The Middle East Needs Capitalism!


doing god's work

The Centre for Policy Studies' CapX, a news service "for popular capitalism," has a piece up by Guy Sorman making the case that as a religion, Islam is a far more "pro-business faith" than Christianity (having been founded by a trader and lacking a so-called "idealization of poverty"), and that only popular capitalism can save the Arab world. Sorman rightly identifies the root of the "Arab Spring" protests of 2011:

[The Arab Spring's] true origins should never be forgotten: the economic frustration of the people. The hero  of the uprising was a young Tunisian student by the name of Mohamed Bouazizi who tried to start a modest business by selling fruits and vegetables on a street cart. After he was arrested by police for not showing the right bureaucratic authorisation, Bouazizi committed suicide by setting himself on fire.

Spontaneously identifying themselves with Bouazizi, young Arabs by the millions took to the streets all over the Arab world. The revolt was most acute in Egypt where, not by coincidence, popular capitalism happened to be the most severely repressed under Hosni Mubarak. A survey by the noted Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, before the Arab Spring,  revealed how opening a modest bakery in Cairo required two and a half years in order to obtain all the necessary legal documents, most of them delivered by petty and corrupt state bureaucrats. The creation of a larger business which might have a chance of competing with a state monopoly proved to be forbidden in Egypt. With varying degrees, this remains the prevalent situation in all Arab countries.

Sorman argues, correctly, that there can be no peace in the Middle East so long as the governments in the region repress people's economic ambitions.

The whole thing is worth a read here and provides an interesting perspective on what kind of relationship with the U.S. would most benefit the region (peaceful trade, hardly a component of "isolationism").

Via the Twitter feed of Daniel Hannan, a Conservative member of the European parliament who represents a portion of England.

Related: Reason on occupational licensing.