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Entre réforme sociale et mouvement national

Alain Roussillon

Émergence problématique du politique

Liberal Reform: The Case of the Society of the National Renaissance

Roel Meijer

Texte intégral


  • * I must thank professor Ra’uf ‘Abbas for giving to me most of the works written by members of the S (...)
  • 1 Gershoni Israel, "The Emergence of Pan-Nationalism in Egypt: Pan-Islamism and Pan-Arabism in the 1 (...)

1In contrast to the perception of the 1940s as the decade of irrationalism and political chaos, which further undermined the liberal tenets of the 1920s,1 the Second World War in fact saw a revival of liberal thought that extended and implicitly criticized the restricted liberalism of the so-called heyday of the Egyptian liberal period. During the late 1930s and 1940s a current of throught became visible which tried to have established a modern society. The new generation of liberals reconfirmed the central liberal tenets of secularism and parliamentary democracy against the dangers of collectivism posed by the dictatorships in Europe and the anti­democratic movements in Egypt. The European democracies, Great Britain and France, were revered as models of emulation. Their trajectory in history was deemed exemplary, and the establishment of liberal European institutions and attitudes were regarded as preconditions for development and modernity.

  • 2 Kazziha Walid, "The Jaridah-Umma Group and Egyptian Politics", Middle Eastern Studies 13, 1977, pp (...)
  • 3 Smith Charles D., Islam and the Search for Social Order in Modern Egypt: A Biography of Muhammad H (...)
  • 4 Egger Vernon, A Fabian in Egypt. Salamah Musa and the Rise of the Professional Classes in Egypt, 1 (...)
  • 5 Gershoni Israel & James P. Jankowski, Egypt, Islam and the Arabs: The Search for Egyptian Nationho (...)

2However, due to their different philosophical and educational background, the new generation of liberals differed on crucial topics from the previous generation of liberals. Their modernity manifested itself first of all in a holistic view of society. The accretions which had been latched on to liberalism at the end of the nineteenth century, for instance, the elitist notion of the superior individual, or the superior rights of families, that had been propounded by the Jarida-Umma group,2 and later by Muhammad Husayn Haykal,3 were abandoned and replaced by a more democratic notion of equal opportunities for all members of society. Similarly, social Darwinism and the concept of the survival of the fittest, which had been such a strong element in the thought of Salama Musa,4 were rejected and supplanted by a functionalist concept of society in which the different classes and social groups depended upon each other and together formed a unity and a nation. Thus, instead of the concept of Gemeinschaft, with its conservative romantic notion of the nation as the village community, the concept of Gesellschaft was embraced. Crucial also was the dismissal of those determining factors of a national personality which had been the base of Pharaonism: geograpical environment (milieu), race (Volksgeist) and moment (Zeitgeist).5 These were abandoned in favor of theories that regarded the social environment as the determining factor of culture, belief systems, social norms, and collective perceptions.

  • 6 Haggai Erlich, Students and University in Twentieth Century Egyptian Politics, London, Frank Cass, (...)
  • 7 Beinin Joel and Zacharay Lockman, Workers on the Nile. Nationalism, Communism, Islam and the Egypt (...)

3The theoretical shift was also induced by a realization that liberal society would degenerate into violence and chaos if the population was not integrated into it. Keeping large sections of society in utter poverty not only alienated them from liberal political and economic structure, but also formed a drain on society by not developing its economic and human potential. Only by giving the population a stake in society could a liberal system survive and be extended. This meant that its citizens should have rights as well as obligations, and for the first time liberals tried to determine the responsiblity of the state vis-à-vis the population. Social justice, the central theme of the 1940s, was to legitimize an increasing interventionist state that would implement reforms to decrease the glaring differences in wealth and opportunities for self-development. The liberal integrative programme of the 1940s reflected the realization of the disintegration of the political and socio-economic system based on a concept of limited liberalism as it had been established in the 1920s. The rise of an independent student movement, which forced the established parties to form a national front in 1935,6 the growing tendency of the trade unions to become independent from the tutelage of the political parties and patronage,7 as well as the establishment of independent political organizations outside the parliamentary system, such as Young Egypt and the Moslem Brotherhood, were direct inducements for drawing up the liberal reform programme.

4The different professional and philosophical background of the new liberals gave them a more practical attitude towards society. Often having graduated in natural sciences, economics, or sociology, or having a thorough knowledge of these disciplines, they believed in the scientific manipulation of society, based on objective data and modern techniques, rather than reliance upon biology or other less rational methods for development. Not the select, highly educated individual in the form of the littérateur, but the modern social engineer was their ideal on whom they pinned their hopes for development. The fact that the power of the state and the sovereignty of the nation were increasing in this period as a result of the Anglo- Egyptian treaty of 1936 contributed to the greater depth and width of their vision by enabling the reformers to implement a more ambitious policy. Their technical and "neutral" scientific background, together with the increased power of the state, are reflected in the rise of a marked tendency to assign "specialist" bureaucratic institutions to implement policy. These institutions would be free from the vicissitudes of politics and the interference of interest groups whose goals were not value free. The basic democratic attitude, however, in theory always put the ultimate responsibility on parliament.

5Modernist and rationalist, equipped with the instruments both to analyse society and reform it, the new liberals were determined to reform the irrational foundation of society inherited from a previous period in which tradition, authority, privilege and patronage reigned supreme. This did not mean that they wanted to destroy the national culture, as for instance the previous generation had tried to do with the introduction of Pharaonism. Rather, elements of the national culture were screened as it were for their value, divested of their irrational aspects, and harnessed to the new rational goals of society, if they were deemed valuable. Despite the almost casual nature of this process, the consequences were rigorous and far-reaching. The new liberals were aware that modernization demanded a totally different personality structure based on self-discipline, sobriety and the instillment of loyalty to abstract ideas as the nation, democracy, or property. Standardization and homogenization were important preconditions for development. Institutional disciplination, instead of obedience based on the traditional and social hierarchy, as in the case of Husayn Haykal, was regarded as more effective. This also accounts for the paradox in the liberal reform programme. Society must be disciplined if self-discipline and sobriety, the preconditions for a modern civilization and development, are to be instilled. This concept of modernity as the establishment of modern personality structure is both a more encompassing as well as a more subtle concept than members of the previous generation, like Muhammad Husayn Haykal or Salama Musa, had envisioned.

  • 8 Gellner Ernest, Nations and Nationalism, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1983.

