Foreign Policy Program
Most Arab countries in the mid 20
century were deeply traditional societies. Post-colonial revolutions were drivenby modern Arab nationalism. Tese Arab nationalists werebased in a narrow elite o young ocers and nationalistintellectuals, who would later establish populist revolu-tionary dictatorships. Tis is how regimes o the Nasser— Assad — Boumediene type emerged, contributing toArab modernization at the expense o political reedom.In Arab countries today, democratic revolutions are beingcarried out by relatively numerous communities o young,educated, and urban proessionals and intellectuals,claiming democracy and reedom as established normso ordinary lie in the contemporary world. Tis marks asignicant departure rom the Arab nationalism o the mid20
century. Yet, we still associate modernization with therevolutionary agenda.Young — modern — Arab reormers lled ahrir Square,yet they represent a minority among masses o traditionalsociety, poorer classes on the margins o urban lie and thepeasantry. Tose masses would rather support a conser- vative version o Islamic rule (possibly involving Sharialaw) rather than a modern individualist political project o democracy and pluralism in all sections o public lie. Tisis the dilemma: how to run an ecient democratic systemwithout risking a counter-revolutionary slide towards anoppressive Islamist regime or an old dictatorial oligarchictakeover? Drawing on the lessons o post-communistEurope, democratic reorm should reect the levels o societal modernization. Arab revolutionaries need notopen grey areas where old oligarchies or radical Islamistscould exploit democratic enthusiasm within the revolu-tionary chaos. Western democracies developed over thecourse o two centuries, opening the space or universalsufrage step by step. We live in an age where the principleo democratic access to the communities is universal,yet we must be conscious o their potential to utilize thataccess to democracy. Combining strategies o democratiza-tion and modernization could require diferent steps andinstruments in diferent countries o the Middle East. Somepotentially important instruments are as ollows:
Modernization proved a concept that brought discomfort.
peasant origin representing the culture and liestyles o a traditional society. Te institutional system (publicadministration included) was heavily dependent uponthe old statist model o oligarchic eudalism re-imposedas a communist hierarchy o power. Te strategy o directdemocratization, combined with a radical market reorm,practically impeded the unctioning o institutions andopened an enormous grey space or the illegitimate controlo national economic assets. Te result was a state capturethrough the great criminal revolution aer communism.Te dual strategy o rapid democratization and swimarket reorm was aimed at cutting of the capacity o oldcommunists to regain power aer Gorbachev’s perestroika,and aer the velvet revolutions in the Soviet bloc. Yet theold communists successully bypassed the revolutionary limits and re-emerged as the new corporate-oligarchicrulers o post-communist societies.Can the post-communist oligarchic capture o state andsociety be avoided? Yes, i a strategy o modernizationprior or parallel to the strategies o democratization andmarket reorm is adopted. Modernization was the domi-nant strategy o post-colonial nation-building throughoutthe third world. Te priorities o institution-buildingused to be the core o a modernization strategy in thenewly born states, states that had to govern and transormtraditional societies at diferent stages o development.
Amodern state with strong and ecient institutions couldundertake urther strategies o development in education,social welare, the economy, etc. Why did the democraticreormers aer communism orget this? First, the needto cut of a counter-revolution back to Soviet-communistrule by implementing democratic and market reorms took precedent over a slower modernization strategy. Secondly,“post-modern” Europe and the United States inuencedthe post-communist transition. Modernization is a strategy that presumes a particular hierarchy o cultures: less devel-oped societies evolve up to modern levels. Te ideologicaltemplate o post-modernism imposes a politically correct vision o universal equality o cultures — no culture issuperior to any other cultural identity. Modernizationproved a concept that brought discomort.
The famous book of Samuel Huntington,
Political Order in Changing Societies
, used tobe the “Bible” of post-colonial modernization together with the programs for develop-ment of the UNDP, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and EuropeanDevelopmental Agencies. Soviet bloc assistance to the third world was also based oninstruments for economic-industrial development together with the efforts to establishsocialist-like dictatorial systems in the newly created states.