Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Left in The Middle East?

Quick question: can anybody point me to a good history of what happened to the left in the Middle East? I know it was a casualty of the geo-political struggles of the Cold War, at some level. But isn't a fundamental political issue we should be concerned with the fact that the poor and disenfranchised in the Middle East (or in the Islamic world, more broadly) have no one to speak for them but the Imams?


karsten said...

I'm more concerned with the fact that the poor and disenfranchised in America have no one to speak for them but the preachers.

Ritik Dholakia said...

Pithy, but untrue.

karsten said...

Pithy, your rebuttal, but is is true? Who else speaks for them? Except maybe certain rappers.

The Democratic party?

Stockton Hercules said...


"The 1967 defeat of Nasser and the Arab armies by Israel can now
clearly be seen as the beginning of the decline in leadership of the
secular forces. As soon as the left nationalists in the Middle East
gained power, their leadership in the struggle against Zionism and
neocolonialism began to wane. ..." and "The
1990 war against Iraq saw for the first time a unity between
left-wing, nationalist and Islamist forces in the region and beyond
against Western aggression."

Ritik Dholakia said...

KS - Yes, people within the Democratic party, many folks within academia, many within the media, scores of non-profits, grass-roots movements and organizing groups, and yes, at times, the church and rappers. While they may not be effective in achieving political or policy goals, the poor and disenfranchised are not without voice in America -- and certainly now when compared to Islam.

Ritik Dholakia said...

PK - Thanks, that's a good resource. I'd have to circle back on my regional histories, but I believe a lot of the secular and left-leaning movements in the Middle East were casualties of client-state relationships maintained through the second half of the 20th century as part of the cold war. And I wonder if the lack of this element of civil society, no station between authoritarian governments and the populist but deeply fundamental strains of Islam that provide so much civil service (school, health, shelter), that creates the impression (and, perhaps, reality) that modern Islamic government is antagonistic to Western philosophies of secularized culture and governance.