Arab socialist trends
>>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.
>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
>>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,
>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