Book Review: Whatever Happened to the Egyptians? Changes in Egyptian Society from 1950 to the PresentGalal Amin By Rany Ibrahim

28 07 2009

 Book Review

Whatever Happened to the Egyptians? Changes in Egyptian Society from 1950 to the PresentGalal Amin

The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo – New York, 2001

By Rany Ibrahim

In this book review, I will examine Whatever Happened to the Egyptians? Changes in Egyptian Society from 1950 to the Present by Galal Amin (American University Press, 2001). This book is based on several essays that have a unique mixture of Amin’s academic research along with his personal experiences. Elements discussed include those that changed the Egyptian society from the 1950’s until the 1990’s (in social, economic, and cultural areas). The Author, Galal Amin, is considered a modern historian along with his academic responsibilities as an economics professor at the American University in Cairo. His books and articles focus on the history of economic thought, micro economics, economic development, and economics of the Middle East. Political development, westernisation, government regulations, and migration were some of the elements that Amin used to observe the changes in the Egyptian society. He examined, in every chapter, a different side of the Egyptian life and walked us through the important milestones that impacted and changed the Egyptian society. Some events that he focuses on include: the 1952 Revolution, President Gamal Abd Al-Nasser “Arab Socialists/Marxists” era, 1956, 1967, 1973 Wars, President Anwer El-Sadat era “Infitah /open door policy,” and ending up referring to the current President Mubarak era.

Galal Amin highlighted the current problems affecting the Egyptian economy such as; budget imbalance and deficit, large external debt, high rate of unemployment, increase the gap between rich and poor. He believes that poverty and corruption can all be traced to the massive changes that happened to the social mobility and expansion of the middle class in Egyptian society, which began with the 1952 revolution. These significant changes took the average Egyptian village from a unit of production to a consumption location. Furthermore, it increased the migration of rural villages’ populations into more crowded and overpopulated urban cities.  Amin claims that people lost their sense of loyalty and that their belonging to their homeland has been weakened by losing faith in their way of life, all occurring over decades of shifting, reorientation in national strategies and leaderships from side to side (Nasser’s era to Sadat’s era, extreme right to extreme left, anti-West to pro-West, Marxist to Liberalist).  He also claims that Egypt is still going through what he calls a “Social Crisis;” a result of this economic liberalization which accelerated the social mobility rate. He quotes Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, 1835 which states “the noble has gone down the social ladder, and the commoner has gone up; the one descends as the other rises.”

The Egyptian July 1952 military revolution aimed to liberate Egypt and other Arab movements from colonization, by providing them with more political and economic independence. Amin denies any success within these two fields. Furthermore, he considers the conversion to Socialism (the Arab Socialism followed the Marxist concept) was a major step towards Westernization. It was a step that Nasser took towards Arab Nationalism; a middle step which he hoped would help a United Arab State to stand out against Western aggression and exploitation using the bargaining power of oil wealth. Although it did not work as Nasser had hoped due to several internal and external elements, such as the 1967 defeat (the Six-Day War). However, the same concept did show some prospects during the 1973 war and oil crisis, when Arabs joint action to control oil supplies to the West. The Nasser socialist changes in the Egyptian society, which increased the volume of the lower middle class, did not manage to control the frustration of unfulfilled ambitions as Amin described. Amin also refers to Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a pioneer study of “Militant Religious Movements in Egypt”, as well as to Albert Hourani’s conclusion in his book A History of Arab Peoples, about the development of the “Muslim Brothers’” movement in the late 30’s. He quotes:

“Spreading in the urban population among those in an intermediate position: craftsmen, small tradesmen, teachers, and professional men who stood outside the charmed circle of the dominant elite”[1]

The social mobility frustration was one of the notable reasons of fanaticism that drove new recruits to religious militant groups that affected the Egyptian society throughout the following decades, such as “Al-Takfier Wa-l-Higra” group or the “Islamic Jihad” group, which were responsible a decade later for the assassination of President Anwar Al Sadat in 1982. It provided them with an escape from the reality of failing to create wealth, an escape from poverty. Another element that should be considered is the fact that many Egyptians spent years living in oil-rich Arab states, mainly Saudi Arabian religious society, where religion was so strict and integrated into the daily activities. In fact, a recent Gallup pool about the top religious countries around the world shows that the Egyptian society is the most religious with a 100 percent positive answer.[2]

The Nasser Marxists regime (which also called Nasserist era of Arab Socialism) recognized only two classes; exploiting class and exploited class. This was how they justified their extreme measures of change during the 1950’s and 1960’s by land reforms laws, nationalisation of large economic institutions, and massive national irrigation projects such as “Aswan High Dam” project. What Gamal Abdel Nasser said about Egypt at the time of revolution is that it was a half percent society, meaning that the upper class that controlled Egypt’s political and economic life, is still valid today, after all that time, with a large percentage of population still living below the poverty line. Amin refers to the 1986 data from a public census that shows over 53 percent of the total population at that time (about 30 million of the 56 million people) are falling under the poverty line.[3] (Notably, the most recent population estimate is 87.1 million according to 2008 census).[4] Egypt currently ranks 112 out of 177 countries, with 43.9 percent living below $2 a day according to 2007/2008 UNDP Human Development Report: human and income poverty.[5]

Sadat’s weak commitment to welfare state with his “Infitah” or open door polices allowed more foreign investment and involvement in the Egyptian economy, such as in the tourism and trade sectors. Also, Egypt’s dependency on the Western aid, mainly on the United States of America, increased significantly during Sadat and later on Mubarak eras. The 1973-1974 increase of the oil prices due to the “Yom Kippur War” drove the Egyptian Gross Domestic Product to an unprecedented average high of 8.5 between 1973 and 1984, and the Income Per Capita has doubled during the same period. The Egyptian GDP was, as it is still the fact today, dependant on oil and gas revenues, labour remittances (mainly transfers of unskilled, semiskilled and skilled Egyptians working in oil-rich Arab States), the Suez Canal revenues, tourism services, and foreign aid (mostly USAID investments following 1978 Camp David Accords, and 1979 peace treaty with Israel).

