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The Arab bourgeoisie: a revisionist interpretation.

THE MODERN HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE EAST is littered with dashed hopes for developmental leadership by a succession of social classes. The "Liberal Age" ended when the landed notability and its urbanized offshoots proved unequal to the tasks of defending Arab homelands and providing compelling images of an Arab future, along with plans appropriate for their realization. The "new middle class" that shouldered aside Arab ancien regimes has now exhausted its reservoir of ideas and resources. The etatist development model it espoused has fallen into global disfavor. It is left with the problems of supporting over-developed states with inadequate revenues, and of reconciling interventionist, bureaucratic authoritarian government with the requirements of neo-classical liberalism. Never contenders for political leadership, workers and peasants, who were cultivated as support groups during populist phases of bureaucratic authoritarian rule, are being stripped of residual political resources as their share of national wealth declines.

The way thus has been cleared ideologically and politically for a resurgence of the bourgeoisie. The new orthodoxy of development, which calls for exportled growth under private sector auspices, champions bourgeois entrepreneurialism. While Arab states have been among the most reluctant in the Third World to subscribe to the new orthodoxy, one by one they have begun cautiously to endorse its principles and adopt piecemeal its basic tenets, if only to attempt to preserve the essence of the status quo. Accompanying this change has been the emergence of an "infitah (opening) bourgeoisie," almost universally said to be composed of an amalgam drawn from three elements: the old bourgeoisie that had been sitting it out during the radical nationalist/populist phase; the state bourgeoisie that mushroomed during that phase and is now seeking to privatize its wealth and employment; and arrivistes, or those who have seized opportunities provided in the early stages of the opening of formerly closed economies. A critical issue in the political economy of the Arab World is whether this newly amalgamating bourgeoisie will acquire sufficient coherence and power to curb state autonomy, if not to convert the state into its own executive committee.

The new Arab bourgeoisie's past is prologue for its future. But what indeed was that past? Modern scholarship provides conflicting interpretations of its accomplishments and failures in approximately the first half of this century. Disagreement does not extend to the issue of the composition of the bourgeoisie. Almost universally it is seen as a class whose wealth was based in land and/or in commerce and which in many instances was comprised of minorities and resident foreigners. Progressive elements of this "first" Arab bourgeoisie put the wealth generated in agriculture and trade into industry. By the time it was shouldered aside by radical military officers, this bourgeoisie, at least in Egypt and Syria, if not Iraq, had become a class in itself, albeit one comprised of different factions.


The standard historiography of the first Arab bourgeoisie is one of indictment. The class is seen as having failed its historic obligations to develop economies rapidly and to provide political leadership. In this matter scholarship has followed flags. The Arab coup makers, who sketched the rough outlines of state and nation building histories for apparatchik intellectuals to then elaborate, ascribed to the bourgeoisie roles as traitors or, at best, incompetent reactionaries who failed to modernize agriculture, to industrialize, or to appreciate and prepare for the Zionist-imperialist threat. Independent Arab thinkers further to the left added their considerable intellectual weight to this indictment, labelling the bourgeoisie as comprador and condemning it as a handmaiden of dependent development, which is to say no development at all.

Paradoxically, the first Arab bourgeoisie fared no better in the hands of official or even unofficial America.(1) The US government, seeking to supplant British and French imperial presences in the region, orchestrate negotiations between Israel and the Arab states, and avert communist takeovers, championed the cause of coup makers. It claimed Nasser and al-Zaim and their ilk represented the new middle class wave of the future. Ancien regime bourgeoisies were written off by Washington as too weak to conclude peace treaties with Israel or to counter the growing communist threat. American scholarship endorsed this view, and to a large extent still does. A leading scholar of modern Syria, for example, routinely adds the pejorative adjective "reactionary" to the bourgeois elite of the pre-1949 period.(2) Criticisms continue to be levelled at the first Arab bourgeoisie on the grounds that it was insufficiently capitalist and too traditional by nature; that its performance in the agricultural and industrial sectors was mediocre; and that it failed to mobilize the population behind its political leadership.

Raymond Hinnesbusch's many writings on Syria exemplify typifications of the bourgeoisie as having failed their historic mission because of inherent shortcomings, due partly to lingering precapitalist attitudinal and behavioral residues. The rise of the Ba'th occurred, according to Hinnebusch, because "the emergence of a capitalist class differentiated from the semi-feudal agrarian commercial bourgeoisie was so delayed and incomplete that a capitalist road to development could not be consolidated."(3) Syria lacked a tradition of estate management and "an indigenous ruling class committed to economic development." When the bourgeoisie finally did emerge, their mentality "remained that of the merchant: seeking quick profits through the maximum exploitation of labor, evasion of taxes, and a neglect of quality made possible by their market monopoly."(4) The Syrian bourgeoisie, according to Hinnebusch, failed to consummate a bourgeois revolution a la Francaise, because it was insufficiently bourgeois and entrepreneurial, an unavoidable shortcoming because of the traditional nature of the political economy within which that bourgeoisie emerged and by which it was shaped. Syria never experienced development-oriented political leadership, so there was no model to copy.(5)

Marxist and dependency writings on the Third World have echoed American development theory's contempt for the non-European bourgeoisie. According to Franz Fanon, "The national bourgeoisie of underdeveloped countries is not engaged in production, nor in invention, nor in building, nor labor .... Because it is bereft of ideas, because it lives to itself and cuts itself off from the people ... the national middle class will have nothing better to do than to take on the role of manager for Western enterprise ...."(6) Samir Amin similarly discounts any possibility that the national bourgeoisie might contribute to development in the Third World, a process which, according to him, has been rendered impossible by capitalism's "inherent tendency to cause a polarization between centres and peripheries."(7) Bourgeoisie of the periphery, moreover, "are and will be less and less divided between their national tendency and their tendency to surrender to global constraints, and will increasingly join the camp of the acquiescent compradors." Given this inevitability, Amin says "Cutting out the bourgeoisie is an increasing historic responsibility for the popular classes and the intelligentsia."(8)

Draconian methods of dealing with a recalcitrant bourgeoisie have been on the agenda not only of Arab Marxists, but also have been endorsed by western development theorists and practitioners. Since the first Arab bourgeoisie were primarily agrarian, the method recommended to free their dead hand from control over land, specifically, and the economy, generally, was agrarian reform. The accepted wisdom of that age was that large landowners were an obstacle to both agricultural and industrial development. Because of factor endowments and their own shortsightedness, landowners would continue to seek surplus value from exploitation of tenant sharecroppers rather than through modernization and increased production. Pre-capitalist residues of status anxiety would cause landlords to direct their ill-gotten gains to conspicuous consumption rather than to invest in industry. Some forty years later this assessment of the Arab landowning bourgeoisie remains current, as Raymond Hinnebusch's assessment of that class in Syria suggests:

The landlord played little role in the agricultural cycle; he preferred the

sharecropping tenure precisely because it enabled him to derive revenue

without making a substantial contribution of investment or management....

Instead of agricultural investment, the landlord funneled his money into

status-maintaining consumption and display.(9)

Some contemporary explanations of the failure of Arab agricultural sectors to expand productivity at a sufficiently rapid pace still emphasize inegalitarian land tenure and the need for further agrarian reform, although other critiques and remedies are also now available.(10)

Indictments of the first Arab bourgeoisie for having failed adequately to industrialize their respective countries take two forms. The first is that their accomplishments in this sector prior to seizures of power by the military were limited, and that subsequently, despite efforts by nationalist regimes to enlist their support in industrialization efforts, they remained recalcitrant, exporting their capital and frequently themselves. A second line of attack on the capitalist-led industrialization of this era is to claim that whatever success was achieved was due to special conditions, e.g., tax exemptions, protectionism, high prices, accumulation of capital surpluses during World War II, etc.(11) Industrialization, moreover, was "still confined to the 'natural' agrarian-based light processing industries ...." It also exploited labor and had an overly concentrated capital base.(12) As these transitory conditions altered and as opportunities in "light processing" diminished, and as other defects took their toll, it was inevitable that the industrialization drive would falter. Those in charge of it were in any case not up to the task, for their mentality was inappropriate, remaining "that of the merchant: seeking quick profits through the maximum exploitation of labor, evasion of taxes, and a neglect of quality," and a preference for channeling "the bulk of profits into luxury housing, construction, land, importing, franchises of foreign firms, foreign bank accounts and consumption for the new bourgeoisie."(13)

Remarkably, the new military rulers' self-serving criticism of the national bourgeoisie--that it was "unable to provide the foundations for future independent development," (thereby implying the state would have to shoulder it aside)--is still being reproduced by western social scientists.(14) "This thesis," according to Volker Perthes, "sounds reasonable insofar as private resources were limited and state involvement was necessary to secure a national development perspective."(15) From the 1920s in Egypt, the 1930s in Syria, and the 1940s in Iraq, the national bourgeoisie, still laboring under foreign rule, never-theless, according to Perthes, "took the lead in establishing a relatively modern industrial base ... (so that) the countries) saw a boom of new industrial and commercial companies and establishments."(16) But he and other writers, despite their awareness of these contributions, continue to endorse the accepted wisdom that the first bourgeoisie did not bring about sustained, rapid economic development.

