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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Sunday, 09 July 2017 16:22

The foundations of alternative economy

Introduction:

The Arab region was, like the rest of the world, swept by the global neoliberal model that was continuously promoted as the only option even after its policies were dealt a serious blow with the uprisings that took place in 2011. Those uprisings did, in fact, highlight the failure of such policies and demonstrated the urgent need for alternative ones, yet this was a temporary phase that was followed by an aggressive comeback of neoliberalism in the region.

Published in موضوع # 1

 

The concept of social justice was reflected in the discourse of several Arab political platforms whether partisan, parliamentary, or presidential, yet this discourse remains detached from actual policies on the ground and some of them were even at times not in line with social justice to start with. Some of the approaches only focused on one dimension of social justice such as, for example, fair wages which being a main component of the comprehensive concept of social justice cannot be presented as the only demand. The result is that other social justice indicators, which are linked to an entire set of social and economic rights, are overlooked like the right to public services such as education and healthcare. At other times, social justice is dealt with in a broad or abstract manner that is not linked to realistic policies and indicators that ensure its achievement. This becomes obvious in the way citizens’ social and economic demands are seen as group-specific and unrelated to the political scene, hence can be postponed until an actual political change takes place. 

When the Arab revolutions erupted in early 2011, social justice was one of the core direct demands, as well as an indirect demand through the use of slogans such as “dignity” and “freedom”. These two demands are basically associated with social justice in one way or the other. Thus, we cannot underestimate the role of the economic conditions that lack social justice in the outbreak of these revolutions. If we look at Tunisia and Egypt, we find that there are many similarities on this level. The two countries have adopted open market policies and integration into the global economy. The economic policies of the two countries were always praised by international institutions, but growth in Tunisia and Egypt was coupled with complex and unbalanced development. This means that the dividends were not distributed equitably among the different groups of the society, especially among the masses of producers and among the different regions.

 We cannot overlook that the first spark of these revolutions was the incident of Mohammed Bouazizi, an incident in which the economic conditions of poverty and unemployment became associated with the concept of rights: dignity and freedom, and an incident which shows how the concept of social justice is not an issue merely linked to quantitative economics - which is based on numbers and equations - but rather a concept, essentially linked with the conditions of people and communities. As said by Thomas Piketty in his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century “democracy will never be supplanted by a republic of experts.”

This book tries to tackle the concept of social justice from this logic using background papers on the complexities of this concept, the relationship between this concept and the changes that took, and are still taking, place in our Arab region and the role of foreign factors, as represented by EU policies. It then presents three case studies, which tackle previous studies in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. It also contains a number of parallel articles to these studies in an attempt to provide different perspectives on issues and countries covered by these studies.