State and Conflict in the Middle East: Emergence of the Postcolonial State

State and Conflict in the Middle East: Emergence of the Postcolonial State

State and Conflict in the Middle East: Emergence of the Postcolonial State

State and Conflict in the Middle East: Emergence of the Postcolonial State

Excerpt

This book is written in the genre of “soft” social science; that is, categories, concepts, and logical constructs developed in modern social science are utilized to analyze political problems without, however, following the approach of the more quantitative behavioral sciences by anchoring the argument or analysis in “hard” empirical data. For one thing, such data relevant to the questions here discussed are by and large simply unavailable, due both to the prevailing sociopolitical conditions in most Middle East countries and to the methodological orientation of most social scientists conducting such research. Also, the macro concepts that constitute the backbone of the theoretical argument put forth here do not lend themselves easily to the acquisition of hard data. Yet, a real dilemma exists: the questions discussed in this book seem to cry out for serious discussion and analysis, while concomitant, accurate methods and data are, broadly speaking, out of reach at the moment. I have consciously decided, therefore, to write at a very high level of generalization, not only in the hope that readers will nevertheless find the argument interesting, stimulating, and useful, but also because I am fully confident that the future Middle East, researched by a more sophisticated social science, will present a picture essentially congruent with that depicted in this book.

In the terms identified by Bendix and Lipset, this is a work in political science rather than political sociology. That is, it focuses on the state and its effects on society, rather than the other way around. This is due only partially to my disciplinary background and more to my conviction that it is indeed the state as a generic phenomenon that is the dominating factor in Middle East society and politics today. It is not that I find the state more important than society; rather it is that I find in the real world of the Middle East a concrete situation in which at this stage the overwhelming power of the state shapes the development of society. This argument, of course, will be elucidated in great detail in what follows, and it will have to stand or fall on its own scholarly merits. I feel compelled, however, to emphasize one point at the outset: I neither admire nor worship state power. Quite the contrary, I tend to distrust and even fear it. The values I believe in—creativity, love, fellowship, the free pursuit of individual interests—can be best realized on the per-sonal or communal level; yet these activities are surely unrealizable in the violent disorder accompanying the birth pangs of a “normal”

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