The national bourgeoisie of the liberal era has also been indicted for its political shortcomings. Ancien regime governments remained family affairs, dominated by (50-100) landowning families and their urban offshoots. Largely absentee, these landowners were "detached from traditions of political leadership in the local community ... (and) never achieved legitimacy in the countryside."(17) Based directly on this narrow social formation, "the state was indeed little more than the executive committee of the landed-commercial ruling class." Having witnessed the 1919 revolution in Egypt, the rebellion of 1925-26 in Syria, and al-Wathbah (the leap or uprising) in Iraq in 1948, the Arab national bourgeoisie, frightened by the prospects of mass mobilization, "contented itself with largely peaceful protests in the cities" as the means by which to apply pressure on the imperialists.(19) Deprived of a mass base from which to confront the British, French and then the Americans, the bourgeoisie had to make compromises with imperialism that tarnished their nationalist credentials. In any case the unrepresentative nature of the bourgeoisie prevented it from assuming leadership in state and nation building. In Egypt it was composed of a heterogeneous mixture of minorities and resident expatriates, while in Iraq, Shi'ites constituted a key element.(20) In Syria, where Sunni Muslims were overwhelmingly dominant within the national bourgeoisie, their insensitivities toward Christian, Druze, and Alawi minorities caused reactions that undermined their ability to provide effective national political leadership.(21) Lacking any political organization other than decaying client networks; having failed to articulate ideologies that would legitimate their rule and guide state and nation building efforts; and unable to launch reform programs or resist temptations to plunder state coffers, ancien regime elites, of whom the bourgeoisie were a major component, were easily (and as most accounts have it, properly) dispatched to the dust bins of history.


Revisionist interpreations of the first Arab bourgeoisie, stimulated principally by the arrival on the scene of a second Arab bourgeoisie, are now beginning to emerge. Information had previously been available, however, that already cast doubt on the interpreation of the Arab bourgeoisie as total failures. The (mis)use of Doreen Warriner's landmark studies of Middle Eastern agriculture is a case in point. Her initial study, published in 1948, roundly condemned landlords as absentees who "contributed nothing," and who "take no interest whatsoever in actual methods of cultivation." The land tenure system "perpetuates poverty by standing in the way of any long-term investment."(22) These and similar comments on Syria are reproduced, for example, in a recent, generally insightful monograph on that country.(23) Warriner's follow-up study, however, published in 1962, singles out Syria, which at the time of her research had not undergone agrarian reform, as a remarkable success story, with grain production having increased by 64 per cent since the War and cotton production by eight times in the same period.(24) According to Warriner, Syria's agriculture development "has been much more favourable than that of Egypt," which had its agrarian reform in 1952.(25) Her resolution of this paradox is as follows:

It is now fashionable to believe that the economic development of underdeveloped countries needs foreign capital, foreign experts, good public services, long-term planning, agrarian reform, plus, for good measure, a revolution. But Syria has had none of these things, and in the north, where progress has been so fast, every one of these conditions is lacking .... But one essential factor in development Syria has had, the fourth factor of enterprise, so unaccountable and so often forgotten. The merchant class of Syria, and chiefly of Aleppo, famous as traders in other countries, has turned its business acumen back into its own country, and has used its capital to mechanize agriculture.

The Syrian agrarian bourgeoisie's contribution to agricultural development, so roundly praised by Warriner, has in the past obtained and continues to receive less attention than her earlier indictments of landlords.

Warriner is not the only "historic figure" to cast doubt on the prevailing wisdom of agrarian reform being a prerequisite for agricultural development. Sayed Marei, the "father of Egyptian agrarian reform," the person who also presided over the initial Syrian agrarian reform, and the Arab World's most noted authority on this subject, from the outset argued that agrarian reform was both unnecessary and unwise in Syria. Within the councils of state he argued, to no avail, that dry land farming could not be successful were land ownership ceilings of the sort being contemplated actually applied, and that irrigated holdings in Syria were relatively small and were continually fragmenting as a result of Muslim inheritance laws.(26) But agrarian reform in the Middle East was impelled not by economic, but by political considerations, chief of which was to destroy the power of the agrarian bourgeoisie. Even in Iran this was an underlying motive for the agrarian reform of the Shah's White Revolution, or at least it was one of the Shah's motives. The Kennedy Administration pushed for agrarian reform in Iran to blunt the appeal of communism, as it had done elsewhere in the region.(27)

Revisionist accounts indicate that many Middle Eastern agricultural landlords were not stereotypical rapacious, absentee exploiters of sharecroppers interested only in conspicuous consumption. Robert Tignor's thorough investigation of the industrialization process in Egypt in the first half of this century revealed that landowners were the primary investors in industry. Of the 124 original shareholders in Bank Misr, the pre-eminent national financial institution committed to the industrialization of Egypt, 83 were members of families that lost land in the 1952 agrarian reform.(28) Evidence is now emerging that at least some Syrian landowners, like their Egyptian counterparts, were innovative capitalists. Marion Farouk-Sluglett, for example, notes that "Syrian landlords seem to have invested ... systematically in agriculture and (were) inclined ... to expand their businesses into the modern sector and to process their products in their own factories."(29) Peter Sluglett, who has been conducting research on Syrian landed notables prior to the agrarian reforms and who has had access to the financial records of one such family, notes that the sharecropping system provided peasants with "a vested interest in investing their labor on the estate," and that at least some landowners "invested considerable amounts in agriculture, particularly in canals, wells, irrigation pumps and agricultural machinery."(30) Sulayman Khalaf, an anthropologist who has studied his home region of northern Syria, similarly has noted the wide range of agricultural inputs and services provided by landlords prior to the agrarian reforms; the relative prosperity of sharecroppers; and the existence of Khanjis--"brokers, merchants, and moneylenders all in one"--who provided landowners with capital, other inputs, and who marketed crops.(31)

In sum, the Syrian agricultural system prior to agrarian reform was complex, market oriented, reasonably productive, and possibly not as exploitative as has generally been imagined. It exemplified, in other words, the textbook model of capitalist agricultural development, both by attracting investment and by providing surplus capital for industry. As Bent Hansen has noted with regard to Egypt, "big and middle-sized landowning classes were something more than just 'feudal' parasites, as the mythology (official and leftist) termed them. They were also an entrepreneurial class with entrepreneurial functions in the growht process and clout in the political process .... The decline and final destruction of the class of big and middle-sized landowners may have been harmful to agriculture in particular and generally to both growth and distribution in Egypt."(32)

The performance of the first Arab bourgeoisie in the industrial sector also appears more favorable in light of recent research. Egypt's industrialization under the leadership of this bourgeoisie has been well documented by Robert Tignor, among others.(33) In the ten year period from 1931, which was the height of the Great Depression, production of textiles rose from 12 to 75 per cent of local consumption.(34) While most of this expansion came about as a result of joint venture projects involving British multinational corporations and local businessmen, Tignor argues that it was the latter who were in the driver's seat. "Local Egyptian elites, especially the emergent industrial and commercial bourgeoisie, were far from the parasitical groups so vividly described in Fanon's Wretched of the Earth. Though many of its members did spring from comprador backgrounds, they often used their wealth and business expertise to forge new economic institutions, sometimes in conflict with the most solidly entrenched metropolitan bodies."(35) Malak Zaalouk, a critic of the bourgeoisie generally, but who sees the first Egyptian variant of it as less comprador than the second, notes that "from the late 1930s up until 1952 industrial development scored quite impressive figures."(36)

