by Samir Amin | Monthly Review | 30 June 2012
The electoral victory of the Muslim Brotherhood and of the Salafists in Egypt (January 2012) is hardly surprising. The decline brought about by the current globalization of capitalism has produced an extraordinary increase in the so-called “informal” activities that provide the livelihoods of more than half of the Egyptian population (statistics give a figure of 60%).
And the Muslim Brotherhood is very well placed to take advantage of this decline and perpetuate its reproduction. Their simplistic ideology confers legitimacy on a miserable market/bazaar economy that is completely antithetical to the requirements of any development worthy of the name. The fabulous financial means provided to the Muslim Brotherhood (by the Gulf states) allows them to translate this ideology into efficient action: financial aid to the informal economy, charitable services (medical dispensaries etc.).
In this way the Brotherhood establishes itself at the heart of society and induces its dependency. It has never been the intention of the Gulf countries to support the development of Arab countries, for example through industrial investment. They support a form of “lumpen development” — to use the term originally coined by André Gunder Frank — that imprisons the societies concerned in a spiral of pauperization and exclusion, which in turn reinforces the stranglehold of reactionary political Islam on society. Continue reading