But in the real world, even online, things aren't so easy. Consider eBay, a wonderful and mostly successful melding of the online and offline worlds. It has a huge budget devoted to deterring and detecting fraud, and it can simply ban fraudsters. The company's success makes governance look easy, but that success is misleading. Unlike eBay, a government needs to put its criminals in jail. It can't simply cancel their accounts.
Every society has its bad actors, and it needs an established (and accountable) authority to deal with them. Otherwise, the bad guys will take advantage of the good ones. So the newly freed people of the Middle East must toughen their idealism with hard realism. They need to figure out how to negotiate and work with existing power structures—such as the army and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Like it or not, they cannot do that as a brigade of flower children; they need to pick leaders who can speak for them. The modernizers need to form a coherent force—and most likely a political party—rather than simply relying on the wisdom (and good behavior) of the crowds to govern the country.
That does not mean that activists should abandon their cause. But it does mean understanding that even democracy has many rules—ideally, rules that a majority has chosen. And these rules generally reflect compromises among elected representatives who can negotiate in person, reflecting the preferences of those who elected them.
That may sound a little too much like the old system. But it doesn't have to be. Online, if you don't like the rules, you can simply leave and form a new community. Offline, you need to stay and help to change the rules for everyone.