Friday, May 27, 2005

More on "Democracy Enhancement" and Movements for Change

This was going to be a comment to Altaf's post, but, like Altaf's comment to Anna's post, my comment ran a little long as well :-)

Altaf, the point you raise is an important one. The "pro-democracy" movement in Lebanon, with the right-wing "opposition" leading the way, represents all that's bad about some of these movements, although I don't want to make generalizations. In Egypt, there is of course an amalgam of various social forces wanting to end the dictatorship of Mubarak.

But while I sympathize with your distrust (disgust?) of the politics of some of these groups, there is the tendency for us to adopt the ultra-left approach which by default lumps all social and political forces together. For example, the mainstream anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, led by the ANC, was primarily a struggle addressing dynamics relating to the racial/ethnic and political spheres of social life, and somewhat neglected the economic sphere. We see the results of that today, where in fact inequality and poverty have grown in South Africa. South African blacks are the worst-hit victims of these diseases, as well as of the pandemic of AIDS which is killing so many.

But despite all we hate about what the ANC is doing today, and despite even knowing at the time of the liberation struggle that the class issue, that “socialism”, was being “postponed” and would be considered only after the “first revolution,” all people of good conscious supported the anti-apartheid struggle led by the ANC. What was the alternative?

There are very few movements out there that take a radical perspective on all of the social spheres of our lives (including the kinship/gender, political, economic, and community spheres), and that act on it. All of the spheres are important, and that’s why we support forces that struggle to bring about change in each of these spheres. Of course, at the risk of contradicting myself, we also know that each of these spheres are not mutually exclusive, and the dynamics of each of them tend to reinforce or co-define that of the others. So, to put it simply, it would behoove genuine movements for social change to pay careful attention to all of these spheres of human life, all forming a part of our whole “tauhidi” selves, and our “tauhidi” society.

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