The Egypt of Nasser and Sadat

The Egypt of Nasser and Sadat: The Political Economy of Two Regimes

John Waterbury
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 504
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztt52
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  • Book Info
    The Egypt of Nasser and Sadat
    Book Description:

    A balance sheet of thirty years of revolutionary experiment, this work is a comprehensive analysis of the failure of the socialist transformation of Egypt during the regimes of Nasser and Sadat. Testing recent theories of the nature of the developing states and their relation both to indigenous class forces and to external pressures from advanced industrial societies, John Waterbury describes the limited but complex choices available to Egyptian policy-makers in their attempts to reconcile the goals of reform and capital accumulation.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5735-7
    Subjects: Business, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. Notes on Transliteration, Citations, and Exchange Rates, Weights, and Measures
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. Part 1 The State’s Room for Maneuver
    • Chapter One THE NATURE OF THE STATE AND OF THE REGIME
      (pp. 3-20)

      Egypt’s geopolitical significance, its overall weight in the important Arab world, and the fact that it was one among a handful of Third World states to move in the 1950s toward a socialist transformation, would in themselves constitute adequate justification for a one-country case study. Much of this book can be considered just that. Where Egypt has been in the last quarter century, no less whither Egypt, are questions of intrinsic significance to experts and laymen alike. I cannot pretend to advance authoritative answers to these questions, but I shall certainly give my own best estimates.

      The balance sheet of...

    • Chapter Two SOVEREIGN STATE OR LINK IN THE CHAIN OF DEPENDENCY?
      (pp. 21-40)

      While those who use the concept ofdependenciain their analysis of LDCs can hardly be seen as a school there are some basic themes about which there is little disagreement. This view emphasizes that underdevelopment and development are notsuccessivestages in the life of states and societies, but rather simultaneous conditions mutually linked and interdependent (P. J. O’Brien 1975, pp. 11-12). The dynamic of the global system is to keep the backward relatively backward and dependent upon the developed “core” (this core is or is not exclusively capitalist according to the analyst) whose dominance is thereby perpetuated. By...

    • Chapter Three DEMOGRAPHIC REALITY AND REVOLUTIONARY INTENT
      (pp. 41-54)

      A revolution, like any other form of politics, is made with people. To some degree Egypt’s revolution was made because of too many people. When the monarchy was overthrown in 1952 Egypt’s population was approaching 21 million. At that level and under the modes of production prevailing at the time, Egypt’s limited resources were already under severe strain. Twenty-five years later the number of inhabitants had swollen to 40 million without any marked alterations in Egypt’s resource base and little more in its basic modes of production.

      Egypt’s principal nonhuman resource remains its land. Only 3.5 percent of Egypt’s surface...

  9. Part 2 The Shifting Fortunes of State Capitalism
    • Chapter Four THE EMERGENCE OF EGYPT’S PUBLIC SECTOR
      (pp. 57-82)

      Egypt in the 1950s and the 1960s found itself among a handful of developing countries drawn into state-guided, state-dominated economic growth. One should not forget that among the LDCs Turkey had pioneered in this direction in the 1930s, as had Mexico, without benefit of a Marxian socialist rationale. India followed suit after the Second World War with the same kind of ideological underpinning. Of the “nonaligned” developing nations only Yugoslavia had an ideological commitment to the edification of a dominant public sector. The needs to which the pioneers were responding involved the rational and economic use of scarce resources (the...

    • Chapter Five THE PUBLIC SECTOR IN CRISIS
      (pp. 83-100)

      Egypt’s gamble on state-led ISI needed time. It could not settle into any kind of comfortable rhythm in the space of one Five-Year Plan, and, in the opinion of cautious Egyptian experts, not even in the space of four such plans. At a minimum what was begun in 1960 needed a decade to show results. The first Five-Year Plan was not self-contained and would not amount to much if not followed by a second Five-Year Plan. Although drawn up, a second Five-Year Plan was never implemented. The main points of weakness in the whole strategy lay in assumptions about labor...

