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Nigel Harris


(Summer 1968)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.33, Summer 1968, p.39.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Revolution in Egypt’s Economic System, From Private Enterprise to Socialism, 1952-1965
Patrick O’Brien
RIIA Oxford, 55s

In a long, carefully presented account, Mr O’Brien describes the economic history of Egypt over the past fifty years, immediately before the military coup d’état of 1952, the period 1952-7, the interregnum of 1957-60, and the structure of economic institutions since 1960. The account covers in detail the growth of state capitalism and seeks to suggest why the Egyptian army officers pursued or were driven by events in this direction. In addition, the earlier chapters trace out the endemic trend towards state capitalism.

There is an excellent chapter on the nebulous ideology which has been thrown up to ‘explain’ Nasser’s extensions of the State. The book contains a wealth of factual information, and is clear and direct. It lacks much account of the social basis of change in Egypt, and its account of classes is primitive (at points, there is exaggerated examination of the views of private businessmen), but as a compendium of factual material and as an analysis on a relatively narrow front, the book is excellent.

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Last updated: 19.6.2008