Arab Forum For alternatives think tank seeks to perpetuate the values of scientific thinking in Arab societies, and is working to address issues of political, social and economic development in the framework of the traditions and rules of scientific, away from the language of incitement and propaganda, in the framework of respect for political contexts and social systems, as well as universal human values. It is working to provide space for the interaction of experts, activists and researchers interested in issues of reform in the Arab region, governed by scientific principles and respect for diversity, is also keen Forum to offer policy alternatives and the potential social, not just hoped for the decision maker and the elites of different political and civil society organizations, in the framework of respect for the values of justice and democracy .
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Capitalism has since the Industrial Revolution presented itself as the only way towards human progress and the ideal social system. According to capitalist ideologies, society is basically run by the elite in the form of those specialized in political and management sciences, finance, accountancy, and economics, which means a separation between the production process and the management process. In other words, society will be separated from the centers of wealth and profit accumulation or will be deprived of its collective production. This system is not new, for it is only a modern version of societies that were divided according to class and social status. The main difference now is that the gap between classes is widening in an unprecedented manner, which divided societies into a minority that controls wealth and authority and is surrounded by a group of technocrats and politicians who defend its ideologies on one hand and a majority that works nonstop and is constantly marginalized and deprived of its rights on the other hand. This is done in most of the North under democratic systems and in most of the South under totalitarian regimes.
Globalization, neoliberal policies, market economy, and austerity measures played a major role in deepening the rift between different classes in society and so did the marginalization of workers and the deterioration of public services. As a result of the alarming level of social disparities, goal number 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals for year 2030 is reducing inequalities among and within countries.
Any analysis of class struggle leads to the political and economic theory of dialectical materialism, also known as Marxism. According to this theory, history can be understood through class struggle in which one class exploits another, which becomes obvious in master-slave, noble-commoner, employer-worker relations or simply persecutor- persecuted relations. These classes have always been at war together and this war ends either with a revolution that transforms the entire society or with the collapse of both classes.
Despite technological, scientific, and industrial advances, gaps between the rich and the poor still persist and the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few is seen in stark contrast to abject poverty suffered by the majority who do not have access to basic needs such as food, water, clothing, and shelter.
This book is comprised of articles and papers that tackle the issue of social disparities in terms of concepts, definitions, manifestations as well as the role of protests, the intervention of international financial institutions, environmental problematics, and the empowerment of women. Emphasis is laid on social disparities in a number of Arab countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen, Oman, and Jordan.
The book is divided into three parts. The first part tackles the concepts and its different perspectives. Through three papers in which the Moroccan thinker Dr. Mohamed Said Saadi presents a paper on the concept in different schools of thought and the main problematics that it is facing in the Arab reality. In addition, the Egyptian human rights activist Mr. Khalid Ali presents visions on the role protests in affecting social disparities in the Arab region, and about the responsibility of international financial institutions in aggravating social disparities in our region writes the Tunisian parliamentarian and economic researcher Fathi Chamkhi. While in the second part, a group of researchers from different countries in the region presents case studies for their countries that they are Egypt, Tunisia, Oman, and Yemen. As for the Third part, it raises the effects of these disparities on social categories and issues, and through two chapters, the book tackles women as an example for the affected categories and Environment as an example of the issues affected by disparities. AFA through its Research team presents an analysis conclusion for the book building upon what was tackled in the book to crystalize the most important causes and manifestations of social disparities. Moreover, as a trial for widening margins for participation with different opinions and ideas on that issue, the book adds as an appendix a group of articles that was presented during the conference that was held on the same issue in Tunisia in September 2016.
Underlining the drawbacks of the capitalist system and looking into alternative economic solutions started with a number of initiatives that began in the 19th century. These included the Paris Commune in 1871 and before it farmers’ revolts against feudalism, the Russian Revolution in 1917, the revolutionary waves of the 1920s and 1930s, and the alternative economic models initiated by workers and professionals in the late 20th century and the early 21st century. All these uprisings, initiatives, and efforts revolved around the possibility of establishing a humane system in which the well-being of people takes precedence over profit and the accumulation of wealth.
For the past 150 years, alternative economy featured prominently in different initiatives on participatory democracy, self-administration, cooperatives, and the role of the community in municipalities. In some cases, alternative constitutions and legislations were drafted. All such initiatives underlined the possibility of devising a new approach to the social, economic, and political management of society and which prioritizes public interests. The emergence of alternative solutions is directly linked to the destructive impact of capitalism on the social, political, and economic levels and the subsequent urgency of seeking a different route in which people can overcome impoverishment and marginalization and counter the intervention of institutions, governments, and different forms of authority even if this needs to materialize through radical revolutionary action.
