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A Note om tBe QuestIom oL PoIItIcI SuBjects

Morad Farhadpour
One way to express `the crisis of Narxism' is to point out that since Narx's time all
victorious revolutions have happened in backward countries while in advanced capitalist
ones revolutions have failed or, in most cases, failed to happen at all. !t seems as
though the agent and the goal (or `task') of the revolution weren't matched in ways that
Narx expected-obviously this is just one, among many, `explanations' offered. Due to
the proclaimed impossibility of revolution (let alone its undesirability), in the past three
decades this `crisis' was only felt at the margins of Academia. But now, with the advent
of The Arab Spring, The Green Novement, Occupation Novement, and other signs of a
resurgent radical emancipator action, questions concerning the time, agent, force.of
the revolution have become, somehow, unavoidable !
The pathetic and gory game of Bush vs. Bin-ladan is finished, particularly in the
Niddle-East, and people do thinkfact beyond the either-or of
Neo(conservative)Liberalism and Religious(reactionary)Fundamentalism. The innovative,
unforeseen, and collective response of masses, throughout the Nuslim world, to the
final fruit of Liberal Democracy, i.e. `The War on Terror'-- their political response to
many different, complex, and obscure situations in the depoliticized age of global gossip
via Twitter and Facebook - clearly demonstrates that the poorly analyzed !slamic
Revolution of 1979 in !ran cannot be classified and forgotten as `a freak of history' in
the annals of Historical Naterialism. That strange, multifaceted, and hugely complex
process of mixing !slam with politics in the context of modern history, usually called
!slamism, is still unfolding. Contemporary reactions to !slamism-- from !slamophobic
racism and the misguided criticism of `!slamo-fascism' up to many nave and miss-
informed attempts at rediscovering `!slam's inherent emancipatory potentials' - is itself
a vast and heated topic for research.
As far as leftist politics is concerned, (although considering the almost
omnipresence of !slamism in today's Real Politick and its role as `the enemy of the free
world', western Liberals should also be interested) the first and most important step is
to make a distinction between !slamism and various forms of Nuslim peoples politics.
This distinction is itself an integral part of an attempt to elaborate the concept of
Nuslim political subjectivity." Such a project involves many challenges and pitfalls-not
the least among them, avoiding any essentialist interpretation of !slam or any
substantialization of Nuslim nations, groups, or sects. !t obviously requires lots of
insights from history, theology, jurisprudence, anthropology, etc; however it is only
Narxist politics that can save it from turning into another `interdisciplinary topic'
(readymade for all the future PhD students).
The following problems are among the most immediate and important
aspectsfeffects of dealing with the questionffact of the Nuslims as political subjects or
(1)Every theory of subject has to traverse the gap between a material history
(which also includes `spiritual' or Giestige phenomena such as culture) and a pure
subject that despite its effective presence is not a part of the situation. This
subject which has been called `proletariat' or `part of no part' is also a universalist
one because it dose not represent any one. !ts' enemy is not the bourgeois class
but the system of places which makes classes possible. The fact that the last
candidate for the position of proletariat, i.e. the western industrial working class,
has utterly failed to become one, shows that the above mentioned gap is still very
under-theorized. Even a totally universalist thinker such as Badiou has been forced
to try to fill this gap through the introduction of concepts such as `reactive' and
`obscure' subjects; however, it is in dealing with concrete historical cases of Nuslim
political subjectivity that the inadequacies of such concepts are revealed. Unlike
Christianity, !slam is more a way of organizing the daily life of community and
individuals than a set of subjective choices; that's why in case of Nuslim
individuals or groups more of their material history enters the process of
subjectivation . Although this increases the possibility of regression to `identity
politics', turning some fanatic or liberal reading of !slam into the sole content of
any action, yet it also makes them into proper cases for new ways of theorizing
the subject. This process of substantialisation has been happening to many
religious, ethnic, or social groups, but right now it does seem that making the
distinction between !slamism and Nuslim politics is the best way to see how `the
gap of the universal' is introduced into a `substantial identity' and instead of
destroying it simply opens it toward all universal truths.
(2)Right now !slamism as number one enemy of `the free world' and the heir of
Russian Bolshevism is a strong force in the global power politics-thanks to the
wars and invasions of American democracy. For many people in Nuslim countries,
such as those living in tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, !slamism is the
only alternative to being killed and robbed by Western Liberal Democracies. And
when it comes to West itself, the presence of Nuslim immigrants adds another
side to this question of political subjects who also happen to be Nuslim.
Considering the global economic crisis, the rise of unemployment, the absence of
any truly leftist option (thanks to 3 decades of neo-liberalism and de-
politicization), the rise of far right is more than probable. Whether the turn to
right is done by the self-proclaimed Fascists or is effected through `general
consensus', it is certain that Nuslim communities and individuals are going to play
an important role, whether as objects of hatred for the racist policies of Neo-
fascists (which turns them into a fertile ground for terrorist propaganda and
recruiting) or as possible subjects of a radical struggle for liberty-equality. Nuslim
immigrants, whether they want it or not, are going to play an important role in
European politics, but to expect them to turn into `pure, universalist subjects'
overnight and forego their identity just when they are being persecuted for it, is
more than nave idealism, it is an obvious case of `beautiful soul' attitude. !n
recent years some of the most radical European thinkers have turned to Christian
history and theology to fight the prevalent political apathy; this move can and has
been criticized but the main point is to have an open mind when Nuslims get
involved in such attempts.
(3)Unlike !slamic politics !slamic states can and do exist. To make the distinction
between Nuslim politics and !slamism is the only possible way of dealing with the
thorny problem of secularism in the Niddle-East. Understanding Nuslim political
subjectivity, to see how they can get involved in different forms of political activity
without recourse to !slamism, is an integral part of defining politics as a form of
separation from the state. !n almost every country in the Niddle-East recent history has
been a bloody fight between people's politics and different ways of saving or rebuilding
the bourgeois state, which is always, despite its secular or religious ideology, an
authoritarian one. A radical politics based on people's potential of power as opposed to
state's actual force, requires new ways of distancing. There are situations in which any
struggle against the state becomes a way of creating distance between people and
!slamism, and any attempt at creating people's or Nuslims' politics turn into a fight
against the state.