Lineages of the Arab Revolt
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/03/2014
Year Published: 2014
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20386
A review of "Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East" by Adam Hanieh.
As the book's title suggests, it is not primarily about the events of the so-called Arab Spring and its aftermath. The episodes of 2011-12 in the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)(1) -- the initial "revolutionary moment," followed by a "counterrevolutionary moment" -- are outlined briefly in the final chapter. But the book is mainly about the socio-economic depredations and devastations of neoliberalism that had been unleashed in the region during the preceding three or four decades.
These are the "lineages" to which the title refers. The 2008 global capitalist crisis, whose effects were transmitted to the region in various ways, did not cause the revolts, but served as an "essential ingredient" that triggered them off.
Hanieh's approach is characterized by two principal methodological features, which together make it radically different from mainstream writings on the region:
"[The books] goal is to trace in broad outline some of the most significant transformations of the Middle East through the lens of Marxist political economy. Its novelty lies in the emphasis on capitalism and class as crucial pivots of analysis, two categories frequently downplayed in standard approaches to the Middle East. It further attempts to take seriously the nature of the region as a region -- to trace the changing hierarchies at the regional scale as an integrated unity that shapes social formations at the national level."