Freedom is obviously a priority in Western philosophical and political discourse, as the work of Rousseau, Locke, Marx, Kant, and others with regard to the structure of civil society demonstrates. And in the modern period, beset, so to speak, with war and remembrance, statist violations of freedom give rise to feelings of repugnance throughout the world.
But does Western discourse of freedom have relevance for the Sudan case? Given the longtime colonial status of Sudan vis-a-vis the Ottomans and the British, complicated by the legacy of political, religious, and social division, it seems legitimate to ask whether freedom as the West understands it is an impossible dream for Sudan, or indeed whether Sudan's regime should care whether the West understands it or not. Neither Locke nor Marx may be relevant to an Islamist political environment that has been obliged to find its own relevance in the wake of Western-inspired postcolonial dislocation accompanied by something very close to fear and loathing of Muslim culture. Indeed, the colonialist and imperialist history of the West, whether in the guise of political liberalism or socialist reformism, does nothing so much as argue an absence of philosophical legitimacy for Western discourse of freedom in modern Islamist political culture.
This study addresses these issues, by means of a review of the historical and modern conditions of Sudan's civil society, together with a comparative look at the structure of freedom discourse found in Locke and Marx, and finally a discussion of the prospects for and consequences of encounter in the philosophical boundaries between Western political discourse and the realities of Islamist theocracy in the Sudan and elsewhere in the Muslim world.