New Left Review – Perry Anderson: On the Concatenation in the Arab World

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New Left Review – Perry Anderson: On the Concatenation in the Arab World

In Lenin’s famous dictum, a democratic republic is the ideal political shell for capitalism. Since 1945, no Western strategist has ever disagreed. The Euro-American imperium would prefer in principle to deal with Arab democrats than dictators, provided they were equally respectful of its hegemony. This has rarely proved to be a difficulty in the regions newly democratized since the eighties. Why has the same process not applied in the Middle East and North Africa? Essentially, because the United States and its allies have had reason to fear that, just because of the long history of their imperial violence in the region, and the perpetual exactions of Israel, popular feeling might not deliver comparable electoral comfort to them. It is one thing to rig up a client regime at the point of a bayonet, and round up enough votes for it, as in Iraq. Freer elections are another matter, as Algerian generals and Fatah strongmen discovered.

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One Response

  1. João Carlos Graça

    April 26, 2011 1:30 am

    Somewhat confusing. I don’t really think it’s for Perry Anderson or for me to decide whether the Arabs ought to have varieties of “local” nationalisms, or just a pan-Arab one. Don’t go into posing Lawrence, please…
    As to Lenin and democratic republic, well, lots of anachronism, right? Not even female suffrage, by that time, in so-called “democratic republics”… And there are surely lots of ways to falsify the “spirit” of the cosidetta “democratic republic”… Not just in Afghanistan or Irak, also in most of Latin America, most of the time, right? – and I wonder for Europe, all the more with its self-colonial “EU” construction, and the US with its blatantly plutocratic ways. So…
    Be as it may, there is no point either telling these peoples whether they would have presidential or parliamentary regimes, proportional systems or other, or the kind of details PA goes into in the end of the article.
    At any rate Lybia and Syria were always quite different, even when semi-complying, from Egipt, Tunisia, etc. – there’s no way around that. We’re only fooling ourselves if we avoid that distinguo.