To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Chapter two presents an overview of the evolution of Egypt’s political economy under Nasser and Sadat. Central to this history are the struggles over property rights. Under Nasser, nationalist attempts to modernize the economy eventually gave way to an experiment in Arab socialism within the geopolitical context of the Cold War. During this period, an ‘authoritarian bargain’ was established in which broadly redistributive social and economic policies sought to provide welfare for, and redistribute land to, the popular classes in return for their political subordination. In the 1970s, Sadat began to dismantle Arab socialism and establish a more liberal political economy through his infitah policy. In doing so, Sadat presided over the beginning of the disintegration of the authoritarian bargain. To contain social conflict, Sadat emboldened the right-wing forces of political Islam in the hope that they would combat the left and provide an Islamic alternative to the social protection offered by the Nasserists.
Chapter three examines Egypt’s embrace of a neoliberal policy paradigm through the adoption of a comprehensive package of structural adjustment policies proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the early 1990s. This neoliberal shift was a gradual process that was contested by the conservative faction within the ruling National Democratic Party who were primarily concerned with the preservation of social order. Over the course of the 1990s and 2000s, an ideologically committed neoliberal faction, aligned with transnational capital, emerged within the party and was able to establish its hegemony and form government in 2004. Under this ‘government of businessmen’, the implementation of the neoliberal agenda was accelerated by means of an increasingly disciplinary state expropriating customary and public property and enforcing capitalist property rights, resulting in rising income inequality and growing popular discontent.
The preceding chapters demonstrated the negative effects of liberalization and neoliberal restructuring on the social, economic and political order of Egypt over the past three and a half decades. The post-war order institutionalized a populist authoritarian bargain, in which workers and peasants accepted the authoritarianism of Nasser’s one-party state in return for job guarantees, employment protection, health care, pensions and tenure security. The Egyptian state assumed a leading role in the economy, first through import substitution industrialization and later through wide-ranging nationalizations and economic planning under the rubric of “Arab socialism.” In this context, the public sector grew dramatically because of an expanding (albeit patchy) welfare state and the need to fill the gaps left by Egyptian capital’s unwillingness to invest in the economy. Political Islam, in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood, was repressed and reduced to insignificance as key aspects of its Islamic “moral economy” were pre-empted – and surpassed – by the Nasserist regime.
Chapter four examines the evolution of the Egyptian military from an organization associated with the implementation of a statist model of development in the immediate post-colonial period, to an emergent fraction of capital in the neoliberal period. Under the tenure of Sadat, leading military figures lost their privileged access to the political sphere. However, this formal depoliticization of the military was compensated with the granting of new forms of economic privileges that enabled the leadership of the military to begin expanding their institutional and personal economic power. In the context of the neoliberal shift in the 1990s and 2000s, the military was able to expand its economic power further, thereby emerging as a fraction of capital in competition with that of the neoliberals associated with the NDP.
Chapter six examines the impact of liberalization on the lives of Egyptian workers and the growth of industrial unrest in the 2000s. After a slow start, the pace of liberalization began to accelerate in the mid-1990s, sparking the beginning of the largest strike-wave since the early 1970s. In response, the regime sought to placate the workers by increasing wages and public sector employment. Beginning in 2004, the government of businessmen reinvigorated the neoliberal project. Between 2004 and 2008, privatizations accelerated significantly and labour market reforms stripped workers of what rights they retained. By 2008, the number of strikes increased dramatically, and the official trade union movement was unable to contain the discontent against the regime. A new generation of workers, many of whom were radicalized women, would begin to question the legitimacy of the regime and struggle to create an independent union movement. These struggles, while not as visible as the student protests of Tahrir Square in 2010-11, would ultimately signal the beginning of the end of the Mubarak regime.
Chapter five examines the evolution of Muslim Brotherhood in contemporary Egypt and characterizes the organization as an aspiring fraction of capital. Far from being an anti-capitalist force in Egyptian social and political life, the Muslim Brotherhood has consistently sought to establish an Islamic economy rooted in private property. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, this resulted in the growth of Islamic finance, in the form of both Islamic banking as well as Islamic Money Management Companies. The growth of Islamic finance and the attempts to branch out into manufacturing were met with resistance from the NDP and the dominant fraction of capital that had close ties to the regime. By the late 1990s, a new guard of conservative, business-oriented Brothers ascended to through the ranks of the movement and attempted to replicate the successes of the AKP in Turkey. The deposition of Mubarak in the context of the Arab uprisings opened up space for the Brothers to attempt to expand their economic power beyond their commercial base. The attempt to do so, however, would bring the Brothers into conflict with an emboldened and extremely powerful military that managed to establish itself as the hegemonic fraction of capital in Egypt.
Chapter one presents the conceptual framework for the book through an examination of the relationship between capitalist development and democratization. In doing so, it challenges the assumption, pervasive in much of the literature on economic liberalization in the Global South, that the liberalization of markets facilitates the growth of democratization. The chapter articulates an alternative analytical framework rooted in class analysis. This framework does two things. First, it conceptualizes the main actors among Egypt’s elite as competing fractions of capital, vying for dominance in a context of profound socio-economic change. Secondly, it conceptualizes neoliberalism as a form of capitalism rooted in strategies of accumulation predicated upon the dispossession of the popular classes. In doing so, this chapter articulates the concept of neoliberal authoritarianism as a framework for understanding Egypt’s process of economic liberalization
Chapter seven examines the impact of liberalization on the Egyptian countryside. Touted as a solution to Egypt’s agricultural productivity problems, the liberalization of agriculture resulted in an extended process of dispossession in the countryside and a redistribution of land to the elite and to multi-national investors. The abolition of tenure security for peasants and small farmers, forced evictions and skyrocketing rents brought immiseration to the small producers of rural Egypt and further increased Egypt’s deep dependence on food imports. Dispossession also resulted in the intensification of land-related violence, particularly after the introduction of the agrarian reforms of 1997. While the intensification of class conflict in the countryside did not have the same dramatic effect on Egyptian politics as did the growing strike waves in the industrial cities, it did contribute to the breakdown of traditional relations of authority and the erosion of rural support for the Mubarak regime.
A conceptually rich, historically informed, and interdisciplinary study of the contentious politics emerging out of decades of authoritarian neoliberal economic reform, The Roots of Revolt examines the contested political economy of Egypt from Nasser to Mubarak, just prior to the Arab Uprisings of 2010–11. Based on extensive fieldwork conducted across rural and urban Egypt, Angela Joya employs an 'on the ground' approach to critical political economy that challenges the interpretations of Egyptian politics put forward by scholars of both democratization and authoritarianism. By critically reassessing the relationship between democracy and capitalist development, Joya demonstrates how renewed authoritarian politics were required to institutionalize neoliberal reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund, presenting the real-world impact of economic policy on the lives of ordinary Egyptians before the Arab Uprisings.