There is a significant socio-economic problem, which was boiling under the surface since the 1952 revolution was revealed in 1977. During the events of January 18th and 19th 1977, the “Bread Riots,” protested Sadat’s economic liberalization polices and the removal of government subsidizes to the basic food necessities such as bread, which pressured Sadat to reverse his polices and keep the government’s control on the prices in an attempt to control the situation, before the government loses control on the masses. This specific incident was so dangerous that any following government was very careful with the social dimension of any economic decision that is related to Egyptian economic reform and liberalization.

The revolution undoubtedly, as Amin claims, followed the Western path, although not as extreme as Ataturk in Turkey did. Nasser’s, and I would argue, Sadat and Mubarak’s speeches were presented as the main, sometimes the only, measure of success or failure of the revolution or the regime. These speeches used Western measurements such as: GDP rate, per capita income, school enrolment, hospitals and infrastructure projects, reclaiming new land, new industries etc. Galal Amin argues that perhaps, the revolution approaches development with its dramatic unprecedented changes to the social mobility and Infitah of the Egyptian society during the past five decades, were the most important factors that explain the current problems of the Egyptian society from nepotism and corruption.  The book was certainly, an interesting read. Although, I find Galal Amin approach, sometimes, ignores using more solid examples to support his arguments. While, I agree that the social mobility and Infitah are important factors. However, I do find that he ignores the role of democracy in this social transition. The lack of democracy within the same period of time, 1950’s to present time, with several authoritarian regimes in power, has in fact impacted the social trends of the Egyptian society and its limitation to a positive change, or what he calls it “Social Crisis.” 

Bibliography

Amin, G., Whatever Happened to the Egyptians? Changes in Egyptian Society from 1950 to the Present (American University Press, 2000), p. 33

Crabtree S. and Pelham B., What Alabamians and Iranians Have in Common, 2009 http://www.gallup.com/poll/114211/Alabamians-Iranians-Common.aspx

Egypt State Information Service: 2008 Population Census http://www.sis.gov.eg/En/Land&people/Population/030900000000000001.htm

Hourani A., A History of the Arab Peoples, London: Faber and Faber, 1991, p. 340.

UNDP 2007/2008 Human Development Report: Human and income poverty http://hdrstats.undp.org/indicators/24.html


[1] Hourani A., A History of the Arab Peoples, London: Faber and Faber, 1991, p. 340.

[2] Crabtree S. and Pelham B., What Alabamians and Iranians Have in Common, 2009 http://www.gallup.com/poll/114211/Alabamians-Iranians-Common.aspx

[3] Amin, G., Whatever Happened to the Egyptians? Changes in Egyptian Society from 1950 to the Present (American University Press, 2000), p. 33

[4] Egypt State Information Service: 2008 Population Census http://www.sis.gov.eg/En/Land&people/Population/030900000000000001.htm

[5] UNDP 2007/2008 Human Development Report: Human and income poverty http://hdrstats.undp.org/indicators/24.html





Egypt: State of the Law vs. Law of the State (Edited) By Rany Ibrahim

28 07 2009

Egypt: State of the Law vs. Law of the State

(Edited) 

By

Rany Ibrahim

A Constitution is the most crucial document in any country. It is the document that lays the foundation of citizen’s rights in the social contract between citizens and their governments. Since the 1215 Magna Carta Libertatum in England to 1787 with the Constitution of the United States of America, the Constitution is what defines states’ authority, limitations, relationships, and responsibilities towards its own citizens, and citizen’s rights in the state. People are the source of the laws or as John Rawls describes it in the Laws of Peoples as “Peoples are equal and parties to their own agreements.”[1] People’s representatives in any Parliament have a leading role in the development and restructuring of a country’s Constitution. Investigating the role of law and the role of the Constitution can reveal the democratic progress of any country and are a necessary tool for developing democracy and citizenship.

Recently, there has been an increasing international interest in studying Egypt’s attempts for reform due to the aging and health problems of Egypt’s 81-year-old President Hosni Mubarak with no announced succession plans. One can claim that there is a delusion of democracy in Egypt, especially with what appears to be a deformed hybrid mix of an authoritarian regime that has wrapped itself in a Western-style democratic cover. This deformed hybrid mix has influenced if not controlled the legislative institutions in Egypt and has prevented them from performing their job to protect democracy and freedoms. These institutions have become a tool that is constantly tailored to protect the regime while weakening possible prospects of future opposition. In this book review I will examine this resulting deformed hybrid mix in Egypt through a constitutional and legislative lens that investigates roles, interactions, and conflicts between the state’s legal and executive institutions. My arguments will focus on the current President, Hosni Mubarak’s era, and it will be based on my review of two main contemporary sources that support my argument: Tamer Mustafa’s The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt,[2] that provides a macro approach and analysis to the modern constitutional and legislative reforms in Egypt and Eberhard Kienle’s A Grand Delusion, Democracy and Economic Reform in Egypt,[3] that studies the economic reforms’ affects on the political life in Egypt.   

A brief historical background of the weakness of Egyptian Constitutional, legislative, and Parliamentary roles shows how the history of Egyptian modern political development up to 1952 can be traced to two main milestones; the 1866 establishment of the Egyptian Parliament and the 1923 Constitution, which was the first Constitution in modern Egypt inspired by the Belgian Constitution.[4] The Egyptian Parliament is the legislative arm of the state that is responsible for developing policy’s, laws, and development plans while assuming responsibilities of maintaining supervision of the government’s performance. The Egyptian Parliament has two divisions; the People’s Assembly, a 454 member (Lower House) and the Shura Council, a 264 member (Upper House).[5] Since its establishment, the Egyptian Parliament has not had a fair chance to function independently without interference from external elements. Under the British Occupation (1882-1936) the Egyptian Parliament was unable to operate independently, but it had more democratic representation from various parties in the country compared to after independence. Since the 1952 coup, the Egyptian Parliament has had no real influence in the Egyptian political life, which has been dominated by the military and the President. The Parliament and the Constitution became not capable to carry out their duties to oversee government performance after being stripped of their powers and became ceremonial institutions that gave legitimacy to the regime. The following reviews of both Tamer Mustafa’s macro approach,[6] and Eberhard Kienle’s micro approach,[7] will investigate the weaknesses of the legislative and legal bodies that resulted in a deformed hybrid mix dictated by the authoritarian regime under President Mubarak.

