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Bitter Legacy Ideology and Politics in the Arab World by Paul Salem

Bitter Legacy Ideology and Politics in the Arab World

Part of the Contemporary Issues in the Middle East Series


Bitter Legacy Ideology and Politics in the Arab World by Paul Salem

Ideology has been described as the single most powerful force in modern Arab politics. In this analysis, Salem examines 20th-century nationalist, Marxist, and Islamic movements in the Arab world. He uses a multidisciplinary approach and a breadth of theoretical work from the fields of sociology, social psychology, and political science. He also draws on primary Arabic sources, examining the main works of Sati al-Husri, Michel Aflaq, Sayyid Qutb, and Antoun Saadeh. Salem argues that, throughout the 20th-century, ideology has served a crucial political function in integrating the masses into the modern state system and in legitimising new elites. This ideology was stimulated by the rapid pace of social, economic, political, and cultural change that began at the turn of the century and which caused considerable strain within the structure of the existing traditional belief systems. He not only analyses the rise of numerous movements including Arab nationalism, Marxism, and Islamic fundamentalism, but also Egyptian, Syrian, and Lebanese nationalism. Unlike many other studies that often treat ideologies as separate and static phenomena, the author places ideology in a comparative and dialectical framework. He approaches the work from a multidisciplinary perspective to study the movements and how their respective ideologies compete and reinforce one another. By considering religious and cultural variables and by examining a movements's roots, its appeal to different classes and generations, and how it fulfills people's psychological needs, the author provides a fuller understanding of the Arab society as a whole. Bitter Legacy aims to provide a panoramic review of modern Arab political thought and offers analytical tools for comprehending ideological change.

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

31st July 1994


Paul Salem

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Syracuse University Press


260 pages


Political science & theory
Political ideologies
History of ideas



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