Uwe H. Bittlingmayer / Omar Khaled Sahrai / Stephanie Harsch / Asadullah Jawid
Nasrullah Shojaee / Frishta Martin / Diana Sahrai
Located Capitalism in Afghanistan
There is no doubt that any analysis which focuses on Afghanistan has an enormous amount of complexity to deal with. This is quite independently from the chosen topic – this outstanding complexity exists if you analyze for instance realms like education (Bittlingmayer et al. 2019; Naumann 2011, 2012), the role of ethnicity and resistance (Sahrai 2018), or development and peace (cf. Ganser 2016, S. 187–205); and this is obviously also true for an analysis of the current Afghan economy.
There are some aspects that make Afghanistan a nightmare for orthodox positivistic approaches. In the first place, there are hardly any valid data. Neither the official data from International Organizations such as International Monetary Fund, World Bank, WHO, UNESCO or United Nations Developmental Program nor the public data from the relevant Afghan ministries are able to deliver truly valid data. This is often made invisible by producing colored graphs and illustrations. But the reason for a structural deficit on validity and reliability is that every statistic indicator – like the share of illiterates, the share of different ethnic groups or the rate of unemployment refers to an extrapolation of national averages but in the case of Afghanistan (and of course, not only here) the more or less exact number of people living currently in Afghanistan is unknown for different reasons. Nobody knows exactly how many Afghans are trying to emigrate to Europe or Northern America; secondly nobody knows how many Afghans have been returned from Pakistan and Iran in the last ten years and how many of them will stay for long in Afghanistan. Therefore, a valid denominator necessary for finding suitable criteria for building a representative data set is impossible to find. Furthermore, people living in remote areas in Afghanistan are poorly represented in the economic and social science research. Thus, every effort on economic or social science-based counting relies on speculative assumptions and vague extrapolations.
Another point is the difference between the formal and the informal sector in national economy which is not easy to draw in the case of Afghanistan. For example, there are only vague estimations how high the share of amount of the drug industry is compare to the official Gross National Product of Afghanistan. Thomas Ruttig for instance estimated that between 2006 and 2011 the profit from drug industry was 3 Billion US-Dollar per year and that 14% of the population was involved directly or indirectly in this area of production (Ruttig 2014, S. 21; footnote 21). Additionally, there are still a relevant number of Kucchi people living a nomad (or semi-nomad) live although the administrations nowadays and in the past tries hard to forcedly settle them down. These people – an estimated amount of one fifth of the rural population – escape from any statistical approach (Nashir-Steck 2019).
Last but not least, since the illegitimate war against the Taliban in 2001 (Ganser 2016, S. 187–205) till the withdrawal of the majority of the foreign troops in 2014, the Afghan economy showed a very rapid growths of the GDP and a significant decrease of the rate of unemployment (ignoring for a moment the vagueness of this measurements) . But after the withdrawal of the military forces it became painfully clear that since 2014 the economic indicators became worse and worse showing that the primary orientation on military forces lead to a dead end in terms of economic growth and welfare (cf. a.o. Thielicke 2014, S. 9).
These are only some of the reasons why it is hardly possible to give a convincing theoretically based empirically satisfying overview about the current economic situation and about the particular theoretical question about the embeddedness of capitalism in Afghanistan. However, the goal of this contribution is much more modest. We want to develop some of the relevant research questions about a political economy in Afghanistan in order to conceptualize the relationship between economy, social structures and power relations theoretically. Today Afghanistan is still characterized by a simultaneity of feudal, pre-feudal and capitalistic areas and fields of action that build a very complex mixture of economic and social structures (cf. Samimy 2017, S. 21). In order to shed some more light to this complexity, we want to present some of the currently important dimensions regarding the flourishing of the Afghan economy, referring first to the question whether and to what degree Afghanistan should be called a capitalist society (I.). Afterwards, we want to deal with some more specific dimensions such as the economic impact of the climate change which already occurs in Afghanistan right now (II) and with the important role of the natural resources (III).
Bittlingmayer, Uwe H.; Grundmeier, Anne-Marie; Kößler, Reinhart; Sahrai, Diana; Sahrai, Fereschta (Hg.) (2019): Education and Evelopment in Afghanistan. Challenges and Propects. Bielefeld: transcript.
Ganser, Daniele (2016): Illegale Kriege. Wie die NATO-Länder die UNO sabotieren. Eine Chronik von Kuba bis Syrien. Zürich: orell füssli Verlag.
Nashir-Steck, Sarghuna (2019): The Project of the German-Afghan Initiative with Nomads and Semi-Nomads in the Province of Herat. In: Uwe H. Bittlingmayer, Anne-Marie Grundmeier, Reinhart Kößler, Diana Sahrai und Fereschta Sahrai (Hg.): Education and Evelopment in Afghanistan. Challenges and Propects. Bielefeld: transcript, S. 245–253.
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Naumann, Craig (2012): Books, Bullets, and Burqas. Anatomy of a Crisis – Educational Development, Society, and the State in Afghanistan. Münster: Lit.
Ruttig, Thomas (2014): Einiges besser, nichts wirklich gut. Afghanistan nach 34 Jahren Krieg – Eine Bilanz. In: Hubert Thielicke (Hg.): Am Ende nichts? Krieg in Afghanistan – Bilanz und Ausblick. Potsdam: WeltTrends, S. 11–21.
Sahrai, Omar Khaled (2018): Ethnizität, Widerstand und politische Legitimation in pashtunischen Stammesgebieten Afghanistans und Pakistans. Berlin et al.: Peter Lang.
Samimy, Said Musa (2017): Afghanistan. Chronik eines gescheiterten Staates. 1. Auflage 2017. Berlin: Buchwerkstatt Berlin (Edition Avra).
Thielicke, Hubert (2014): Vorwort. In: Hubert Thielicke (Hg.): Am Ende nichts? Krieg in Afghanistan – Bilanz und Ausblick. Potsdam: WeltTrends, S. 7–9.