Tamer Mustafa took a macro approach in his analysis to the Egyptian case using the establishment, development, and expansion of constitutional power in Egypt (1979-1997) as a model that reflects the Egyptian reform conditions. The objectives from his study were to understand the dynamics of judicial politics in an authoritarian state such as Egypt compared to similar other cases in Brazil (1964-1985), Chile (1973-1990), China (1990-present), Mexico (1926-2000), the Philippines ((1972-1986), and Spain (1936-1975).[8] Mustafa compared the standing of legislations within States in similar conditions and the applications of the legislations among them. He investigated if there is any lack of legislations or lack of legislations enforcement, and questioned how legislations can affect states political and economic development. He stated that “the lack of transparency that is characteristic of authoritarian politics provided cover for state bureaucrats to abuse their powers.”[9] He concluded that power in a dominant regime produces costly unpopular policies, and that the state legitimacy is linked entirely to “substance” policy rather than “procedural” legitimacy.[10] In Egypt’s case, the regime turned aggressive against institutions it created such as the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) when the regime started to clash with its rulings. Mustafa’s study is full of rich historical information of Egypt’s constitutional institutions covering the period from 1979 to 2005. He used a mixture of both qualitative and quantitative analysis to showcase this information. The study was full of overwhelming dry information that covers details of milestones and significant rulings and statistics of the constitutional powers in Egypt. I agree with most of Mustafa’s opinions in the study. However, I find his book lacking in sufficient analysis of the provided information linking it to his main conclusion that the SCC was transformed from “the most promising avenue for political reform to a weapon in the hands of the regime”[11] that constrains and crushes opposition. Furthermore, I find this conclusion summarized in one page too brief compared to the scale of the 328 page study. Mustafa’s conclusion from a macro level sees eye-to-eye with Eberhard Kienle’s micro analysis of the failed economic policies of the Egyptian regime.

Eberhard Kienle’s micro approach in his analysis of the Egyptian case shows the authoritarian arrangements of the state against institutions, groups, and individuals as examples that reflect common trends within authoritarian regimes to control the political process. Kienle highlighted regime pressures on the legislative and legal institutions as part of the regime arrangements to remain in control while interfering and influencing the election process. He analyzed the significance of the regime-legislative relationship on the Egyptian political culture through the People’s Assembly, Popular Councils, Trade Unions, Professional Syndicates, and Student Federation’s elections. He also extended his analysis from direct connected players in the political process to general civil society groups to include the repressive practices and harassments against the press, media, and human rights groups that reflected a totalitarian characteristic in the regime. Despite the slow progress from Nasser’s 1960s “single-party” Egypt to Sadat’s 1970s controlled “pluri-partism,” the process of liberalisation had a setback in the early 1980s that deformed Egypt’s chances of a peaceful transition to democracy.[12] The main element of this setback was the unexpected assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and the replacement by Vice President Hosni Mubarak. In Kienle’s analysis, Mubarak’s “liberalisation” excluded the political side and focused on his economic development plans that resulted in a clash between economic liberalization and democracy and failed to achieve democracy.

Kienle used Mubarak’s method of rule as an example that emphasizes the blurred “complexity” of the linkage (if there is any) between economic development and political liberalisation in Egypt.[13] Mubarak acquired more powers and often used “blanket clauses” that extended his powers against “vaguely defined dangers – diagnosed only by himself – or when it please him to declare the state of emergency.”[14] The price was the diminishing of real opposition and limiting constitutional and legislative provisions, which were tailored to suit the President and the regime elites. Kienle demonstrated through the Egyptian regime survivor narrative that the “authoritarianism” concept within the Egyptian political culture was able to adapt itself to new modern conditions.[15]  Keinle provided a more balanced well-structured study of the Egyptian case using an economic view as an entrance leading to his argument that political reform in Egypt failed due to the economic pressures that helped in creating a deformed hybrid mix in the state policies. He provided easy linked transitions between his arguments with a sufficient analysis to each.  Kienle through his book and in his conclusion that third world liberal economic reforms do not work can be felt that it is under an influence of a dislike to liberal market ideas in general rather than the actual economic case on the ground in Egypt. I would argue that what failed were the wrong implementations not the liberal ideology. Furthermore, I do not agree with Kienle’s idea of considering Egypt’s liberal approach under the monarchy as one of many failing economic strategies that Egypt adopted through its modern history (categorizing it alongside to Nasser’s Arab Socialism, Sadat’s infitah, and Mubarak’s Western style free economy)—when he was trying to justify a growing influence to Islamic economy in Egypt.[16] I would argue that Egypt’s economy was in one of its best conditions in the nation’s history and prospered during the liberal monarchy era. In my opinion, the growing influence of the Islamic economy in Egypt has more cultural and religious elements to it based on the Islamists ideas that reject Marxism and Western capitalism than economic ones.

