[Marxism] The Arab world into the unknown — The Arabist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jan 15 13:49:16 MST 2014

May good things come to those who wait

But the authoritarianism and malaise of the current period is not the 
same as that prior to 2011. First, the region has an unprecedented level 
of awareness. Although its people do not feel able to change anything, 
all that is changing is doing so in visible ways.  The utter 
incompetence of traditional elites, the vacuity of promises of reform, 
the final collapse of long-eroding social contracts, the pluralistic 
nature of societies, the exclusionary character of their political 
representatives and sectarian instincts are just some of the things on 
display. People feel confused mostly because they do not want to see 
realities, not because the region remains as opaque as it once was. 
Issues are discussed openly, if aggressively. In this sense, a public 
space has appeared and widened; and no amount of repression seems to be 
bringing it to a close.

Second, the silver lining to the many low- and high-intensity conflicts 
is that many of them, suppressed for years if not decades, had to play 
out. Not all will find solutions, let alone lasting ones, but some will. 
This may offer a refreshing departure from an increasingly intricate and 
intractable set of deadlocks the region has hitherto found itself 
hostage to.

Third, in this context, the challenging, slowly and painfully, of all 
the old narratives—pan-Arabist, nationalist, various shades of Islamism, 
anti-imperialism, “the resistance”—is ultimately positive because none 
of them work. They are used reflexively to fill a vacuum, to cover up 
for a lack of program, vision or ethic, and they are constantly belied 
and undermined by reality. Events, in a sense, are calling every 
narrative's bluff.

Fourth, the region is emerging from a century in which a succession of 
European imperialism, the Cold War and US hegemony denied it any genuine 
opportunity to define its own future. It is only just beginning to 
realise it will have to sort out many of its problems by itself. In 2010 
US soft and hard power had reached its nadir after a decade of 
disastrous war on terror. Foreign interference has left a legacy that 
will continue to bear down, and meddling from outside will not end 
entirely, but the trend points toward a more autonomous Arab world. 
There again, this promises to be slow and painful, but opens up a whole 
new horizon.

full: http://arabist.net/blog/2014/1/14/the-arab-world-into-the-unknown

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