A very interesting article by Muriam Haleh Davis at Jadalliya asks whether the switch from Islamism to labour activism as the single preferred explanation for Arab revolts isn’t a new form of Orientalism which risks betraying the emerging forces in the Middle East by submerging their difference(s). The debate which it has sparked in the comments is worth reading in full.
Since Haleh Davis’ arguments touch on issues I have raised both in my last article for the Monde Diplo, and in my forthcoming piece in Open Democracy, I couldn’t help weighing in:
I agree that to reduce what is going on across the region right now to social and economic unrest, is as inaccurate as it was in the past to attribute everything to a mystical essence of Islam, or Islamism. But at the same time, your argument seems to me also to threaten to mystify the nature of the nature of the solidarity and emulation we can see emerging now in the US or Europe, and which hopefully will continue and grow, even as it becomes more self-conscious, and thus more complex, and more accurate in its references. (…)
Read the full text of her article, and of my response, at Jadalliya, one of the best English-language resources for thinking about what is going on in the Arab world.