Tamer Mustafa and Eberhard Kienle agreed in their research that Egyptian reforms provide a unique case with its political dynamics constantly tailoring the Constitution compared to other similar states that either adopted or ignored the constitution. While the Constitution is meant to control the state’s powers and make it accountable towards its citizens, in Egypt’s unique case, the Constitution, legislations, and laws were trimmed constantly to buttress the Egyptian regime and geared-up to prevent opposition from challenging the regime, or as Tamer Mustafa describes this deformed hybrid mix, “authoritarian regimes either have no use for law and legal institutions or that law is applied instrumentally with courts as faithful agents of the regime.”[17] The abusive use of law by the regime can be realized more clearly after the 1952 coup when a military regime sized power in Egypt. Gamal Abdel Nasser and the free officers group established Egypt’s first “Republic” that consolidated civic powers and undermined judicial institutions. The new military regime during Nasser’s era annulled the Constitution and dissolved all political parties.[18] However, the regime during Sadat’s era had to face the reality that the rule-of-law is essential to attract the foreign investments that are necessary for economic development, especially after the 1970’s “infitah” and its landmark, the 1974 “October Paper” by Sadat, a document designed to open the Egyptian market to the world.[19] Another benefit of the rule-of-law was to “strengthen administrative discipline within the state’s own bureaucratic machinery.”[20] President Anwar Sadat used the rule-of-law during his attempts to eliminate “Power Centers” that were created in the country during President Gamal Abd al Nasser’s era.[21] President Sadat counted on the support of his increasing popularity after the 1973 War—that ultimately proved his legitimacy that was in question after Nasser’s sudden death in 1970. Sadat gained large support from the military institution and the people. Tamer Mustafa stated that:

“In the Egyptian case, both Nasser and Sadat came to the conclusion that centralized modes of monitoring did not produce reliable information about conduct of the state’s own administrative hierarchy. They both became concerned that they would fall victim to the emergence of alternative “power centers,” particularly within the military, the police, and the intelligence services.”[22]

President Sadat attempted to reinforce legal institutions to provide a stable controlled process in governing the state, and to secure a peaceful power transition that would avert power grabs. However, the sudden assassination of President Sadat in 1981 and his replacement by Vice President Hosni Mubarak did not allow time to implement the changes. Hosni Mubarak did not face any difficulties to start his Presidency smoothly, benefiting from the shock, fear, and uncertainty that followed Sadat’s death, which allowed him to reinforce “emergency laws” to gain additional powers. Gaining access to unlimited powers without real constitution and legislative supervision corrupted the regime and turned the state from institutions to person/s.

Louis XIV of France often stated that “L’tat, c’est moi” (I am the state). Hosni Mubarak, through his organized methods to deconstruct the state Constitution and custom-made legislations, took all powers from the states’ institutions to be concentrated in his hands he became the state. Mubarak, with over 30 years in power, insisted on the priority of economic development prior to democracy as a starting point for reform. Both Mustafa and Kienle argue that there is a lack of political liberties on many levels in the Egyptian political and economic life, and that Mubarak’s regime made intense systematic changes in the Egyptian state, that created as a result, a “virtual state” within the State, that has “real” control of Egypt. This “virtual state” materializes and exists in the President himself, a few people in the Office of the President, and the National Democratic Party (NDP) to form the state governing elites group. This “virtual state” functions through direct top-down personal orders from few individuals in instead of a much needed well established institutional system. Mustafa and Kienle’s analysis of the changes and what were alleged to be “reforms” in the Egyptian economic and political life—highlights quite clearly how Mubarak’s regime used all possible methods to adapt a set of laws and mechanisms that facilitates control of power, and does not allow any room for a real opposition.

In the Egyptian history, Pharaoh was God on earth to ancient Egyptian society. Mubarak also used this ancient psychology and culture, based on the submission to the ruler, to achieve his goals to remain in full control. Mubarak’s deformed governing hybrid mix has manipulated the Egyptian society that is dominated by youth. The demographic youth of Egypt can help explain the psychology and culture of the current generation of Egyptians. It provides an understanding of the directions of the current and future political environment. Egyptian society is a fairly young society with a median age of 24 (2009 est.)[23] The massive majority of Egyptians did not encounter the purported pre 1952 “Corrupt Kingdom.” The only image that younger generations and youth have seen is the repression of the current regime. Other elements that put limitations to Egyptians liberties can be traced to regime obstacles to freedom of association and freedom of expression.

The vast majority of powers are vested in the President with no direct influential participation from any other groups, including his own party, the NDP. Through time, the regime developed two powers: a formal and an actual one. For example, the NDP dominated the People’s Assembly invoked article 93 of the Egyptian Constitution, which states that “the people’s assembly shall be competent to decide upon validity of the membership of its members” to refuse court rulings that judges concluded that 226 seats of the People’s Assembly (over half of 444 in total) were invalid and disqualified in the 1995 Parliamentary elections.[24] The regime exploited the judicial institutions and used the courts to take a role in notorious reforms to reinforce a claim to ceremonial legal legitimacy.[25] However, the regime knows that rule-of-law can be a double-edged sword that can undermine the regime’s ability to have full control of the country. Therefore, it enforced a “State of Emergency” for no-good-reason other than to allow the regime extensive use of both State Security Courts (SSC) and State Emergency Security Courts as a parallel legal system that discards human rights and uses torture.[26] Furthermore, due to procedural delays, the regime often used Military Courts in civil cases. The initial claim was to speed-up the trial of terrorism cases. However, Military Courts have been used as an “airtight avenue for the regime to try its opponents,” trials carried out with judges/officers that are not required to be trained in law, and the trial may be held in secret with no right for an appeal.[27] While the ruling regime granted the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) significant independence from executive government control to allow it to protect freedoms and shield civil rights of the society from regime and state domination, the irony is that the SCC was challenged consistently by the executive ruling powers represented in the President or the cabinet ministers that eventually striped most of its powers and credibility as a safeguard for freedoms.[28] The SCC was another example of an independent institution that fell under the pressure of the regime, which caused it to be careful in issuing any rulings that can challenge the core validity of the regime or its ability to maintain political domination.[29] The Supreme Constitutional Court example provides evidence that the regime uses the SCC as an ornamental institution that provides lawful validity to it.

