Egypt in Transition

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

VIII
Not a Real Revolution.

Must a real revolution be physically visible, follow and be founded on a definite ideology, demand the favouring of one class and the suppression of another, and bring about a radical change in methods of production? If revolution is defined in those terms, then the changes which began in the Nile Valley in July 1952 were not of a revolutionary nature.

The reshaping of Egyptian society is but faintly visible. There is nothing here comparable with what happened in China when 600 million people were put into overalls, or with the way the untouchables were cleansed of every trace of indignity, in India. Nor, as in France, do you see the outgoing ruling class take to wearing trousers, or the sans-culottes wearing the red cap. Apart from one or two good instances of town-planning Cairo is still an enormous 'village' reeking of poverty, while in the country the villages are still little mud-islands full of dirt and rubbish. One has to see those regions where the Agrarian Reform has been thoroughly applied, before coming across healthier-looking faces, children who no longer have their eyes covered with flies, and women with new dresses. One has to go to the 'Liberation Province' to see the beginning of some idea of a rural community, and there it is artificial but a pattern. You have to travel over a good stretch of country to see here and there little blocks of new buildings, schools and social centres. All that is far away and scattered. The government, unlike Peking or Ataturk, has done nothing about modern dress. 'The galabiya is on the way out,' Jacques Audiberti remarked as we walked through Cairo; but it is still the main form of dress in the towns and has nothing to compete with in the country. The tarboosh is on its way out and is no longer the emblem of the Wafdist right-wing. But the lower proletariat in the city still wears untidy and dirty little turbans which look like clumsy bandages. The small-income group is perhaps encroaching on the more select districts, officers of unexalted rank are made welcome in former palaces, the poorer shops are

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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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