Saturday, May 21, 2011

Salim Mansur on Arab history

Dr Mansur gives us some understanding of events in the Middle East. It's very depressing.

No matter what season it is in Arab politics, spring or winter, there is one near certainty since time immemorial: Arab politics teeter on the fine line separating Bedouin savagery and some form of authoritarian order.

In such a world, democracy is another word for mobocracy. This is what we have been witnessing behind the hyperbole of Arab spring breaking out in jasmine and roses.

None understood this culture of Arab politics better, and described it with a clarity that has withstood the ravages of time, than Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406).

The Muqaddimah or “An Introduction to History” written in 1377 was Ibn Khaldun’s first, or introductory, book to his multi-volume universal history. In it, Ibn Khaldun laid out his descriptive method and analytical approach to studying man, social order, and how civilization prospers and decays.

The highly reputed British historian-philosopher Arnold Toynbee, in describing The Muqaddimah, wrote it remains “undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place.”

1 comment:

Sixth Estate said...

He raises a good point. Of course there's a first thing for everything, but uprisings leading to the replacement of one authoritarian with another are common. Uprisings leading to a flowering of democracy, much less so.

I don't know about the whole Bedouin metaphor, though...

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