In this book review I highlighted the distortions of the Constitutional and the legislative institutions and their struggle in Egypt, and the hybrid that makes up the legislative model that Egypt adopted in a methodical way to guard the regime’s powers—while eliminating the hopes of any potential opposition. My arguments based on my reviews of both: Tamer Mustafa’s macro approach in The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt,[30] that discussed the constitutional changes and struggles in Egypt’s modern time and Eberhard Kienle’s micro approach in A Grand Delusion, Democracy and Economic Reform in Egypt [31] screening Egypt’s modern economic reforms and testing its connections to political changes. Both authors provided me a strong case for my arguments from two different points of view that meets at the same conclusion. They investigated some of the reasons that led to the current poor political and economic conditions. One main reason can be traced directly to the influence of President Mubarak himself and the military institution on limiting freedoms of the Egyptian civil society and freezing the constitution. The core argument of this analysis was that the Egyptian regime stripped the Parliament and the Constitution of their powers by limiting their responsibilities to oversee President and government performance. The Parliament and the Constitution became ceremonial establishments that provides legal legitimacy to the government and focuses on “substance” policy rather than “procedural” legitimacy. Furthermore, this analysis demonstrated through the Egyptian regime survivor narrative an “authoritarianism” model within the Egyptian political culture that was able to acclimatize itself to new modern settings that allows virtual “freedoms.”

 

References:


Government of Egypt: The Egyptian Constitution: http://www.egypt.gov.eg/english/laws/Constitution/introduction/CAdocument.aspx

Government of Egypt: The Egyptian Parliament:  http://www.parliament.gov.eg/English/default.htm

Kienle, Eberhard, A Grand Delusion, Democracy and Economic Reform in Egypt, London/New York: I. B. Tauris Publishers, 2000. 

Mustafa, Tamer, The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt. Cambridge University Press (2007)

Rawls, John, “The Law of Peoples,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 20, No. 1. (Autumn, 1993)


[1] John Rawls, “The Law of Peoples,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 20, No. 1. (Autumn, 1993), pp. 36-68

[2] Tamer Mustafa, The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt. Cambridge University Press (2007)

[3] Eberhard Kienle A Grand Delusion, Democracy and Economic Reform in Egypt, London/New York: I. B. Tauris Publishers (2000). 

[4]Government of Egypt: The Egyptian Parliament:  http://www.parliament.gov.eg/English/default.htm

[5] Ibid: http://www.parliament.gov.eg/English/AboutTheParlmanet/History/Al7aiahElNiabiah/

[6] Tamer Mustafa, The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt. Cambridge University Press (2007)

[7] Eberhard Kienle A Grand Delusion, Democracy and Economic Reform in Egypt, London/New York: I. B. Tauris Publishers (2000). 

[8] Tamer Mustafa, The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt. Cambridge University Press (2007) p. 20

[9] Ibid p.32

[10] Ibid p. 9,10

[11] Ibid p.218

[12] Eberhard Kienle A Grand Delusion, Democracy and Economic Reform in Egypt, London/New York: I. B. Tauris Publishers (2000). p. 2

[13] Ibid p. 197

[14] Ibid p. 23

[15] Ibid p. 200

[16] Ibid p. 162

[17] Tamer Mustafa, The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt. Cambridge University Press (2007) p.19

[18] Ibid p.4

[19] Ibid p.71

[20] Ibid p.20

[21] Eberhard Kienle A Grand Delusion, Democracy and Economic Reform in Egypt, London/New York: I. B. Tauris Publishers, 2000. P.23

[22] Tamer Mustafa, The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt. Cambridge University Press (2007) p. 34

[23] https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/EG.html

[24] Tamer Mustafa, The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt. Cambridge University Press (2007) p.160, 161

[25] Ibid p.20

[26] Ibid p.172

[27] Ibid.P.173

[28] Ibid.P.1

[29] Ibid p. 232

[30] Tamer Mustafa, The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt. Cambridge University Press (2007)

[31] Eberhard Kienle A Grand Delusion, Democracy and Economic Reform in Egypt, London/New York: I. B. Tauris Publishers (2000).





Democratization and Human Rights: Is Globalization “good” or “bad” for human rights? Can Globalization protect or promote human rights in the South? By: Rany Ibrahim

28 07 2009

Democratization and Human Rights

Is Globalization “good” or “bad” for human rights? Can Globalization protect or promote human rights in the South?

By: Rany Ibrahim

Is Globalization “good” or “bad” for human rights? I firmly believe that Globalization is important to the development of human rights in the South. Thinkers and philosophers ask many interesting and shocking questions such Amartya Sen’s question “do poor people care about democracy and political rights?”[1] Of course they do, they are similar to their counterpart in the rich West? They are too busy and distracted trying to survive during their daily life activities. Poor people don’t have the privilege to allocate enough if any time to plan such progressive political democratic transformation. Human rights are an advanced social progress that tends to happen once a person or a society secures basic human needs, which are commonly linked to economic rights. Improving people’s conditions in poor society is a key to build a foundation for democracy and freedoms. In Howard-Hassmann (2005) historical examples, the West did not obliged by international law or protects human rights during its own era of economic expansion with activities such as slavery, expel surplus populations, and colonization of other parts of the world, and yet the West expect better from the South? The South will need Western help to avoid using unnecessary means to achieve its own economic development, which will help in improving human rights and speed the democratization process. Howard-Hassmann (2005) agrees that we should not expect non-Western nations to follow the exact same path to the protection of human rights that the Western world followed. Nevertheless, it will lay down the foundation for a healthy strong start.

