Egypt from Monarchy to Republic: A Reassessment of Revolution and Change

Egypt from Monarchy to Republic: A Reassessment of Revolution and Change

Egypt from Monarchy to Republic: A Reassessment of Revolution and Change

Egypt from Monarchy to Republic: A Reassessment of Revolution and Change

Synopsis

"Nasser's 1952 coup d'etat initiated a revolution regarded as the most important in the modern history of the Arabs and seen as a model that was emulated by many Third World leaders seeking radical transformation of their countries. It is considered to be a historic watershed between Egypt's ancient regime - dominated by the palace, the landed Pashas, the British interests, and the foreign communities - and the populist republic run as a military-bureaucratic system by a purely Egyptian elite. Now, four decades after that landmark event, leading scholars offer a fresh look at the levels of continuity and change in the social, political, and economic structures of Egypt since the revolution. Contributors examine such questions as: How did the fundamental relationship between Islam and the state change under Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak? What has been accomplished by Nasser's revolutionary strategies of economic and social development? How were the status and role of minorities affected? In what ways does the present-day fundamentalist movement differ from its predecessors of the monarchy period? How deep is the process of value-system transformation in the Egyptian mainstream? And, what was the role of intellectuals and the media in the process of change? A final section discusses how the treatment of foreign policy issues, including the conflict with Israel, changed under the different regimes." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

In the modern historiography of Egypt, the year 1952 usually appears as the watershed separating the ancien régime of King Faruq and his predecessors from the new polity led by Presidents Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak. It has been seen as the "great divide" between monarchical Egypt--dominated as it was by the palace, the landed Pashas, the British interests, and the foreign communities--and the populist republics run by a purely Egyptian military-bureaucratic elite. The logic of this periodization, which at first was so effectively projected by the spokesmen of the July revolution and so readily accepted by interpreters of contemporary Egypt, cannot be denied. Yet, as time passes and creates a greater perspective, the validity of this simplistic juxtaposition increasingly comes under question and the complexities of the problem emerge.

The case against the substantiality and finality of 1952 as a turning point is inspired and enhanced by a number of highly visible developments that emerged in the 1970s. It is argued that in the realities of present-day Egypt, many facets of pre-1952 life that were thought to have been eradicated or decisively diminished by the revolution can be observed once again. Capitalism is back. Infitah policies have considerably liberalized the Arab Socialist, state-controlled economic system, and an entrepreneurial class has resurfaced. Foreign companies and businesspeople again make their presence felt in the affluent quarters of Cairo. Party politics have reappeared on the ruins of the Nasserite "guided democracy" and one-party system, and even though not completely restored, some of their major components, such as the Wafd and the Muslim Brethren, are again playing important roles (with the Left once again being marginalized). The revolutionary ideological regimentation has been replaced by a lively public debate reminiscent of that which had prevailed before 1952. The radical Islamic forces, suppressed at the time by the essentially secular Nasserite regime, are again rallying forces to undermine the foundations of the nation-state. A pro-Western orientation dominates foreign policy and the revolution's heroic anti-imperialistic posture has been abandoned. Relations with the sister Arab states are now more congruent with Arab League-style politics as conducted by the monarchy than with the aggressive pan-Arab campaigns waged by the revolution, and the legitimacy of the particular Egyptian identity has been reinstituted. In short--this argument suggests--Egypt became once again Misr al-Dawla (state) rather than Misr al- Thawra (revolution).

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