"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Arab Nationalism and Political Islam

For complicated but often quite defensible reasons, some Eastern Christians in Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere have sometimes been strong proponents of Arab nationalism in the hopes that it might in fact be a pan-nationalism, that is, a political ideology qua political in the modern "secular" sense, making room for Christian and other minorities in the face of an otherwise sometimes hostile Islam.

A new study by Lahouari Addi looks more deeply into Radical Arab Nationalism and Political Islam (Georgetown UP, 2017), 288pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
In Radical Arab Nationalism and Political Islam, Lahouari Addi attempts to assess the history and political legacy of radical Arab nationalism to show that it contained the seeds of its own destruction. While the revolutionary regimes promised economic and social development and sought the unity of Arab nations, they did not account for social transformations, such as freedom of speech, that would eventually lead to their decline. But while radical Arab nationalism fell apart, authoritarian populism did not disappear. Today it is expressed by political Islam that aims to achieve the kind of social justice radical Arab nationalism once promised.
Addi creatively links the past and present while also raising questions about the future of Arab countries. Is political Islam the heir of radical Arab nationalism? If political Islam succeeds, will it face the same challenges faced by radical Arab nationalism? Will it be able to implement modernity? The future of Arab countries, Addi writes, depends on this crucial issue.

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