Human rights are a global concept, with the idea that all human beings, apart from their political affiliations, do belong to a single universal community. The developments and advancements of global communication networks amplified the radius of human rights philosophy and increased access to democracy. The global social order entered a new chapter with the progression of human rights from international to cosmopolitan forms of justice with the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. A new phase in the evolution of the global civil society was developed along with capitalism, liberalism, and globalization. These elements have affected social change within the World’s societies towards adopting a new development agenda. This new development agenda has a normative ground that economic development will lead to democracy. In this context, Jean Grugel states in her article that:

“States in the developing world are encouraged to carry out political reforms which fit the current notion of economic development through open trading, global integration and marketisation: the new development paradigm consists essentially of market economics and democratisation, understood as the introduction of liberal institutional reform (Gill 1995).”[2] 

Nations are linked to the global order, and the current global order is linked to globalization – we cannot isolate one from another. The universal concept of human rights and the right of humanitarian interventions overrides state boarders, and that “the sovereign of the state to dispose of life, liberty, and property of its citizens or residents in not unconditional or unlimited (Benhabib, 2006:29),”[3] it is simply a present day fact.

What is Globalization? McGrew, and his colleagues defines globalization as “a process (or set of processes) that embodies a transformation in the spatial organization of social relations and transactions, generating transcontinental or interregional flows and networks of activity, interaction, and power.”[4] The reason that Globalization has been under attack is because it has been claimed that it is “eating up traditional societies, local values, and local economies” (Howard-Hassmann, 2005). It has been linked to many short or medium-term negative effects that are quicker to prominent than its long-term benefits.  A comparison would be that it’s like a drug that will cause headache now, however it will cure cancer eventually.  The relationship between globalization and human rights cannot be predicted over such a short-time. The First Great Transformation of the industrial revolution lasted about 200 years (Howard-Hassmann, 2005:10).[5] However, during the Second Great Transformation of Globalization and modern economies, and with the current pace of the global information and communication technologies, it should be reasonable to expect faster progress within developing nations. Globalization has been integrated into multiple courtiers and societies around the World’s. A recent example would be South Korea. South Korea took fifty years to complete a transition from a dictatorship to a democracy.

Stick and carrot models work at times; the World Bank defined that aid that is linked to good governance motivates states. Some aid-dependent African countries use political change, market-led economic reform, and democratization as a way to leverage international aid agencies. Globalization through political and economic reform will help home-grown movements to model human rights and democracy with their conditions and culture (Grugel, 1999).[6] Globalization relationship to human rights can be seen in Howard-Hassmann positive relationship model; it is the third and more complicated version with variables between wealth and human rights. In this model, Globalization opens up markets; markets are the basis of the liberal economic order; the liberal economic order is the basis of democracy; democracy is the basis of human rights (Howard-Hassmann, 2005:15).[7]  

 

Figure I (c) Globalization Causes Human Rights: The Simple Model Further Complicated:
“globalization “> markets “> liberal economic order “> democracy “> human rights”[8]

Globalization “cannot be stopped,” it’s a natural progression through time. Asking if Globalization is “good” or “bad” is irrelevant. We are in a world that international organizations, multinational, and national corporations plays an important role in the state. I see globalization from a positive point of view; I see globalization from “let’s help them help themselves” prospective not as it is portrayed and sometimes wrongly used to justify “shock treatments” while imposing change on an unwilling society, Iraq for example. Perhaps the South does not need to wait a few hundred years to reach or catch-up with the Western world basic standards of human rights. Let us think that maybe the South “Want” and “Need” these rights now. It’s a shame that we are debating the “Goals” as if it’s a necessary or not to have human rights, and not the “Means” that what can we do to help them reach human rights. Yes, Globalization has its own problems, but as the first Minister of the Economy in post-transition Poland explained the country’s choice of economic model: “Poland is too poor to attempt experiments; we are following models used elsewhere. The rich countries are free to experiment if they wish” (quoted in Maravall 1996:102).[9] South, Third World, and Developing Countries are too poor to attempt experiments. They would rather save their energy to solve their immediate necessary problems and follow and adjust to their needs to Western models of development. Elections, human rights and pacification policies are tagged onto economic liberalisation and viewed essentially as a consequence of it (Grugel, 1999).[10]

 

Bibliography


Benhabib, Seyla. Another Cosmopolitanism: Hospitality, Sovereignty, and Democratic Iterations (Berkeley Tanner Lectures 2004), Oxford University Press (2006)

David Held & Anthony McGrew, with David Goldblatt & Jonathan Perraton, Globalization, 5 GLOBAL GOVERNANCE (1999).

Grugel, Jean. Development and Democratic Political Change in the South Journal of International Relations and Development: Volume 2, No. 4 (December 1999)

Howard-Hassmann, Rhoda E.The Second Great Transformation: Human Rights Leapfrogging in the Era of Globalization Human Rights Quarterly 27.1 The Johns Hopkins University Press. (2005)

Maravall, Jose Maria. Democratisation and Economic Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press (1996) .

Sen, Amartya. Development as Freedom. First Anchor Books (2000)

 


[1] Sen, Amartya. Development as Freedom. First Anchor Books (2000) P151

[2] Grugel, Jean. Development and Democratic Political Change in the South Journal of International Relations and Development: Volume 2, No. 4 (December 1999)

[3]Benhabib, Seyla. Another Cosmopolitanism: Hospitality, Sovereignty, and Democratic Iterations (Berkeley Tanner Lectures 2004), Oxford University Press (2006) P29

[4] David Held & Anthony McGrew, with David Goldblatt & Jonathan Perraton, Globalization, 5 GLOBAL GOVERNANCE 483, 483 (1999).

[5] Howard-Hassmann, Rhoda E.The Second Great Transformation: Human Rights Leapfrogging in the Era of Globalization Human Rights Quarterly 27.1 The Johns Hopkins University Press. (2005) p10

[6] Grugel, Jean. Development and Democratic Political Change in the South Journal of International Relations and Development: Volume 2, No. 4 (December 1999)

[7] Ibid p15

[8] Ibid p15

[9] Maravall, Jose Maria (1996) Democratisation and Economic Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press. P102

[10] Grugel, Jean. Development and Democratic Political Change in the South Journal of International Relations and Development: Volume 2, No. 4 (December 1999)





John Rawls, The Laws of Peoples by Rany Ibrahim

28 07 2009

Rawls Law of Peoples

 

“Peoples are equal and parties to their own agreements.”