6In historical perspective the new liberalism of the Society of the National Renaissance marks a transition of one phase of nation building to another. Although secular nationalism had been established by the Wafd in the revolution of 1919, it did not extend to all of society. Egypt at that time was predominantly agricultural and was characterized by what Gellner describes as pertaining to an agricultural society: cultural differentiation, sharp social differences, and a low level of education usually provided by a caste of specialist clerks who monopolize education and culture. (In a sense the Westernized intellectuals of the turn of the century also comply with this picture). By the end of the 1930s Egypt was becoming a much more modern society with expanding industry, an industrial proletariat, an increasing educated middle class, higher social mobility, and an extended infrastructure. In this phase society required drastic reforms if it wanted to adequately address the problems it faced and to become a veritable nation. It had to promote cultural homogeneity and legal egalitarianism, and accept social mobility and technological change. Its education had to be universalized and its youth trained by the state to acquire certain shared skills. In short, culture need to become a shared experience and standardized. Above all, basic notions of rationality as consistency, regularity and efficiency had to be disseminated, leading to equalization and homogenization of language and culture.8

The Society of the National Renaissance

7In many ways the Society of the National Renaissance was the liberal answer to the problems Egypt faced in the 1930s. As such it was part of a general search for alternatives for the limited elitist or corporatist liberalism of the 1920s sought by Young Egypt, the Moslem Brotherhood and the communist movement. The Society of the National Renaissance originated just before the Second World War when a group of highly influential liberals began to meet on a regular basis to discuss the distressing domestic and international political situation. This group consisted of two sections, an older generation of liberals who had grown disenchanted with Egyptian politics but wanted reform in a liberal sense, such as Ahmad Lutfi al- Sayyid (1872-1963), Baha al-Din Barakat, and Ali al-Shamsi; and a newer generation of liberals who had only started their careers. Two of them, Mirrît Boutros-Ghali (1908-1991) and Ibrahim Bayumi Madkur, (years) would in fact be the initiators and the driving force behind the new liberal current and the establishment of the Society of the National Renaissance (Jama‘at al-Nahda al-Qawmiyya). Other important members of the younger generation were Muhammad Zaki Abd al-Qadir (1908- 1986), owner of the Society’s publishing house and editor-in-chief of its monthly, al-Fusul, and Wahid Ra’fat, (years) professor in international law at Fu’ad I University. Although the older generation did not join the Society, the relations between the two generations remained close, with the older generation often acting as advisor and commenting upon the publications of the Society.

  • 9 For Mirrît Boutros-Ghali’s involvement in Coptic affairs, see the article by Donald Malcolm Reid i (...)

8All of the members and supporters of the Society of the National Renaissance belonged to the elite either by birth or by association and profession. Some were large landowners, others were leading members of the Egyptian financial and industrial circle, such as Ali al-Shamsi, who became president of the National Bank (al-Bank al-Ahlî) and who inspired the economic publications of the Society. A large number of them were members of parliament, even the ones who belonged to the younger generation. Mirrît Boutros-Ghali belonged to the famous Coptic Boutros Ghali family. His great-uncle was assassinated as primeminister in 1910, while his father Najib had been a minister of agriculture. Mirrît Boutros-Ghali himself sat twice in parliament.9 Ibrahim Bayumi Madkur would become a senator in the 1940s. Through these institutions the new liberals were able to draw up laws and attempt to reform the existing structures. The Society should therefore be regarded as an instrument of reform from within the establishment. But to be able to criticize and develop a critical reform programme, which would have put Egyptian politics on a new basis in itself needs explaining. The manner in which the Society acquired and tried to maintain its position and integrity is as revealing as its programme and explains its ultimate failure.

  • 10Abd al-Qadir Muhammad Zakî, Aqdâm 'ala al-tarîq, Cairo, AI-Mu’assassa al- misriyya al-’amma li-l- (...)
  • 11 Ibid., p. 175 and pp. 226-227.
  • 12 Ibid., p. 250.

9Fortunately, we are able to trace the intellectual, social and professional trajectory of one the members of the Society in the extensive and highly interesting memoires of Muhammad Zaki Abd al-Qadir. The main theme of his memoires is his quest for independence, for at an early stage in his life he realized that independence allowed him the room to develop his ideas and express them freely. Having been born into an impoverished umda family in 1908, he had to use his social contacts to make a career which at the same time imposed limits on his intellectual freedom. Characteristically, he entertained close relations with members of the elite and the earlier intellectual generation throughout the early part of his career. After having studied law, he became one of the low-ranking editors in 1925 of al-Siyasa, which he regards as the most intellectually, culturally and politically stimulating newspaper of that period.10 Its editor-in-chief, Muhammad Husayn Haykal, whom he regards with the highest respect, introduced him to the other leading members of the Liberal Constitutionalist Party, such as Hafiz Afifi and Muhammad Mahmud. Gradually, however, he became estranged from the Liberal Party, although he is careful to distinguish between its intellectuals (whom he considers his friends) and their political opinions, and especially between them and the professional politicians of the party. The major change came in June 1928 when Muhammad Mahmud became prime minister and the dictatorial and anti-democratic tendencies within the Liberal Party became more manifest. Besides disagreeing with the decision to dissolve parliament for three years, Muhammad Zaki Abd al-Qadir protested against the manner in which al-Siyasa was regarded by Muhammad Mahmud as his personal property which he could dispose of by will as he would with his enormous estates in Upper Egypt. He believed that from that moment the party became the preserve of the "grand old families" who dominated its cultural elite, including Taha Husayn, Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid, and Mustafa Abd al-Raziq. Muhammad Zaki Abd al-Qadir is highly critical of the class of large landowning families and its political concepts of patronage, which undermined the democratic experiment which had been started by Sa’d Zaghlul in 1919. Its anti-democratic notions led it to support the palace and its anti-Wafdist practices.11 In this period he also became aware of the low political content of the national press. Instead of propounding ideas and clear cut proposals, the newspapers were taken up by party politics and personal attacks.12 Nevertheless, despite these criticisms, he remained at his post, and even became editor of al-Siyasa al-Usbu‘iyya when Mahmud Azmi left in protest.

  • 13 Ibid., pp. 320-324. 14
  • 14 Ibid., pp. 334-335. 15.
  • 15 Ibid., pp. 356-357.

