The "Modern" State in the Middle East: The Need for a Human Face
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In my original formulation, I warned against two salient dangers to the state in the region. On the one hand, I felt that a state captivated by a particularistic social force and harnessed to its own radical purposes would be inhuman in pursuing the goals of that force, be it an ethnic group, a tribe, or a religion. The fact that an ethnic group disguises itself in colourful ideological mumbo-jumbo (as is the case of the Baath "party" in Iraq and Syria) does not make matters any better, but only obfuscates the issues. On the other hand, I also felt that if a state attempted to operate in a vacuum, devoid of all social content, it would end up with the deification of the state for its own sake, which I consider a classic case of fascism. In neither case would we have a state structure that is sensitive to the human needs of the population: It would not look after the proper interests of the inhabitants, namely peace, prosperity, security and a sense of dignity and well-being. Indeed, these commodities have been in a short supply in the Middle East, and I am afraid that the Middle Eastern state has not served well the cause of promoting human values. It is this issue that I now would like to explore.