    • Chapter Six THE PUBLIC SECTOR: PERFORMANCE AND REFORM
      (pp. 101-122)

      It would be hard to find among the several commentaries on the Egyptian public sector any accolades regarding efficiency in management and production (see esp. Guwaida 1976c; Gritli 1977, pp. 175-218; Hansen and Nashashibi 1975, pp. 255-308). There are two exceptions that in many ways prove the rule. The operation and management of the Suez Canal, between 1956 when it passed into Egyptian hands and 1967 when it was closed as a result of war, was exemplary. Volume of shipping increased as did state revenues, the waterway was adequately maintained, and the safety record was excellent. The second exception was...

    • Chapter Seven THE OPEN DOOR TO THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE
      (pp. 123-157)

      The formal adoption of the “economic open-door policy” (infitah) was not forced upon Egypt by domestic capitalist lobbies nor by Western creditors. Both sources of advice, to the limited extent that they had access to the Sadat regime after 1970, tended to confirm the course upon which the country had already set itself. That course was chosen in light of internal economic and external political factors. While I shall stress the economic considerations in this chapter, it is important to understand the broader context in whichinfitahbecame state policy.

      As with most other major shifts in Egyptian policy (the...

    • Chapter Eight THE PRIVATE SECTOR: OUT OF THE SHADOWS
      (pp. 158-188)

      Over time theinfitahwrought profound changes in the symbols of legitimacy that were forged after 1952. Egypt’s foreign enemies had been the Western powers, especially as they acted through NATO or through regional “puppets” like Saudi Arabia. From 1974 on these actors were portrayed as the providers of advanced technology and capital, interested mainly if not solely in a fair return on their investment. Internally three institutions were implicitly discredited: the armed forces insofar as they assumed any nonmilitary roles; the Arab Socialist Union; and the public sector. I shall deal with the first two in subsequent chapters, but...

    • Chapter Nine REPRISE: ACCUMULATION AND DEEPENING
      (pp. 189-204)

      Developing countries that, like Egypt, adopted state-led ISI as their basic economic strategy, have been quite explicit about what they hoped to achieve. The very fact that public political authorities took the initiative, as opposed to the private sector itself, already says a great deal about their motives which had to do primarily with national economic sovereignty and strength. Poor agricultural societies, it was rightly judged, would have little weight and even less room for maneuver in the international arena.

      It was expected that industry would replace agriculture as the motor of the economy, absorb its excess labor, and, as...

  10. Part 3 The Impact of Social Engineering
    • Chapter Ten EQUITY AND INEQUITY WITHOUT PAIN
      (pp. 207-231)

      Capital accumulation and investment have been the central themes of the preceding six chapters, but intimately linked to, and often working at counterpurposes with regime strategies for growth have been policies for social equity and income redistribution. There is no question that Nasserist policies led to far-reaching socio-economic leveling. In the span of two decades Egypt moved from a society in which the inequitable distribution of wealth was of the highly-skewed Latin American variety to one which by nonsocialist LDC standards was among the more egalitarian. Part of the cost of redistribution and greater equity, however, was inefficiency in public...

    • Chapter Eleven STATE AND CLASS
      (pp. 232-262)

      The existence of a capitalist bourgeoisie in Egypt is a twentieth-century phenomenon. Its indigenous wing took shape in the 1920s and achieved its maximum power after the Second World War. But its economic and political power was never great, paling beside that of foreign interests and hemmed in by a state and regime it could never fully penetrate, no less control. A brief flirtation with the Nasserist state after 1952 seemed to hold some promise, but what hopes existed were dashed by 1962. It can be said, therefore, that at no time in the modern history of Egypt has a...

    • Chapter Twelve LAND TENURE AND RURAL CLASS
      (pp. 263-304)

      Students of contemporary Egyptian society, whatever their ideologies, are nearly at one in attributing great political weight to the agrarian bourgeoisie. This class has been variously named rural middle class, second stratum, kulaks, middle-range landowners, rural capitalist class, and so on. Some have attributed to it the paternity of Egypt’s ruling elite since 1952, and others have depicted it as the single most dominant political force in the country. It is my contention that while an observable rural bourgeoisie does exist, it sired neither the regime of Nasser nor Sadat. It can best be seen as a class fraction subordinate...

