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Arab socialist trends

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  • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 15, 2002
      >>I've been reading some early modern Arab writers on
      >>social change, from around 1900, sort of
      >>proto-socialists or early preachers of "socialism."
      >>Traditionally they are divided into the Muslim
      >>religious ones and the Christian secularists.
      >>Although the origins of socialist thought are usually
      >>traced from the Christian secularists, in fact the
      >>Muslim "fundamentalists" around the turn of the
      >>century used the word socialism and dealt with it
      >>positively but critically.
      >>At the same time the Christian secularist Arab
      >>"pioneers of socialism" -- even people like Farah
      >>Antun who is praised by modern Arab Marxists for
      >>introducing the Arab world to Marx, etc., they shied
      >>away from revolutionary socialism, much as the Islamic
      >>fundamentalists criticised the "extreme" demands of
      >>some western socialists. For example in Farah Antun's
      >>little novel "Religion, Science, and Money" (1903) he
      >>sets up a debate between partisans of capital and
      >>labour (as well as those for science and religion).
      >>Although he presents the workers demands very well, in
      >>the end in his book the workers go on a rampage and
      >>tear down the mythical town in which his story is set
      >>-- the moral apparently being that the workers need to
      >>be treated "decently" or else they will make these
      >>extreme demands a la Marx and then wreck civilization.
      >Dear Eric,
      >This seems to parallel the early (1926) German science-fiction
      >film <Metropolis> in which mistreated workers go on a rampage
      >and cause great damage. The moral was similar. Adolf Hitler
      >was one of the contemporary admirers of that film.
      >>In fact, Antun seems to have been particularly
      >>enamoured of a French "Radical Party" writer and
      >>politician Jules Simone who was a member of the Thiers
      >>government that the Paris Commune fought against.
      >>Well, one must remember the context in which he wrote
      >>and worked: he was writing under the shadow of the
      >>Second International, and the economic conditions of
      >>places like Syria and Egypt at that time were quite
      >>backward compared with those in the west, with very
      >>little industry at all, etc.
      >>But my point is that he wasn't any more radical than
      >>the Islamic fundamentalists who said much the same
      >>thing at the same time, i.e., for socialism, but
      >>against "extremes." The difference being that the
      >>Islamic writers said that socialism was a part of
      >>Islam while Antun saw socialism as the apogee of
      >>secular society.
      >>Western writers have taken the secular-fundamentalist
      >>difference at face value. I have a boring biography
      >>of Farah Antun on interlibrary loan by some American
      >>academic done in 1975 and it's all about the fact that
      >>he was a Christian from Syria - over and over again --
      >>that's how fixated the westerners got on the issue of
      >>religion and minorities. But what I'm finding is that
      >>if you get behind the externals, you find that they
      >>both reflect that kind of radical petty bourgeois
      >>thought, only one does it in the guise of religion,
      >>the other in the guise of secular science (though
      >>Antun also insisted on his belief in God, just in a
      >>less traditional manner). Thus there is a social base
      >>for both these trends that is, in social class terms,
      >>the same.
      >Thank you for this fascinating dissertation on Arab socialist
      >trends, secular and religious. I shall present this to the Arizona
      >Secular Humanist message board. I don't imagine it will get a
      >good reception there. After all everyone there knows that all Arabs
      >are fanatical Muslim fundamentalists who would never consider anything
      >secular :-)
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