Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Egypt: Revolutionary Process and Global Capitalist Crisis

Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Egypt: Revolutionary Process and Global Capitalist Crisis

Article excerpt

Abstract: The upheaval that has swept the Arab world, beginning in December 2010, reached Egypt on January 25, 2011. The article argues that capitalist globalization and ultimately the 2008 global financial crisis were main causesof the uprising. The Mubarak regime's privatization schemes exacerbated poverty and widened the already huge gap between rich and poor. Mubarak employed repression to ensure that no effective political opposition would materialize to challenge his authoritarian rule and crony capitalism. Strikes and demonstrations beginning in 2006 and the lead up to the uprising demonstrated that the fight for democracy and economic justice had been intertwined. The ouster of Mubarak has not improved the economic situation for the majority of the population and authoritarian rule remained under the military and since the election of the Islamist President Morsi. Popular resistance continues against the Islamists in power to bring about a secular regime that would establish democracy and economic justice.

Keywords: Muslim Brothers, trajectories of resistance, Infitah, privatization, Arab upheaval, global capitalism


Since December 2010 the Arab world has entered an unprecedented period of political change. The Egyptian uprising remains one of the most significant political developments of the twenty-first century. Was the uprising part of a global process of resistance to a capitalist world system that culminated in a general financial and economic crisis? Was it merely a consequence of repression and authoritarian rule under Mubarak? Was it a combination of internal and external factors in the context of global capitalism?

Global Capitalism and Crisis

Global capitalism is in a state of crisis and decline (Amin 2011b). The end of the nineteenth century is when the decline began. That was when "the destructive dimensions of accumulation now won out, at a growing rate, over its progressive, constructive dimension" (ibid.: 3). The decline was expressed "in the first wave of wars and revolutions" of the twentieth century (ibid.). The reconstruction of the capitalist system after World War II ended the crisis. However, the 1970s saw the beginning of "a second, long structural crisis of the system" (ibid.). The recovery that ensued lasted from 1990 to 2008 (ibid.: 5).

Wallerstein (2003) contends that chaos in the global capitalist system is pervasive and resistance to the domination of the Triad (the US, Europe and Japan) has spread and is more visible. So has been the capitalist system's decline (29). Witness, for instance, the current economic and financial crisis of the European Union, on the one hand, and the resistance to NATO's military interventions, on the other. The "third wave of devastation of the world imperialist expansion" right after the demise of the Soviet Union is readily observable in the military interventions of NATO and the US and its allies. Those military interventions have occurred to put a stop to the decline through the control of markets, super-exploitation of labor power, and "looting" natural resources (ibid.). Foster (2006) observed that in the Clinton presidency, "neoliberal globalization and geopolitics governed foreign policy, but the former often took precedence" (11). However, in the George W. Bush presidency the reverse held true (ibid.). Feffer (2003) stresses the same point as he lays out neo-conservative ideology and unilateral strategy in pursuit of US geopolitical strategy, which focused on "Full Spectrum Dominance" (Mahajan, 2003). The war on terror was essentially a war to maintain control over or capture additional resources in the global South (Rogers, 2004). Amin (2001) also shows the relationship between the imperial project and globalization led by the US to secure its dominance of global capitalism.

Furthermore, Wallerstein (2011) argues that by the 1990s the attacks on the welfare state intensified compared to the 1970s when those attacks began (35). …

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