‘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(s)
Gilbert Achcar is Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His other works include The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab–Israeli War of Narratives and Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy, with Noam Chomsky.
'One of the best analysts of the contemporary Arab world' Le Monde
'How does one tell the story of a revolutionary moment when the cataclysmic events are still underway, when the future remains remarkably uncertain, and where upheavals continue to characterise the day-to-day conduct of politics? Gilbert Achcar’s The People Want provides a felicitous response to this question. … 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 'Telling a story – let alone one as complicated as that of the Arab uprisings and their historical lineage – from beginning to end is a task few can complete. … Yet this is what Gilbert Achcar’s The People Want manages to do. 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 'While some readers may be distracted by Achcar’s unabashedly Marxist analysis, the strength and long-range view of his socio-economic insights should overcome such reluctance. … His 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
'It is easy to follow the events of the Arab Spring as it continues to unfold and get excited by some developments only to have the enthusiasm dashed by new twists and turns. While it is important to not gloss over troubling data, Achcar is correct to insist that we are still in the early stages and many different roads are still open. What he says about Libya is true for the entire region: “The game is not over yet”'
New Politics (USA)
'Publishing a book about the Arab uprising may seem a perilous venture given how swiftly events are changing. However, Gilbert Achcar avoids the risk of being outdated by zooming in on root causes and abiding trends. … The book offers a valuable, in-depth and original perspective for evaluating the popular revolts which continue to determine events in the Arab region.'
'Brushing aside a host of fashionable narratives to explain the Arab spring, Gilbert Achcar’s recent book offers a radically different perspective. … His prophetic analysis, informed by a Marxist outlook, springs from rigorous research and deep knowledge of Arab realities.'
The News (Pakistan)