Oppressive regimes in ancient times sometimes lasted for hundreds of years with people not just not revolting but hardly yearning for change. However, in the present day, long-standing regimes and areas of the world that have been oppressed for decades, even centuries are all of a sudden standing up for themselves at once and dictators are being toppled one after another in rapid succession.
Some see it as covert operations from the western world trying to topple oppressive regimes and make those countries more like us. Other see it as centuries of pent-up frustration finally coming out. Some even see it as a calling from divine powers. However, often overlooked in this, is something that could be the biggest reason of all – people themselves thinking that things can actually be better.
Human psyche is a powerful thing and given the right impetus or inputs, it can generate upheavals as nothing else can. Its not the fact that people have not had the strength or ability to revolt in the past centuries that these things did not happen in the past but it has been because there was not enough reason for people to revolt in the past that these things did not happen. In other words, people did not realize that things could be better, and perhaps just as important, did not believe that they deserved better. In the past, most societies were oppressive ones, with things like freedom of speech, press, and religion, were unheard of or alien things. Since everyone lived this way and no one knew any better, no one was complaining or making a big fuss out of it. For humans, its all about what people perceive as the average life that is important. If people see that they are above or near the average, even though the average is really bad, they generally will not complain or revolt. However, if they see that they are below the average, they will start to make a fuss and demand change, even if the average is very high.
The western “average” in terms of living standards and freedom has always been much higher than the rest of the world. However, since other governments were extremely restrictive, people did not know how much better things could be so it was easy to keep quiet. However, with the advent of the internet and the globalization of everything from financial markets to culture, it has been much easier for people in more “repressed” and “undeveloped” areas of the world to see how good life can be and understand that other people have rights that they now believe “are essential to all humans”. This information and thought process is far more dangerous to dictators and totalitarian regimes than even an Atomic bomb. Once these channels of information seep out, there is no stopping it and people will continue to rebel and overthrow those in power until they are satisfied that they are close enough or above the “average” so they no longer feel like they are getting snubbed of the best things in life. Since many areas of the world are still so far away from their people’s perceived “average”, these upheavals can be expected for years to come.