Arab Spring pp 157-171 | Cite as

On Samir Murqus, the Narrative of Crisis and the Triumph of Tahrir

  • Isaac Friesen
Part of the Critical Political Theory and Radical Practice book series (CPTRP)


The climate of despair in the Arab world today falls in line nicely with a long tradition of purported Arab intellectual crisis. Broadly speaking, the standard narrative is that the 1967 defeat was followed by a depression of the Arab intellectual’s mind and spirit which laid impotent beneath the pressures of authoritarianism, militant Islam, regional wars and neoliberal dispossession. In this chapter, I argue against a wholesale adoption of this narrative of crisis and that the historical significance of the Arab Spring has become under-appreciated today. The thought of Samir Murqus, an Egyptian intellectual who writes on liberal rights and citizenship, epitomizes the sort of intellectual tradition that has become neglected amidst the reassertion of the crisis narrative. In place of the narrative of crisis, I suggest that Murqus’ revolutionary thought reveals a triumph narrative. In analyzing Murqus’ shifting problem-space before, during and after the revolution, I consider the theoretical significance of Murqus’ embrace of nationalist historicism and comparative politics. In turn, I show the existence of a modernist intellectual framework firmly rooted in Egyptian intellectual traditions and willing to engage global contexts and theories in a spirit of contemporaneity.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isaac Friesen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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