This article is a review of Ilham Khuri-Makdisi’s book The Eastern Mediterranean and the Making of Global Capitalism, 1860–1914. I argue that this book is a valuable contribution to historiographies of the Left in the Middle East, a field that remains under-represented given the importance of labour to the nationalist movements as well as broader worker-activism in the region throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. I review the main debates of the book, and raise critical questions about aspects that could have been probed further, among them the questions of imperialism and race in contexts such as Egypt and Lebanon, and the relationship(s) between workers and the radical intellectuals discussed throughout the book.
This article focuses on Egypt’s moment of decolonisation in order to explore some of the productive tensions between Marxism, Frantz Fanon’s work, and postcolonial contexts. Through a reading of Egypt’s attempts at independent industrialisation and decolonising ‘the international’, the article uses Frantz Fanon’s invitation to ‘stretch Marxism’ as a way of understanding the particularities of capitalism in the colonial and postcolonial world. It is posited that events such as decolonisation across the postcolonial world have been central to the evolution of global capitalism, and should be centred within Marxist analyses of global politics. It is further argued that these moments can shed light on the contradictions of nationalism, sovereignty and independence, and the ways in which anticolonialism in places like Egypt ultimately reproduced, rather than challenged, colonial capitalism.