John Rawls, The Laws of Peoples

By Rany Ibrahim

John Rawls, in his book The Law of Peoples, attempts to investigate the idea of a “Realistic Utopia.” Rawls starts by identifying the term “Peoples” and its use as a synonym for “Society of Peoples” that shares common ideals and principals based on a common social contract. Rawls lays down a guideline and a framework to define peoples through eight principles.[1] These principals provide a structure of justice in free democratic societies. In this essay, I will discuss the second principal, “Peoples are equal and parties to their own agreements,” to highlight some criticism of this concept, and focus on its relation to several main points. I will start by an attempt to provide an understanding to the definition of “Peoples” according to Rawls’s view, minorities’ rights within societies, immigration and people’s memberships in multi-societies, temporary and permanent peoples, the difference between peoples and states, and the right to self-determination and war within the international framework.

Rawls’s wide views of “Peoples” in public political culture have several government models that may be in forms of liberal democratic governments or non-liberal but “decent governments.” Rawls defines “Peoples” as sharing common values and “common sympathies” and connected by a collective sense of justice and good. Rawls states that “a society of Peoples is reasonably just in that its members follow the reasonably just Law of Peoples in their mutual relations.”[2] Rawls’s idea of public reason combines both moral and political values between government and citizens, as well as citizens and citizens.[3]

Rawls defines peoples as the parties who choose the law, which in many cases means that peoples might only represent the dominant majority and can disregard minorities’ rights or concerns. There is no assurance under Rawls’s theory that they will have to be, or need to be, represented. For example, he defines peoples as cohesive by “common sympathies” with a collective sense of justice and good, and justifies that lack of representation by minorities as acceptable, as long as they are living in “decent societies.” In a modern world, borders and distance are no longer an issue; people’s movements and immigration is more commonly practice among societies. In this sense, the immigrated societies will not necessarily have a common sympathy or collective sense of good by having various groups of immigrants from several backgrounds, ethnic groups or religions. National interest of a given society is the keyword that explains society’s common interests; when a group of people unites with selected principals or goals, they believe it represents their chosen identity. Peoples can have shared memberships in several groups that may result in conflicts. Rawls’s liberalism principals are not clear when it came through a modern or an international framework. These principles “Peoples are equal and parties to their own agreements,” at times, give flexibility to regimes that violate core human rights, such as equality and freedoms, especially when it comes to minorities to justify their practices since their agreements are not agreements of all the society. These agreements can be agreements of the majority of the society that, in some cases, suppresses minorities within the same society.[4]

Rawls’s approach of peoples would be considered unsatisfactory for modern times. I am an example of mobilization and cross-memberships in modern world. I was born and lived in Egypt and then decided to immigrate and live in Canada. I can relate myself to Allen Buchanan’s critique of Rawls when he stated:

Individuals often do not live their whole lives in the society into which they are born. What this means is that there is a need for principals that track individuals across borders-principals that specify the rights that individuals have irrespective of which society they happen to belong to, and which reflect the independence of individuals from any particular society.[5] 

When this argument referred to Rawls’s “Peoples are equal and parties to their own agreements” concept, it reveals weaknesses in his use of both terms: “equal” and “agreements.” In my case, I still feel that I belong to and am an active member in both societies, and that gave me a unique position to be a member in a majority group in one society and minority group in the other. Based on Rawls definition, I am a member in the “Peoples” group in the society that I am a majority in (Egypt), and non-member in the society that I am a minority in (Canada). As an immigrant, one is dealing with the state before dealing with peoples through the time that one takes to process an immigration application; one is going through bureaucracy of government regulations and assessments until one becomes a citizen. Subsequently, one starts at this point to deal with peoples or the unofficial body of the state that is called society.  This argument highlights the weakness in his position on this topic, and that a more comprehensive approach to peoples as “global citizens” can be more of a realistic approach, especially when it comes to basic human rights. The concept of peoples within Rawls Law of Peoples will face another challenge: there are “temporary peoples” and “permanent peoples”. Temporary peoples are peoples living within the society for a significant period of time, such as international students or foreigner workers. They can spend several years in a country, or even in some cases, become permanent residents that have some additional rights within the society.  In Rawls view, they may not have full rights that appear significant, such as political rights or the right to vote, form or participate in a political party. They have narrow restrictive rights, or sometimes, no rights, and in this case “Peoples” are not equal or parties to the society’s agreement.

According to Rawls, the main difference between peoples and states is that peoples do not have the same rights and recognition by the international community as do states. Rawls states that peoples differ from states in two essential respects. First, people do not have powers of autonomy conventionally associated with states, and do not have the right to war unless it is in self-defence. Second, states have the right of non-interference in their internal affairs, while in peoples, in contrast, there are minimal standards of human rights within societies’ internal affairs.[6] Rawls says that states are traditionally “conceived” and may not have “moral character,” while “Peoples” “who qualify” for membership in the society of peoples do have this moral character. Peoples, to Rawls, are societies which are politically organized, and the end result of this organization is the formation of a state. Rawls is walking a fine line when he attempts to differentiate between peoples and states; he draws a crucial distinction between both. The sense of the Law of Peoples theory “Peoples are equal and parties to their own agreements,”[7] is a reproduction to a hybrid model of both: first, Peoples are not organizations; second, peoples as organized groups are a state, which leads to this hybrid model. An example is that “Peoples” can be represented in the form of members of parliament (MPs), who are representing the majority of “Peoples” in the people’s assembly through political parties or organizations. Governments are the executive arm and the end result of this process, which is linked to peoples in his theory; government represents the state. As a result, if one does not qualify to be a member in this group of “Peoples” or one is a minority, s/he will not enjoy the equal rights that other parties have in their own agreements.

