Egypt in Transition

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

VII
Revolutionary Tendencies, 1952-57

The deplorable state in which Egypt was foundering in 1952 was not of the kind which a popular revolution can cure in the space of four years, and least of all a hybrid government created by a chance and short-lived collaboration between a military junta and the masses. In Egypt the top political and administrative levels are often quite out of touch with reality and have no idea how to impress and influence the lower levels. The real problems are skated over and never solved. Just as in India the reformer finds his path strewn with hundreds of jobs all waiting to be done, heaping up and rapidly growing larger, religion interfering in social tasks, economics treading on political reform, diplomacy and foreign policy laying a heavy hand on everything. We are reminded of an Indian civil servant, a few years ago, telling Tibor Mende1 about his anguish and despair over this, saying that they are no sooner attacked than the vices of an old civilization multiply like weeds or like people: no sooner are abuses touched than they breed others sometimes more horrible than themselves. Claudel said, 'You cannot count on anything being the worst' -- the kind of slogan that is meat and drink to the revolutionary.

Revolutionary governments always find the moment of stocktaking a bitter pill to swallow. The more enthusiasm there was at the outset, the higher their expectations. The cynics who closed one eye to the abuses of the defeated ré saying 'Such is life', will never allow an inch of rope to the victors. What virtue they have, if it remains uncorrupted, is mocked at, but if they allow the slightest departure from it they are branded as hypocrites. Then their predecessors' police-measures are held up as models of wisdom, and the word is passed round that the 'people' have been betrayed and that dictators have taken over. Such is the logic of those who sit in judgement on revolutions, who as often as not are the official historians of the former government. All the more so, since governments set up

____________________
1
India before the Storm.

-275-

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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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