العنوان هنا
Studies 18 June, 2013

On the Intellectual and Revolution

Keyword

Azmi Bishara

Azmi Bishara is the General Director of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS). He is also the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. A prominent Arab writer and scholar, Bishara has published numerous books and academic papers in political thought, social theory, and philosophy, in addition to several literary works, including: Civil Society: A Critical Study (1996); On the Arab Question: An Introduction to an Arab Democratic Statement (2007); Religion and Secularism in Historical Context (3 volumes 2011-2013); On Revolution and Susceptibility to Revolution (2012); The Army and Political Power in the Arab Context: Theoretical Problems (2017); Essay on Freedom (2016); Sect, Sectarianism, and Imagined Sects (2017); What is Salafism? (2018); The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Daesh): A General Framework and Critical Contribution to Understanding the Phenomenon (2018); What is Populism? (2019) and Democratic Transition and its Problems: Theoretical Lessons from Arab Experiences (2020). Some of these works have become key references within their respective field.

As part of a wider project chronicling, documenting, and analyzing the Arab revolutions of 2011, Bishara has also published three key volumes: The Glorious Tunisian Revolution (2011); Syria's Via Dolorosa to Freedom: An Attempt at Contemporary History (2013) and The Great Egyptian Revolution (in two volumes) (2014). Each book deals with the revolution’s background, path, and different stages. In their narration and detail of the revolutions’ daily events, these volumes constitute a key reference in what is known as contemporary history along with an analytical component that interlinks the social, economic and political contexts of each revolution.

This essay is not an attempt to provide a comprehensive historical or sociological treatment of the subject of intellectuals and their role in revolution; rather, it is a conceptual contribution that aims to produce knowledge through critique and the differentiation of key terms-linguistically, conceptually, and historically. In so doing, Bishara examines terms such as "the intellectual," "the intelligentsia," "the organic intellectual," and, finally, "the public intellectual". For the latter, emphasis is placed on public intellectuals' ability to go beyond their specializations and engage directly with the public on issues concerning state and society.

This paper distinguishes between intellectuals and those who work in a field that mainly relies on their intellectual ability; between academics, whose sole focus is their field, and social actors who take an interest in several fields but are not specialized in a specific one. A conceptual distinction is then drawn between the intellectual and the rest of society. Through this endeavor, the author clarifies what he considers to be the main attribute of an intellectual-the ability to take stances based on epistemological grounds and value judgments at the same time.

Finally, the paper concludes that two types of intellectuals are scarce in the Arab revolutions: the "revolutionary intellectual," who maintains a critical distance not only from the regime, but also from the revolution, and the "conservative intellectual," who argues for the preservation of the regime due to the potential for change that exists within it, and the wisdom embedded in the state and its traditions. For Bishara, the role of the revolutionary intellectual does not end with the outbreak of a revolution, but, in fact, takes on greater complexity and significance once the need to propose post-revolutionary alternatives arises.

To read the full text , click on the image below.

 

Latest Publications