor charities.
    Agreed the USA does spend a lot on education and research(in decline) ,but where are the mathematicians and engineers,you have to import them.
    The USA creation myth starts with Christopher Columbus “discovering” the USA in 1492.
    Just how thoroughly is the American war of independence taught ,it seems there are a lot of cliches that need investigating.
    After 232 years how relevant is the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution ?.

  65. September 6, 2008 at 05:30


    Columbus discovered the island of Hispanola in the Carribean. It was a long time after that, that others discovered the landmass of North America.

    There was a whole lot of things that went on before the 300 years produced the wierd set of circumstances that allowed the Colonies to unite to come up with this strange concept of common citizens forming their own way of organizing themselves.

    Declaration Of Independance and the Constitution are more pertenant today than ever before. We are actually still trying to get it all right. It has not come easy, but really I’m pretty proud of what the founding brothers were able to put together, then how we had to keep fighting amoung ourselves to iron out the true meaning of the concepts that just could not be instantly formed way back then.

    We are still getting it better and more just.

    What country are you from Vijay

  66. 66 Vijay
    September 6, 2008 at 08:18

    I don’t think those documents and principles are all that relevant today,that is one of the reasons why your country is struggling.
    It is hard to change the constitution (Equal Rights Amendment?)other countries have incorporated those principles and moved on in their human development,you guys are stuck in the past,with an inflexible system that causes people to get frustrated.
    In the American West there are Bears, mountain lions, wolves and coyotes and people hunt deer and antelope for food,thats fine,but tell me why a computer programmer needs an Uzi when he lives in a suburb.
    I am a British Citizen .

  67. 67 Shakhoor Rehman
    September 6, 2008 at 12:32

    Ask Mushie. Of course it does.

  68. September 6, 2008 at 19:00

    I would rather modify “People Power” to “Power People” because that is what it has become! Its the People in Power / with Power who are in charge of all events and they have whatever it takes to overpower whoever is opposed to their interests! i mean, they have the resources, influence of the Police and the Military, as well as control of politicians including those opposed to them! They also have the power to influence the outcome of Democratic Processes!

    There is very little of People Power these days especially in Africa!

  69. September 6, 2008 at 19:40


    full auto submachine guns are illegal. Have been for a long time only criminals have them. We need to take the guns away from criminals.

    Bad deal to take guns away from private citizens, as there are too many bad guys roaming around the streets. My friends have blown bad guys away with their private shotguns and police silently say good deal getting another bad guys off the streets.

    We are just now solving our slavery issue. Could not do it when we broke with the mother country as the northerners had to aline with the southerners against the main monarchial enemy. Both sides thought the other guys would be able to keep slavery or get rid of it, but too complicated.

    Today slavery is the third largest international crime. Things have not changed yet.

  70. 70 Kuba Kierszka
    September 6, 2008 at 22:37

    Aren’t leaders people too though? Simply fewer in number and greater in privilege? Isn’t the WTO also an example of “people power”? To anyone here who feels like people power is losing please examine the larger context of human history in the past thousand years (still a blink of an eye on many timescales). Individualism and the notion of independence have come a long way since 1008AD.
    Political “leaders” and captains of industry today are actually accountable to our (the “people’s”) values through economics. The international problems we face today are simple the product of an age-old US vs. THEM attitude in which one group profits at the direct expense of another group and/or the environment at large. (colonialism, eco-terror, central banking)
    This form of game theory assumes a world in which resources are limited, the other players are hostile, and that actions will take place in a finite (short-term) planning horizon.
    In my opinion that isn’t the bigger picture of the human condition.
    Through scientific observation we have discovered the intricate and dynamic equilibrium that is our universe.
    Through spiritual insight and meditation we can explore our connection and inter-dependence with all things.
    Profit means getting more than you gave.
    What we see today as out-of-control debt, the “credit-crunch”, and even climate change can be attributed to short-sighted strategies (spanning centuries) to chase a bottom line.
    In truth the human balance sheet is ongoing, we cannot, as a species “cash out” and “win” the game.
    I say don’t sweat it, what’s so powerful and secure about public officials who can’t appear in public? Even Donald Trump drops a deuce every day. Humans sitting in bunkers watching the world through cameras and spreadsheets are not omnipotent, if anything they are desperately dependent on the tools through which they exert force and feel power, and afraid of the masses and their potential.
    1) Learn about growing food and start doing it yourself if you can. While money doesn’t grow on trees, fruit does.
    2) Learn about alternative energy solutions, implement them in your community, and urge others to do the same.
    3) Remember its just a ride, and smile from your heart when you see the sun.
    4) Talk to one stranger every day. You don’t have to pay it forward, it just helps to have friends, and maybe one day we will all know ourselves.