Rawls discusses religion and public reason in democracy. He is questioning legitimacy of regimes when “citizens holding religious doctrines as citizens of faith”[8] and thus might not be endorsed by the non-religious members of the society, or allied within the regime’s national interest. An important question arises about the position of secular groups within states in Rawls view. The concept of “Peoples” and the other group of peoples among peoples (religious groups for example) that creates societies that have common character can be as strong, or even at times stronger than, a regional or ethnic group. An example of this can be seen in the Christian and Muslim groups around the world that are united by common values and self-identity based on faith, which go beyond states’ geographic boundaries to create their own global community.  Also, conflicts can be so significant when they surface between secular groups and states. Rawls did not provide assurance of religious groups’ participation in the civil society, beyond society’s self-toleration in conjunction with a reasonable respect of main principals of justice.

Rawls’s ideas that non-organized peoples have the same rights as organized peoples within states are not clear when it comes to the position of minorities within these states. Buchanan’s argument in his “Vanished Westphilian World” essay states that people are “aware that increasingly the most serious and destructive conflicts occur within states, rather than between them.” [9] The international community might intervene in extreme cases of violations of human rights, such as genocide, but most likely will not interfere in other violations such as the right of equality, right of education or right of freedom, since in many cases they are considered to be state internal affairs. In particular, the right of self-determination, sovereignty or going to war – and I would argue here civil war – can be justified. Civil war starts when one of two groups of peoples (typically the minority group) within a larger group of peoples tends to think that they share different common values from the other group. Perceptions may vary among the two groups on the definition of this movement. To the first separatist group, it is a war of independence; to the other larger group, it is a civil war. It is more difficult to the international community to have a clear view of the war. For example, in former Yugoslavia, when Serbia and Bosnia, two provinces at that time, felt that they had the right to self-determination and independence, this ultimately resulted in war. This side of the argument confuses the governance model, and disrupts the real acting governing systems (provincial verses federal). Rawls will have to justify revolution from any internal group of peoples that believes that they have the right under these principles to be states and not just peoples within the existing states. This concept was challenged many times under international law, and allowed other internal or external parties to intervene. Another dimension to the same concept of the states’ right of war is that in modern times, it is not necessarily states that intervene; global organizations such as NATO or the United Nations can intervene whenever they feel it is necessary.

Societies can be economically self-sufficient units or politically homogeneous, not necessarily states. In Canada, Quebec is another example of peoples among peoples as the province wishes to be a state. When it comes to politics, Quebec has considerable representation federally. However, in the large scheme of things, Quebec does not have a real representation nationwide. Rawls creates a shadow line of government acting as a mirror to society that reflects many, if not most, of the segmented structural elements to government. The exception to this is that “Peoples” do not have the same powers, and some might feel that they have considerable reasons of unity amongst themselves, and disconnection among the larger peoples group that allows them to be separated as a state.

“Peoples are equal and parties to their own agreements” is a vague concept when we put the term “Peoples” in context and use it around minorities’ rights within societies, immigration and people’s memberships in multi-societies, temporary and permanent peoples, and the right to self-determination and war. Rawls’s governments’ legislations are acceptable within reasonable main elements that include basic rights and liberties, high priority for fundamental freedoms, and adequacy of freedoms. These elements are under conditions that represent citizens justly, reasonably, rationally, and deciding between available principles for appropriate reasons. Rawls tends to provide the feeling that the term “Peoples,” in his view, is inclusive of peoples in most common liberal societies or non-liberal decent states. However, in practice it excludes several groups for its essential general membership that is the fundamental core for both the society and the state. The basic human rights and the rights of each citizen were challenged several times in liberal constitutional democracies. Minorities’ rights, as well as people’s affiliations with groups, gave more complicated depth to Rawls’s “Peoples” definition in hierarchical societies. A comprehensive view of Rawls can reasonably endorse extending the idea of a social contract beyond “Peoples” as legitimate reasonable citizens to genuine reasonable citizens that are living in liberal comprehensive doctrine.

 

Bibliography

Buchanan, Allen. Rawls’s Law of Peoples: Rules for a Vanished Westphalian World. Ethics, Vol. 110, No. 4. (Jul., 2000), pp. 697-721. Symposium on John Rawls’s Law of Peoples.

Rawls, John. The Law of Peoples: With “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

 


[1] Rawls eight principals are:

1) “Peoples are free and independent, and their freedom and independence is to be respected by other peoples.”

 2) “Peoples are equal and parties to their own agreements.”

 3) “Peoples have the right of self-defense but no right to war.”

 4) “Peoples are to observe a duty of non-intervention.”

 5) “Peoples are to observe treaties and undertakings.”

 6) “Peoples are to observe certain specified restrictions on the conduct of war.”

 7) “Peoples are to honor human rights.”

 8) “Peoples have a duty to assist other peoples living under unfavourable conditions that prevent their having a just or decent political and social regime.”

Rawls, John. The Law of Peoples: With “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999 P37. 

[2] Rawls, John. The Law of Peoples: With “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999 P5.

[3] Ibid 132

[4] Rawls, John. The Law of Peoples: With “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

[5] Buchanan, Allen. Rawls’s Law of Peoples: Rules for a Vanished Westphalian World. Ethics, Vol. 110, No. 4. (Jul., 2000), pp. 697-721. Symposium on John Rawls’s Law of Peoples. P 698.

[6] Rawls, John. The Law of Peoples: With “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

[7] Rawls, John. The Law of Peoples: With “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

[8] Ibid, P149

[9] Buchanan, Allen. Rawls’s Law of Peoples: Rules for a Vanished Westphalian World. Ethics, Vol. 110, No. 4. (Jul., 2000), pp. 697-721. Symposium on John Rawls’s Law of Peoples. P 701.





CBC The Global Compact: Radio Interview with Rany Ibrahim

28 07 2009

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Global Compact. Rany Ibrahim, CEO of RSI Management Solutions in Sydney, has pledged to follow ten ethical business principles promoted by the United Nations. Ibrahim  (runs 7:48)






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