Racializing Politics: We don't say "Slav" Democracy troubled in Ukraine, why Talk about "Arab" Failures?
Western analyses of the Middle East often racializes the analysis (implicitly asking 'what is wrong with those Arabs?') But few would nowadays ask 'what is wrong with those Slavs?' Racializing is always essentialist and always wrong. While there are differences of culture and history among peoples that cause them to play different language games, these differences have nothing to do with biological traits or kinship. Good social analysis does look at generational differences, at geographical ones, at economic problems. These analytical tools are non-essentialist, since the considerations involved change over time and allow for people with a language in common still to differ from one another in other respects. This analysis avoids the fallacy of national character. I'm not arguing that it is necessary to stop speaking of Arabs or the Arab world. The latter has an institutional framework in the Arab League, which groups 21 mostly Arabic-speaking countries plus, for some strange reason, Somalia. But to generalize about "Arabs," as is still common in the Western press, is to racialize a linguistic category. Moroccans and Kuwaitis don't actually have much in common except their use of Arabic. Their spoken dialects are barely mutually comprehensible. Kuwait is a small highly urban and literate prosperous city-state of 3.2 million people (a little more populous than Lithuania). Morocco is a still largely rural society of 32 million with a still-high rate of illiteracy, a little less populous than Poland. Their social structures, economies and ecologies are completely different. They aren't the same "race."
The More You Know.