The capitalist industrialization of Syria was necessarily on a smaller scale than its counterpart in Egypt, but proportionately its accomplishments were similar. During the first years of the Great Depression, Syrian entrepreneurs succeeded in more than doubling the number of modern factories, from 148 to 306.(37) Summarizing developments in the industrial sector up to the early 1950s, a German economist noted three tendencies at work: "The steady decline of the traditional industry ... the modernization of equipment in the old home industries ... (and) the rise in the standard of living, leading in turn to the establishment of industries hitherto unknown in the country."(38) In the decade ending in 1948, the number of spindles increased from some 10,000 to 90,000.(39) In 1946, the first year of independence, a majority of the 25 major new projects established were in the industrial sector, including the famous al-Khumasiya, a holding company with a resemblance to Egypt's Bank Misr, dedicated primarily to textile production.(40) In the early 1950s, especially following the establishment in 1952 of a customs regime independent from that of Lebanon, a flurry of investment activity in industry resulted in the foundation of 30-50 joint stock industrial companies annually. In 1954 alone, at which time total invested capital in the weaving industry was just over [pound]S 36 million, new investments in excess of [pound]S 11 million were made in that industry.(41) By the mid-1950s, Syrian industry had established export markets for a range of products, particularly textiles, in several Arab countries.(42) In the late 1930s industry accounted for just under 10 per cent of the labor force. Half-a-century later, in 1989, after 25 years of state capitalism ostensibly dedicated to industrialization, that sector still only accounted for just over 14 per cent of the labor force.(43) Industrial expansion may have been more rapid in the liberal era than it was under the Syrian version of Arab socialism.

That industrialization under the auspices of the first Arab bourgeoisie was due to one or another special circumstance is a proposition difficult to sustain. While forced savings were generated as a result of World War II, industrialization was well under way in Egypt and Syria prior to that time. Capital for that industrialization was being provided from profits in agriculture, as the Bank Misr example indicates for Egypt and as Grunwald pointed out with regard to the Syrian case, where "Finance for industrial enterprise is largely provided by ... farm interests."(44) The World Bank reported in 1955 that in Syria average total gross domestic investment was 13-14 per cent between 1950 and 1953, which, in "comparison with other underdeveloped countries in Asia ... represents a remarkable record of achievement."(45) That this high level of investment was not sustained much past this time in Syria, and that in Egypt the bourgeoisie had already scaled down their investments, was "because the rising tide of the national liberation movement and its increasing radicalization (before Nasser came to power) had scared them away from any further investment and even driven some of them to smuggle their capital abroad."(46) The charge leveled at the bourgeoisie--that they failed to respond to the overtures of new military governments and did not invest in industry or agriculture--begs the question of why investors should have had trust or confidence in governments that had demonstrated profound hostility toward the bourgeoisie, or at least the most important fraction of it.

It may be the case that the "easy" stage of import substitution industrialization had come to an end, especially in Egypt, by the immediate post-World War II era. But even if true that is not necessarily proof of the shortcomings of the first Arab bourgeoisie. Tignor argues that a moment of truth was indeed reached by the Egyptian textile industry after World War II, when it had saturated local markets. At this point the government should have adopted policies to facilitate exports, but instead it opted for yet more self-defeating protectionism. That policy choice resulted from the political power and preferences not only of the bourgeoisie, but from the influence of various other social forces, including labor, that Tignor sees as having as much or more impact on policy than the Egyptian industrial bourgeoisie.(47) The pre-eminent historian of the Syrian labor movement, Abdullah Hanna, has observed that in that country labor unions reached the zenith of their strength and achieved their greatest policy successes in the 1940s and 1950s, precisely when private sector industry was expanding most rapidly.(48) That early Syrian industrialization was flawed by the over concentration of capital and exploitation of labor, as Raymond Hinnebusch claims, is difficult to accept. Steps were being taken to curtail such exploitation, and in any case concentration of capital and labor exploitation have been key ingredients in successful industrialization elsewhere.(49)

The argument that the first Arab bourgeoisie had "shallow roots" or differed fundamentally from the western prototype, is not entirely correct. As Albert Hourani has noted, the notables in the cities extending southward from Aleppo to the Hijaz "were not a Mamluke group but an ancient bourgeoisie with its leaders, the sharifs in the Hijaz, the great families in Damascus, Aleppo, and the smaller Syrian towns .... This class was strong enough to absorb into itself families of military origin ... to restrain the power of the local governor ... and at times even to revolt successfully against the governor and itself rule the city ...."(50) Able to fend off the depredations of the Ottomans, the urban notability/bourgeoisie, according to Hourani, also "held their own even in the European trade."(51)

The first Arab bourgeoisie also appears not to have been as hopelessly traditional as some have suggested. They favored, for example, the joint stock company, of which Bank Misr was but one instance. According to Isam Khafaji, "In both Egypt and Iraq, 'old' capitalists, who have a history of mutual personal and business ties, were among the first who formed joint-stock companies not based on family ties."(52) By 1954 Syria had 94 joint stock companies with a capital of almost [pound]S 138 million.(53) While a full-blown capitalist class had yet to emerge from the semi-feudal landowning notability, especially in Iraq where that notability was of very recent origins, at least in some areas it had solid historical foundations and was adopting capitalist practices with alacrity.

The political behavior of the first Arab bourgeoisie also appears, at least on the surface, to be consistent with that of the (western) prototype. They created formal organizations to lobby for business interests. Chambers of Commerce sprung up virtually wherever the bourgeoisie was to be found, while Federations of Industry, associations of bankers, and professional syndicates were established in major centers. In Egypt, where political parties were most fully developed, the Saadists, who split off from the Wafd, represented the interests of progressive landowners who had invested in industry. But even in comparatively primitive Iraq, the "National Democrats combined the clubbish image of the Independents with a definite class orientation, in the identification of its leadership with modern-progressive bourgeoisie, mainly industrialists, who at the same time favored social democracy."(54) As regards the struggle against imperialism, the national bourgeoisie, it is true to say, did not seek to mobilize workers and peasants as participants in that struggle, except on an intermittent, clientelistic basis. Such a step would have been inconsistent with class interest. The failure to undertake mass mobilization is not proof that the national bourgeoisie was politically paralyzed, however. As Philip Khoury observes for Syria,

The brand of nationalism which the urban political leadership sponsored was tailored to its political style and social class. Nationalism, in its hands, was not a revolutionary ideology aiming to overturn existing social hierarchies. Rather ... the nationalist elite aimed to establish a more favorable balance of power between France and Syria .... Its method was not revolutionary armed struggle but a mixture of intermittent popular protest, diplomacy, and regional and international activity.(55) It probably is not coincidence that Egypt and Syria, with much more highly developed and larger bourgeoisie than Iraq, achieved de facto independence earlier.

The historical evidence in Arab agricultural and industrial sectors, as well as in the political sphere, does not substantiate some of the harsher indictments that have been meted out against the first Arab bourgeoisie. Nor does it provide adequate support for the proposition that the failure of the bourgeoisie to bring about national independence, economic development, and democracy under its tutelage was inherent in its comprador nature. Countervailing evidence suggests that the national bourgeoisie pursued independence from the metropolitan center and participated with some vigor in industrialization programs.

