Fragmented Debate in a Fragmented Homeland, by Adel Samara Ramallah – Occupied Palestine

A letter to comrade Max Ajl’s and comments on his paper: Does the Arab region have an agrarian question?

Published in The Journal of Peasant Studies

Link to article:

Published online: 20 May 2020.

Dear Max,

The above mentioned topic might be the proper for the agrarian question in Arab Homeland. This is not a discussion of your good paper as an initiative for more and deep analysis of its topic, but actually some notes to clarify some terms and areas of the subject and to suggest some references which might enrich the subject.

While the Arab nation suffers from colonialism as any peripheral nation, there are some specifics in its case that are crystallized in the creation of settler colonial entity in its heart for the purpose of controlling it. Otherwise, what a crime to collect millions of Jews from nearly hundred nationalities, arming them with the most sophisticated weapons to evict the Palestinian people and accumulate/imprison the Jewish settlers in the Palestinian Arab country circled by Arab nation and put both parties in a continuous war until one destroys the other, either physically or by absolute subjugation and Internalization of Defeat (IoD)! Is it worth it, unless that it is motivated by imperialist lust for unlimited exploitation, bribe, and looting for the sake of unlimited accumulation. Religious camouflage of the “Promised Land” is in fact uncovers this crime and does not support it.

Accordingly, the creation of the Zionist Ashkenazi entity (ZAE) – Israel is one of the main causes of Arab underdevelopment which, in addition, to local reactionary, dependent Arab regimes and comprador classes hamper theoretical debate.

It is right that this entity is absolutely not able to terminate the Palestinian people, but its existence and role are still hampering Arab development through a continued war that was imposed on it.

In analyzing the development in the Arab Homeland, we must differentiate between wars and imposed wars as an external aggression: a targeting of this region since the mercantile era if not since the crusaders invasion.

As a targeted area since the mercantile colonial era and targeted by planting a settler capitalist colonial entity, the whole Arab nation is in a war of defense.

But, the subjective weakness of the Arab nation is the fact that the counter-revolution (CR) is succeeding in dividing it and creating two dozens of ruling regimes that built around themselves  collaborating classes that are protected from the masses by colonial powers, until they became able to protect themselves by brute force, and deepening underdevelopment and artificial internal conflict inside every Arab Qutriyah  state  and lately between one country and another using the ideology of Politicized Religion (PR) .

This process of blocking development (Samir Amin) is a joint global class alliance between:

  • Capitalist class of the centre,
  • And the comprador class in periphery, i.e. in Arab countries.

It is not largely agreeable that this alliance of:

  • Its leading component, the capitalist class of the centre through its MNCs which control most of the world surplus, stations its offices and accumulation inside the same centre ,
  • And comprador capitalism of periphery satisfied by its share of trickle-down,

And that this alliance crystallizes as a global joint class.

This capitalist “class” alliance made the world since the beginning of globalism as its own Globalized Capitalist Public Sector (GCPC).

After the defeat of Ottoman imperialism and gaining semi-independence from western imperialism, the Arab Homeland lived through a lost century, i.e. it never developed to become  real capitalist or socialist formations.

To develop peripheral country, including Arab Homeland, there is a development model of several steps which must be achieved:

  1. Development by Popular Protection (DbPP) which is conducted by the masses, especially the popular classes. Its first step is to practice Internal Withdrawal (IW) to produce and consume local products which in itself means boycotting the products of others even friendly countries. Boycotting in itself is a development mechanism that encourages the masses to produce the commodities which they boycott.
  2. To start and concentrate on production of community essential needs while focusing on local raw materials in the industrial, agricultural and agro-industrial sectors.
  3. To build a local marketing network between units of production without the role of the mediator, the merchant.
  4. All those activities must start as cooperatives of all forms, productive, consumptive, educational and cultural.
  5. A revolutionary party must be on the lead of this popular model.
  6. All those activities will took place far from the market economy of the ruling class, i.e. far from, and even, in contradiction to the regime policy and economy.[1]
  7. This means that two economic systems are working in parallel and in contradiction in the same country. The role of the popular one is to pressure the formal one to follow its logic.
  8. Any state is a state of a ruling class, that is why, the ambition of transforming DbPP to Delinking (Samir Amin) is conditioned by accumulation of social pressure, the power of revolutionary party which might through the support of the popular classes be in position to gain power and oblige the regime to adopt the model of Delinking as the most appropriate model for development that leads toward socialism.

