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These references are reviewed together because they deal with similar developmental issues in the context of the Arab world in general, as in Sayigh's work, or in a particular Arab country as in Wilson's reader on Jordan. Both references are published by Routledge and are mostly authored by Arab scholars.

From the start, Sayigh specifies the basic questions that most economists and policy makers take for granted. Why development? For whose benefit? And what kind of development is needed? The answers unambiguously underline the author's preferences, values and conceptions. The experience of the Third World over the past decades, Sayigh points out, has revealed that the interests of the majority have rarely remained for long at the center of the purpose and concern of the power elite. Development must target the whole of society, but such focus must not be equated with consumer oriented development. Instead, it is expansion and improvement of the productive capability of the economy that the author is concerned about.

Certainly, development is much more than economic growth. Changes sought by the author include comprehensive transformation of society, broadened to incorporate social, cultural and political objectives. Effective development is also change in education, improvement in the acquisition of technological capability, promotion of the arts, support of a variety of citizens' associations, and encouragement of a wide-ranging political participation by all segments of society.

The author links development to security that goes beyond the military aspect such as food security, technological security, and security that comprises information, cultural alienation, and political vulnerability. However, he recognizes there is no absolute security. Countries seriously seeking self-reliance must realistically and intelligently design their development so that security, in a measured sense, can be served.

Two main avenues to development deserved the author's consideration: The first leads to socialism with Third World adaptation which accentuates self-reliance, and the second leads to a nationalist system under certain conditions. These conditions are (1) large and dynamic public sector, alongside private and co-operative sectors, operating by criteria of efficiency and social interest; (2) strong government with sound understanding of its responsibilities and the ability to operate an effective and efficient administration in a manner compatible with society's objectives; and (3) progressive philosophy and orientation as well as a belief in political participation and people's basic rights and freedoms.

Sayigh concludes that a strategy of collective self-reliance is the path for achieving development. Such strategy has many components and can be pursued in harmony with associational aspirations of the Arab countries. Cooperation among states with complimentary attributes of shared cultural heritage, close interests, and a common outlook is consistent with self-reliance, and in the case of the Arab world is essential. A self-reliant nationalist system possibly would have socialistic features or at least broadly based ownership of the means of production. This is different from the path of capitalism and a market economy, where the basic orientation of development efforts is to produce what the market is willing and able to pay for. This value-free, positivist orientation must be tempered by social considerations and modified by interests of the majority.

Self-reliance is the antidote of "dependency," a theory that gained popularity for its explanatory force of socioeconomic development and its problems in Latin American countries. In the Arab world, Sayigh points out, dependency is an issue of growing concern and alarm due to the enormous influence and control over Arab affairs by the capitalist systems, particularly the United States.

The author seems particularly conscious of the significance of feasibility and practicality of his prescriptions. Thus, he provides "criteria of adequacy" for self-reliant development consisting of seven elements. They are: size of the region's internal market, direction and composition of Arab foreign trade, resource and performance base, appropriate technology and manpower skills, sizable entrepreneurial capability, domestic fixed capital formation and accumulation, and the availability of development-oriented leadership.

The implication of this analysis to Arab development is sobering. The matrix that Sayigh applies in his enquiry underlines a grave reality for the Arab countries. Namely, "none of the twenty-one countries by itself meets the basic criteria of the feasibility of self-reliant development" (p. 125). To meet such criteria of adequacy, the author suggests that "collective self-reliant development, at the level of the whole region, was essential both for the social and economic well-being of the region, and as a solid economic base for National (that is regional) security...." (p. 127). Thus, a measure of unity or association among Arab states (or groups of them) is not what has often been expressed by indulgent Western analysts, merely an emotionally-based or ephemeral sentiment. Instead, self-reliant development of any significance will definitely require greater pan-Arab cooperation and break down of the artificial barriers among the Arab people that colonial systems have erected and colluding Arab regimes have sustained.

Clearly, Sayigh explains what is needed to achieve development and what critical elements must be present. It is not apparent, however, how do we get from here to there and what is the starting point. Concrete action is the most difficult part of the process; the ideal elements or preconditions of development may not come together in a reasonable time.

Perhaps, the author's conscious effort to avoid polemics led him to refrain from underscoring the fundamental and sensitive issues of political leadership in the Arab world, which has been a crucial element in the failing of comprehensive development. If change is most needed at the political and administrative levels, then how can it be accomplished? How can self-reliant development become a reality under existing political administrative configurations in the Arab society? These questions are crucial because the development that is being prescribed includes self-reliance, social justice, respect of human rights, regard to the interests of the majority, and consideration of ecological needs. Such values are not in consonance with the values of those who decide public policies in Arab societies. The author is certainly aware of the questions, but he seems to struggle with the answers.

Sayigh's Elusive Development, is a seminal contribution to the study of development in Third World countries, and in the Arab world in particular. The author addresses informed students of development as well as professional development economists. A social thinker of outstanding credentials, Sayigh is one of the most suited economist in the Arab world to engage in a treatise on a most complex subject.

The volume edited by Rodney Wilson may be viewed as a micro-analysis of political and economic development of Jordan. The main part of the book discusses specific subjects of important consequences to development of the country. Different authors examine topics such as water resources, food production, foreign aid, the role of the private sector in the economy, problems of balance of trade, Islamic banking, and even market demand for automobiles.

The second part of this volume focuses on some critical internal political questions that have been the center of debate in the 1980s. The final chapter is devoted to Jordan's international relations, particularly the effects of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

As expected in similar case studies, Wilson's volume has its strengths and weaknesses. Strength comes from the specific information and the badly needed analysis of certain serious issues facing current and future development in the Arab world such as water, food, foreign trade, etc. A weakness, perhaps unavoidable, is that the topics lack integrative and conceptual foundation. Being the result of a seminar on Jordan held in Britain in 1987, and the papers

published in 1991, the book seems to have been passed over by events. Many of the economic and political conclusions have already been radically altered in the aftermath of the Gulf war of 1991.

Wilson's reader dramatically illustrates the hazard of writing about the Arab world. By the time a volume is out of the printing shop, its major premises and conclusions could be in need of necessary revision and change. The introduction to this study points out that Jordan has exhibited resilience, despite economic and political problems, and that a national identity has been successfully fostered. While the main premises may be correct, Jordan today is enduring difficult economic and political conditions which place the country at a crossroad. The incongruity is that such economic and political conditions largely are repercussions of decisions made outside Jordan's boundaries.

Finally, the two volumes represent serious analysis of profound problems of development in the Arab world. Unfortunately, the perilous and unpredictable nature of Middle East political and economic realities make the task particularly difficult, but the rewards to interested readers are worthwhile.
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Title Annotation:'Politics and the Economy in Jordan' by Rodney Wilson; 'Elusive Development: From Dependence to Self-Reliance in the Arab Region'by Yusif A. Sayigh
Author:Jreisat, Jamil E.
Publication:Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:1420
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