[Marxism] Deepa Kumar on Political Islam: A Marxist Analysis

Negar Mottahedeh negar at duke.edu
Sun Aug 21 19:03:31 MDT 2011

What follows are excerpts from Deepa Kumar's recent 2 part analysis of Political Islam:

From Part I: 

"Political Islam is the product of the convergence of the following political and economic developments:
Imperial intervention and continued domination. Imperialist powers (particularly the United States) played an active role in sponsoring and promoting Islamist groups as a bulwark against secular nationalism and the left. Imperial domination has persisted even after decolonization via pliant rulers, Israel, and direct military confrontations.
The internal contradictions and failure of secular nationalism and of the Stalinist left that created a political vacuum.
The development of economic crises in various countries that state capitalist methods of nationalist development were unable to resolve. The Islamists, through their vast network of charitable outlets were able to offer “Islamic” solutions, and grow by recruiting from the middle classes and other de-classed sections.
All of these factors would then lay the groundwork that helped to propel Islamism onto the world stage. "

From Part II:
"...the rise of contemporary political Islam is not the reemergence of a medieval clergy crusading against modernity, but rather a modern urban phenomenon born of the crises created by capitalism. As Chris Harman puts it, “Islamism has arisen in societies traumatized by the impact of capitalism—first in the form of external conquest by imperialism and then, increasingly, by the transformation of internal social relations accompanying the rise of a local capitalist class and the formation of an independent state....

The recent revolutions and mass mobilizations sweeping the Middle East and North Africa have strengthened the existing left and created the conditions under which such a viable new left can be born. These struggles have completely shattered the radical Islamist argument that acts of terror by individuals and small cells is necessary to rid Muslim societies of pro-imperial leaders and have instead put on the map a different model for social change. Egypt and Tunisia have shown that mass, nonsectarian rallies and demonstrations can succeed in toppling dictators. At the same time, the practice of the Muslim Brotherhood since the fall of Mubarak in Egypt—its backing of the army, which seeks to put the genie of revolution back into its bottle, and its opposition to new protests to ensure the fulfillment of the revolution’s goals—reveals better than any example today the limitations of political Islam. (See Mostafa Omar’s article in the current issue of the ISR.)

In the coming months and years, a new left will undoubtedly begin to emerge, as it has already begun to emerge in Egypt. However, the Islamists will continue to be players on the political stage; it is therefore necessary to have a method by which to access these parties and their actions."



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