Egypt in Transition

By Jean Lacouture; Simonne Lacouture et al. | Go to book overview

VIII
British Technocracy

The British administration of Egypt is not very highly regarded abroad. At a first glance it is hard to see it as making a positive stage in the revolution. French historians, most of them hostile, are not alone in providing ammunition for nationalist propaganda, by decrying the relative barrenness and shortcomings of a task begun under police rule, carried on in an atmosphere of bitterness and ended, like all colonial undertakings, in recriminations from both sides. Compared with what was done next door, by Italy in Libya and by France in Tunisia, English colonization in Egypt cuts a poor figure. The school system, communications, hygiene, institutions -- with a single exception which we shall discuss later, not one of these fields in which a colonizer usually tries to justify his presence or which he uses as an alibi, showed any marked improvement due to the reforming genius of the West, in the period 1882-1922.

But this was not the view of the artisans and advocates of British policy towards the Nile, such as Lord Cromer, Alfred Milner and Lord Lloyd. It must be admitted that the balance-sheet drawn up by Lord Cromer -- who had been practically a Pharaoh for over twenty years, 1883-1906 -- in his Modern Egypt shows less trifling assets than are generally acknowledged. The British occupation of Egypt came about through the danger to foreigners and minorities as a result of the 1882 revolution, and because of the disastrous state to which Egypt was reduced by the intrigues of European adventurers and the disasters of the Arabi period. It took less than ten years to restore order, organize an efficient administration and clear up the financial chaos. The last item was carried out with particular skill, 'the Cromer government having some interest in confusing the Egyptian problem with the financial problem', as a French observer acidly remarks. The English historian George Young honestly admits that this recovery was 'the convalescence of a hard-working people after an imported sickness'.

The noble pro-consul none the less claimed for his administration

-78-

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Egypt in Transition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Contents 7
  • Illustrations 8
  • Introduction - Egyptian Continuity And Revolutions 11
  • Part One - The Awakening of Egypt 37
  • I - The Advent of Bonaparte 39
  • II - Mohamed Ali Creates a State 50
  • III - The Cotton Boom 56
  • IV - A Revolution in Irrigation 60
  • V - The Adventurous Khedive 63
  • VI - The Arabi Revolt 69
  • VII - The Reformers 74
  • VIII - British Technocracy 78
  • IX - The 1919 Revolution 82
  • X - The Wafd 86
  • XI - Making the Best of War -- 1939 97
  • XII - The Burning of Cairo 105
  • Part Two - The Officers' Republic 123
  • I - A Short History of the 'Free Officers' Movement 125
  • II - Power -- to What Purpose? 160
  • III - Neguib's Fall 179
  • IV - The Structure of Nasser's State 192
  • V - The 'Diplomacy' of Small Nations 196
  • VI - The Political Parties 240
  • VII - Revolutionary Tendencies, 1952-57 275
  • VIII - Not a Real Revolution. 292
  • Part Three - Working Life in The Valley 307
  • I - The Land and Its Men 309
  • II - The Agrarian Reform 340
  • III - The Problem of Over-Population 357
  • IV - Economic Growing-Pains 362
  • V - Industrialization and Social Problems 367
  • VI - The Aswan Dam Problem 388
  • Part Four - Forging a Society 397
  • I - Cairo -- City of Convulsions 399
  • II - In Search of a National Culture 413
  • III - Egypt, Islam and the Modern World 430
  • Part Five - The Great Test 451
  • I - Nasser as He Really Is 453
  • II - The Suez Crisis 467
  • III - The Franco-British Invasion 481
  • IV - Egypt Carries On 493
  • V - The 'United Arab State' 505
  • A Chronology of Modern Egypt 515
  • Reading List 519
  • Index 523
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