The prophet and the proletariat

Chris Harman (1994)

Notes are placed with individual chapters, but in case anybody wants them all together – look below:



1. Thus a perceptive study of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood could conclude in 1969 that the attempt at the revival of the movement in the mid-1960s 'was the predictable eruption of the continuing tensions caused by an ever dwindling activist fringe of individuals dedicated to an increasingly less relevant Muslim "position" about society.' R P Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers (London, 1969), pvii.

2. Article in the New Statesman in 1979, quoted by Fred Halliday himself in 'The Iranian Revolution and its Implications', New Left Review, 166 (November December 1987), p36.

3. Interview with the Communist Movement of Algeria (MCA) in Socialisme Internationale (Paris, June 1990). The MCA itself no longer exists.

4. F Halliday, op cit, p57.

5. For an account of the support given by different left organisations to the Islamists see P Marshall, Revolution and Counter Revolution in Iran (London, 1988), pp60-68 and pp89-92; M Moaddel, Class, Politics and Ideology in the Iranian Revolution (New York, 1993), pp215-218; V Moghadan, 'False Roads in Iran', New Left Review, p 166.

6. Pamphlet quoted in R P Mitchell, op cit, p127.

7. A S Ahmed, Discovering Islam (New Delhi, 1990), pp61-64.

8. For an account of Afghan sufism, see O Roy, Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan (Cambridge, 1990), pp38-44. For sufism in India and Pakistan, see A S Ahmed, op cit, pp90-98.

9. I Khomeini, Islam and Revolution (Berkeley, 1981), quoted in A S Ahmed, op cit p31.

10. O Roy, op cit, p5. A leading Islamist, Hassan al-Turabi, leader of the Sudanese Islamic Brotherhood, argues exactly the same, calling for an Islamicisation of society because 'religion can become the most powerful motor of development', in 'Le nouveau reveil de 1'Islam', Liberation (Paris), 5 August, 1994.

11. E Abrahamian, Khomeinism (London, 1993), p2.

12. Ibid.

13. 'Who is responsible for violence?' in l'Algerie par les Islamistes, edited by M Al Ahnaf, B Botivewau and F Fregosi (Pads, 1990), pp 132 and following.

14. Ibid, p31.

15. G Kepel, The Prophet and the Pharoah, Muslim Extremism in Egypt (London, 1985), p109.

16. See, for example, K Pfeifer, Agrarian Reform Under State Capitalism in Algeria (Boulder, 1985), p59; C Andersson, Peasant or Proletarian? (Stockholm, 1986), p67; M Raffinot and P Jacquemot, Le Capitalisme d' état Algerien (Paris, 1977).

17. J P Entelis, Algeria, the Institutionalised Revolution (Boulder, 1986), p76.

18. Ibid.

19. A Rouadia, Les Freres et la Mosque (Pans, 1990), p33.

20. O Roy, op cit, pp88-90.

21. A Rouadia, op cit, p82.

22. Ibid, p78.

23. Ibid.

24. For an account of these events, see D Hiro, Islamic Fundamentalism (London, 1989), p97.

25. H E Chehabi, Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism (London, 1990), p89.

26. E Abrahamian, The Iranian Mojahedin (London, 1989), pp 107, 201, 214, 225-226.

27. M Moaddel, op cit, pp224-238.

28. A Bayat, Workers and Revolution in Iran (London, 1987), p57.

29. A Tabari, 'Islam and the Struggle for Emancipation of Iranian Women', in A Tabari and N Yeganeh, In the Shadow of Islam: the Women's Movement in Iran.

30. O Roy, op cit, pp68-69.

31. M Al-Ahnaf, B Botivewau and F Fregosi, op cit.

32. A Rouadia, op cit.

33. Ibid.

34. Ibid.

35. In 1989, of 250,000 who took exams, only 54,000 obtained the bac, ibid, p 137.

36. Ibid, p146.

37. Ibid, p147.

38. See R P Mitchell, op cit, p 13.

39. See ibid, p27.

40. Ibid, p38.

41. M Hussein, 'Islamic Radicalism as a Political Protest Movement', in N Sa'dawi, S Hitata, M Hussein and S Safwat, Islamic Fundamentalism (London, 1989).