10During the following years his attempt to acquire independence seemed to end in failure. After the temporary closedown of al-Siyasa he worked for al-Sha’b, the newspaper of Isma’il Sidqi, who established his iron-fisted rule in 1930. The main reason for this decision he tells us is that he was forced to work for al-Sha’b to make a living. He maintained, however, cordial relations with Isma’il Sidqi with whom he got on well personally and who helped him to acquire a doctorate. His personal subjection was partly compensated by establishing al-Fusul in 1931, which he intended to be completely independent from political pressures. In this endeavour he was supported by his contemporaries Hafiz Mahmud, Mahmud Izzat Musa and Mahmud Taymur. Only in 1936 did his fortunes change. In that year al-Sha’b finally collapsed and he was glad to leave it after having witnessed another struggle for control of the newspaper he worked for, this time between Abd al-Fattah Yahya and Isma’il Sidqi. He also began to feel intellectually mature after having acquired his doctorate in political economy that year, at the age of twenty eight. His new intellectual boldness and growing frustration with the existing political system was expressed by establishing a Society of the Fellahin and in his call for complete reform of Egypt’s socio-economic and political structure (which foreshadowed Mirrît Boutros-Gahli’s book The Policy of Tomorrow and the programme of the Society of the National Renaissance). He believed that after the signing of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 the phase inaugured by the 1919 Revolution had been closed and that Egypt had entered a new phase. In this new phase the struggle for national independence would be less important and political attention directed towards internal reform. Large political parties, like the Wafd, which held together diverse social classes and groups, would have to be dissolved to create political parties representing the interests of particular classes and pressure groups. Politics would henceforth be based on political programmes and specific issues instead of nationalist rhetoric and interpersonal squabbles. He explicitly accepted change and development as the basic condition of life.13 Muhammad Zaki Abd al-Qadir realised his dream of becoming independent and implementing his ideas when he became a journalist at al-Ahram in August 1937, where he started his famous column Nahwa al-Nur (Towards the Light). As a journalist at a non-party political newspaper he became financially and professionally independent enough to express his opinions.14 His relations with members of the traditional political parties became increasingly strained. He criticized, for instance, the newly established Sa’di Party for its unprincipled political stance.15 By joining the Society of the National Renaissance Muhammad Zaki Abd al-Qadir intended to secure his independence which he saw as a precondition for being able to promote a liberal reform programme.

  • 16 Ra’uf ‘Abbas, Jama’at al-Nahda al-Qawmiyya, Cairo, Dâr al-Fikr li-l-Dirâsât wa l-Nashr wa l-Tawzî' (...)
  • 17 Ibid., p. 75.

11Despite the integrative and modernist attitude of the Society of the National Renaissance, it always remained small, exclusive, and elitist. During the Second World War its membership remained restricted to its original nine founding members who met at irregular intervals. When after the war its informal character was terminated and its organization was put on regular footing, the Society expanded by cooptation to twenty-three members. On 17 October 1944 the inaugural session was held, but not until six months later, on 19 April 1945, did the group finally adopt the Society of the National Renaissance as its official name. The activities of the Society were restricted to drawing up a liberal reform programme based on research and a thorough survey of Egyptian society. By printing the results through their printing house, Dar al-Fusul, using their own positions in parliament, and convincing like-minded liberals to implement the reform measures, the Society hoped to save the liberal institutions established in 1923. The detached and scientific character of the Society was laid down in its statute by confining membership to those who had no official relations with existing political parties. Attempts by some members to extend the reach of the Society by a proposal to establish a political party by 1950 was abandoned. Neither was a proposal by one of its members to attract members from all classes of society accepted.16 In the end the secluded character of the Society would be its undoing. Despite its endeavor to remain immune from the political turmoil of the 1940s the Society drew too close to the ruling Sa’di Party and its premier Mahmud Fahmi al-Nuqrashi. The final failure to implement its reform programme, in addition to the imminent victory of the Wafd in January 1950, induced the Society to dissolve itself during the spring of 1949.17

12How serious the Society took its task of the drawing up of the liberal reform programme becomes apparent from the number of sessions that were spent on discussing the different proposals, the extent and the detail of the programme, and the list of publications published by Dar al-Fusul which elaborated on the programme. On 8 June 1944 the Society published its first preliminary programme entitled The Programme of Social Studies (Barnamij al-Dirasat al-Ijtima‘iyya). During sixty-two meetings held between October 1944 and 27 February 1947, at the height of activities of the Society, twenty-three meetings alone were devoted to discussing and drawing up the definite liberal programme. In October 1945 a fourteen-page programme was finally published, followed in December 1946 by the official announcement of the statutes. Together these documents give an idea of the intentions of the society.

  • 18 Ibid., p. 50.

13The statute presents the detached, independent and "neutral" scientific attitude that permeated the Society. The first article of the statute laid down the notion that the Society will "work to create an enlightened public opinion and direct national attention towards a correct understanding of the problems of the nation, whether they are political, social, or economic; and that it will provide solutions for these problems through study and research and present views undistorted by political bias." The second article states that the Society intends to "draw up a programme which will realize the aspirations of the nation in creating a renaissance (nahda) and progress; and that it will complete political and economic independence and raise the standard of living." Finally the Statute stipulates that "the Society is independent from political parties and that political debates are prohibited."18

  • 19 Ibid., pp. 65-69. The books published by Dar al-Fusûl are: Mirrît Boutros-Ghali, Al-Islah al-zira‘ (...)

14The liberal programme dating from October 1945 sums up the issues the Society had studied and adopted an opinion on. It shows how meticulously and thoroughly the members of the Society had taken upon themselves the task of drawing up an overall programme which included all the major issues Egypt faced. The issues were organized in different categories. For instance under the category "Foreign Policy", the following issues were listed and filled in: 1) Support of peace and international security and international cooperation on the base of justice, equality, and freedom of the peoples; 2) Completion of political and economic independence, and non- recognition of any privileged position of a foreign country, revision of the Treaty of Alliance between Egypt and Great Britain on this base; 3) Solution of the Sudanese problem on the base of the unity of the Nile Valley; 4) Support of the Arab League. Under the category of "State Organization" the following issues are taken up: support of the representative system; guarantee of fair elections; promotion of district and local councils; establishment of a constitutional court; and, unifying the judicial system. Under the category "Economic Renaissance" the Society finds the following issues important: encouragement of agricultural, industrial and merchant wealth; and, strengthening the financial independence by placing the deposits of the central bank under the surveillance of the state. However, the most important field of attention was the category "Social Reform". The Society calls for the dissemination of the "spirit of social juctice" and the support of every individual to live with human dignity; raising the standard of living of the fellah by the distribution of smallholdings and restricting large landownership. In addition the Society advocates the protection of agricultural and industrial workers through insurance and a minimum wage, as well as the generalisation of education in order to establish a national culture. Between 1945 and 1949, Dar al-Fusul published seven books which elaborated on some of these issues.19

15A mere summing up of the points of the reform programme of the Society, however, does not illustrate its internal logic, ultimate goals, and dilemmas. The goal the Society had set itself was to establish a bourgeois society in Egypt. What makes this attempt so unique is that the Society realizes which principles were at the root of that society. All its reforms ultimately have one purpose: the transformation of the Egyptian personality, that is, to instill in the population a sense of order and comportment comparable to the bourgeois conduct in Western Europe. This attitude was believed to rest on self-discipline, self-regulation, and the concomitant qualities of sobriety, diligence, and individualism. The reforms aimed to make Egyptians into rational individual citizens. Economically this meant that they should diligently engage in profit-making pursuits, calculate the risks involved, and act as entrepreneurs. Politically it required that political parties debate public affairs rationally, concentrate on important subjects and lead the country to progress, whith democratic procedures prevailing over patronage and authority. In society as a whole, power and authority as antipodes of rationality were to be diffused and replaced by other control mechanisms which were far more encompassing and penetrating, and therefore capable of transforming the personality by internalization.

