Islamic State v. Capitalism

November 10, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi (Abdul.Kundi@GMail.Com)

Capitalism is the economic manifestation of secular democracy. In its ideal form, a capitalist society should have free markets, no price control, no regulations, no barriers to entry or exit, and free flow of capital. This idealistic view of capitalism was never in practice but was credited with the rise of the west. In the early 1990s after the collapse of the communist Soviet Union, it was aggressively pushed for universal adoption as part of the new world order. In the early part of the 21st century, the failure of the west to contain their economic recession has stalled this effort. On the other hand, the Arab Spring has taken everyone by surprise and the question that comes to mind is whether this movement would produce an alternative Islamic economic model.

The classic definition of capital is land, labor and equipment. It is the interplay of these three resources that define an economy. In the 20th century, land and labor was provided by the colonized regions of Asia, Africa and South America while the technology and equipment was the domain of the west. After the end of the Second World War, exhausted imperial powers had to reluctantly allow independence to their dominions. Since the prime mover for colonization was economics, a two-pronged strategy was adopted to maintain their control, i.e. introduction of a global corporation and support for autocratic proxy rulers.

Like the Frankenstein’s monster, the global corporations did not have allegiance to any one nation but rather were driven to achieve higher profits for their investors. Growth in profitability could be achieved in one of two ways. First, reduce per unit cost through pursuing economies of scale by building ever larger factories and automation. This made it impossible for the small guys to compete and forced them to go out of business, severely affecting local economies. Second, relocating plant and equipment where the labor was cheaper or raw material was in abundance. This started a process of imparting some of the industrial knowledge to emerging economies like South Korea, Japan, Brazil, India, China and Singapore.

In a truly capitalist world there should be free flow of labor across borders. It is ironic that it was the capitalist societies that introduced, for the first time in human history, a visa regime creating barriers to the free flow of labor. A brain drain from the third world to the developed world enabled them to staff their companies with the best talent without spending a dime on their education. This created an imbalance in the distribution of humanity, seeding an impending ecological disaster. Africa, which was plundered for the last two centuries for its natural and mineral riches, was left with a large population, no infrastructure or organized societies to cope with famine and food shortages. On the other hand, Europe is faced with declining populations. It is estimated that the nation of Estonia will disappear from the face of the earth by 2050. Asia is experiencing rising populations that are eager to migrate to Europe, Australia and the US, which can accommodate many more people.

In a free world there is no place for most favored nation (MFN) status or need for a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Nations can impose a uniform tariff on all imports rather than discriminate based on the origin of the goods. The imposition of favorable terms has become a political instrument to meddle in the internal affairs of other nations or to pressure them to accept a certain definition of human rights. The Islamic concept of trade requires free flow of goods across borders and respect for intellectual rights.

As new nations emerged in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, they were ruled by autocratic rulers that got their weapons and support from their former colonists. These rulers granted special mining rights to international companies that made them dependent on foreign technologies rather than developing it indigenously. The petro-dollars earned were stuffed into private bank accounts in offshore banks, enriching a select elite rather than filtering down to the masses. This hampered the development of a middle class that are traditional torchbearers of establishing democratic societies. This produced societies that were dependent on a subsistence level stipend from the government and devoid of entrepreneurial energy. This status quo got a jolt last year with the advent of an Arab Spring that overthrew their shackles, demanding a voice in national affairs. This is now trickling down to the west, challenging the basis of capitalism and seeking an alternative.

The Islamic concept of economy requires minimal interference from the state to impose restrictions on the movement of labor or capital. An Islamic state is required to maintain a balanced budget. Taxes should be kept at a level so as to finance the functions of a government that are limited to border security, internal security, provision of justice, ensuring equal rights of the citizens and development of basic infrastructure. In an Islamic society, social services like education and healthcare are the responsibility of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) created and run by wealthy and professional individuals. These NGOs are required to be non-profit, self-sustaining operations where the rich pay higher prices for services while the poor are subsidized or even given free service. It is a concept practiced by the Sindh Institute of Urology (SIUT), Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital or Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

Individuals have complete liberty in investing their capital in whichever manner they see fit and have complete control of their property without any conditions imposed by the state. Individuals are required to be active investors in businesses rather than seek a fixed return in the form of interest. This is a concept similar to the venture capital industry in the US where wealthy individuals not only offer capital but advice to start-up companies. Islam does not look down upon accumulation of wealth. Instead, it defines wealth as one of the blessings of God and a test for individuals to manage it wisely for the benefit of themselves and society at large. Islam does look down upon exhibitionism, consumerism and waste, while it encourages modesty in daily life. It prefers wealthy individuals to engage in active participation in charity by not only giving money but also engage in its decision making. To reduce income inequality, Islam imposes a social tax in the form of Zakat that is mandatory and must be distributed to the poor segments of society.

As capitalism loses its universal appeal, it is an opportunity for Islamic intellectuals to offer an alternative that is more natural, equitable and social.


III. A Progressive Israeli Argument for the Two-State Solution

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

San Francisco–Home at last!  Home at last with a thick new notebook.

