5th International Ibn Khaldun Symposium

Ibn Khaldun and the Political

Ali Aslan

Last modified: 28-04-2019

Abstract (400-500 words)

In modern politics, the political and civilized human life are generally poised against each other. Liberalism conceives the political around violence, as contrary to reason. Thus, liberalism categorizes the political as a counter force of civilization and seeks to limit its detrimental role by enlarging the space of civil society or subjecting it to the law. Conservatism or communitarianism sees the political as a disconcerting force of the social whole and seeks to contain and marginalize it. At first sight, Marxism seems to embrace the political for its places (class) conflict in social relations. However, it tends to reduce the political to the economic base and believes that its eternal death will arrive when society reaches the state of socialism; that is, civilization. Hence, despite their huge differences –individualism vs. collectivism and culturalism vs. economism– these mainstream political traditions of modern periods share similar attitudes towards the political in that they are anti-political. They believe that civilization can only be erected as the political declines, yet the political proves to be an insuppressible force. Moreover, attempts to suppress the political leads to a nihilistic world, either in the form of a social life deprived of values and morality or in the form of radicalism that seeks to destroy the world in the name of values. The limitation of political options to consumerism or radicalism calls for questioning the viability of dominant forms of political thought on social life by reconsidering the relationship between the political and civilization. Ibn Khaldun may avail us of opening up this conundrum and reformulating the relationship between the political and civilization. This is primarily because he tends to include the political in his formulation of civilization where civilization constitutes a basis of the political. For him, developed around the concept of asabiyyah, the political serves as the ground for establishment and sustenance of civilization. The political serves as an engine for starting civilization and any civilization maintains itself as long as it keeps the political alive. Thus, in contrast with modern political thought, the political and civilization are not contrary to each other, rather, they are associative. This study, firstly, seeks to analyze the nexus between the dominance of anti-political political perspectives and the crisis of civilization. Secondly, it discusses the political in laying out its difference with politics furthered in how Ibn Khaldun conceived the political. Lastly, it focuses on how Ibn Khaldun examined civilization on the basis of the political.



Ibn Khaldun, civilization, the political, asabiyyah, nihilism