The International Politics of the Middle East

By Raymond Hinnebusch | Go to book overview

4
State formation and international behaviour

Primitive state-building

State-building is the effort of rulers to institutionalise state structures capable of absorbing expanding political mobilisation and controlling territory corresponding to an identity community. In the Middle East, the flaws built into the process from its origins have afflicted the states with enduring legitimacy deficits (Hudson 1977). Because imperialism drew boundaries that haphazardly corresponded to identity, installed client elites in them and created the power machineries of the new states, state elites, long after independence, continued to depend on external protection and on resources provided by external powers or markets rather than raised domestically through consent; as such, most Middle East states were and remain relatively less accountable to domestic society than where they are indigenous products.

State-building was accompanied by class conflict because imperialism had fostered dominant classes that privately appropriated the means of wealth production, notably land at the expense of peasantries or natural resources (petroleum), stimulating plebeian revolts and political mobilisation which fragile state structures could not initially contain. Later, state-building meant the expansion and indigenising of imported instruments of rule used in 'primitive power accumulation', a typically violent process entailing the co- optation of some social forces and the exclusion of others. Only gradually after 1970 did many individual states come to enjoy increased stability as rentier monarchies and authoritarian republics were relatively consolidated as the two dominant forms of state in the Arab world. Neither type of regime, however, effectively resolved

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