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Paul Salem
Vice President
The Middle East Institute
 To what degree Social Justice (SJ) issues
drivers of uprisings?
 What was understanding of SJ issues?
 How have uprisi...
 Politics is who gets what, when and how
(Lasswell); direct link to SJ
 Politics is about who has power and whose
intere...
 Repressive rentier crony capitalist states
 Limited economic growth with persistent
unemployment, poverty and perceived...
 Closing of political space
 Decline of political parties
 Decline of labor and leftist movements
 Islamic religious a...
 Socialist contract abandoned
 Revolutionary leader/regime promises of
‘transitional’ period toward future of
prosperity...
 Regional power had shifted to conservative
Gulf countries
 West mired in financial and economic
problems
 No external ...
 Solgan of: “‫اجتماعية‬ ‫عدالة‬ ،‫حرية‬ ،‫”عيش‬
◦ Bread, Freedom, Social Justice
 SJ as equal opportunity and fairness (...
 Achieving SJ as fairness implies emphasis on
governance structure, anti-corruption, lifting
repression, reforming power ...
 Spearheaded by urban middle class youth
 Joined by other classes and sectors of society
◦ Middle class
◦ Working and un...
 Consensus on removal of dictator
 But conflict of visions and interests on other
aspects of transition
 no vision of a...
 Uprisings without parties and without leaders
 Did not generate new parties or leaders to
build on the uprisings and ca...
 Some led toward glimmers of democracy,
others deteriorated into civil war
 Elements of Divergence:
◦ National cohesion
...
 Demands for political change and social
justice met with full repression
 Protest movement turns into armed conflict.
...
 Issues of SJ aggravated by
◦ Shift from old socialist commitments to neo liberal
policies.
◦ Marginalization and repress...
 SJ and political grievances become entangled
in sectarian and regional tensions.
 External support enables quick repres...
 SJ issues of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment,
water scarcity turn into elite conflict among
tribal and regional leader...
 Islamist party wins elections
 More moderate and pragmatic leadership as
compared to Egyptian MB; Strong labor movement...
 Islamists choose exclusion and consolidation
 Alienate other parties and elements of regime
 Reproduced patterns of co...
 Emphasis on security and stability
 New constitution includes much on SJ and
promises large public outlays
 Technocrat...
 Has current popularity to consider
transformative decisions
 So far no clear or new socio-economic vision
 Not clear w...
 Transitions always difficult and take time
 Economic decline on average five years
 Arab transitions rougher than most...
 Absence of a clear vision, even among
thinkers, as to necessary way forward.
 Absence of significant party or coalition...
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Situating social justice within the broader context of MENA transitions

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Presentation by Paul Salem (Middle East Institute) at the ERF 20th Annual Conference - Cairo, 24 March 2014

Publié dans : Actualités & Politique
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  • really amazing analysis that suites non-specialists. thanks
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Situating social justice within the broader context of MENA transitions

