Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Brilliant article on the links between capitalism and the Arab Uprising by Adam Hanieh

"So while the outrage at the wealth of Mubarak and the state officials associated with his regime is well deserved, we must not forget that Mubarak -- and the Egyptian state as a whole -- represented an entire capitalist class.  The result of neoliberalism was the enrichment of a tiny elite concurrent with the immiseration of the vast majority.  This is not an aberration of the system -- a kind of 'crony capitalism' as some financial commentators have described it -- but precisely a normal feature of capitalist accumulation replicated across the world.  The repressive apparatus of the Egyptian state was aimed at ensuring that the lid was kept on any social discontent arising from these worsening conditions.  In this sense, the struggle against the effects of the economic crisis would inevitably be compelled to confront the dictatorial character of the regime.

The Regional Dimension
This uprising cannot be understood without situating it within the regional context.  Once again, we can see here the intertwining of the political and economic.  U.S. policy in the Middle East is aimed, first and foremost, at keeping the oil and petro-dollar rich Gulf states under its influence.  This should not be interpreted as meaning that the U.S. wants to directly own these oil supplies (although this may be part of this process), but that the U.S. wants to ensure that the oil supplies remain outside of the democratic control of the people of the region.  The nature of global capitalism and the dominant position of the U.S. state within the world market rests significantly upon its control over the Gulf region.  Any move toward a broader democratic transformation of the region could potentially threaten U.S. power at a global level.  This is why the U.S. so strongly supports the dictatorships that rule the Gulf states and also why the majority of the labour in the Gulf is performed by temporary, migrant workers who lack all citizenship rights and can be deported at any sign of discontent." (Thanks Anne)

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