  71. 71 Ramesh
    September 7, 2008 at 04:21

    People power succeeds only when inspired by good leadership. The movement by Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson mandela are classic examples. Interestingly, at the bottom of all that these leaders stood for were ethical and moral values that humanity has cherished/upheld for a thousand millenia.

    Where hollow and fleeting ideals were used to mobilise people instead of ideals such as said above, the movements ended up outraging humanity itself. A classic example is the Nazi of Adolf Hitler.

    when they want a change, people become an unstoppable force, provided what they want is what humanity holds dear to its conscience. If not so they become a bunch of baboons who will indulge in vandalism and destruction since their collective force is unguided.

  72. 72 bishnu silwal chhetri
    September 7, 2008 at 10:06

    peoples power definitely work but it depends on unity leadership and people’s consciousnes.u could look in nepal ,for instance.Sooner or later every dispotic should bent on people’s will and aspiration no matter how tyranical he may be.If all citizen join hand in hand and do their best certainly it will not only change regime but also political system.

  73. 73 bikalpa bartaula
    September 7, 2008 at 13:59

    hey no no people’s power has not failed. in nepal we recently overthrew a 235 years old monarchy by the people’s movement. now we have a presidensial system. people got a victory

  74. 74 Dennis @ OCC
    September 7, 2008 at 16:37

    Sometimes, people power doesn’t work to the extent as it once did…

    Syracuse, New York

  75. 75 Ramesh
    September 7, 2008 at 17:57

    That people power will wane is a myth. If there are no people where will any other power come from? And who will it rule over? There is only one condition that makes a difference-when peoples power is usurped and directed, great changes take place. When it is not, it may become self destructive.

  76. September 7, 2008 at 20:39

    The rise of people’s power is directly proportional to the failure of good governance by states. There are many examples around the world. Poor governance is the probable cause of many internal conflicts said to number 80 countries, 28 in an active state of conflict. The Think Tank -Fund for Peace- has made a very interesting serious study of many variables in 170 countries worldwide (www.fundforpeace.org). What could be the variable measurement to quantify people’s power?

  77. 77 Radina
    September 8, 2008 at 08:35

    The political elite has its own ways to control and manipulate people’s protests, to stir them in one or another direction.Even in he most democratic country of the world there are simple, not officially proclaimed rules how to ” cope with ” the human factor.Because all governments operate oppressively more or less.

  78. 78 Christian
    September 8, 2008 at 12:35

    It does. But since modern societies learnd to cope even with heavy problems diplomatically, criminal aproaches to prevail have declined. There are a lot of possibilities for (democratic) country´s people to get involved (politics by the people, of the people, for the people) in current issues. By the way, indirect oppressions have always been a legitimate measure to rule a country.

  79. 79 lili
    September 8, 2008 at 15:36

    me in Egypt i have never heard of such a thing or even lived under such authority??? are you kidding there are nations especially Arabs are not aware of the existence of such thing….

  80. 80 Prema
    September 9, 2008 at 07:07

    Well while going throuhg Vijay’s thoughts above i felt like he is from Nepal if i am not mistaken because the way you have expressed and the way you have written above makes me to think that you must be from Nepal. Well it does not matter…

  81. 81 didi
    September 9, 2008 at 11:11

    i agree completely with Radina. Nations are hostages of diplomacy.

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