42. Ibid.

43. S Hitata, 'East West Relations', in N Sa'dawi, S Hitata, M Hussein and S Safwat, op cit, p26.

44. G Kepel, op cit, p129.

45. Ibid, p137.

46. Ibid, pp 143-44.

47. Ibid, p85.

48. Ibid, p95-96.

49. Ibid, p149.

50. For an account of this period see, for example, A Dabat and L Lorenzano, Conflicto Malvinense y Crisis Nacional (Mexico, 1982), pp46-8.

51. M Al-Ahnaf, B Botivewau and F Fregosi, op cit, p34.

52. Phil Marshall's otherwise useful article, 'Islamic Fundamentalism--Oppression and Revolution', [Dansk: Islamisk fundamentalisme – undertrykkelse og revolution – Deutsch: Islamischer Fundamentalismus – Unterdrückung und Revolution] in International Socialism 40, falls down precisely because it fails to distinguish between the anti-imperialism of bourgeois movements faced with colonialism and that of petty bourgeois movements facing independent capitalist states integrated into the world system. All his stress is on the role these movements can play as they 'express the struggle against imperialism'. This is to forget that the local state and the local bourgeoisie are usually the immediate agent of exploitation and oppression in the Third World today-something which some strands of radical Islamism do at least half recognise (as when Qutb describes states like Egypt as 'non Islamic').

It also falls to see that the petty bourgeoisie limitations of Islamist movements mean that their leaders, like those of movements like Peronism before them, often use rhetoric about 'imperialism' to justify an eventual deal with the local state and ruling class while deflecting bitterness into attacks on those minorities they identify as local agents of 'cultural imperialism'. Marshall is therefore mistaken to argue that revolutionary Marxists can follow the same approach to Islamism as that developed by the early, pre-Stalinist Comintern in relation to the rising anti-colonial movements of the early 1920s. We must certainly learn from the early Comintern that you can he on the same side as a certain movement (or even state) in so far as it fights imperialism, while at the same time you strive to overthrow its leadership and disagree with its politics, its strategy and its tactics. But that is not at all the same as saying that the bourgeois and petty bourgeois Islamism of the 1990s is the same as the bourgeois and petty bourgeois anti-colonialism of the 1920s.

Otherwise we can fall into the same mistake the left in countries like Argentina did during the late 1960s and early 1970s, when they supported the nationalism of their own bourgeoisie on the grounds that they lived in 'semi-colonial states'.

As A Dabat and L Lorenzano have quite rightly noted, 'The Argentine nationalist and Marxist left confused ...the association (of their own rulers) with the interests of the imperialist bourgeoisie and their diplomatic servility in the face of the US army and state with political dependency ("semi-colonialism", "colonialism"), which led to its most radical and determined forces to decide to call for an amid struggle for "the second independence". In reality, they were faced with something quite different. The behaviour of any government of a relatively weak capitalist country (however independent its state structure is) is necessary "conciliatory", "capitulationist" when it comes to meeting its own getting concessions from imperialist governments or firms ...or consolidating alliances ...with these states. These types of action are in essence the same for all bourgeois governments, however nationalist they consider themselves. This does not affect the structure of the state and its relationship with the process of self-expansion and reproduction of capital on the national scale (the character of the state as a direct expression of the national dominant classes and not as an expression of the imperialist states and bourgeoisies of other countries). Conflicto Malvinense y Crisis Nacional, op cit, p70.

53. E Abrahamian, Khomeinism, op cit, p3.

54. Ibid, p 17.

55. O Roy, op cit, p71.

56. M Al-Ahnaf, B Botivewau and F Fregosi, op cit, pp26-27.

57. R P Mitchell, op cit, p 145.

58. Ibid, p116.

59. Ibid, p40.

60. Book by Hudaybi, quoted in G Kepel, op cit, p61.

61. Ibid, p71.

62. Ibid.

63. See quote in ibid, p44.

64. Ibid, p53.

65. For details, see ibid, p78.

66. For a long account of Faraj's views in his book, The Hidden Imperative, see ibid, pp 193-202.

67. Ibid, p208.

68. Ibid, p164.

69. Ibid, p210.

70. A Rouadia, op cit, p20.

71. Ibid, pp33-4.

72. Ibid, p36.

73. Ibid, p 144.

74. Ibid, p145-146.

75. J P Entelis, op cit, p74.

76. A Rouadia, op cit, p191.

77. Ibid, p209.

78. M Al-Ahnaf, B Botivewau and F Fregosi, op cit, p30.

79. Ibid.

80. J Goytisolo, 'Argelia en el Vendava', in El Pais, 30 March, 1994.

81. El Salaam, 21 June 1990, translated in M AI-Ahnaf, B Botivewau and F Fregosi, op cit, pp200-202.

82. See the account of these events in J Goytisolo, op cit, 29 March 1994. This is now the course recommended by the British big business daily, the Financial Times (see the issue of 19 July 1994) and apparently by the US government.

