Monday, 19 September 2011

Leaderless Movements Can Win


The volume of material (print/web etc.) that has been produced as a result of the Arab spring has been phenomenal, essential but at the same time overwhelming.

So, the latest book from Jean-Pierre Filiu, the eminent French writer on the Middle East, is a lucid, critical and calm reflection on the 'uprising'.

One of the first striking aspects of the book is Filiu's central position which is that, despite the legacy of attempts of Arab nationalism, and the worst excesses of islamist dogmatism, the hisory of the Middle East does not provide the basis for a form of Arab exceptionalism within the context of open, democratic societies.

As a teacher of trade union and labour studies I would particularly recommend a reading of chapters 4 and 5, 'Social networks work' and 'Leaderless movements can win'.

Although the entire text is worth a read, these two chapters in particular should provoke an interest in the way in which social networks have captured the interest of young radicals and, when combined with forms of grassroots leaderless resistance, it has the potential for a phenoenal degree of impact.

Clearly the impact of events in Tunisia and Egypt (the key focus of the book) may not act as the catalyst for similar in the UK - although it is always galling to hear Tories trumpet protest and uprising in other countries, whilst dismissing similar in the UK - but we should take the time to reflect upon and consider what can be learnt from a phenomenon few predicted but many are talking about.

Any comments, questions welcome.

In Solidarity


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