Olivier Assayas's film on the aftermath of May 1968 is infantile ultra-leftism
JOE GLENTON explains his need to respond to a world that is unsustainably divided
Samir Amin's book is a crucial exposure of how political Islam supports the imperialist agenda in the Arab world
The timing of this book couldn't be more appropriate. Samir Amin has been writing about the use of political Islam as a tool of imperialism to undermine secular regimes for years but in the decade following the second intifada of 2000, when armed jihad was raging against Western forces from Basra to Helmand, that thesis was counterintuitive to say the least.
The events of the past two years, with Islamists again acting as imperialism's shock troops in Libya and Syria while simultaneously pushing neoliberal globalisation to parts of Egypt even Mubarak couldn't reach, have shown that "political Islam" is as useful to imperialism as ever.
This book charts the development of the Middle East and Egypt in particular over the past 2000 years, from its rise and fall as a hub of the world's trading systems, through its stop-start attempts at modernisation during the 19th and 20th centuries, to the decline that followed Nasser's defeat in the Six Day War. But the most interesting sections are those tracking the developments of the last 50 years.
Intriguingly, 80 per cent of the book was written before the social explosions of early 2011. By outlining the growing social pressures and conflicts which preceded them, Amin shows that they were far from unexpected. But he also shows that if the capture of these uprisings by the Muslim Brotherhood was not exactly destined, it was also eminently predictable.
Since the time of Sadat, Amin argues, the Egyptian state has actually been complicit in the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood's power. Nasser's defeat in 1967, and his death in 1970, resulted in a capitulation to imperialism and a corresponding decline in living standards and the regime's legitimacy.
To compensate, the state sought instead to gain religious legitimacy by systematically handing over powerful institutions - the media, education and the courts - to Islamist control. This whole process deepened following the collapse of the Soviet Union which had led to a fresh wave of neoliberalism and impoverishment along with a renewed attempt to channel opposition in a purely religious direction.
For Amin, the apparent "contradiction" between the Sadat-Mubarak state and the Brotherhood is pure theatre. Egypt has been run by what amounts to an alliance between the two forces for a long time.
Imperialism has been complicit in the process, allowing its Saudi friends to pour money into the Muslim Brotherhood, who are then able to provide essential services such as healthcare where the state has been forced by IMF diktat to cut back.
Today, Western forces fully support the Brotherhood's takeover of the country. As Amin explains, "the single aim of Washington and its allies Israel and Saudi Arabia is to abort the Egyptian democratic movement and to that end they want to impose an Islamic regime under the direction of the Muslim Brotherhood - the only way for them to perpetuate the submission of Egypt."
The Brotherhood, through their full support of empire regime change policy in the region and the reduction of the Egyptian economy to an informal "bazaar" market system, are the perfect allies for imperialism in its quest to push back the possibility of Egypt's emergence as a strong and independent state.
Its programme is one of capitulation to the US military and globalised capital while upholding the status quo. No wonder Cameron and Hague are so gushing in their support.
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