Between resisting colonialism and defending itself from imperialist and Zionist aggressions, the Arab nation lived through a century of a costly self-defense.

Two development trajectories took place in the Arab Homeland in the last century:

First: The trajectory of national secular semi-socialist regimes that were oriented towards development in the countries which are able to produce agricultural surplus, such as Egypt, Syria, Iraq and lately Algeria.

But while the regimes of this trajectory pretend that they are nationalist and believe in Arab unity, in their practice they were more Qutri regimes, their exchange was more with the imperialist centre and their internal trade hardly reaches 9% percent of their foreign trade and even a lot of it is through oil importing countries from its producers.

Second:  The trajectory of dependent regimes in countries whose regimes are designed by imperialism, their land mainly is desert; the population of many of them is less than the population of tiny city, and some of them of are of small geography. Those countries stayed on the margin of Arab political and military wars for independence until two main developments took place in Arab Homeland:

  1. The defeat of Arab nationalist regimes in 1967 war
  2. The big oil shock prices of 1973

Since that period the second trajectory jumped to the lead in Arab Homeland encouraging  “Developing of Un-equal Development[2]” among Arab countries.

The defeat of 1967, and the role of countries of oil surplus to help non-oil countries, the countries of trade deficit, to subsidize their balance of trade deficit not to develop was a turning point for the countries of the first trajectory especially since a lot of their budgets were devoted for military defense. The same is the money from so-called donors to the Palestinian Authority (PA) which was devoted for police, corruption and high (and double) salaries of the ruling elite.

Iraq made a substantial development, but its war with Iran[3] and later in Kuwait and US occupation, the country is, in fact, nearly destroyed. Libya was in the same category as Iraq, but it is destroyed by the counter-revolution (CR), the same goes for Syria. Many intellectuals and rulers of the camp of “Internalizing of Defeat IoD” justify the imperialist destruction of Iraq, arguing that Iraq started the war against Iran and Kuwait despite of the fact that Iran occupy part of Iraq “Al-Ahwaz/Arabstan” and Kuwait is actually an Iraqi district (District number 18 0f Iraq) which was separated by British imperialism to become an dependent oil Sheikdom. Ironically, Libya and Syria never made any wars!

Let’s put it briefly, the 1967 CR war was deliberately designed to hold Arab development and to strengthen imperialist corporation of oil control, to control Arab market and to integrate the Zionist Ashkenazi Entity (ZAE) in the Arab Homeland in the form of Integration through Domination ItD which is “flourishing” today through two main mechanisms:

  • Normalization with ZAE by most of the ruling regimes.
  • And launching war of terror designed and led by imperialism and practiced by regimes and forces of Politicized Religion PR against all Arab nation[4].

In such circumstance, the progressive Arab regimes found themselves in self-defense: resisting external wars, but lack the will, interest and courage to depend on their masses to launch people’s war of defense and development by popular protection.

While these destructive developments shouldn’t stop writers from developing their studies in development in general and agrarian question in particular, but it seems that they have been harmed, scientifically discouraged and lack financial support.

I think the above mentioned shed some light or help to answer your questions on your good paper which started by the Following:

Yet the classical and ‘new’ agrarian questions remain central to Arab development trajectories.

