State, Market, and Class: Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia
Max Ajl, Bassam Haddad, and Zeinab Abul-Magd
Max Ajl is an associated researcher with the Tunisian Observatory for Food Sovereignty and the Environment. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Peasant Studies and Review of African Political Economy. He writes on national liberation and post-colonial development in the Arab region.
Bassam Haddad is Director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Program and Associate Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. He is the author of Business Networks in Syria: The Political Economy of Authoritarian Resilience (Stanford University Press, 2011), and co-editor/founder of Jadaliyya Ezine. Bassam received MESA's Jere L. Bacharach Service Award in 2017 for his service to the profession and as Executive Director of the Arab Studies Institute. He is the founder of the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Project, MESPI.org.
Zeinab Abul-Magd is a Professor of Middle Eastern History at Oberlin College. She is the author of Militarizing the Nation: The Army, Business, and Revolution in Egypt and Imagined Empires: A History of Revolt in Egypt. She earned her PhD in economic history at Georgetown University and B.A. in Political Science at Cairo University.
This chapter analyzes colonial and post-colonial development in Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia. These three republics had different patterns of colonial intervention, yet shared a relatively siilar post-colonial development path. Each carried out marked changes in the institutional framework or ownership of land during the statist/socialist period, and each suffered from degrees of agrarian counter revolutions during the 1980s or 1990s. All had heavily invested in import substitution industrialization and opened up to foreign capital. All three cases had a state that heavily regulated production and consumption, and each experienced subsequent levels of state retreat from the economic sphere in favor of the private sector. In charting the rise and fall of developmentalism in each of the three republics, the chapter demonstrates how we can conceive of developmental as a global process conditioned, but not determined, by external forces, and whose rise and fall casts light on the longue durée of regional underdevelopment.
Keywords: Arab Socialism, state capitalism, land reform, Infitah, Neoliberalism, privatization, security state, military economy, Nasserism