Egypt in Transition

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

VI
The Political Parties

Whenever we asked a military leader -- Nasser, Salim or Sadat -- whether a return to parliamentary government through a general election was being considered, the answer was 'No. The country is not yet ripe for that. It would purely and simply amount to the return of the Wafd and undo the work of the revolution.'


THE WAFD -- A STATE OF MIND

The Wafd? Would the Wafd still be returned after so many ups and downs, trials, the disclosure of its corruption, its open failures? To have any doubts would mean forgetting that the Wafd was and unquestionably is still a party, an electoral and administrative 'mafia', indeed a financial one also; but that it is also a state of mind, an expression of an important period in Egypt's history. Perhaps that period is over, but there are few in the country who realize it yet. The Wafd stands for a certain mob appeal, a certain dynamic and nationalist view of the State: it stands also for parliamentarians, and free thought. It is everything that the military leaders are not, Neguib excepted. It is an Egypt of café terraces, where eloquence is more important than results, where principles count for more than effectiveness, and where there is a fairly sincere and generous basis of respect for the will of the people.

It also stands for the freedom of the Press, questions in the House, student gatherings, congresses and back-slappings. It is a kind of meeting-point for the rising class at the beginning of the century, the lower bourgeoisie greedy for freedom and power, the landed Third Estate gradually being urbanized via the University; the legal and administrative professions, and those of the big landowners who chose to cut their losses by financing the 'popular' party after electing it, and thus keeping their hold on it. It is also a form of liberalism, a typically Egyptian tolerance in the approach to religious and racial problems.

-240-

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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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