Sunday, October 30, 2011

The role of Arab intellectuals

About the article in the NYT by Worth.  1) Comrade Sinan got it right:  "The role of the intellectual may be shrinking into that of the micro-blogger or street organizer. To some, that is just fine. “I don’t think there is a need for intellectuals to spearhead any revolution,” says Sinan Antoon, an Iraqi-born poet and novelist who has written extensively on the Arab Spring and now teaches at New York University. “It is no longer a movement to be led by heroes.”"  Exactly.  It is a good thing.  Let the intellectuals be marginalized.  2) Are you serious, Robert?  You put Havel and Paine in the same league with Lenin and Mao?? Havel is very much like Herzl: a failed playwright whose fame is political and not literary.  No one takes that man seriously as an intellectual outside US Congress, despite his invoking the name of Hegel in his writings, even when it is not relevant, as in :"I Had a cheese bagel this morning.  Hegel."  Kid you not. 3) It is good that finally someone in the Western press talk about how Gulf money bought off a whole class of Arab intellectuals, writers, poets, and columnists.  Yet, when Worth talks to a columnist in Al-Hayat, he identifies the paper as "Arab newspaper" failing to tell the reader it is the mouthpiece of Prince Khalid Bin Sultan bin Bribe.  That is a major failing especially when the NYT and its writers always refer to a link with an Arab government or movement if it is not to the liking of Israel.  4) Michel Aflaq is a "political philosopher" only for anyone who has not read him.  He never ever is considered a political philosopher.  He is a literary essayist and you should read the book "Aflaq, as a Man of Belle Lettres  (in Arabic).  

PS 5) I don't like Adonis and hate to defend him but it is unfair to maintain that he "denigrated" Syrian protesters as much as I disliked his "open letters" about Syria.  They were indeed too soft on the regime.  But he merely criticized the use of the mosques as a starting place for demonstrations. He was speaking as a strict secularist.