Extreme capitalism of the Muslim Brothers

The neoliberal policy of Egypt’s new president Mohamed Morsi looks very much like a continuation of that of Mubarak. It is increasing social tensions – Published on english.Le Monde Diplomatique, by Gilbert Achcar, June 2013.

The Muslim Brothers’ economic credo of free enterprise unhampered by state interference is more closely consonant with neoliberal doctrine than was the form of capitalism dominant under Mubarak. This holds in particular for the version of that credo articulated by Khairat al-Shatir, the Brotherhood’s very capitalist number two after the murshid (guide), and a representative of its most conservative wing, or by Hassan Malek, an extremely wealthy, eminent member of the Brotherhood, who, after making his debut in the business world in a partnership with Al-Shatir, today manages, with his son, a constellation of enterprises in textiles, furniture and trade, employing more than 400 people … //

… Emulating the Turks:

This marriage of state power and capital removes the main obstacle to Egyptian capitalism’s collaboration with the Brotherhood: the repressive harassment of the Brothers under Mubarak. The Muslim Brothers are today assiduously emulating the Turkish experience by creating an association of businessmen, EBDA (Egyptian Business Development Association), which addresses itself, in particular, to small and medium enterprises. It has been constructed on the model of MÜSIAD, with the direct help of that Turkish association (3). Like the AKP and Erdogan’s government, however, the Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi pose as representatives of the common interests of all categories of Egyptian capitalism, big and small, not excluding the segment of it that collaborated with the old regime — a sizeable segment of its uppermost levels in particular, as might be expected.

The make-up of the delegation of 80 businessmen that joined Morsi on his August 2012 trip to China nicely illustrates the Brotherhood’s capitalist syncretism. The new president wants to play the role of travelling salesman for Egyptian capitalism, in the style of western heads of state. The members of the delegation were chosen by Hassan Malek, who formed a committee charged with organising communications between business circles and the president’s office. Invited to make the trip were several business executives who had belonged to the former ruling party, the NDP (National Democratic Party), and collaborated with the old regime. Among them was Mohamed Farid Khamis, chairman of Oriental Weavers, which boasts that it is the biggest producer of machine-made rugs and carpeting in the world. Khamis was a member of the NDP’s political bureau and of parliament as well. Another member of the former ruling party’s political bureau included in the delegation, Sherif el-Gabaly, was reputedly a close associate of Gamal Mubarak’s. El-Gabaly is on the board of the Egyptian Federation of Industry and chairman of Polyserve, an industrial group that makes chemical fertilizers (4).

Basically, Morsi has taken up a position resembling Erdogan’s, at the point of convergence of various capitalist fractions in his country and squarely on the path that Egyptian capitalism overall had already been following. There is, however, a major difference between the Muslim Brothers and the AKP — and, therefore, between Morsi and Erdogan. It resides less in the differing relative weight of the petty bourgeoisie and middle strata in the two organisations than in the very nature of the capitalism whose interests each represents: in the Turkish case, a form of capitalism dominated by the export-oriented industry of an “emergent” country; in the Egyptian case, a rentier state, and a capitalism that is dominated by commercial and speculative interests and heavily marked by decades of neopatrimonialism and nepotism.

The trip to China was, to be sure, meant to promote Egyptian exports and reduce the $7bn-plus Egyptian trade deficit in exchanges between the two countries. The Egyptians also sought to convince the Chinese leaders to invest in their country, albeit with little success. Morsi’s basic continuity with Mubarak, however, appears in Egypt’s manifest dependency on GCC capital — with the difference that Qatar has replaced the Saudi kingdom as the new regime’s main source of funding, as is only natural in light of the Muslim Brothers’ relationship with the emirate. Qatar has granted Egypt a loan of $2bn and pledged to invest $18bn over a five-year period in industrial and petrochemical projects, as well as tourism and real estate; it is also considering acquiring Egyptian banks. Moreover, Morsi’s government has applied for a $4.8bn loan from the IMF, making it clear that it is entirely disposed to comply with the IMF’s conditions as far as budgetary austerity and other neoliberal reforms go.

In the name of religion: … //

… (full text).

Links on en.wikipedia:

Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; /See also; /Further reading; /External Links;

Muslim Brotherhood: The Society of the Muslim Brothers …  is the Arab world’s most influential and one of the largest Islamic movements, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states.[1][2] Founded in Egypt in 1928[3] as a Pan-Islamic, religious, political, and social movement by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher  …;

Hassan al-Banna,[4][5][6][7] by the end of World War II the Muslim Brotherhood had an estimated two million members.[8] Its ideas had gained supporters throughout the Arab world and influenced other Islamist groups with its “model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work”[9] …; /See also; /External Links.

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