Confronting Fascism in Egypt: Dictatorship versus Democracy in the 1930s

By Achcar, Gilbert | Arab Studies Journal, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Confronting Fascism in Egypt: Dictatorship versus Democracy in the 1930s


Achcar, Gilbert, Arab Studies Journal


CONFRONTING FASCISM IN EGYPT: DICTATORSHIP VERSUS DEMOCRACY IN THE 1930S Israel Gershoni and James Jankowski Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009 (x + 344 pages, bibliography, index, illustrations) $70.00 (cloth), $24.95 (paper)

Reviewed by Gilbert Achcar

The authors of this new book on Egypt in the 1930s-Israel Gershoni, professor of history at Tel Aviv University, and James Jankowski, professor emeritus of history at the University of Colorado-state in their conclusion that their work "joins a body of new scholarly literature that presents a more complex, historically grounded, and less politicized picture of the Arab world in the 1930s and 1940s" than the widespread representation of Egypt during that time as a country fascinated by totalitarian movements, especially German Nazism (277). Although the claim to be "less politicized" is a political statement in itself (it might have been more accurate to say "less biased"), this book is indeed an important attempt at correcting the picture of Egypt conveyed by an academic tradition typified by Nadav Safran and P. J. Vatikiotis, both of whom the authors critique in their introduction. They also repudiate the "Orientalist assumption" of the incompatibility of Islam and liberalism that leads scholars to equate the turn of several Egyptian intellectuals toward addressing Islamic themes in the 1930s with a move away from liberalism.

In challenging these prevailing representations, Gershoni and Jankowski take great care to substantiate their own theses, which read as the outcome of truly open-minded research that delved into the archives to examine the historical record thoroughly. In so doing, the two authors add to a set of new works by scholars who refute the simplistic and prejudiced perception of an Arab world enamored of Fascism and Nazism in the heyday of totalitarianism: authors like Peter Wien and Orit Bashkin for Iraq, René Wildangel for Palestine, and, to a lesser degree, Götz Nordbruch for Syria and Lebanon. Israel Gershoni's own previous studies-especially his 1999 book in Hebrew, Light in the Shade: Egypt and Fascism, 1922-1937, of which an updated and adapted version coauthored with Götz Nordbruch came out recently in German (Sympathie und Schrecken: Begegnungen mit Faschismus und Nationalsozialismus in Ägypten, 1922-1937, 2011)-have established him as a leading contributor to this trend in scholarship on Egypt.

The book's first part describes the historical setting of late 1930s Egypt as marked by the impact of the impetuous rise of the Fascist powers in Europe and by the decreasing legitimacy of the Egyptian parliamentary system. The second part examines the attitudes toward Fascism and Fascist powers in the Egyptian public discourse until the outbreak of World War II. In their prologue to this second part, the authors define the social category of the effendiyya as those who were associated by education and profession with the modern state and located at the very center of the Egyptian public sphere. They thus point out what they see as a Eurocentric limitation of Jürgen Habermas's concept of the "public sphere," which emphasizes the state/private dichotomy and separates the "public sphere" from the state. Specifically, this part of the book examines Egyptian attitudes toward Fascism as expressed in the daily press (four major dailies: al-Ahram, al-Muqattam, al-Misri, and al-Jihad); imagery, especially caricatures, in illustrated periodicals (three weekly magazines: al-Musawwar, Ruz al-Yusuf, and al-Ithnayn wa-l-Dunya); and intellectual publications (the monthlies al-Hilal and al-Majalla al-Jadida, and the weeklies al-Risala and al-Thaqafa) in which various writers discussed the totalitarian and racist components of Fascist ideologies and the imperialist policies of Fascist powers. The clear picture that the reader gets is that these makers of Egyptian public opinion were overwhelmingly hostile to Fascism. They were radically hostile to Mussolini's Italy, which Arabs-and more generally, Muslims-saw as a predatory colonial power due to its brutal occupation of Libya, followed, in the 1930s, by settler colonialism, and its 1935 invasion of Ethiopia. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Confronting Fascism in Egypt: Dictatorship versus Democracy in the 1930s
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.