16If the contribution the Society made to political thought in Egypt is the idea that only by transforming the personality can liberal institutions and economic mechanisms function properly, then this realization contained a major dilemma. As reforms considered necessary for instilling into the population a different attitude could be implemented only by the state, they also enhanced its power. The more reforms and the larger the interference of the state, the less room there was for civil society to develop. This process was especially dangerous in a society where civil institutions had barely begun to form a force in themselves. What complicated this dilemma, but at the same time provided its solution, was the belief that the state itself also had to be reformed. Infiltrated by antiquated concepts of rule and power which had lodged themselves within the modern body politic, these institutions had to be reformed. The liberal solution dictated that parliament should function as the central governmental institution. By shifting power away from the autocratic irrational power of the king to the legislature, the Society hoped to check the power of the state while integrating the population in society and presenting parliament as the symbol and centre of rationality.

17Thus, the liberal programme of modernization consisted of a chain of reforms which interacted whith on different fields of activities that had to be (re)ordered to assure the instillment of bourgeois conduct. In principle no aspect of life seemed to remain sacred and secluded; the opening up of society and its "enlightenment", sometimes literally, as in the case of modern housing, was deemed natural and was justified in the name of development and modernization. In different spheres of life, backward conduct must be clearly identified and analysed in order to be reformed and substituted by conduct based on self-regulation and the concomitant values of earnestness, diligence, responsibility, and sobriety.

18The interesting political aspect of the programme of the Society was its attempt to define the demarcation line of the state and private initiative in the modernization of society. The state had the assignment to penetrate society, open it up, and impose discipline and order, so that the population has integrated economically, educationally, and militarily into society. Once the population had received a basic disciplination and education, which enabled it to participate in society, private initiative integrated the population into civil society through political institutions and economic entreprises. This delicate balance between private and public institutions had to assure that the population became socialized in a manner which guaranteed both an ordering and a rationalizing of society. But not only, or even primarily, did old spheres of life fall under the purview of the reform programme. The existing liberal institutions were heavily criticized for not living up to standards and fulfilling their function of integrating the population and rationalizing it. Infiltrated by standards and customs from antiquated and pre-modern periods they became pervaded by old-fashioned values of patronage and authority and uneconomic business conduct which prevented the development of society.

19In order to reform these different spheres of life, they were to be structured into a hierarchy of levels, each with its own regulations and functions that imposed values and models conducive to development. At the top of the hierarchy stood the central liberal institutions and politicians that needed to radiate liberal values to the population and present themselves as models of modern rational conduct. At the bottom were the fellahin who were to be integrated into the new system of values through model villages. If precise rules of conduct were to be drawn up for parliamentarians and political parties concerning the technique of debating and the drawing up of laws, the same applied to the fellahin on a lower level; they were to be instructed in hygiene, the value of property, and the basic rules of order.

Intellectual influences

  • 20 Roussillon Alain, "Sociologie et société en Egypte : le contournement des intellectuels par l’Etat (...)
  • 21 Letter from Mrs. Gertrude Boutros-Ghali to the author dated 30/1/1993.
  • 22 Wallwork Ernest, Durkheim: Morality and Milieu, Cambridge MA, 1972, p. 31.
  • 23 Nisbet Robert A., The Sociology of Emile Durkheim, London, 1975, p. 16 sq p. 32 and 67.
  • 24 Nisbet, op. cit., p. 135 and Wallwork, op. cit., p. 116.
  • 25 Wallwork, op. cit., p. 37 sq.
  • 26 Ibid., p. 83.

20The exact intellectual influences on the most important members of the Society of the National Renaissance, Mirrît Boutros-Ghali and Ibrahim Bayumi Madkur, are not clear. In general the influence of John Stuart Mill and the utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham is perceivable. But perhaps a more direct influence has been exerted by Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), whose sociology has been taught at Cairo University since 1925.20 Mirrît Boutros must have come into contact with his ideas either there or in France where he studied law, political science, and international law.21 The rejection of both authors of biological,22 individualistic, and geographical factors as determinants in favor of a functionalist sociological approach in which every aspect of society is related to a larger whole is probably derived from Durkheim.23 Perhaps also the notion that intermediate institutions in which citizens must organize themselves to give meaning to their lives and prevent the state from crushing private inititiative derives from Durkheim, apart from being a general liberal tenet.24 The notion of the collective consciousness (la conscience collective), as crucial to keeping society together,25 is transformed by Mirrît Boutros-Ghali and Ibrahim Bayumi Madkur into the concept of the "national consciousness." Its association with morality and moral obligation is one of the central themes of the liberal reform programme. The two Egyptian reformers would therefore be wholly in accord with Durkheim when he states that the diminution of collective authority is one of the sources of the social and moral disorder characteristic of modem societies, and that class conflict and social unrest reflect in part the collapse of traditional sources of moral authority. Such phenomena reflect the failure of societies to establish new regulative controls to replace traditional authority which are undermined by social differentiation. Because societies have generally failed to establish new regulative agencies, the modern era is characterized by chronic moral and social disorder.26

  • 27 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, Siyâsat al-ghad. Barnâmij siyâsî wa iqtisâdî wa ijtimâ’î, Cairo, Matba’at al (...)

21In the following sections the internal logic and model of the liberal reform programme of the Society of the National Renaissance will be described. We will see first how parliament is regarded as a model of politics and the embodiment of the moral order. Afterwards the demarcation lines drawn between the state and private inititiative is presented, followed by an illustration of the task of the state to impose social discipline. Finally the function and manner in which a national consciousness and identity are created is described. The paper concludes with the social reform programme of the Society and its ideas on the central bank. Also important is the discernment of the development of this strain of liberal political thought from the end of the 1930s to the end of the 1940s. For this reason I have concentrated on Mirrît Boutros-Ghali, whose The Policy of Tomorrow represents the first liberal political treatise, but who gradually revised his opinions, especially concerning the role of the state.27

Parliament as model of modernity

22The two most important books written on political institutions by members of the Society of the National Renaissance are The Policy of Tomorrow published in 1938 and written by Mirrît Boutros-Ghali, and Government Institutions, A New Order, a New Life, written by both Mirrît Boutros-Ghali and his friend and associate Ibrahim Bayumi Madkur. The second book must be regarded as a sequel to the first, on which it elaborates. First distributed in 1943 in a limited edition to politicians, the work had to wait until the lifting of censorship in 1945 before it could be printed by Dar al-Fusul. In these two works one finds the concept of parliament as model of modem conduct.

  • 28 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, The Policy of Tomorrow, Washington D.C., 1953, p. 3.
  • 29 Ibid., p. 5.
  • 30 Ibid., p. 8.

