The political consequences of Islam’s economic legacy
Philosophy & Social Criticism,
May 2013, Pages 395-405
Abstract: Several of the Middle East’s traditional economic institutions hampered its political development by limiting checks on executive power, preventing the formation of organized and durable opposition movements, and keeping civil society weak. They include Islam’s original tax system, which failed to protect property rights; the waqf, whose rigidity hampered the development of civil society; and private commercial enterprises, whose small scales and short lives blocked the development of private coalitions able to bargain with the state. These institutions contributed to features that sustain autocracies and keep democracies unstable: high corruption, low trust, widespread nepotism and high tolerance for law-breaking.