Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 21, 2014

The People Want

Filed under: middle east — louisproyect @ 11:54 am
Counterpunch Weekend Edition March 21-23, 2014

What Do the Arab People Want?

Is a Real Revolution Possible in the Arab World?


At first blush, the term “Arab Winter” makes sense given the restoration of military rule in Egypt, Syria’s descent into sectarian chaos, and Libya’s coming apart at the seams. Can a case be made for guarded optimism, however? If so, then there is probably nobody more qualified to make it than Gilbert Achcar, the preeminent Marxist scholar of the region whose 2013 study “The People Want” attempts to get beneath surface impressions, especially those based on changing seasons. If Marxism seems deeply troubled as a political movement and lacks a sizable contingent in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), it still has a use as an analytical tool. Owing much to its Hegelian roots, the dialectical method at the heart of Marxism is ideally suited to resolving contradictions. And no other region in the world is more riven with contradictions than MENA, arguably the source of its failure as of yet to deliver on the promises of 2011.

In a September 4, 2013 article for “Guernica” titled “What is a Revolution”, Tariq Ali adopted a rather frosty tone in sizing up the undelivered promises of the region, described mostly as a failure to qualify as a genuine revolution. He wrote that only “a transfer of power from one social class (or even a layer) to another that leads to fundamental change” could qualify as a revolution. Now, of course, there was a time in which Tariq Ali would have been more generous with movements that were so lacking, including many of the national liberation movements he embraced as a young radical. Using his yardstick, Vietnam had no revolution when it drove out the American imperialists.  Just look at the millionaires in Vietnam today, profiting off of sweatshops. But that is no argument for not protesting against B-52 bombing raids and Operation Phoenix. If Ali was referring to the classical socialist revolution that have been far and few between since 1917, rarer in some ways than the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker that was supposedly last spotted in Arkansas back in 2005, he certainly had a point even if it did not do justice to the social realities of Egypt, Syria, or Libya.

full: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/21/is-a-real-revolution-possible-in-the-arab-world/

1 Comment »

  1. “Ho Chi Minh’s long struggle to break colonial control over his nation”

    Had to stop reading there. Is this a joke?

    In the beginning of the article you recognize that what happened in Vietnam was NOT a working class revolution, then you praise Uncle Ho’s supposed Long March. Maybe you forgot that his “long struggle” began with the slaughter of local Trotskyists, the disarming of armed peasants, the smashing of local uprisings, holding a ticker tape parade to welcome the defeated French BACK INTO VIETNAM after the close of WW2, and high tea with the high command of the Fourth Republic.

    Please read Ngo Van’s “In the Crossfire: Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary”, for your own sake if nothing else.

    While you’re at it, do some research into just whose investing in the thousands of sweatshops that the economy of “free from colonial control” Vietnam rests on.

    Comment by Mikey — March 21, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

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