  11. Part 4 Politics without Participation
    • Chapter Thirteen THE ARAB SOCIALIST UNION: CORPORATISM AND CONTAINMENT
      (pp. 307-332)

      The weight given the economy and state apparatus in this book does not accurately reflect the priorities of the Egyptian elite itself. It was absorbed almost entirely in the hurly-burly of domestic and international politics, leaving to a handful of civilian and occasionally military technocrats the management of the economy. Both Nasser and Sadat and their respective entourages were immersed in a daily struggle to deal with real and perceived threats to their own survival. Nasser’s style was to cope with conspiracy through counterconspiracy while Sadat preferred to lure his adversaries into the open, expose, and then isolate them. But...

    • Chapter Fourteen INSTRUMENTS AND PROCESSES OF CONTROL
      (pp. 333-353)

      If Nasser was able to lay aside his preoccupations with control and preemption only occasionally, his aides, advisors, and clients were seldom able to think beyond questions of short-term personal and regime survival. Nasser’s peers from amongst the RCC began to drop away from him in the late 1950s, and increasingly in the 1960s he came to rely upon second-level Free Officers, drawn primarily from military intelligence. The major exception to this trend was Hakim ’Amir who clung to his fiefdom in the armed forces and held sway over the biggest of what became known as the “power centers.” It...

    • Chapter Fifteen CONTROLLED LIBERALIZATION UNDER SADAT
      (pp. 354-388)

      The marketplace reigns supreme neither in the Egyptian economy nor in the political arena. Sadat and his entourage carefully moved toward mixed systems in both domains and left themselves avenues of retreat toward increased economic statism and political authoritarianism. Real change took place in the economy and the polity in the 1970s, change that cannot be dismissed lightly but that is not irrevocable.

      Anwar Sadat made it clear early in his incumbency that what he liked in the Nasserist political formula was the alliance of working forces and that what he disliked was the Arab Socialist Union. Initially he talked...

  12. Part 5 Regional and International Dependency
    • Chapter Sixteen SOCIALIST AND CAPITALIST DEPENDENCY
      (pp. 391-405)

      In examining Egypt’s dealings with the superpowers we shall be concerned primarily with those exchanges that have had a direct impact upon the functioning of the economy and upon the decisions that have determined economic growth strategies. The two major avenues of great power influence have come through economic aid and arms sales or transfers. In this light Egypt’s experience may well presage that of other LDCs that plunged into an ISI phase of growth in the 1950s and 1960s, in cooperation with the USSR, only to move back towards the US and export-led growth in the 1970s and 1980s...

    • Chapter Seventeen THE CLUB OF FRIENDS
      (pp. 406-422)

      While the superpowers have competed tenaciously to prevent Egypt from falling irrevocably into the other’s camp, lesser creditors have also joined in the geopolitical game. The IMF and the IBRD, on occasion in apparent conformity to US policy objectives, have urged upon Egypt economic reform packages that would foster private enterprise, foreign private investment, and fiscal responsibility. Implementation of these programs would pull Egypt more firmly into the Western orbit. Egypt’s failure in the last decade to follow their counsel has not stemmed from ideological resistance but rather from political expediency. OECD nations have become major creditors, using their aid...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 423-434)

    The period of socialist transformation in Egypt’s economy lasted no more than five years (1961-1966) and that of radical political mobilization at best two (1965-1967). Both processes were top-down, state-inspired and state-led. Few observers would deny that Egypt’s leaders in the middle 1960s were able to use the parastatal apparatus effectively as an autonomous instrument to bring about economic and political change at the expense of existing class interests. There is less agreement concerning the extent of the changes promoted by the state. A number of students of contemporary Egypt have argued that all the Nasserist regime did was to...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 435-464)
  15. Index
    (pp. 465-475)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 476-476)