83. J Goytisolo, op cit, 30 March 1994.

84. Ibid.

85. Ibid.

86. Ibid, 3 April 1994.

87. Guardian, 15 April 1994.

88. Guardian, 13 April 1994.

89. J Goytisolo, op cit, 29 March 1994.

90. See the translation on economic policy in M AI-Ahnaf, B Botivewau and F Fregosi, op cit.

91. Ibid, p109.

92. This is the view put forward by F Halliday, op cit. It was the view put forward in relation to Stalinism by Max Schactman and others. See M Schactman, The Bureaucratic Revolution (New York, 1962), and, for a critique, T Cliff, 'Appendix 2: The theory of Bureaucratic Collectivism', in State Capitalism in Russia (London, 1988).

93. The position of much of the left today in both Algeria and Egypt.

94. H E Chehabi, op cit, p169.

95. For details, see A Bayat, op cit, pp101-102, 128-129.

96. Figures given in ibid, p108.

97. M M Salehi, Insurgency through Culture and Religion (New York, 1988), p 171.

98. H E Chehabi, op cit, p169.

99. The figure is given in D Hiro, op cit, p187.

100. See ch 3 of my Class Struggles in Eastern Europe, 1945-83 (London, 1983).

101. T Cliff, 'Deflected Permanent Revolution', International Socialism, first series, no 12 (Spring, 1963), reprinted in International Socialism, first series, no 61. Unfortunately, this very important article is not reprinted in the selection of Cliff's writings, Neither Washington nor Moscow, but it is available as a pamphlet from Bookmarks.

102. Still less did they represent, as Halliday seems to contend, 'the strength of pre-capitalist social forces', op cit, p35. By making such an assertion Halliday is only showing how much his own Maoist-Stalinist origins have prevented him understanding the character of capitalism in the present century.

103. As P Marshall seems to imply in an otherwise excellent book Revolution and Counter Revolution in Iran, op cit.

104. A Bayat, op cit, p 134.

105. T Cliff, op cit.

106. M Moaddel, op cit, p212.

107. F Halliday, op cit, p57.

108. Maryam Poya is mistaken to use the term 'workers' councils' to translate 'shoras' in her article, 'Iran 1979: Long Live the Revolution ...Long Live Islam?' in Revolutionary Rehearsals (Bookmarks, London, 1987).

109. According to M Moaddel, op cit, p238.

110. A Bayat, op cit, p42.

111. E Abrahamian, The Iranian Mojahedin, op cit, p189.

112. M Poya, op cit.

113. M Moaddel, op cit, p216.

114. Abdelwahab el-Affendi, Turabi's revolution, Islam and power in Sudan (London, 1991), p89.

115. Ibid, pp116-117.

116. Ibid, pp117.

117. Ibid, pp 115.

118. For his position on women, see summary of his pamphlet in ibid, p174. See also his article, 'Le Nouveau Reveil de l'Islam', op cit.

119. Affendi, op cit, pp 118.

120. Ibid, pp 163.

121. Ibid, pp163-164.

122. Ibid, pp 116.

123. Amnesty International report, quoted in Economist Intelligence Unit Report, Sudan, 1992:4.

124. Ibid.

125. Economist Intelligence Unit Report, Sudan, 1993:3.

126. Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Profile, Sudan, 1993-4. Turabi himself has been keen to insist that 'the Islamic awakening is no longer interested in fighting the West... The West is not an enemy for us'. 'Le nouveau Reveil de l'Islam', op cit.

127. Economist Intelligence Unit Report, Sudan, 1993:1.

128. This was the quite correct description of the ideas of the People's Mojahedin provided by the section of the leadership and membership who split away in the mid1970s to form the organisation that later took the name Paykar. Unfortunately, this organisation continued to base itself on guerrilaism and Maoism rather than genuine revolutionary Marxism.

129. V Moghadam, 'Women, Work and Ideology in the Islamic Republic' International Journal of Middle East Studies, 1988, p230.

130. Ibid, p227.

131. Ibid.

132. E Abrahamian, Khomeinism, op cit, p16.

Sidst opdateret 31.7.2008