By Dr. Ali Kadri: Downward Development Spiral in the Arab World:

Imperialist Hegemony and the Return of Merchant Capital. Capital in the Arab World (AW), viewed in its dimension of consuming and allocating resources, has edged close to a mercantilist mode of accumulation whose principal characteristic is the near absence of positive intermediation between private and public wealth, literally it leaves behind the progressive side of capitalism. The merchant mode of accumulation revolves around quick private gains and does not require productive reinvestment in society, the usurpation of value by financial means is a subsidiary outcome. The practice of merchant capital mimics that of financial capital, in the sense that money is transmuted into money without much involvement in production processes: M-M', Rentier or rent-grab maybe too general a categorisation, it is transmuted into money without much involvement in production processes: M-M'. Rentier or rent-grab maybe too general a categorisation, it is also something of a misnomer, meant to support an ad hominem and faux-nationalist argument which conceals the fact that value transfers away from the working classes in the AW are conducted by national as well as by US-led international financial capital. The resurrected merchant mode of accumulation is a reincarnation of medieval merchantilism in a modern guise and, as was pointed out quite early in the industrial age, 'wherever merchant capital still predominates we find backward conditions, (Marx, vol. III, p. 327). The degeneration in social and political rights, including the status of women, is a vivid manifestation of the social retrogression driven by the ebbing of industrial culture in much of the AW. The broader context from which this condemnation stems is as follows: The independent development of merchant's capital there fore stands in inverse proportion to the general economic development of society (Marx, Capital Vol. III, p327). A qualification is in order to allow for the juxtaposition. Save slavery, imperialist aggression, and colonial genocide, the evolution from the merchant mode as Venetian traders began to control and own upstream cottage-scale or small manufacturing undertakings represented progress and a turning point in the organization of social production around labour (Engels, 1891). Integrating the merchant mode with an industrial one designated a cultural step forward-culture here meaning the universal store of humanity's knowledge.
The AW has de-industrialized under the combined effects of war and neoliberalism. What has occurred in the AW is the gradual disengagement of national industrial capital from commercial capital, after which commerce bereft of industrialization became the dominant mode. Value usurpation policies, inherently uneven development, blocking the homogenisation of labour, and value grab by imperialist conquest are some of the processes that have underpinned the resurrection of merchant capital in this instance. Here I am relying on Meszaros' notion that capital as a social relationship regulates its metabolic rate of reproduction in relation to value destruction /grab and value creation, albeit within a context of class struggle and its associated power structure. (Mezaros, 1995).

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