  1. 1. Paul Salem Vice President The Middle East Institute
  2. 2.  To what degree Social Justice (SJ) issues drivers of uprisings?  What was understanding of SJ issues?  How have uprisings and transitions impacted SJ?  What is interplay between Politics and SJ?  Prospects for SJ 3 years after uprisings?
  3. 3.  Politics is who gets what, when and how (Lasswell); direct link to SJ  Politics is about who has power and whose interests are served  Transitions presumably should lead to Democracy  In Theory, democracy should improve SJ  In Practice, it might and it might not  And transitions could lead to state failure or renewal of autocracy, as well as democracy
  4. 4.  Repressive rentier crony capitalist states  Limited economic growth with persistent unemployment, poverty and perceived growing inequality  Large public sector and constrained private sector  Declining public services and welfare programs  Youth bulge
  5. 5.  Closing of political space  Decline of political parties  Decline of labor and leftist movements  Islamic religious and social movements occupy social space
  6. 6.  Socialist contract abandoned  Revolutionary leader/regime promises of ‘transitional’ period toward future of prosperity and freedom abandoned  Regimes settle back into dynastic security states  Adopt rhetoric and façade of democracy as alternative false legitimacy  Adopt neo liberal economics and advertise GDP growth
  7. 7.  Regional power had shifted to conservative Gulf countries  West mired in financial and economic problems  No external support structure for transitions ◦ Central and eastern Europe had EU; even Turkey had EU accession talks.  Rather, regional and international proxy competition; without the old social issues of the Soviet-Western cold war.
  8. 8.  Solgan of: “‫اجتماعية‬ ‫عدالة‬ ،‫حرية‬ ،‫”عيش‬ ◦ Bread, Freedom, Social Justice  SJ as equal opportunity and fairness (Rawls?) ◦ Against cronyism and corruption that creates skewed and unfair outcomes  SJ as Outcomes ◦ bread, jobs, housing, health care.
  9. 9.  Achieving SJ as fairness implies emphasis on governance structure, anti-corruption, lifting repression, reforming power relations etc. ◦ i.e. requires movement toward democracy  Achieving SJ as outcomes implies better management of resources and policy from state; ◦ i.e. can theoretically be achieved within authoritarian framework.
  10. 10.  Spearheaded by urban middle class youth  Joined by other classes and sectors of society ◦ Middle class ◦ Working and underclass ◦ Youth ◦ Women ◦ Rural marginalized  In some cases enabled by disgruntled members within the regime and economic elites
  11. 11.  Consensus on removal of dictator  But conflict of visions and interests on other aspects of transition  no vision of a new social contract or the necessary socio-economic restructuring  Unlike ‘revolutions’ of 1950s which also called for bread and social justice but had a comprehensive alternative socio-economic vision  Socio-economic vision of 2011 ‘revolutions’ still un-enunciated
  12. 12.  Uprisings without parties and without leaders  Did not generate new parties or leaders to build on the uprisings and carry their ‘message’ into power  Older parties and leaders picked up the pieces after the uprisings
  13. 13.  Some led toward glimmers of democracy, others deteriorated into civil war  Elements of Divergence: ◦ National cohesion ◦ Regime cohesion and decisions ◦ Strength and leadership of political parties ◦ Strength of civil society ◦ External environment
  14. 14.  Demands for political change and social justice met with full repression  Protest movement turns into armed conflict.  With External intervention, leads to collapse of regime and state  Post-uprising reality: no central state institutions to address SJ issues
  15. 15.  Issues of SJ aggravated by ◦ Shift from old socialist commitments to neo liberal policies. ◦ Marginalization and repression of old rural power bases ◦ Rising corruption, inequality and repression  Regime response to protests turns into civil war  Issues of SJ sidelined by inflamed sectarian and ethnic atavisms,  and by regional and international proxy conflict  Socio-economic indicators in downward free fall.
  16. 16.  SJ and political grievances become entangled in sectarian and regional tensions.  External support enables quick repression  Reversion to status quo ante
  17. 17.  SJ issues of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, water scarcity turn into elite conflict among tribal and regional leaders  Transition and national dialogue essentially a reshuffle among elites  Horizontal not vertical negotiations  Yet, Yemen avoids collapse or disintegration  SJ issues still on the table, but Yemen does not have the resources or governance capacity to address them
  18. 18.  Islamist party wins elections  More moderate and pragmatic leadership as compared to Egyptian MB; Strong labor movement and civil society  Islamists take path of inclusion and negotiation  Parties arrive at consensus over constitution and way forward.  Some success in managing public finances and beginning subsidy reform  Reasonably placed to address SJ issues  Some political consensus, manageable finances, governance capacity and relatively small population
  19. 19.  Islamists choose exclusion and consolidation  Alienate other parties and elements of regime  Reproduced patterns of corruption and repression  No coalitions or will to undertake needed fiscal and economic measures  Deterioration of national unity and security  Deterioration of socio-economic indicators
  20. 20.  Emphasis on security and stability  New constitution includes much on SJ and promises large public outlays  Technocratic government manages transition  But unable to undertake transformative decisions
  21. 21.  Has current popularity to consider transformative decisions  So far no clear or new socio-economic vision  Not clear what alliances and ruling coalition he will assemble: relations with business class, regime elements, middle class, lower class, youth?  Egypt in difficult position to address SJ issues: ◦ Stretched public finances, large population, sluggish governance, no clear coalition for reform
  22. 22.  Transitions always difficult and take time  Economic decline on average five years  Arab transitions rougher than most  In some cases led to complete state collapse or civil war  SJ has taken a back seat to political, ideological, and in some cases sectarian issues  SJ indicators have regressed in all cases to different degrees
  23. 23.  Absence of a clear vision, even among thinkers, as to necessary way forward.  Absence of significant party or coalition that can carry SJ issues forward  But SJ issues will remain fundamental drivers of political demand and pressures  Successful leaders and parties will be those that can enunciate vision and build coalitions to address SJ issues  Rulers that ignore them, do so at their own peril  Role of ERF and groups like it to develop the required vision and necessary policies to address these issues.

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