The proposition that the Arab bourgeoisie was not a true representative of the species because of its dependence on government, whether of the center or the periphery, draws distinctions which may exist theoretically, but not in practice. "Parasitic relations with the state are an essential part, obviously, of all known forms of capitalist (un)development, from (de)industrialization patterns in parts of Africa to heavy manufacturing export patterns in parts of Asia to military Keynesianism in the United States."(56) As Robert Vitalis argues, Osman Ahmad Osman, the leading "parasitical" capitalist in modern Egypt, has had a career that "parallels precisely the route to creation of the leading private sector manufacturing groups in East Asia and Latin America ... 'Parasitical' or 'collusive' ties between state agents and capitalists, clientelism, oligopoly profits and rent-seeking all feature prominently in, for instance, the developmentalist project of Korean planners and the big Korean chaebol."(57) Immanuel Wallerstein, who has pondered the alleged shortcomings of the national bourgeoisie in various settings, concludes as follows:

Why should a national bourgeoisie "betray" its historic role? Presumably it has everything to gain from performing this role ... It seems more than a conundrum; it seems to be a self-contradicting assertion. The strangeness of the very idea is accentuated by the fact that quantitatively the number of national bourgeoisie that are said to have "betrayed" their historic roles turns out not to be small but very large--indeed, the vast majority.(58)


There are explanations of the failures of capitalism and democracy in the Middle East on grounds other than the deficiencies of the national bourgeoisie. In some interpretations the challenges, foreign and/or domestic, confronting the Arab bourgeoisie at that particular historical juncture, were just too overwhelming for even this dominant social force successfully to confront. The immediate post-independence period was fraught with peril for ruling elites in the Third World. The process of independence itself engendered revolutions of rising expectations. Even prior to total independence many governments in the Middle East had vastly expanded public education, and by so doing facilitated the emergence of a new, more stridently radical, middle class (or petit bourgeoisie) with superior organizational and intellectual skills. Younger, more impetuous, and, as time went on, with an increasing proportion lacking first hand experience of the fierce, violent repression of nationalist uprisings that had occurred after World War I, recruits into the new middle class neither understood nor sympathized with what they saw as the timidity and compromises of their elders and "social betters."(49) Political instability caused by these generational and class conflicts, coupled with the growth of the state, especially the military, then paved the way for coup d'etats. Once in power the military cut away the economic props of the bourgeoisie, seizing their landed estates, nationalizing their businesses, and confiscating their shares. Officers added insult to injury they had already caused the bourgeoisie by depicting them as feudalist lackeys of imperialism. The rising tide of social and political mobilization stimulated by the struggle for independence, combined with the muscle of newly established militaries, were, in sum, just too much for bourgeois political elites to contain, especially since many were also battling against semi-feudal landowners on their right flank.

Fawzy Mansour sees the failure of the first Arab bourgeoisie as yet another episode in a long history of "arbitrary, military, alien rule blocking the way to any civil, hence capitalist development."(60) Because from the onset of empire Arabs failed "to create a stable, acceptable and progressive (in the sense of allowing further development rather than hindering it) framework for the management of class conflict," the sword became the arbiter, "not only in the last, but also in the first resort."(61) Arab military rulers have steadfastly refused to share power. Muhammad Ali "began his rule by liquidating the nascent bourgeoisie .... Had he allowed this nascent bourgeoisie to grow, thrive, share his project, his ambitions, his power, as Japan's rulers did [with] the Japanese bourgeoisie half a century later, perhaps the edifice he established, resting ... on the broad shoulders of this class, would not have collapsed so easily and so thoroughly."(62) Nasser, according to Mansour, "fell into the same kind of trap," adamantly refusing to share power.(63) Ever fearful of the militarized state, the Arab bourgeoisie has had no choice but to perfect strategies of rapid profit maximization when circumstances allow, preparing to dive for cover when another strong man emerges and seizes everything he can. The autonomous, military-camp state, rather than the bourgeoisie, is thus to blame for retarded economic and political development in the Arab World.

An alternative conceptualization is provided by game theory. A development coalition failed to emerge in Arab countries because, unlike Turkey or Latin America, the various fractions of the bourgeoisie remained tied to landownership as the major source of family wealth and power. This in turn limited the coalition possibilities for the bourgeoisie and weakened it vis-a-vis foreign and domestic competitors. According to Ilkay Sunar, the Egyptian bourgeoisie "which led the banner for national economic development and industrialization", and whose ideology was "liberal and secular," was nevertheless "never able to forge a stable, progressive coalition for national and state autonomy." This failure was because the bourgeoisie, which remained tied to the land, "was more willing to compromise with the British and the Monarchy than to mobilize a middle and lower class constituency." Subsequently, Nasser's agrarian reform rendered impossible an alliance with the bourgeoisie, which, having lost its land, began to disinvest in industry.(64) Caglar Keyder concurs in this assessment, noting that by comparison the independence from large landowners of both the Turkish state and of small and middle farmers, made possible there a developmental coalition linking those farmers with middle class bureaucrats.(65) In several Latin American countries the manufacturing bourgeoisie, independent of the landed bourgeoisie, endorsed agrarian reform as a means to expand the domestic market for their products and, not incidentally, their political power. In Syria and most other Arab countries, on the other hand, the manufacturing bourgeoisie "did not mobilize popular support against the agrarian oligarchy .... Instead, threatened by a rising left, they assimilated their interests into those of the agrarian oligarchy, increasing the likelihood that Syrian politics would be a zero-sum conflict where the very rules of the game would be open to contestation."(66)

Explanations that account for the "historic failure" of the Arab bourgeoisie because of its own shortcomings; because of the extraordinary challenges arising at this particular historical juncture; because of the autonomous, militarized nature of the state; or because of the imperatives of coalition formation among class and institutional actors, share in common a domestic focus. An internationalist perspective is provided by theories of dependency, most of which concur in the assertion that "the capitalist system has, since its origin some five centuries ago, had an inherent tendency to cause a polarization between centres and peripheries .... Once capitalism had appeared in Europe and the Atlantic, the evolution towards capitalism was brutally halted in its development elsewhere."(67) Bourgeoisie in the Third World, according to this view, are comprador by definition, incapable of achieving autonomous, substantive political or economic development. While this interpretation may be correct, it remains largely at the level of a hypothetical-deductive model, to be accepted on grounds of logic and faith, rather than empirical evidence.(68)

Such a leap of faith is unnecessary. Abundant evidence exists to support the claim that the first Arab bourgeoisie, far from being supported by the global center (the core of which was shifting westward across the Atlantic just as the Arab bourgeoisie was beginning to assert itself), was in fact systematically being undermined by that center. As the United States sought both to displace European imperial powers in the region and to "contain" the communist threat, it forged sharply contradictory political alliances. Where it enjoyed favorable relations with local potentates, such as in Saudi Arabia, it extolled their virtues as desert warriors, democrats by tribal tradition. But elsewhere, where the British or French were in the ascendancy and where political systems were more sophisticated and the level of social and political mobilization higher, Washington looked in other quarters for political allies. It found them in "progressive" military officers, such as Syria's Husni al-Zaim, whom the CIA brought to power in 1949 in a coup d'etat, or in "Jimmy" Nasser, by whom Washington stood in order to forestall a British attempt to restore the Muhammad Ali dynasty.(69) Ancien regime elites in those systems, which Washington saw as being in the pocket of their European adversaries and/or as being too weak to withstand the communist challenge, came in for scorn and ridicule. Presidents and parliamentarians were derided as incompetent feudalists, or, in the case of many educated, bourgeois elements, as dangerous radicals.(70) In neither case were they to be trusted or encouraged. Indeed, they were to be overthrown by Washington's new officer friends, who were thought to be tougher anti-communists, and less susceptible than civilian and educated elements (especially those instructed by the French) to the appeals of radical nationalism, which Washington could not differentiate from communism. Most important of all, the officers were believed to be pro-American.

So the first Arab bourgeoisie, especially in Egypt and Syria, already confronting major domestic challenges, found not only that they had been abandoned by Washington, but that CIA sleuths were busy enlisting army officers in anti-government conspiracies. The bourgeoisie was in an untenable position. When Washington-supported or -endorsed coups succeeded, the bourgeoisie was subjected to political, and ultimately economic expropriation at the hands of the officers. When coups failed, as for example in Syria in 1957, popular anger was directed at the bourgeoisie because they were perceived as pro-Western. The bourgeoisie, not surprisingly, lost heart and began to export capital and to look for other opportunities, either abroad or in the interstices of the new military dominated governments. They surrendered the political arena to Washington's friends--many of whom subsequently became its enemies--and the economy to those officers and bureaucrats and their clienteles.

