The People Want

The People Want

A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising

Translated by G.M. Goshgarian

N/A March 2022 Paperback 448pp

About the Book

‘The people want’ – thus began the slogans chanted by millions of protesters in 2011 in what was dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’.  While the protests revealed a long-suppressed craving for democracy, they also laid bare a deep structural crisis.

In this landmark work, Middle East analyst Gilbert Achcar examines the socio-economic roots and political dynamics of the regional upheaval. He assesses the peculiarities of the region’s states and regimes, and sheds light on the movements that use Islam as a political banner.

Achcar argues that the Arab Spring was but the beginning of a long-term revolutionary process – a perspective confirmed by a second wave of uprisings in 2019 – and outlines the requirements for a solution to the crisis. This new edition features a preface drawing a balance sheet of the upheaval’s first decade.

About the Author

Gilbert Achcar grew up in Lebanon. He is Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has written extensively on politics and development economics, as well as social change and social theory. His publications include The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder (2002), published in 15 languages; Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy (2008), with Noam Chomsky; the critically acclaimed The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli-War of Narratives (2010); The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising (2013); and Morbid Symptoms: Relapse in the Arab Uprisings.


‘One of the best analysts of the contemporary Arab world.’
Le Monde

‘The most careful, insightful, and erudite study to date of the Arab uprising.’
Kevin Anderson (University of California, Santa Barbara), Marx and Philosophy Review of Books

‘Achcar’s precise and illuminating analyses contrast with the usual discourses on the Arab Spring.'
Henry Laurens (Collège de France), L’Orient Littéraire

‘A thoughtful and acute analysis … Jargon-free, clear, and a model of marrying theory to empirical material.’
Laleh Khalili (Queen Mary, University of London), Middle East in London

‘[This book] extends an invitation to the reader to leave a hall of mirrors that often guides explanations of the uprisings … historical events and conceptual constructs start to take a completely different shape.’
Maha Abdelrahman (University of Cambridge), Jadaliyya

‘It is little wonder his 2013 book The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising has now been re-issued with a new preface. It stood out then and it stands out again today.’
The New Arab