Dreamland: The Neoliberalism of Your Desires

by Timothy Mitchell
published in MER210

Neoliberalism is a triumph of the political imagination. Its achievement is double: While narrowing the window of political debate, it promises from this window a prospect without limits. On the one hand, it frames public discussion in the elliptic language of neoclassical economics. The collective well-being of the nation is depicted only in terms of how it is adjusted in gross to the discipline of monetary and fiscal balance sheets. On the other, neglecting the actual concerns of any concrete local or collective community, neoliberalism encourages the most exuberant dreams of private accumulation -- and a chaotic reallocation of collective resources.

Economic Restructuring in the Middle East

Implications for Women

by Eleanor Abdella Doumato
published in MER210

The effect of economic restructuring on women was the focus of a two-day workshop at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies in 1998, entitled “Women and Economic Restructuring in the Middle East: Gender, Jobs and Activist Organizations.” Participants [1] agreed that restructuring both helps and hurts women, depending on specific economic, social and political conditions in individual countries, as well as prevalent ideologies regarding gender and class. Women of the Middle East-North Africa region constitute only a small part of the salaried labor force, attend school for fewer years than males and have a far higher rate of illiteracy.

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Controlling Capital, Disciplining States

East Asia's Lessons for Middle Eastern Economies

by Marsha Pripstein Posusney
published in MER210

Asia’s developing economies pose challenging questions for the left’s conception of the relationship between the state and development in this era of global capitalism. Neoliberals often cite East Asian economies as proof of the validity of their laissez faire development theories because they achieved high growth and technological development in a market framework. But a combination of state intervention and market discipline was actually behind the relative successes of these economies.

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Reform or Reaction?

Dilemmas of Economic Development in the Middle East

by Karen Pfeifer , Marsha Pripstein Posusney , Djavad Salehi-Isfahani , Steve Niva
published in MER210

This issue of Middle East Report presents critical -- and timely -- analysis of the impact of neoliberal economic policies in the Middle East and North Africa. Authors representing a variety of disciplines and viewpoints explore the dilemmas confronting progressive forces searching for alternative programs to restore growth and promote equity.

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The Imam's Blue Boxes

by Kevan Harris
published in MER257

A fashionable description of the Islamic Republic of Iran is “garrison state,” a concept that originated in the West in the early 1940s. In a garrison state, the ruling elite is mainly composed of “specialists in violence,” and military bureaucrats dominate the social and civil spheres. In Iran’s case, the term is meant to refer to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its rise in the state apparatus. After World War II, however, a group of social historians revised the consensus concerning the social effects of war. Observing the total mobilization of society in wartime, scholars such as Richard Titmuss noticed an increased effort by Western governments to reduce inequality.

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Economics of Palestinian Return Migration

by Ward Sayre , Jennifer Olmsted
published in MER212

Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza have faced a series of economic shocks since the Gulf war. Each shock alone would have been difficult to weather, but combined they have led to a considerable worsening of economic conditions. These shocks included the Gulf war, Israeli closures of the West Bank and Gaza, and the influx of diaspora Palestinians after the Oslo accords. While the first two clearly had negative consequences, the last is more complex. The repatriation of diaspora Palestinians has led to a reversal of the “brain drain,” and an influx of much needed capital. Yet the impact of this spending has been disappointing and widening economic inequality may have resulted.

No Jubilee for the Middle East?

by Robert Naiman
published in MER213

The website of Jubilee 2000-United Kingdom lists 57 countries that have Jubilee 2000 campaigns for the cancellation of the unpayable debt of the poorest countries by the year 2000. [1] No country from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) appears on this list. [2]

The Missing Middle Class

by Sami Zubaida | published April 21, 2006

By giving up his bid to retain his job, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of Iraq raised hopes on Thursday of a way out of the political impasse that had prevented the formation of a new government. But the premise that this political process will put Iraq onto a path to stability is doubtful.

A deeper problem compounds the sectarian differences plaguing Iraqi society: Iraq’s middle classes are under severe attack, and with them the prospect for real democracy. These middle strata, especially the educated and professional, form the backbone of any mature society.

Damietta Mobilizes for Its Environment

by Sharif Elmusa , Jeannie Sowers | published October 21, 2009

In 2008, Egypt’s Mediterranean port city of Damietta saw escalating protest against EAgrium, a Canadian consortium building a large fertilizer complex in Ra’s al-Barr. Ra’s al-Barr sits at the end of an estuary, where the Damietta branch of the Nile River joins the Mediterranean. It is a prime destination for vacationing Egyptians in the summertime and the location of the year-round residences of the Damiettan elite. Fishermen ply the waters offshore. When plans for the fertilizer complex were announced, a coalition of locals feared that all three sources of income—tourism, real estate and fishing—would be jeopardized by emissions into the air and water.

The Militancy of Mahalla al-Kubra

by Joel Beinin | published September 29, 2007

For the second time in less than a year, in the final week of September the 24,000 workers of the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company in Mahalla al-Kubra went on strike—and won. As they did the first time, in December 2006, the workers occupied the Nile Delta town’s mammoth textile mill and rebuffed the initial mediation efforts of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). Yet this strike was even more militant than December’s. Workers established a security force to protect the factory premises, and threatened to occupy the company’s administrative headquarters as well. Their stand belies the wishful claims of the Egyptian government and many media outlets that the strike wave of 2004-2007 has run its course.