US policy has shifted a few degrees in recent years, thereby helping to open up new possibilities for the Arab bourgeoisie. The basic US approach remains that of support for "trustworthy" rulers, which means tribal potentates in the Gulf, monarchs in Jordan and Morocco, and military dictators elsewhere. But commitment to the new orthodoxy of development, which emphasizes the key role of the entrepreneurial bourgeoisie, confronts Washington with a dilemma. Support for those bourgeoisie ultimately could provide them with sufficient resources, economic and political, to challenge the military-backed, bureaucratic authoritarian states which rule over them. If these bourgeoisie were "trustworthy," all would be well and good in Washington's eyes. Alas, they are not. Many are still infected, in the American view, with anti-western outlooks. Even if they were 100 per cent reliable, however, their commitment to democracy is itself problematic. Brought into existence as a result of efforts exerted by the bourgeoisie, democracy might open the door to more radical elements. US policy makers, frightened of the Arab "street", remain timid in their support for change. The thrust of US policy, therefore, is to continue to support authoritarian elites, military, monarchical, or tribal, while seeking to encourage them to provide a lot more economic and a little more political space to the bourgeoisie. It is this shift in US policy, in conjunction with domestic developments, that has provided the newly emerging and amalgamating second Arab bourgeoisie with some leverage and hope for the future.


The past of the Arab bourgeoisie does not provide clear guidelines by which to predict its future. But as that bourgeoisie begins to flex its political and economic muscles for the second time this century, some tentative observations based on the first experiment can be made. Most importantly, revisionist interpretations suggest that the demise of the first Arab bourgeoisie was not pre-or- dained and that a reasonably successful capitalism, democratic or otherwise, might have been established in Arab countries in the wake of de facto independence. Accordingly, prospects for the second Arab bourgeoisie are better than is allowed by those who argue the case for (perpetual) state autonomy because of the bourgeoisie's frailties, both now and previously.

Conspicuous consumption, exploitation of old-boy networks and family ties, distrust of mass action and, among some at least, a preference for coupon clipping and indolence over generating new capital through hard work, are vices of the bourgeoisie wherever they are found. While a Weberian ideal type bourgeoisie may exist, and while the first Arab bourgeoisie clearly were not among them, their behavior was not so deviant nor their accomplishments so inconsequential as to exclude them altogether from the category, nor to write them off as pernicious compradors. Equally, however, the performance of the first Arab bourgeoisie, especially politically, was maladroit, a fault due to internal fractionalization, probably to the relative immaturity of the class generally, and to the gap that existed between it and the "popular classes." Whether the second Arab bourgeoisie has overcome that fractionalization; matured sufficiently to cast off the legacies of feudalism and primordialism; and learned enough of the popular idiom to at least make it appear as if it is concerned with the plight of the "street," is a matter susceptible to empirical investigation, a mode of approach insufficiently utilized in studies of the preceding bourgeois era.

As regards the domestic political context, a great deal has changed since the immediate post-independence period. While the cards may not now be stacked in favor of the bourgeoisie, they are no longer stacked against it. Liberalization, induced more by the desperate shortage of governmental revenues than by ideological commitment, has enabled the bourgeoisie to accumulate substantial economic resources and to acquire a measure of political influence. State sanctioned ideologies, no longer targeting the bourgeoisie as an enemy, depict them in an increasingly positive light. Islamism, the major oppositionist ideology, generally looks with favor on the bourgeoisie, as long as it abides by Islamic precepts, which in any case impose no intolerable constraints on capitalism, although they may cramp the style of the secularized second Arab bourgeoisie.

Paradoxically, the international environment may also be more favorable to the Arab bourgeoisie now than it was at the end of the liberal era, when Washington's imperial ambitions and fear of communism caused it to shunt aside any and all that seemed squeamish when confronted with its Manichean view of the region. While the United States managed in the previous era to reconcile the paradox of its "national security" concerns conflicting with its avowed desire to spread democracy in the region (by elevating the first and devaluing the second objective), it may not be so easy the second time around. Arab support for democracy is now much more broadly based. Moreover, US power may have reached its zenith and be on the decline, thereby providing more political space within which Arab democrats can function. While US interventionism has been consistent with the axiomatic proposition that the first capitalists will ensure there are no second ones, that axiom rests less on foreign policy behavior than on obscure economic formulations. It seems reasonable to assume that US foreign policy is a variable rather than a parameter. The possibility does exist, therefore, of a bourgeoisie, either with Washington's support or in the face of its opposition, assuming dominant power within an Arab state and the engineering rapid, self-sustaining economic growth.


A growth industry in contemporary Middle East studies is theorizing about the future development of relations between the state and the bourgeoisie, an exercise which requires speculation on the nature of both. This plethora of literature can be reduced to two main contending views. One predicts a continuation of what is commonly accepted as the status quo--namely, state autonomy from the bourgeoisie. While the argument is still made that coups brought the petit bourgeoisie to power in Arab republics, the majority position is that these states are autonomous of that and all other classes. Leonard Binder puts the position succinctly:

Now the dominant paradigm in the study of Middle East governments postulates that in the modal Middle East state, the bureaucracy itself rules, and there is little distinction between the political class and the administrative class or the state elite. The autonomy of the Middle East state eliminates the need for collective action among the members of civil society, it blocks class dominance, it permits economic development without concessions to the bourgeoisie, and it permits government in the public interest.(71)

Arguments propounded to buttress the proposition of state autonomy, now and forevermore, generally focus on either the nature of the state, or on the class which is widely conceded to be the major threat to state autonomy--the bourgeoisie. As far as the state is concerned, the basic position is that it is neo-patrimonial. Those who control it, (Binder's "political or administrative class or state elite") seek through collecting rents and doling out patronage to remain above all social forces, which are rewarded and punished according to the calculus of divide and rule. In some conceptualizations this is a degenerate form, with the ruling "gang" having succeeded in displacing more broadly based, formal institutions that at one stage possessed mobilizational capabilities.(72) In other interpretations the Bonapartist state arises at a particular historical juncture. When society has been weakened by the erosion of primordial loyalties as a result of modernization, and then further weakened by the debilitation of the first significant class to emerge in the shadow of imperialism--(feudalist) landowners--men on horseback seize power and then run states unconstrained by their weak, fragmented societies.(73) There also exist essentialist explanations that view Middle Eastern government as patrimonial by nature and tradition, subject to the autocratic whims of "slave soldiers," whether of the Mamelukian or modern variety.(74)

The possibility of change, precluded by essentialist interpretations, theoretically remains open in these other views, but actual prognostications vary. Since the Bonapartist state is said to arise at a particular historical stage, the implication is that as new social forces cohere, they will rein in the men on horseback. The state eventually will be subject to control by a dominant social force, or be converted into an arena permitting the pluralistic interaction of two or more.

If the state is the plaything of a gang, however, it is not subject to any historical dynamic and may or may not be transformed, presumably depending on particular circumstances. The "gang" that now runs Syria, for example, according to Yahya Sadowski has established a reasonably stable system. It unites party, bureaucracy and military, the principal pillars of the autonomous state and ones susceptible to internal factionalization or fratricidal conflict. As the not-so-hidden hand presiding over a sprawling patronage network, the "gang" integrates disparate clienteles, permitting them to shop around "for the one (patron) who will accept the least commitment in exchange for the fullest patronage. An extremely diverse body of potential clients are thereby attracted ...."(75)

The flip side of state autonomy is fragmentation and weakness of the bourgeoisie, that social class with the best chance of reducing the latitude within which the state maneuvers. The recently arrived infitah bourgeoisie is thus written off variously. Isam Khafaji reports that companies founded by this infitah bourgeoisie in Iraq and Egypt, even when their legal form is that of limited liability, joint stock corporations, invariably are the property of one or a few families. Primitive capitalism persists because the "nascent bourgeoisie has not developed yet common traditions enabling members of the class to cooperate and to trust each other."(76)

