Debate: The Persistence of Arab Authoritarianism

Issue Date October 2004
Volume 15
Issue 4
Page Numbers 126-32
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To compensate for an accumulated delay, Arabic societies, like the rest of the non-Western societies: China, Russia, most of the African states, Asians and Latin Americans; have attempted since the end of the 19th century to join the Industrial Revolution by official strategies. The failure of these strategies has driven many of these societies to change their choices and to revolt against their totalitarian systems during the 1970’s. It’s also the case of Arabic societies who started their fight for democratization in the 1980’s, well before American intervention. But this transition has been delayed due to the particular place the Middle East occupies in international geopolitics and geoeconomy. While the states of Central Europe and the former Soviet Union have well received the democratic system, the states of the Middle East have been considered unfit to integrate themselves into what must be called the club of global democracy, whose center is found in the Occident. The positions seem for the moment changed and nothing now prevents the Arabic states from joining the other democratic nations in the democratic club.

About the Author

Burhan Ghalioun is director of the Centre d’Etudes sur l’Orient Contemporain and professor of political sociology at the Sorbonne. He is the author of a dozen works on the politics and sociology of the Arab world including, most recently, Islam et politique: La modernité trahie (2003). This essay was translated from the French by Philip J. Costopoulos.

View all work by Burhan Ghalioun