Suivez Salam Kawakibi

design by Studio4u
And Patrick Habis

Will the Revolution of Thought Catch Up with The Popular Revolution

Sho’oun Arabiyya : Journal of Arab Affairs

Scientific research in the Arab states suffers from a terrible state that developed with the emergence of the national state after the independence phase through coercive and marginal practices that established the ruling mentality on different intellectual currents from revolutionary Leftists, to chauvinist Nationalists, to conservative Rightists to dogmatic Islamists.

The rulers and their followers considered that their first enemy was the people. Therefore, the people’s awareness and knowledge of human sciences will abort any dreams to dominate them. Abdel Rahman Al Kawakibi said in his book : "Characters of Despotism" which he wrote more than one hundred years ago : "A despotic leader, even if he was an idiot, will realise that he will not be able to enslave the people and repress them unless they are idiotic and ignorant."

A despotic king, president or prince seeks to spread ignorance in the people’s minds and that led the people to adopt extremism in thought and practice. They become his slaves with his coercive mentality. Ignorant people lose everything for a despotic leader who adopts violence as an ideology to impose his influence.

Despotic authorities exerted their efforts to oppose scientists and harm them, in spite of their importance in building societies. Levels of education in schools and universities became below standard and the teaching occupation became despicable both socially and economically. Many socialist parties were based on the teachers and the educated at first. Then these parties realised that they were dangerous. They started to marginalise them and their roles through a bureaucratic and security system.

Governments whose term of reference was religious put constraints on science and scientific research, and confined them to religious issues, at the expense of human sciences which incite the mind to critical revision.

Despotic regimes in the Arab states have proved that they were against thinkers and scientists, and have applied policies to marginalise them in a systematic way, and that created whole generations who lost contact with human thought. It is suffice to compare level of higher education in developed states with that of the Third World. Those who succeeded to overcome their economic difficulties were the ones who provided science with a broader scope in the framework of their public policies. That had to do with the nature of regimes and the rate of freedom that was available.

Most thinkers found themselves neglected and on the margin of society as a consequence of despotic practices, which took the form of secularism sometimes and fundamentalism in other times.

Migration or exclusion of the educated was one phenomenon in the Arab states. Thos educated people had to suffer of despotism. At the same time, political action was as of low standard as education and that was done on purpose by the ruling authorities. It led to nationalisation of the political community and the civil society, and confining the political action to its security framework. The Media became a tool to distort facts and spread lies. "Cultural" centres helped to increase backwardness in the minds of generations of victimised societies.

There was an endeavour to bridge the gap between the thinkers and the people, which was deepened by the despotic methods of rule that practiced coercion, exclusion and marginalisation. In addition, there were societal and religious barriers that annulled the effectiveness of the thinkers in the public domain. Waves of popular protests overwhelmed the Arab region that aimed at changing the prevailing equation for decades. That equation accepted subjugation to despotism of governments and rulers.

The prevailing revolutionary condition avails the opportunity to revive the pressing need for scientific research in the political field that is broad and varied and inevitably connected with the social sciences, especially because the promising freedom will lead to a broader domain of development of thought and intellectual action.
Abdel Rahman Al Kawakibi spoke in detail on this matter and defined it at the end of the nineteenth century, as if he tackled the problematic of thought, culture and human sciences of our own times. He said : "A despot’s joints tremble in fear of the sciences of life such as the theoretical wisdom and intellect philosophy, the rights of nations, characters of sociology, civil politics, detailed history, and literary oration. Adding to that such sciences that widen minds and elevate souls to higher positions, and that define for man his rights and how he suffers from injustice, and how to demand, how to succeed, and how to maintain the gains he achieved.