February 16, 2005

Islamic Economics

"The… state possesses the sole right of ownership of natural resources. Consequently, it has absolute control of all aspects of economic activities." Now who would go ahead and say a thing like that? Karl Marx? Mao Zedong? John Kerry? Ah no, friends, no. That's taken from Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr's (former Shi'ite bigwig and now-dead father uncle [UPDATE: oops... well, I got it right over at Mojo] of Moqtada Sadr) interesting reflections on political economy in Islamic states. So maybe Naomi Klein can breathe easy—if such a state does crop up in Iraq, it's not likely to be very friendly to private investment (or exploitation, whatever) from abroad, I think. Or at least it won't be until growth sags, birth rates and unemployment swell, and they get a finance minister who decides that maybe it's alright to have a little bit of privatization and whatnot.

But for now it seems like Sadr's views may carry the day. It seems that Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shi'ite representing SCIRI, was pushed out of contention for the prime minister spot because he liked privatizing stuff. Shame, shame. Juan Cole thinks the current front-runner for prime minister, Ibrahim Jaaferi, is a bit more keen on Islamic economics. Seems reasonable—Jaaferi hails from al-Daawa, and Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr was the spiritual leader of Daawa... so we may see Baghdad continue to control of the means of production. Hmm.

I'd also be interested to know more about Ayatollah Ali Sistani's views on ecomomics—he did study it for a number of years, after all. And nosing around the man's website, his views on banking are quite perplexing.
-- Brad Plumer 12:36 PM || ||