Subordination of the bourgeoisie to the state will continue because that class shows no sign of being able to aggregate the factors of production. In Syria, for example, businesses created as a result of President Asad's infitah, according to Anton Escher, have generally been small, poorly capitalized, based on unskilled labor, and located so as to take advantage of smuggling routes rather than other production factors or markets.(77) Elisabeth Longuenesse observed almost a decade after Asad ascended to the presidency that in the previous fifteen years "there has been a regular decrease in the work force of the mass of small firms; at the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, they had from 20 to 50 employees, and now have no more than half a dozen. The largest firms were nationalized and unlike the others have grown larger. The gap progressively was to become wider between a mass of small private firms and a small number of large companies in the public sector."(78) She concludes that "The industrial bourgeoisie, which received a fatal blow in 1965 during the nationalizations, has not recovered."(79) Raymond Hinnebusch concurs in this assessment. He notes:

As fear of nationalization deterred the emergence of new large or medium

capitalist firms in industry, the gap was filled by the proliferation of


ones .... In the 1970s ... the state sector towered over a multitude of

small undercapitalized artisan and family enterprises: 98 per cent of the

40,000 or so private manufacturing enterprises employed less than 10

workers. Despite the liberalization after 1970, this structure remained es-

sentially unchanged through the eighties ....(80)

Unable or unwilling to establish large industrial firms, the bourgeoisie also has not succeeded in bringing about the creation of capital markets that mobilize significant amounts of investment capital. In some countries, including Syria, capital markets remain prohibited, as do private banks, so there are no formal institutions within which the bourgeoisie might accumulate capital. Some analyses imply that the retarded state of Arab capitalism is less the consequence of the state's antagonism toward it than it is the product of the bourgeoisie's own failings. Either comprador or parasitical by nature, the Arab bourgeoisie shies away from investing in large projects to produce tradeable goods. Instead it seeks profits from deals with those in the state, and through agency agreements with foreign companies.(81) The most successful capitalist families in the region, such as the Osmans in Egypt, the Buniyahs in Iraq, and the Attars in Syria, are parasites. they have made their fortunes by privatizing profits and socializing losses in joint ventures with the public sector, by taking advantage of monopoly markets granted by the state, and by other arrangements with rent seeking bureaucrats and politicians.(82)

Economic failures by the standards of ideal-typical capitalist entrepreneurs, Arab bourgeoisie are political pussycats as well. They are content to seek rents and do not aspire to political power. Even the Damascene Muslim bourgeoisie, whose entrepreneurial talents are legend in the region, and who might be expected to harbor profound grevances against the Alawi-dominated government that has ruled over them for almost three decades, are politically quiescent. According to Hanna Batatu, they only "desire greater freedom of profit-making under conditions of comparative stability." They do not support nor even perceive "any acceptable alternative to the present pragmatic partly statist partly capitalist system."(83) Batatu is equally skeptical that the Iraqi bourgeoisie has demonstrated a capacity to convert economic into political power: "Whether the new class of state contractors or the older mercantile and industrial segments of the bourgeoisie possess any genuine autonomous social power has yet to be demonstrated."(84) The bourgeoisie, in other words, lacks the political will and resources, and probably also the economic wherewithal, to restrain arbitrary state power.

The apparent success of the bourgeoisie in recent years is due less to efforts on its part or to a fundamental change in the balance of power between state and class, than to the decision by ruling elites to open "the formerly populist dominated corporatism to include the bourgeoisie. This gives the bourgeoisie greater access but no real political power; indeed, it may increase the autonomy of the state insofar as it can now arbitrate the demands of competing 'popular' and 'bourgeois' interest groups."(85) A variant of this interpretation is that "The bourgeoisie has been nurtured by the state," as Jean-Francois Clement contends is the case in Morocco.(86) In Iraq, up to 80 per cent of the total cost of projects has been "loaned" to private investors by the government, which "has been able to create capitalists out of its 'barefoot' citizens."(87) "A real class of functioning capitalists" has been created in the Arab oil exporting states of the Gulf as ruling families have funneled oil revenues into privately owned banks and other enterprises.(88) But precisely because the state has served as midwife to the birth of nominally private capitalists, they are and will remain weak, parasitic rent seekers who look to the state as provider, not a commanding height to be conquered. Alternatively, and especially where state capitalism has not fully developed, ruling elites have consciously chosen to create a "real class of functioning capitalists." They have done os in order to harness their entrepreneurial activities to governmental purposes, and to obtain the political benefits of a loyal constituency, comprised typically of "commoners," who can stake no claim to rule in monarchical systems.


Reconsolidation of the economic and political power of the bourgeoisie is widely agreed to be occurring both as consequence and cause of infitah policies in Arab countries. What is at issue is the degree of that reconsolidation and whether it is an irreversible process which ultimately will result in the subordination of the state to the bourgeoisie. Among the arguments affirming that proposition is one based on historical inevitability of class rule. In this view the autonomy of Arab states was an aberration, facilitated initially by the destabilizing consequences of struggles for national independence and windfall profits which accrued to newly independent states under radical nationalist leaders. Financial reserves accumulated during World War II, subsequently bolstered by nationalizations, first of foreign, then of domestically owned assets, provided these states with the resources necessary to pursue strategies of no taxation, therefore no representation. Patronage doled out to those of the middle classes and below bought support in this populist phase of bureaucratic authoritarian rule, and obviated the need to permit meaningful political participation by those social forces. This strategy almost foundered as a result of fiscal crises in the mid- to late-1960s; crises which caused regimes to contemplate either "deepening" or abandoning efforts at import substitution industrialization and popular mobilization. But just when it appeared that the state was going to have to grant significant political power and economic rewards to either the lower or to the middle and upper classes, the oil boom obviated the necessity to choose. For more than a decade after the October 1973 War, Arab governments possessed sufficient resources to perpetuate themselves on the bases of no taxation, hence no representation. But by the mid-1980s, this second era of windfall profits had ended, so the aberrant, autonomous state was doomed. As a result of international pressure, domestic choices already made, and the substantial economic and political resources of the bourgeoisie, ruling elites had no choice but to begin to surrender their autonomy to that class. Thus more typical state-class relations are now being re-established. As Raymond Hinnebusch observes with regard to Syria, "A state that lacks a firm class base is ... by definition 'unstable' in the long run, and must, sooner or later, be captured by dominant social forces .... The conditions of capitalist restoration and conservative capture of the regime are developing."(89)

Amalgamation of the three wings of the bourgeoisie--old, new and state--is creating such a powerful social force and so enervating etatism that the state will simply be overwhelmed. Volker Perthes notes in Syria, for example, that

the so-called "state class" or state bourgeoisie will not continue as such.

After a period of partnership, first silent and then open, with the new


geoisie, and after increasingly coming to share the interests of the latter,


class will become an authentic bourgeoisie, owning the means of production.

As this occurs, the transforming state class will increasingly intermingle


the other branches of the bourgeoisie and finally fuse with them.(90)

As a result of this process of class consolidation, Perthes predicts that the Syrian state will be forced to surrender "its social and political principles as expressed in labor laws, trade union rights, state planning programs, foreign trade and currency regulations."(91)

The dynamic through which the power of ruling elites is transferred to a rising bourgeoisie is described by Clement Henry Moore as the "privatization of patronage."(92) As states have exhausted their resource bases, they have "farmed out to the state oligopolists" the costs of servicing client networks.(93) Once underway this process is irreversible. "State oligopolists," whose ambition is to "push for further privatization of ownership as well as market power," use leverage provided by their patronage to extract concessions from ruling elites, which in turn provides more resources in a continuous, self-reinforcing cycle.(94) Ultimately the "clientelistic bases of politics" can be transformed into political pluralism if "private entrepreneurs and their financial backers support organized groups."(95)

According to numerous accounts of Egyptian politics, this transformation currently is underway there.(96) The bourgeoisie is liberating from corporatist control its old organizations, such as Chambers of Commerce, while simultaneously creating a plethora of new, pluralist interest groups. This development may, according to one view, anticipate the ultimate conversion of the state into the executive committee of the bourgeoisie. As the "first organizer," the bourgeoisie will block subsequent efforts to unite workers, peasants, and other, non-bourgeois constituencies in counterbalancing organizations.(97) Alternatively, the pluralization process will be led by, but not confined to, the bourgeoisie. Ultimately other social forces, whose resources and capacities to support formal organizations are considerably less than those of the bourgeoisie, will nevertheless also organize and contest public policy.(98) In both scenarios, however, the Arab bourgeoisie will succeed in performing at least part of its "historic mission." The disposition of power between social forces, determined by the particular political/economic histories of individual Arab countries, will in turn decide whether that historic mission results in authoritarian, "Junker capitalism," or in a more democratic version. But the state, in any case, initially will have lost its autonomy due to the growing economic and political power of an emerging bourgeoisie.