23In The Policy of Tomorrow Mirrît Boutros-Ghali poses what he believes to be the main problem of Egyptian politics: "Public institutions, like the constitution, the administration and the judiciary, do not subsist unless supported by the spirit of those communities for whom they have been established. They cannot properly discharge their function except with the cooperation and actual participation of those communities."28 He tries to explain the gap between the two by pointing to the imposed character of these institutions, having been derived from Western Europe and lacking indigenous roots. This does not mean, however, that Western institutions in themselves are not universal. These institutions are alien because Egypt was not as advanced as Europe when they were imposed: "Since the historical development which transformed absolute rule into a democratic system has not completely taken place in Egypt, democracy is a strange system with us, a system transplanted to a mileu unprepared for it and lacking the elements necessary for its maintenance and growth." The disparity can be overcome by creating a "political public opinion" and giving the Egyptians "a true social and political education."29 Only by establishing an enlightened and stable independent public opinion can a nation become civilized. A mature public opinion and national consciousness, together with a strong and firm social system, and economic resourcefulness, are believed by Mirrit Butus Ghali to be the foundations of modern democratic societies such as Great Britain and France.30 In Egypt these foundations are lacking, a deficiency that is partly ascribed to the malfunctioning of the parliamentary system.

  • 31 Ibid., p. 6.
  • 32 Ibid., p. 9.

24Mirrit Boutros-Ghali castigates the Egyptian political parties for failing to integrate the population into the parliamentary system and raise its political consciousness. In The Policy of Tomorrow he accuses them of being "disorganized," and "inexperienced in matters of state and democratic procedure." Apart from the Wafd, "there are no real Egyptian parties that we may speak of; for those so-called political parties have no proclaimed exact policy regarding national life, no constant idea regarding the forms and methods of government, and no outlined schemes for economic and social reconstruction." Instead, the political system in Egypt is based on the "politics of personalities and of personal ulterior motives."31 "Dishonesty" and the abuse of administrative power for party purposes prevent the adoption of abstract categories such as the general interest: "For a country enclosed in the atmosphere of such ceaseless political disputes can never come to see the general interest of its people or attain any real, healthy nationalism."32

  • 33 Ibid., p. 10.

25In addition, Egyptian politics suffers from vices like "extravagance in political promises and the encouragement of dissidence in social and religious affairs." Lack of political maturity and political prejudices and party strife expose the social order of the whole nation to great dangers and "corrupt the national spirit itself."33

  • 34 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît & Ibrâhîm Bayûmî Madkur, Al-’Adât al-hukûmiyya. nizâm

26The unprincipled character of Egyptian political parties is also reflected in the choice of unqualified political candidates, who are mostly sought among relatives and friends. The word mujamala is used in Government Institutions to denote this phenomena. Although literally meaning politeness, amiability, and courteousness, it has the connotation of lack of principles, and a predisposition to bribery and corruption. According to the authors: "Mujamala is the most pervasive affliction in our private and public life."34 In party politics it means that candidates are chosen arbitrarily, not based on clear lines of distinction, such as personal qualifications (akfa´) and expertise (khibra). As with so many other aspects of the present regime, old traditions and institutions have adopted new outer forms and lodged themselves within the framework of the 1923 Constitution, undermining its modern character and function. The authors describe this process of corruption as the conflation of asabiyya (relations based on tribal relations) with 'izbiyya (relations based on modern party affiliation).

  • 35 Ibid., p. 69.
  • 36 Ibid., pp. 70-73.

27This infiltration of new forms by old attitudes and values of patronage and dependency erodes modern rational democratic procedures. Strong blood ties and special interests, for example, often turn debates between political candidates into violent clashes. Rallies become a show of physical force, and elections are often won by intimidation instead of the prevalence of reason and a rational choice between different options.35 Extremism (tatarruf) and exaggeration (ghuluw), as well as extravagance (israj) often reign supreme where reasonableness is called for. Flattery and outrageous promises, not intended to be kept and accounted for, are shored up by extravagance, either in the form of gifts, huge rallies, or conspicuous consumption.36

  • 37 Boutros-ghali Mirrît, The Policy of Tomorrow, Washington D.C., 1953, pp. 11-13.

28The lack of public spirit and the non-adherence to abstract principles also affects the administration, which is subordinated to the personal goals of politicians to the extent that it seems as if the administration is "the property of the political parties." Clear procedures and rules for the selection and appointment of public officials are lacking, as well as a sense of social responsibility. During elections the administration provides no services, as it is "annexed to the action of parties and follows their trail." Due to the corruption of the administration, the public has become convinced that no weight attaches to any right as such, "only personal intervention and great influence could avail in such matters." Mirrît Boutros-Ghali concludes that, "tyranny and instability in administrative affairs prevent...the political, social and economic growth of the nation."37

  • 38 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît & Ibrâhîm Bayûmî Madkur, Al-’Adât al-hukûmiyya. nizâm jadîd, hayâh jadîd, Cai (...)
  • 39 Ibid., p. 48.

29Juxtaposed to this corrupted liberal system is a political system which is based on clear and distinct features where the tasks between the executive, the legislative and the judiciary branches are separated and clearly defined, and where parliament stands at the apex as the supreme disciplined and disciplining institution. In this political system politics are based on rational debate and modern conduct. Parliament, as the central organ of society and the speaker of the will of the population, not only has the task of guidance (irshad) and education (ta‘lim) of the population in rational procedures and conduct,38 it also demands an examplary model of conduct: "It protects the general interest, renounces personal advantages, and radiates divine justice and peace in the election district and the rest of the country, as it does under the dome of parliament."39 Aside from its moral function, parliament has the task of exerting its responsibility by surpervision and control (raqaba) of the executive branche and the bureaucracy.

  • 40 Ibid., p. 34.
  • 41 Ibid., p. 36.
  • 42 Ibid., p. 46 sq.

30In order for parliament to function as a model and become an instrument of modernization it has to acquire the status and power it has in West European democracies. The central reform on which the whole of Mirrît Boutros-Ghali’s and Ibrahim Bayumi Madkur’s political reform programme and concept of the parliament as model hinges is the concentration of power in parliament as the sole institution that represents the will of the population. This entails the adoption of the principle of ministerial responsibility and the elimination of "obscurity" (ghumud) in the relations between the legislative and executive branches, which the king abuses to his advantage. All those supporting the executive power of the king are condemned for their old-fashioned concepts based on "traditions which are not in harmony with the new system."40 The reformers state that this is an excellent example of how "the power of the past not only is found in forms and traditions, but extends to principles and articles of the constitution which have the purpose to root out this past and to free itself from its bonds."41 Expressing their trust in democracy, they reject the basic contempt of "the minority [that] does not respect the majority and is not willing to accept the majority because [it feels that] the public opinion is not mature enough."42 Illiteracy of the electorate is not in itself a sufficient reason to demean democracy. The violation of democracy is always the fault of politicians whose task it is to defend it.