This essay introduces the classical agrarian questions, discusses how they appear

In the region, then analyzes how the national question – imperialism and anti-imperialism

– is central to regional rural development. It then surveys many of the leading journals,

empirically establishing the Arab region’s underrepresentation

It offers a selective politicaleconomy of the region, accompanied with a survey of knowledge production, focusing on Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, and Palestine, taking them as indicative and illustrative of the theoretical points and intellectual history I sketch. It focuses on the post-1970 years, as the period when peasant studies coalesced in Anglophone social science”.

I insist to name the wars as wars of aggression because it they were not started by Arabs, it is invasion from the west, either the clos one, i.e. western Europe, or the too far US imperialism,  not to mention Turkey, the Ottomans who exploit the Arab Homeland for 400 years dragging it to the level of destruction and left it demolished and ready to be colonized by west.

My intention is not to review your entire good paper, but I am trying to explain more the reasons behind the shortage you discussed in general  and to refer to some points which must be placed correctly, i.e. Arab Homeland, not Arab region or Arab World…etc.

Additional point which I think is necessary to mention is that unfortunately a lot of studies and references weren’t under your hand. The Political Economy of the West Bank 1967-1987: From Peripheralization to Development, 1987 Khamsin, and Adel Samara

  • Egypt Military Society : The Army Regime Anouar Abdel-Malek 1968
  • Class Conflict in Egypt 1945-1970 Mahmoud Hussein Monthly Review 1973
  • Egypt in Revolution: An Economic Analysis Charles Issawi 1963 Oxford University Press.
  • The Rural Middle East: Peasant Lives and Modes of Production: Edited by Kathy and Pendali Glavanis p.p.7-8 Palestine 56
  • Industrialization in the West Bank A Marxist Socio-Economic Analysis, Adel Samara, Al-Mashriq Publications for Economic and Development Studies, Jerusalem 1992, pp. 69-102

Since your Arabic reading is good, I am also listing the following references in Arabic:

  • الاسلام والراسمالية  مكسيم رودنسون ترجمة نزيه الحكيم
  • المجتمع المصري والجيش تأليف أنور عبد الملك
  • الاقطاع والراسمالية الزراعية في مصر  من محمد عهد علي  الى عهد عبد الناصر  1979 تأليف صالح محمد صالح
  • قضايا التحرر الوطني والثورة الاشتراكية في مصر  ط.ث.شاكر 1971
  • ابراهيم عامر الارض والفلاح  : المسالة الزراعية  في مصر. القاهرة 1958
  • أحمد صادق سعد تاريخ مصر الاجتماعي الاقتصادي في ضوء النمط الآسيوي للانتاج عن: ‎دار ابن خلدون للنشر والتوزيع‎ (1979)


The opinions and views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Kana’an’s Editorial Board.

[1] This is the model which was applied by Palestinian Intifada 1987 until it is was betrayed by P.L.O. compromise with the ZAE and signed Oslo Accords in September 1993.

[2] انظر عادل سماره: مقالة في “تطوير” اللاتكافؤ في الوطن العربي:المواجهة بين القومية الحاكمة والقومية الكامنة، في مجلة المستقبل العربي، العدد 197 تموز يلوليو 1995 ص ص 16-28.

Al Mustaqbal Al Arabi, no 197, July 1995 pp 16-28.

[3] There is no consensus on about who started that war, and most of the Arab regimes and intellectuals were and still are against Iraq, ignoring the fact that Iran occupied part of Iraq Al -Ahwaz, and the new Iranian regime never tried even to discuss the issue. For the Arabs who are against Iraq, it is not understandable why they are against Zionist, Spanish  and Turkish occupation of parts of Arab Homeland, but not against Iran.

[4] Terrorist Orientalism in a State Form. Using Marxism, Christianity and Islam to Dismantle Arab Homeland. Adel Samara,  Kana’an Online Bulletin, Volume XV – Issues 3781- 3782,  posted 24 March 2015. Cited in Samara’s book: Debatable Issues Polemic Critique, Published by Al-Mashriq for Development Studies, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine  2020.