History, therefore, need not repeat itself. The fate of the second Arab bourgeoisie can differ from that of the first. Whether the chief cause of the inability of that first bourgeoisie to "base their control on a universalization of their own class interests in terms of an order based on private property and untrammelled capitalist development," was due to their own deficiencies, or to the national or international environment, matters not.(99) Factors at both levels are now more congenial to capitalist development. Since the accomplishments of the first Arab bourgeoisie were considerable, these more favorable circumstances, combined with the presumed greater maturity of the second Arab bourgeoisie (especially its distance from the semi-feudal landowning class), suggest that the second Arab bourgeoisie may enjoy truly substantial economic and political success.


(1.)Manfred Halpern, who was an employee in the State Department before becoming an academic, wrote what became the standard account of social classes in the region. He described "Kings, Landlords, and the Traditional Bourgeoisie," as "The Declining Elite," and "The New Middle Class as the Principal Revolutionary and Stabilizing Force," employing those terms as his chapter titles. See Manfred Halpern, The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963).

(2.)Alasdair Drysdale, "The Syrian Political Elite, 1966-1976: A Spatial and Social Analysis," Middle Eastern Studies 17, 1 (January 1981), p. 17; and Alasdair Drysdale, "The Asad Regime and its Troubles," MERIP Reports 110 (November/December 1982), p. 3.

(3.)Raymond A. Hinnebusch, "State and Bourgeoisie in Syria," paper delivered to the conference on Middle Classes and Entrepreneurial Elites of the Middle East, Berkeley, University of California, (9-12 May 1991), p. 1.

(4.)Ibid., pp. 1, 4.

(5.)Raymond A. Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba'thist Syria: Army, Party, and Peasant (Boulder: Westview Press, 1989), pp. 20-28.

(6.)Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1968), pp. 149-150.

(7.)Samir Amin, "Contribution to a Debate: The World Capitalist System and Previous Systems," in Fawzy Mansour, The Arab World: Nation State and Democracy (London: Zed Books, 1992), p. 2.

(8.)Ibid., p. 22.

(9.)Raymond A. Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power, p. 34.

(10.)For the most radical statement of the need for a further lowering of landholding ceilings, see Tim Mitchell, "America's Egypt: Discourse of the Development Industry," Middle East Report (March/April 1991), pp. 18-33. For a critique of Mitchell's position, see Alan Richards, "America's Egypt: A Flawed Critique," Middle East Report 174 (January-February 1992), pp. 43-44.

(11.)See for example Raymond A. Hinnebusch, "Liberalization in the Middle East: The Syrian Case," paper delivered to the symposium on economic liberalization and its social and political effects, University of Exeter (26-28 September 1991), p. 5.

(12.)Ibid., p. 5.

(13.)Ibid., p. 5.

(14.)Volker Perthes, "The Syrian Private Industrial and Commercial Sectors and the State," paper delivered to the annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association, San Antonio (10-13 November 1990), p. 2.

(15.)Ibid., p. 2.

(16.)Ibid., p. 2. On Egypt see Eric Davis, Challenging Colonialism: Bank Misr and Egyptian Industrialization, 1920-1941 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983). On Iraq see Isam Al-Khafaji, "The State and Infitah Bourgeoisie in the Arab Mashreq: The Case of Egypt and Iraq," paper delivered to the conference on Middle Classes and Entrepreneurial Elites of the Middle East, Berkeley, University of California (9-12 May 1991).

(17.)Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power, p. 28.

(18.)Raymond A. Hinnebusch, "Class and State in Ba'thist Syria," Richard T. Antoun and Donald Quataert, Syria: Society, Culture, and Polity (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991), p. 31.

(19.)Ibid., p. 43.

(20.)On Egypt see Robert Tignor, State, Private Enterprise, and Economic Change in Egypt, 1918-1952 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984). On Iraq see Khafaji, "The State and Infitah Bourgeoisie."

(21.)Itamar Rabinovich, "The Compact Minorities and the Syrian State, 1918-1945," Journal of Contemporary History 14 (1979), pp. 693-712.

(22.)Doreen Warriner, Land and Poverty in the Middle East (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1948), pp. 84-86.

(23.)Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power, see pp. 20-48.

(24.)Doreen Warriner, Land Reform and Development in the Middle East: A Study of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq (London: Oxford University Press, 1962), p. 71.

(25.)Ibid., p. 73

(26.)Interview with Sayed Marei, Cairo, 17 March 1992

(27.)A. Ashraf and V. Nowshirvani, "Iran's Rentier State and the Development of Its Entrepreneurial Elite: 1950s-1970s," paper delivered to the conference on Middle Classes and Entrepreneurial Elites of the Middle East, Berkeley, University of California (9-12 May 1991); and Ahmad Ashraf, "State and Agrarian Relations Before and After the Iranian Revolution, 1960-1990," in Farhad Kazemi and John Waterbury, Preasants and Politics in the Modern Middle East (Miami: Florida International University Press, 1991), pp. 277-311.

(28.)Tignor, State, Private Enterprise, and Economic Change, p. 65.

(29.)Marion Farouk-Sluglett, "Historic Failures or Political Chameleons? The Iraqi and Syrian Middle Classes in Modern Times," paper delivered to the conference on Middle Classes and Entrepreneurial Elites of the Middle East, Berkeley, University of California (9-12 May 1991), pp. 7-8.

(30.)Peter Sluglett, "The Rise, Fall, and Cautious Revival of the 'Old Social Classes' in Syria: A Case Study from the Elite of Aleppo," paper delivered to the conference on Middle Classes and Entrepreneurial Elites of the Middle East, Berkeley, University of California (9-12 May 1991), pp. 15-16.

(31.)Sulayman N. Khalaf, "Land Reform and Class Structure in Rural Syria," in Antoun and Quataert, Syria, pp. 63-78.

(32.)Bent Hansen, The Political Economy of Poverty, Equity and Growth: Egypt and Turkey (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 534.

(33.)Tignor, Egyptian Textiles and British Capital (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1989); and State, Private Enterprise, and Economic Change. See also Davis, Challenging Colonialism; and Robert Vitalis, Building Capitalism in Egypt, unpublished ms.

(34.)Tignor, Egyptian Textiles, p. 45.

(35.)Tignor, Egyptian Textiles, p. vii; and State, Private Enterprise, and Economic Change, p. 5.

(36.)Malak Zaalouk, Power, Class and Foreign Capital in Egypt: The Rise of the New Bourgeoisie (London: Zed Books, 1989), p. 17. Bent Hansen, who is less impressed at the rate of industrial expansion in Egypt, contends that the major obstacles were fiscal and monetary policies, of which the most important ingredient was an overvalued currency. See Bent Hansen, The Political Economy of Poverty, pp. 106-107.

(37.)K. Grunwald, "The Industrialization of the Lebanon and Syria", Weltwirtschafliches Archiv, 76 (1956), pp. 143-144, cited in Farouk-Sluglett, "Historic Failures or Political Chameleons?", p. 10.


(39.)Ibid., p. 11.

(40.)Abdullah Hanna, "Fasl min Tarikh al-Burjwaziyya al-Suriyya" ("A Chapter from the History of the Syrian Bourgeoisie,") Jadal 1 (August 1991), p. 240.

(41.)Ibid., p. 240.

(42.)Ibid., p. 243.

(43.)Ibid., p. 11; and Syrian Statistical Abstract, 1991, (Damascus: Central Bureau of Statistics, 1992), p. 77.

(44.)Cited on p. 12.

(45.)Cited in Sluglett, "The Rise, Fall, and Cautious Revival," p. 7.

(46.)Fawzy Mansour, The Arab World, p. 98.