  • 43 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, The Policy of Tomorrow, Washington D.C., 1953, p. 7.

31But legal reforms cannot in themselves bring about major changes. The survival of the parliamentary system as a rational model of politics is above all dependent on the reform of the political parties themselves. As Mirrît Boutros-Ghali states in The Policy of Tomorrow: "No advance can be hoped for unless it be under the light of fully elaborated cultural, economic and social programs, which can only be the work of political parties." Opportunism and favoritism should be substituted by principles and clear rules. The multi-party system (hizbiyya) is the only rational manner in which politics can be channeled, where people belonging to different currents can organise themselves around common political principles and programmes which should be directed towards reform (islah) and the renaissance (nahda). Flexibility and adaptability "in accordance with the needs of the nation"43 are indispensable methods in achieving these goals. In that sense the multi-party system should be a school (madrasa) where public consciousness is formed and problems are studied.

  • 44 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît & Ibrâhîm Bayûmî Madkur, Al-’Adât al-hukûmiyya. Nizâm jadîd, hayâh jadîd, Cai (...)
  • 45 Ibid., p. 66.

32The modernity of the two authors is underlined in their model of the politician. As "there is no other method for recovery than through expertise", an important criterium in the choice of candidates for political parties and elections should be their expertise (khibra).44 Expertise liberates them from external influences, either in the form of traditions or patronage, enabling them to form the most scientific and neutral decision that will accord with the general welfare. Procedures should be introduced to determine the qualifications of the candidate. "What is a candidature but a testimony (shahada), an exam, and a proof of integrity (tazkiyya); a testimony before a court of the public opinion in order to support the candidate and help him win his case for election; and a proof of integrity before a leader or political party for whom he offers his services to the public and declares himself capable of fulfilling them."45

  • 46 Ibid., p. 62 sq.

33Elections are the most important means of instilling the democratic ideals in the people. The two reformers use the metaphor of the school to explain this process, as they did with the political parties: "Elections are the school (madrasa) of the people and the means of educating (tarbiyya) the public opinion." They are the final proof of the rational qualities of the parliamentary system. Mutual respect, the personal dignity (al-karama al-shakhsiyya) of the candidates, and their individual independence (al-istiqlal al-fardi) represent attitudes which are essential for democracy. Only free and honest elections have the capacity to instill in the citizens the feeling that they have equal rights and that their policy is being implemented. Elections also have the important function of strengthening national feelings. They are a demonstration of nationalism, or in the words of the authors, "the hajj to the Ka’ba of the Umma."46

  • 47 Ibid., p. 74.

34Any infringement of the electoral process is not only a crime against a particular party, but a crime against virtue (fadila) and the morality of the nation.47

Defining the public and private spheres of influence

35Having established the central function of the parliamentary system as a model, the next step the refomers make is to define the demarcation lines between the government and civil society and assign specific tasks the government has to carry out in society. Despite it is liberal character and the stress laid on creating a mature citizenship and a responsible government, it is exactly at this juncture that the major tensions of the liberal programme are revealed. If the erection of a true civil society and a new moral community are the main points of focus, and self-discipline and responsibility the basis on which a new moral order should be established, the role of the state versus the responsible citizen remains ambiguous in most of the writings of the members of the society. Aware of the economic, political and cultural underdevelopment of Egyptian society, they ask the state to implement reforms in order to establish a civil society, while at the same time they try to keep the state at bay and restrict its range of activities.

  • 48 Owen Roger, "The Ideology of Economic Nationalism in its Egyptian Context: 1919-1939", in Intellec (...)

36In earlier liberal economic thought this dilemma had been reflected in Bank Misr’s 1929 report on industry. Though industry was dependent on the state for tariff protection and credit, it did not want to come to be under the complete control of the state.48 After the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 this dilemma became more acute as the power of the state grew and the social and economic problems of Egypt increased. The call for state intervention and the critique of the exclusivist economic policy became louder among radical groups as Young Egypt.

  • 49 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, The Policy of Tomorrow, Washington D.C.. 1953, p. 16.
  • 50 Ibid., p. 49.
  • 51 Ibid.
  • 52 Ibid., p. 50.

37The liberal dilemma becomes apparent in Mirrît Boutros-Ghali’s book The Policy of Tomorrow when he asks himself which tasks the government may appropriately assume. While he seems to be aware that "our economic resources are so limited, and private initiative is so weak that government intervention and its assumption of full responsibility is inevitable if the works are to be done," he defends the liberal axiom that the state should confine itself to promoting the initiative of individuals and private bodies.49 State intervention is rejected for two reasons. First, he believes that it is a "prevalent illusion... that if government would improve its methods and carry out its functions with perfect rectitude, it would automatically become capable of meeting the present economic shortage with success."50 Second, he holds the opinion that the demands for income redistribution, which became one of the most important reasons for state intervention, are applicable only to Western Europe. Whereas in Europe the issue of distribution of wealth arose "under the assumption that the national wealth was large enough to guarantee a fair standard of living," in Egypt the situation is different: "Our economic and social difficulties are only the result of the shortage of national resources and the incapacity of these resources to meet the needs of the people." From this the conclusion is drawn that, "the question of distribution plays, therefore only an insignificant role in them." Adopting the general analysis of the large landowners of the reasons of Egypt’s crisis, Mirrît Boutros-Ghali states that "despite its gravity, the economic difficulty of Egypt is simple enough; it is the result of overpopulation and of the poverty of economic resources."51 His defence of laissez- faire economics, however, had long been abandoned by leading representatives of both industrial and agrarian interests. Adhering to a nineteenth century liberalism he proclaimed that the economy is the preserve of civil society, and "we shall hardly ever suggest measures which would call for government intervention in the economic machine, especially where the law of supply and demand is involved. If we ever do so, it should be carried out with utmost caution and after exhaustive scrutiny."52

  • 53 Ibid., p. 38.

38On these premises The Policy of Tomorrow is divided in two sections. The first is concerned with the general problems Egypt suffers from, to which Mirrît Boutros- Ghali intends to draw public attention, assuming that they will be solved by private initiative. The second part deals with more specific problems which fall within the purview of the government. In the first section he describes what since the turn of the century is generally considered by the ruling class and the British to be the core of Egypt’s economic problem: the discrepancy between the rate of growth of the population and Egypt’s limited economic resources, especially agricultural ones. Attention is drawn to the declining average production and cultivated area as a result of the growth of the population. This is aggravated by the deterioration of the soil, the spread of cotton diseases, and the lack of a drainage system. He points out that since the beginning of this century the standard of living of the population has been in decline, a development that is reflected in the deterioration of the mental and spiritual qualities of the population, as well as its declining nutrition, which, compared with the average consumption of basic foodstuffs in other countries "is inconceivably low."53 The strength of the population has been further undermined by diseases, like bilharzia, by which more than seventy percent of the total population has been afflicted. As solutions he proposes to increase food production, improve productivity, and stimulate the expansion of irrigation and drainage systems, as well as to improve animal husbandry techniques.

