‘The people want …’: the first part of the slogan chanted by millions of Arab protestors since 2011 revealed a long-repressed craving for democracy. But huge social and economic problems were also laid bare by the protesters’ demands. Although Islamist parties did not initiate the protest movement, they have benefitted the most from the power vacuum that followed the ousting of the rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
In this landmark work, Gilbert Achcar sheds light on the social, economic, historical and political background to the on-going Arab Uprising and assesses its future prospects. With incisive and invaluable insight, Achcar investigates why the liberals and the Left failed to capitalise on the initial momentum and assesses whether the Islamist parties will be able to steer their countries out of their present crisis.
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'
‘A detailed and searching account of the “Arab Spring”’
Malise Ruthven, New York Review of Books
'Any reader who would like a clear-eyed, theoretically grounded and lucid assessment of what the Arab uprisings have wrought so far would benefit from this book.'
Laleh Khalili, The Middle East in London
'This is the first book to locate the Arab uprisings within a broad historical sweep. … Once we accompany Gilbert out of and away from the freak show that is mainstream scholarship about the Middle East, historical events and conceptual constructs start to take a completely different shape.'
Maha Abdelrahman, Jadaliyya
'[Achcar’s] insights offer a reasoned practical hope, whereas other analysts on the left offer doom and gloom. Moreover, Achcar’s chapter providing a “balance sheet” of what has been achieved so far in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria, as well as an assessment of future prospects in each country, is indispensable.'
Andrew Stimson, director of the American Educational Trust Book Club, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
‘The People Want provides not only a definitive and comprehensive overview of the uprisings but also, and more importantly, identifies the socio-economic dynamics that led to their eruption … An in-depth and critical reading of the Arab uprisings that will undoubtedly enrich Middle Eastern Studies libraries’
Bustan: The Middle East Book Review
'Offers a valuable, in-depth and original perspective for evaluating the popular revolts which continue to determine events in the Arab region'
‘The most careful, insightful and erudite study to date of the Arab uprising, written at a time when its fires were still burning strongly’
Marx & Philosophy Review of Books