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How Capitalism Failed the Arab World

How Capitalism Failed the Arab World

Richard Javad Heydarian


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Economic liberalization has failed in the Arab world. Instead of ushering in economic dynamism and precipitating democratic reform, it has over the last three decades resulted in greater poverty, rising income inequality and sky-rocketing rates of youth unemployment. In How Capitalism Failed the Arab World, Richard Javad Heydarian shows how years of economic mismanagement, political autocracy and corruption have encouraged people to revolt, and how the initial optimism of the uprisings is now giving way to bitter power struggles, increasing uncertainty and continued economic stagnation. A unique and provocative analysis of some of the key social and political events of the last decade.

'Richard Heydarian has written a lucidly argued and impressive critique of the negative effects of neoliberal capitalism and globalization on the well-being of the Arab nations. Overall, this book gives the best understanding of why the upheavals of 2011 took place, and the struggle to create a future in which economic development, democracy and social justice are fused rather than split apart. An indispensable book for understanding the ugly aftermath of the Arab Spring without losing hope for a better tomorrow.'
Richard Falk, Princeton University

'How Capitalism Failed the Arab World is an intellectually and morally courageous analysis of how the interplay between global capitalist forces and local tyrannies fuelled one national uprising after another. This ambitiously conceived study takes us through the modern history of the Middle East with critical acumen and a careful eye for both global dynamics and local detail. Written with considerable flair and enthusiasm, How Capitalism Failed the Arab World is extremely relevant in understanding not only the roots of the Arab Spring, but also the challenges and predicaments, trials and tribulations, that have continued to unfold in its complex path of development.'
Alamin Mazrui, Rutgers University

'An extremely timely book which shows how globalization and capitalism have failed the Arab world, driven by crony capitalism and resulting in economic growth which was neither pro-poor nor inclusive. The author argues that the upshot was the Arab Spring, the aftermath of which now provides an opportune moment to reappraise development policy in the region.'
Jane Harrigan, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

'Richard Javad Heydarian examines the impact of globalization in the Arab world. He skilfully argues that the structural causes of the Arab Spring revolutions stem from aggressive economic liberization and political repression that created a predatory form of capitalism, allowing autocratic regimes to maintain systems of patronage that exclude the masses. How Capitalism Failed the Arab World is a fundamental read for those interested in understanding the intersections of global economics and national politics in the contemporary world.'
Alcinda Honwana, The Open University

'This work is very much needed and timely given the ongoing upheavals in the region and the disappointment experienced by the majority of its population in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. It is a well-written, well-argued and well-documented book that provides a fresh look at this very complex phenomenon.'
Tareq Ismael, University of Calgary

'Heydarian's book illustrates how the capitalist promises and experimentation in several Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa have turned out to be liabilities rather than benefits, especially in the pursuit of their economic development and political democratization.'
Henelito A. Sevilla, University of the Philippines Diliman

Richard Javad Heydarian is an Assistant Professor in political science at De La Salle University, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on international relations, and a policy advisor at the Philippine House of Representatives. He has authored more than 400 articles, policy papers, and op-eds on Asian geopolitical and economic affairs, writing for or interviewed by Foreign Affairs, BBC, Bloomberg, Aljazeera, Huffington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The National Interest, The Nation, among other leading publications. He is a specialist on foreign policy and economic development issues, he has served as a consultant to various local and international institutions.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Front cover Front cover
Economic Controversies i
About the author ii
Title iii
Copyright iv
Contents v
Figures and tables vi
Acknowledgements vii
Abbreviations ix
Foreword by Walden Bello x
1 A brave new Middle East: the birth of a new era 1
Arab exceptionalism 12
Table 1.1 The Arab world’s dismal political record 16
The new awakening 17
The age of the unthinkable 23
Revolutions and economic crises 29
2 The anti-development state: economic origins of Arab upheavals 34
An ocean of broken vows 36
Kemalism and its discontents 40
Taking on the West 43
The grand disappointment 49
The development debacle 50
The rentier state 54
The path to disaster 56
3 The advent of economic globalization: a prelude to crisis 58
Transforming the global South 62
The demographic conundrum 72
4 The Great Recession: the collapse of Arab crony capitalism 76
The impact on the Arab world 80
Table 4.1 Average GDP growth in MENA 83
4.1 Merchandise exports of selected MENA countries 84
4.2 Current account balance as percentage of GDP 85
Food insecurity and protests 86
So what’s next? 93
5 The new power brokers: political Islam and the Arab summer 95
The evolution of political Islam 101
From the peripheries to the core 118
5.1 Declining foreign investment during the revolution 119
5.2 Rising budget deficits in post-revolution states 120
Table 5.1 Egypt: selected economic indicators 121
Table 5.2 Morocco: selected economic indicators 122
Table 5.3 Tunisia: selected economic indicators 123
Any solution in store? 124
6 Gulf exceptionalism: how the monarchies have reshaped the Arab Spring 128
The counter-revolution 136
Table 6.1 GCC key economic indicators 138
7 Peering into the abyss: the Arab Spring at the crossroads 151
Back to Year Zero 154
The slow-motion death of a nation 158
The reign of terror 164
7.1 Breakdown of external aid to ATCs and Jordan 168
8 Where do we go from here? Finding the true path to an Arab Spring 172
The developmental state deficit 174
Table 8.1 Main characteristics of the region 175
Notes 186
References 190
Index 203
Back cover Back cover