  • 54 Ibid., p. 62.
  • 55 Ibid., p. 63 sq.

39Surprising, for a member of the bourgeoisie and a modernist reformer, is Mirrît Boutros-Ghali’s neglect of industry. He explicitly warns against exaggerated hopes for investment in industry, fearing that, due to international competition, its prospects for export are bleak, and that the loss of government income from the reduction of the import of textiles will not be compensated. He does, however, discern the basic contradiction among low agricultural production, a low standard of living of the population, and a severely reduced local market for Egyptian industrial products. But, characteristically, for this stage of his thinking, no conclusions are drawn regarding this situation, other than "progress in agriculture is still the key problem in Egypt."54 Not until the second half of the 1940s are liberal reformers forced to reconsider their non-interventionist policy concerning this crucial link between agriculture and industry. In The Policy of Tomorrow Mirrît Boutros-Ghali still limits himself to suggesting a list of industries that should be developed: housing, food processing, oil, phosphates and iron.55 Optimistic that private initiative is able to develop these sectors of the economy, in none of these sectors is the state assigned a role.

  • 56 Ibid., p. 16.
  • 57 Ibid., p. 17.

40If according to this liberal model of development the state should confine itself to non-economic sectors of society, then it does not mean that the state cannot intervene in society, and should limit itself to maintaining law and order. One of the important differences with the previous generation of liberal politicians is the role the members of the Society assign to the state in creating a responsible citizenship as a precondition for economic development and political stability. Fields of government attention are the "major social and cultural problems, like national education and development of the national spirit, which may actually be even more important and more grave than the former [economic problems], although at times they do not draw attention and press for urgent solutions."56 Indeed, government officials should "devote themselves to the development of [the] national spirit among the people, which is their task par excellence." Once government reform programmes are implemented, the ultimate goal of the liberal reform programme will have been fulfilled, and "every individual would carry out his national obligation willingly without any need for check and control."57 Government intervention is necessary to establish the liberal ideal of a self-regulatory society.

Social Discipline

  • 58 Hussein Taha, The Future of Culture in Egypt, New York, Octagon Books, 1975, p. 29 and 49-55.

41Boutros Ghali has singled out three areas in which the state has a major role to play: public health, public education, and housing. The first two issues in themselves are perhaps less remarkable, as the most perceptive of the older generation of liberals had become interested in these topics by the end of the 1930s, especially education.58 The difference with the previous generation of liberals is the goals and purposes of these topics. Nowadays, they are perceived as a means of implementing "social progress," and promoting "the national spirit," among the whole population — and especially of course among the lower classes — a task that has become the responsibility of the government par excellence. Within a functional society in which all parts depend on each other special spheres of life of lower classes have to be integrated and "civilized." Education is meant to instill in the population certain political notions and to integrate it mentally into society, good public health is a precondition for economic and social development, while housing is seen as the means to educate the population in the basic notions of modern conduct, besides providing it with shelter. Together they constitute ways of integrating the population economically and socially into the liberal bourgeois framework. The most interesting and innovative element of The Policy of Tomorrow is the section on housing. All the goals of the liberal programme are concentrated in the introduction Mirrît Boutros-Ghali wrote to the section on housing. As the spearhead of the governmental civilizing goal: "Housing is one of the first problems which should attract the attention and receive the care of state authorities."

  • 59 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, The Policy of Tomorrow, Washington D.C., 1953, p. 68.

42Printed in italics, the goals a housing policy should attain are enumerated as follows: 1) "Housing is a fundamental element in human life and a sign of a people’s real wealth and prosperity." In addition: 2) "It is always an indication of the level of social development and civilization of a people." Furthermore: 3) "The improvement of housing conditions is a very effective means of developing national consciousness in the ranks of the people, generally, and among the peasantry in particular." Moreover: 3) "If a house is cherished by a person and is the object of his care and pride, this person will thereby come to recognize the social order and to respect the rights of his brethren and compatriots." Thus: 4) "It promotes his national spirit." And finally: 5) "No doubt, Egypt would make a great step towards progress and social stability if we could improve the housing conditions of towns and villages in such a way as would satisfy the modern requirements of health and comfort."59

  • 60 Ibid.
  • 61 Ibid., p. 68 sq.

43Prevalent housing conditions represent for Boutros Ghali the backwardness of Egyptian traditional society. Its enclosed character prevents the peasantry from participating in modern society and becoming modern citizens at the behest of the civilizing efforts of the state. "The thousands of villages and estates in which the greatest numbers of people live consist of small, low-roofed mudhouses, devoid of paint or furniture and closed to the purifying rays of the sun. A part of the house, despite its limited size, is devoted to the animals; the peasant’s whole family has to sleep in proximity to them. All houses are built close to one another without order or planning and have neither grounds nor gardens."60 But Boutros Ghali’s critique is not confined to rural areas alone; also the housing conditions in the poorer quarters of big cities, regional capitals and industrial zones are also condemned.61

  • 62 Ibid., pp. 70-72.

44Characteristically, not the government itself, which "is certainly not the best agency for such necessary constructive work in towns and villages," but a "special agency" is assigned the task of drawing up and carrying out the reconstruction programme. This Housing and Reconstruction Institute would enjoy independence from the government similar to that of the railways, and would be supervised by a committee consisting of representatives of ministries, landlords, corporations and the public. In this manner the Institute and its plans are "removed," as Boutros Ghali says, "from the vicissitudes of politics," while its structure assures a maximum of efficiency, as its personnel consists "almost exclusively of technical and professional experts." Revealing his true nature as a modern social engineer, he believes that the tabula rasa, created by fire, constitutes the best opportunity of executing the plans of the institute. The Institute should seize the villages destroyed every year by fire with the aim of "rebuilding the village along modern lines, meeting the requirements of social progress in our country." Another opportunity presents itself in land reclamation schemes.62

  • 63 Ibid., pp. 73-75.

