The religious compact that constrains Saudi economic reform - FT.com
. . . created upon the linking of a binary. While evil corrupts, absolute evil corrupts absolutely.
Little Arab Lord Fauntleroy wants to reform the dilettante's in Saudi by putting the them to actual work, and reforming, completely, the corrupt system, stem to stern.
"All this rewrites the social contract whereby Saudis forgo political rights and offer fealty to the House of Saud in return for public sector jobs and cradle-to-grave welfare funded by oil. Coming even close to these goals implies radical social change, an upheaval in governance — all without much sign that the absolute monarchy intends its subjects to become fully participatory citizens.
While no one can fault MbS for his boldness, his programme resembles a mobilisation of technocrats to bypass big political obstacles. The biggest of these is the cornerstone of the state: the historic compact between the House of Saud and the House of ibn Abdul Wahhab, the 18th century preacher behind the most extreme version of Sunni Muslim orthodoxy ever attempted as a form of governance. The ruling family has until now relied on the Wahhabi establishment — as reactionary and bigoted as ever — for its legitimacy, in exchange for clerical control over areas such as education and the judiciary, as well as the segregation of women."
This will only work if the House of Saud follows what we know works here at the End of History: republican governance, free market economics, reformed religions, and a state which strictly limits its regulations, including regulations of life and business. This is really simply, good government, good religions, free markets, and liberty. Saudi has none of these.
Good luck with this. If you want to be taken seriously cut loose the religion today. Until you do so, no one will believe you have a chance, and more than anything you need others to believe and support your plan. After that you will need to pair the liberalization of the economy with the liberalization of politics. Sorry, that means the House of Saud will have to give up power to the people through a plural republican mechanism of some kind. Choose the form of your destructor. Not choosing is a choice.
Choose wisely, young Arab Lord Fauntleroy, choose wisely.