(47.)Tignor, Egyptian Textiles, pp. 75-76. Landowners also supported protectionism out of the (mis)calculation that a vibrant domestic textile industry would absorb their cotton crop. See Bent Hansen, The Political Economy of Poverty, pp. 246-247.

(48.)Abdullah Hanna, "A Chapter from the History," pp. 247-254; and Abdullah Hanna, al-Harikat al-Umaliya fi Suriyya wa Lubnan, 1900-1945 (The Labor Movement in Syria and Lebanon 1900-1945) (Damascus: Dar Dimashq, 1973).

(49.)Hinnebusch, "Liberalization in the Middle East," p. 4.

(50.)Albert Hourani, "Ottoman Reform and the Politics of Notables," in William R. Polk and Richard Chambers, Beginnings of Modernization in the Middle East: The Nineteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), pp. 52-53.

(51.)Ibid., p. 61.

(52.)Khafaji, "The State and Infitah Bourgeoisie," p. 14.

(53.)Farouk-Sluglett, "Historic Failures or Modern Chameleons?", p. 11.

(54.)Sami Zubaida, "Community, Class and Minorities in Iraqi Politics," in Robert A. Fernea and William Roger Louis, The Iraqi Revolution of 1958: The Old Social Classes Revisited (London: I.B. Tauris, 1991), p. 206.

(55.)Philip S. Khoury, Syria and the French Mandate: The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920-1945 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), p. 620.

(56.)Robert Vitalis, "Imagining Capitalists: Ideologies of Class and Client in Egyptian Political Economy," paper delivered to the conference on Middle Classes and Entrepreneurial Elites in the Middle East, Berkeley, University of California (9-12 May 1991), p. 21

(57.)Vitalis, p. 21.

(58.)Immanuel Wallerstein, "The Bourgeois(ie) as Concept and Reality," New Left Review 167 (January-February 1988), p. 95, cited in Vitalis, p. 10.

(59.)The generational/class gap is a standard explanation of the breakdown of post-independence politics in Algeria. See for example William Quandt, Revolution and Political Leadership: Algeria, 1954-1968 (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1968).

(60.)Fawzy Mansour, The Arab World, p. 78.

(61.)Ibid., p. 72.

(62.)Ibid., p. 93.

(63.)Ibid., p. 93.

(64.)Ilkay Sunar, "The Politics of State Interventionism in 'Populist' Egypt and Turkey," paper delivered to the annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association, Washington, D.C. (23-26 November 1991), pp. 26-29.

(65.)Caglar Keyder, untitled paper, delivered to the conference on Middle Classes and Entrepreneurial Elites, Berkeley, University of California (9-12 May 1991).

(66.)David Waldner, unpublished ms, Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley (1991).

(67.)Smair Amin in Fawzy Mansour, The Arab World, pp. 2 and 10.

(68.)Samir Amin's articulations of dependency, for example, take the form of model building supplemented with illustrations, rather than empirical investigations. See for example his Accumulation on a World Scale: A Critique of the Theory of Underdevelopment (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1974); and Unequal Development: An Essay on the Social Formations of Peripheral Capitalism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1976).

(69.)Accounts of the CIA's dealings with al-Zaim and Nasser, who was known as Jimmy in the Agency in the early days, are provided by two former agents who harbored strong mutual dislikes. See Miles Copeland, The Game of Nations: The Amorality of Power Politics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1969); and Wibur Crane Eveland, Ropes of Sand: America's Failure in the Middle East (New York: W.W. Norton, 1980). See also Douglas Little, "Cold War and Covert Action: The United States and Syria, 1945-1958," The Middle East Journal 44, 1 (Winter, 1990), pp. 51-75.

(70.)For evidence of these perceptions of Syrian and Egyptian elites, see ibid.

(71.)Leonard Binder, "State Economy and Class in the Middle East," paper delivered to the conference on Middle Classes and Entrepreneurial Elites in the Middle East, Berkeley, University of California (9-12 May 1991), p. 18.

(72.)For use of the term "gang" in this context, see Yahya M. Sadowski, "Ba'thist Ethics and the Spirit of State Capitalism: Patronage and the Party in Contemporary Syria," in Peter J. Chelkowski and Robert J. Pranger, Ideology and Power in the Middle East: Studies in Honor of George Lenczowski (Durham: Duke University Press, 1988), pp. 160-184. For other statements of this view see Jean Leca, "Social Structure and Political Stability: Comparative Evidence from the Algerian, Syrian and Iraqi Cases," in Giacomo Luciani, The Arab State, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 150-188; Eberhard Kienle, Ba'th v. Ba'th: The Conflict between Syria and Iraq 1968-1989 (London: I.B. Tauris, 1990); and Raymond A. Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power.

(73.)Hinnebusch, "Liberalization in the Middle East," p. 8.

(74.)See for example Daniel Pipes, Slave Soldiers and Islam: The Genesis of a Military System (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981).

(75.)Sadowski, "Ba'thist Ethics," p. 181.

(76.)Khafaji, "The State and Infitah Bourgeoisie," p. 14.

(77.)Anton Escher, "Private Business and Trade in the Region of Yabrud, Syria," paper delivered to the annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, San Antonio (10-13 November 1990).

(78.)Elisabeth Longuenesse, "The Class Nature of the State in Syria: Contribution to an Analysis," MERIP, 9, 4 (May 1979), p. 5. 79. Ibid., p. 10.

(80.)Hinnebusch, "Liberalization in the Middle East," p. 7.

(81.)See for example Zaalouk, Power, Class and Foreign Capital; Fred Lawson, "Class Politics and State Power in Ba'thi Syria," in Berch Berberoglu, Power and Stability in the Middle East (London: Zed Books, 1989), p. 24; Hans Hopfinger, "Capitalist Agro-business in a Socialist Country: Syria's New Shareholding Corporations as an Example," paper delivered to the annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, San Antonio (10-13 November 1990); and Volker Perthes, "The Syrian Economy in the 1980s," The Middle East Journal, 46, 1 (Winter 1992), pp. 37-58.

(82.)On rent seeking behavior by bureaucrats and businessmen in Egypt, see Yahya M. Sadowski, Political Vegetables? Businessman and Bureaucrat in the Development of Egyptian Agriculture (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1991).

(83.)Hanna Batatu, "Some Observations on the Social Roots of Syria's Ruling, Military Group and the Causes for its Dominance," The Middle East Journal, 35, 3 (Summer 1981) p. 340.

(84.)Hanna Batatu, "State and Capitalism in Iraq: A Comment," Middle East Report, 142 (September-October 1986), p.12.

(85.)Hinnebusch, "Liberalization in the Middle East," p. 16.

(86.)Jean-Francois Clement, "Morocco's Bourgeoisie: Monarchy, State and Owning Class," Middle East Report 142 (September-October 1986), p. 17.

(87.)'Isam al-Khafaji, "State Incubation of Iraqi Capitalism," Middle East Report 142 (September-October 1986), p. 8-9.

(88.)James Paul, "The New Bourgeoisie of the Gulf," Middle East Report 142 (September-October 1986), p. 18.

(89.)Hinnebusch, "Class and State in Ba'thist Syria," pp. 45-46.

(90.)Volker Perthes, "The Bourgeoisie and the Ba'th," Middle East Report 170 (May-June 1991), p. 37.

(91.)Ibid., p. 37.

(92.)Clement Henry Moore, "Money and Power: The Dilemma of the Egyptian Infitah," The Middle East Journal 40, 4 (Autumn 1986), pp. 643-650.

(93.)Ibid., p. 637.

(94.)Ibid., p. 637.

(95.)Ibid., p. 650.

(96.)See for example Robert Bianchi, Unruly Corporatism: Associational Life in Egypt (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).

(97.)See for example Zaalouk, Power, Class and Foreign Capital.

(98.)See for example Marsha Pripstein Posusney, "Labor as an Obstacle to Privatization: The Case of Egypt 1974-1987," paper delivered to the annual conference of the American Political Science Association, Atlanta (31 August-3 September 1989).

(99.)Roger Owen, "Class and Class Politics in Iraq before 1958: The Colonial and Post-Colonial State," in fernea and Louis, The Iraqi Revolution, p. 169.
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Author:Springborg, Robert
Publication:Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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