During the past week (6th-12th), the initial reports were that the casualties of the Palestinian demonstrators at the Syrian border by the Jewish Strata on  the Golan Heights has increased to twenty-seven — mowed down with live bullets from the other side of the barbed wire with several seriously wounded, furthermore,  by the by the IDF (the Israeli Defense Force) at the express orders to employ the ultimate violence against the non-violent demonstrators from the Prime Minister (P.M.) Netanyahu. In North Africa the rebels are hedging more closely to Tripoli, the Libyan nation’s traditional capital…  Although Gaddafi has been accused of rape as a weapon war by his soldiers, the “Colonel” has stated,” I’ll stay in Tripoli whether I live or die!’  While two Imperial powers, Britain and France, are preparing a resolution in United Nations (U.N.) condemning Damascus for their brutality in their civil war.  Incidentally, Libya and Syria have been two of the most obnoxious to the West, and “taking out” President Assad would be a great relief to the Israeli Prime Minister, for they one of the few nations’ in the expanse (since they are neighbors) who could provide a MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) to Tel Aviv overbearing nuclear arsenal in the Negev .

As your composer has stated earlier, he believes the success or failure of the Arab “Spring” will depend upon the reaction of the Israeli government.   If they act diplomatically, there can be a tremendous blossoming of Arab-style democracies; if they respond in a belligerent manner there will be an appalling conflict, and, with nuclear weapons involved, it can be as great a disaster as Hiroshima, and with the closeness of Israel to its neighbors it can only destroy the nuclear State to unimaginable consequences.

This is the third installment with the Israeli General, their Ministry of Justice bureaucrat and Jeremy Ben-Ami of J-Street in the United States who was in Washington at the time of the call:

The two Israeli citizens pointed out that Palestine is unstable at the moment.  (Unfortunately, that is true, but it is true that it is overwhelmingly caused by the Zionist expansion upon Arab land!)    The General believes that the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation is not a threat, for under his analysis, he deems Hamas to be weak, (but under your author’s assay Hamas  is a substantial opponent  to the Israeli hegemony over the region, for, although Tel Aviv and Cairo had been doing their best to execute the sway of the Palestinian mini-strip on the sea, your researcher is of the opinion that Gaza quintessentially defeated the Hebrew-speaking Army in their Cast Iron operation against the Palestinian mini-State by exposed to the world Jerusalem’s vicious violence to an ultimately defenseless populace; thus, turning the prevailing global popular “good” opinion away from the Zionist’s position towards their opponents for the land, the indigenous Palestinians.)  

One of Israeli incentives for joining in on the dialogue with Ramallah in the company of the Quartet (the United States, the U.N., the European Union (E.U.) and the Russian Federation) as interlopers is, although there are many differences of opinion regarding Hamas, Tel Aviv wishes to isolate and prevent them from capturing the total “Occupied” Territories’ in the next elections which they have a very good chance of accomplishing with the depopulation of the Christians and the Islamization of Palestine herself.  Even so, there are talks amongst the original inhabitants of the Holy Land (for most of the Palestinians there are the direct descendants of the ancient residents of their geographic district, whereas the majority of the Jews had been Europeanized with a mixture of the Jewish diaspora who had fled Spain to the region mainly within the border districts of modern Poland and Russia wherein they had intermixed with the Yalta converted (Jews) of the Ninth Century (I most not this historically scenario is highly disapproved by Jewish scholars in Jerusalem as is the Night Ride of the Prophet (s); and, thus, Israel can be perceived as a Settler Colonial State and must be amalgamated into the Middle East) to be accepted.  Further The Quartet must integrate Hamas into the elections (if it is not done, it would be hard to describe these forthcoming `polls to be free and fair.  What is so interesting about the advancement of the Palestinians’ cause is that, finally, they are on the world’s “radar, and that it coincides” with  the Arab “Spring,” and it has many elements.  (It must be kept in mind, that, Palestine is central to the Arab’s ideology, and, although it is on the fringes of West Asia, it is well near the “center” of the Arab-speaking humanity which extends from the full of North Africa into the Arabian West and Saudi Arabia itself, the homeland of Islam, and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in the Persian (or Arab, as it is, also called,) Gulf on the East.         

Tara Hassan, of the Israeli Ministry of Justice is, also, a leader for “true” Justice within her homeland.     She urged that the Palestinian Prime Minister (P.M.) Mahmoud Abbas, be granted concessions, reiterating the Israeli bugaboo, to avoid Hamas administrating the West Bank.  (It is interesting to note the great fear of almost all Israelis – either on the Right or Left – is their irrational fear of Islamism, and seems to be a driving force to lean their Commonweal to the Left which is a hopeful sign for an agreement to the conundrum and the especially for the long-term future of the Palestinians themselves.  Although she describes herself as a Zionist, for her, a Zionist does not have to be on the political Jewish-wing.  “Only a two-State Solution will save Israel,” too.  Hassan, further, states that “…We should take every opportunity [to convince] the people of Israel!”  Sharoni interjects that we should present to the Israeli public” the necessity of the two—State Solution!  As often as possibility, for the people (here) have an unfounded fear of the Arab “Spring,” (and that is driving internal policy there, too).  

Why are we spending so much time looking at non-Muslim Israel — because it is the dominant dominion within the Middle East – due to the policy of America arming its pariah client to the hilt?  (The citizens of the U.S.A. have a grave duty to extricate their own nation from this enigma to which they themselves have created, and to become a force for peace among these environs.)

Whatever is happening within the halls of Tel Aviv will have a dramatic effect within the Arabic al-Islam!