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Summary of the Argument
In his article entitled “McJihad: Islam in the U.S. Global Order,” Timothy Mitchell1 (2002) explores the relationship between the representatives of global capitalism and the forces that resist the globalization of capital. To be more precise, the author reviewed multiple historical incidents and facts concerning the interaction between Western and Middle Eastern governments, their alliances and clashes, and the role of business and capitalism in these dynamics. Also, to illustrate his point of view, the author uses the global oil industry – the world’s largest industry – as an example of the aforementioned dynamics. Mitchell’s major argument is focused on the engagement of fundamentalist Islamic movements in the support of political regimes in the states of the Middle East, and the readiness of US political and business leaders to cooperate with the Arabic governments led by such regimes to generate income. In contrast with the more common opinion that juxtaposes the Islamic and Western worlds in terms of global capitalism, Mitchell presents the two forces as working in a complex combination, forming what he labels as “McJihad”.
Author’s Contribution to the Understanding of the Topic
In discussing his topic of choice, the author demonstrates his awareness of the ethical complexity of the issue of global capitalism and global Islam, as well as its multifaceted and diverse nature and complicated history. Moreover, the author also knows he is writing about a very sensitive, controversial, and provocative topic that involves many people and can trigger a powerful emotional response. Because of this, the author’s major focus is to provide an additional and unconventional point of view on the issue, thus offering a broader base of knowledge and information upon which members of the general public can base their reflections concerning this sensitive issue. To state it differently, Mitchell’s contribution to the understanding of this topic is primarily the provision of a basis for critical thinking for the people who are willing to see the bigger picture and evaluate the problem of Islam and Western capitalism objectively, taking into account the versatile forces and impacts involved in its formation and development as they do so.
Personal Attitude to the Argument Made in the Article
I found the argument made by Mitchell in his article very reasonable, as the author took into consideration the global nature of the oil industry and the need to maintain stable prices, which can only be achieved via close cooperation of the world’s companies involved in the mining, refining, and transportation of oil. In particular, the author explained the importance of what is known as the system of scarcity that is responsible for the stability of prices and the balance in the oil industry. The concept of the “swing” producer who can impact oil prices worldwide, as well as influence the other large oil-producing states (such as the United States and the Russian Federation), brought a lot of clarity to my understanding of how the global oil industry works and why it is so tightly connected to geopolitics.
Nature and Quality of the Primary Resource Evidence Provided
The author provided a broad range of pieces of scholarly evidence represented by books, journal and magazine articles, and historical chronicles. From the overall list of twenty-three references, most are secondary sources, such as the reviews and analyses of historical events, and a few are primary sources. The primary sources represent letters, interviews, and historical records made during the events in the Middle East that took place in various decades. The quality of these resources is quite high, but their quantity is low. In fact, throughout some of the major parts of the argument, Mitchell makes powerful statements and claims without referring to any historical materials. This made me wonder what basis those claims had and whether or not they were valid and reliable.
The Evidence and Support for the Argument
The primary and secondary evidence used in the article provides support for the author’s argument in some parts and serves to expand on the information used for the argument in the other parts. To be more precise, at the beginning of the article, Mitchell provides a direct quote from an article by Philby; however, the businessman’s point of view does not confirm or support Mitchell’s argument, it serves as an illustration of a differing point of view. At the same time, some of the other references included by the author are used specifically to confirm his statements. For example, when discussing the geopolitics of the oil industry and naming the most powerful oil-producing states, Mitchell supports his claims with references every time.
Mitchell, T. “McJihad: Islam in the U.S. Global Order.” Social Text 20, (2002): 1-18.
- Timothy Mitchell, “McJihad: Islam in the U.S. Global Order,” Social Text 20, (2002): 1-4.