The Arab region was, like many parts of the world, affected by the neoliberal ideology that is marketed as the only economic solution. This ideology was dealt a strong below upon the eruption of the 2011 revolutions. True, those revolutions did not achieve their goals and neoliberal policies made a brutal comeback following a short interruption, yet seeking alternative patterns never lost its urgency as the repercussions of neoliberalism become more visible and more detrimental. It also became clear that traditional dualities—the state versus companies, the technocratic versus the ideological, the pragmatic versus the idealistic—are no longer valid since they all support the “there is no alternative” discourse.
The book examines the different types of alternatives offered by social movements in the Arab region throughout the few past years and looks into different international trends that focus on formulating an alternative economic theory that tackles the issues of ownership, accountability, communal participation, decision-making, and the environment. Papers and articles in the book focus specifically on the relationship between alternative economy and social justice and the different frameworks of alternative economies in the Arab region. The book also examines the actual experiences of several Arab countries especially in relation to cooperatives and self-administration. These countries are Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Lebanon. Experiences from other countries will be tackled in more general terms such as Algeria.
The book is divided into an introductory chapter, which deals with basic ideas about alternative economy and its relationship to the concept of social justice and it is wrote by the leftist writer and thinker Salameh Kaileh. The book then delves into a series of case studies on countries of the region and they are Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. In which researchers presented important experiences on self-administration, NUBA-SEED for seed production in Egypt, and the Djemna oasis experience in Tunisia and from Morocco, the researcher presents the case of the collective lands, and from Lebanon Srifa Atelier Women Cooperative.
Then these case studies also presents important experiences on cooperatives, for instance in Lebanon it tackles the experience of Union Coordination Committee and from Morocco, the case of COPAC (the cooperative for milk production), and from Tunisia the experience of MAMOTEX textiles, and finally from Egypt the experience of the National Initiative to Support Cooperatives in Fayoum.
Then AFA through its research team present a concluding analytical chapter that tackled the most important problems, patterns and strategies for alternative economy in the region.
Moreover, as a trial for widening margins for participation with different opinions and ideas on that issue, the book adds as an appendix a group of articles that was presented during the conference that was held on the same issue in Tunisia in September 2016.
File of the issue:
"Phenomena accompanying Egyptian parliamentary elections in 2015"
Mina Samir 2
Omar Samir 7
Shorouk El Harery 10
Nouran Sayed Ahmed 17
Shimaa ElSharkawy 24
Omar Samir 31
Book of the issue:
Shimaa ElSharkawy 41
Mohamed ElAgati 1
Parliamentary committees contribute to strong and effective government and improve the democratic process. Committees undertake important work on behalf of the Parliament and especially the function of securing accountability of the executive. While attention is often focussed on plenary, it is in committees that the most productive – and for many MPs, most enjoyable – parliamentary work is done.
New parliamentary elections for 2015, the third entitlement on the road map after the presidential election and the constitution, are about to be held. There seems to be a number of issues that await the next parliament, starting with the nature of issues and topics of consideration, the policies and legislations related to them, and also those from the point of view of the public and political context, which in turn poses challenges for parliamentary work and parliamentarians. At the forefront of these challenges is the question of the relationship between MPs and their constituencies, an issue that is gaining importance in light of the past Egyptian experience in which the relationship between the two sides suffered from a big deficiency, and on the other hand due to changes in the public and political context in Egypt over the past five years which increased the weight of the views of the citizens and voters in the political process, regardless of their quality or other shortcomings.
Many are confused by the senseless wars now spreading like wildfire throughout the Arab region. Some think that these conflicts have deep-rooted internal causes, such as the tension between Islamists and liberals. Others look at these conflicts from a sectarian and ethnic perspective and consider them rooted in fundamental disputes between religious or sectarian ideologies or between tribes and provincial regions. There is yet a third group that sees this as a crisis of old regimes that want to forestall the political changes initiated by the Arab revolutions and the foreign interventions that caused chaos in the region. There is no doubt that each of these different characterizations of the current conflicts in the Arab region has evidence to support its interpretation and its own proposals on whether these conflicts can be tackled and if so, how. Nevertheless, none of these characterizations are sufficient to understand the complex dynamics causing the current political divisions in Arab societies, especially in those states that are experiencing fierce conflicts such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. For these places, the tendency towards over-simplification in explaining the causes of strife has a profound effect on policy making and the practical solutions necessary to end this strife. Furthermore, some of the recommendations put forward in Western capitals, such as the division of these states into sectarian cantons, could lead to even more violent wars in the future.
Radical religious groups witnessed three phases of transformation in their contemporary history. They started with big jihadi organizations then were reduced to small cells until big organizations made a powerful comeback that was distinguished by the use of tactics that were quite different from those used by their predecessors in the 1970s.