September 21, 2013
HOW YA GONNA KEEP 'EM DOWN ON THE FARM...:
The Irresistible Rise of the Muslim Middle Class (Shahid Javed Burki, 9/20/13, Project Syndicate))
Breaking oil will only accelerate the process.What this new middle-class "Muslim Street" wants is an inclusive political system - a demand heard not only in Egypt, but also in Iran, as Hassan Rouhani's victory in the country's presidential election in June attests. Likewise, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Islamist-leaning government has met with considerable resistance as it has sought to define public policy along ever-narrower religious lines. Protests in Istanbul's Taksim Square this summer, triggered by plans to develop a city park, resonated countrywide, because Erdoğan has increasingly governed with too exclusive a public in mind.This conflict, like the one in Egypt, will be resolved only when political systems that institutionalize respect for pluralism and the sensitivities of minorities are established. It also highlights another important aspect of protest politics in the Muslim world. While members of the new middle-class appreciate economic progress, they no longer want it to come at the expense of political rights. Economic development must be accompanied by respect for ordinary citizens.Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson advance this line of thought in their recent book Why Nations Fail. They emphasize the importance of inclusive political development as a prerequisite of sustained economic growth. Political systems in many emerging countries, they argue, become unstable because their composition is insufficiently representative and their policy preferences are excessively narrow. Long-term stability requires both political inclusion and equal access to economic opportunities.
Posted by Orrin Judd at September 21, 2013 6:46 AM