45The extent to which a semi-government institute, like the Housing and Reconstruction Institute, has power to interfere with the minute details of the daily life of villagers, is shown by Mirrît Boutros-Ghali’s presentation of the model village which is designed for control and order. Avoiding the uniformity of the monotonous grid plan, a model village should be concentrated around a little circle "from which radiate streets and houses." This circle, the main square, would be "a sort of center of the village," harbouring the most important public services, such as a fresh water supply, a general clothes-washing pool, and a drinking trough for animals. As such it functions as a place where "persistent social guidance and supervision of order and cleanliness would create in the inhabitants some feeling of pride in their reconstructed village and houses and some inclination and will to keep them well-ordered and clean." The purpose of this surveillance is to "promote in them national consciousness and social responsibility." Thus, the Institute’s job is not finished with the completion of the construction of the village. Its duties would extend to the general supervision of domestic and social living in the villages, and even be "concerned with the village house furniture and equipment and would assist villagers in obtaining them." The same method is to be applied to the industrial quarters. Encouraged to construct housing units for workers, industrial companies should create industrial "estates" according to modern principles, equipped with public baths, a pharmacy and playgrounds. Resembling suburbs, the quarters are to be planned on the model of "garden cities." In this manner,"we would avoid the isolation of workers in quarters reserved for them which alone might create in them the feeling of class differentiation and stimulate their resentment towards the social system."63

Creating a national consciousness

46So far we have seen how Boutros Ghali’s reform programme works from its most abstract level of conceptualisation to its most detailed level of implementation: how the spheres of influence between the state and the private sector are divided, leaving the economic field to private initiative, while the state is given the responsibility for civilizing the population; how certain areas are delegated to the state, such as housing; and the extent that semi-government institutions are allowed to interfere with the daily life of the rural and urban poor, drawing them out into the open and integrating them into national life. The state’s task of integration is complete when a national consensus is established, and the population has acquired a "national consciousness", one of the main ingredients of a mature public opinion, together with a democratic attitude. Underlining the integrative and collective purpose of forming a national consciousness, Mirrît Boutros-Ghali stresses that:

It is no longer sufficient that patriotism is confined to the nation’s leaders and the select few it must be the common property of every member in order that the whole people may share in the responsibility for their public affairs and for their national problems.

47He adds that national consciousness,

  • 64 Ibid., p. 97.

depends upon the communion of millions of persons in one spirit and their adherence to the same goals. Individuals, families, classes, and sects all unite to form one integrated mass — one body, animated by a spirit. The crowds and rabble of different peoples are transformed into an integrated whole with a special order and system of its own.64

  • 65 Ibid., p. 99 sq.

48The problem in Egypt, Mirrît Boutros-Ghali points, out is that a single concept of the nation, which forms the base for a national consciousness, is neither well- developed nor broadly shared by the whole population. The first elements of a national consciousness are traced to Muhammad Ali, who is lauded for his attempt to acquire national independence and to put Egypt on the road to progress and civilization. "His success is evidence of what great achievements and progress a sound and persistent policy can accomplish for Egypt." After his reign Egypt declined, only to be revived briefly during the 1919 Revolution. Due to this lapse the "national spirit has not pervaded all classes and individuals." The rural population especially does not participate in the national life of the country. "These people miss all the advantages of the stir and enthusiasm of nationalistic feelings and for all intents and purposes, they are dead as regards healthy nationalistisc life. The right to vote has not educated them. Illiteracy, the low standard of living, poverty and ill-health all add to their incapacity to develop interest in public affairs." Neither has the weakness of a militaristic spirit, and the lack of a civil spirit among members of the educated classes contributed to spreading national consciousness.65

  • 66 Ibid., p. 102 sq.

49No less damaging for the development of a national consciousness is the existence of highly divergent concepts of nationalism among the Egyptian intelligentsia, to the extent that they "may seriously prejudice the nation’s future." Especially threatening to liberal institutions is that, "with the extension of education, this difference will spread to the ranks of the whole nation; and the conflict now raging among the educated alone would envelope the whole people." Mirrît Boutros-Ghali condemns all the existing political ideologies for threatening the establishment of a national consciousness. Their basic flaw is their one- sidedeness, i.e. their selectivity in concentrating on one aspect of Egyptian history and character at the expense of the whole. Pan-Islam is therefore rejected as an unifying political ideology, not on account of Islam, which is recognized as part of the Egyptian national legacy, but for dissolving the purely Egyptian Islamic character in the wider unity of the Islamic Umma and its neglect of other Egyptian traits. For the same reason Pharaonism, pan-Arabism and extreme Westernization are found wanting. Their one-dimensional, limited and restrictive character ultimately is divisive, despite the qualification that "they are all nearly equal in worth and deserving of respect, since they proceed from deep feelings and true convictions."66

  • 67 Ibid., p. 104.

50Not for the first time, nor for the last time in the political and cultural history of Egypt is the solution of political conflict sought in the assignment of an "able and competent historian" to rewrite the national history and present it to the reader in an "exact and clear form." In keeping with the objectivist scientific approach of the Society, Mirrît Boutros-Ghali states that, "it is therefore our duty to define and delimit the diverse factors and elements which make up our national consciousness and to draw with perfect clarity the ideal to which it points."67

  • 68 Ibid., pp. 105-108.

51At first glance it looks as if Mirrît Boutros-Ghali falls back upon the historiographic tradition of the previous generation by giving the historian the assignment of defining the essentialist character of the Egyptians, as embodied in the eternal Egyptian personality. But he is too much aware of the liberal imperative of formulating a comprehensive interpretation of the historic relations between Egypt and Western Europe that provides a convincing alternative to the nationalism and Islamism of Young Egypt and the Moslem Brotherhood to fall back on these worn concepts. The highly problematic relationship with Western Europe and the "danger of our missing spiritual and national determination," is explained by pointing to the state of moral and material degeneration during the foreign invasion at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Admitting that the uncritical adoption of western thought, "led us away from our past," the European influence in itself is not believed to be detrimental. Only at the time of the first contact, due to the weakness of the Egyptian condition, was its impact overpowering, comparable to the state of "the sick, ailing body which cannot be exposed to sun, air or movement because they would have a harmful effect upon it; whereas they are so useful to its life and growth in normal state." This interpretation leads Mirrît Boutros-Ghali to the conclusion "that we should therefore help the nation and encourage the people to grasp the national idea completely and wholly so that they may then be capable of making use of foreign culture and of accepting its influence without fear or danger. Otherwise, it will sweep their national being away or at least weaken their national structure. Blind resistence to everything that may come to us from the outside is the certain acknowledgement of our own incapacity and is a withdrawal from the progress and movement of the world."68

  • 69 Ibid., p. 108 sq.

52Mirrît Boutros-Ghali believes a rational attitude should be adopted in dealing with the West: "We should neither fling our hearts open to the ideas and doctrines which come to us from the outside, adopting them unquestionably in every field, nor abstain from them and retire in futile national hermitage." Europe can serve as a source of inspiration in the scientific and the social field where the European "will to activity" and the concept of progress are considered universal. In the fields of culture and morality, and even "economic elements" Egypt is better off to resort to its own national consciousness. Less equivocal is Mirrît Boutros-Ghali in regard with the East. If Egypt has a subordinated position in respect to Europe, its position vis-à-vis the East is one of superiority. Part of this superiority is derived from the narrow relations Egypt entertains with Europe. For example, though it is recognized that Egypt is the world center of Islam, the responsibility this imposes on Egypt in regard to other Islamic countries is "bringing to them science and culture."69

  • 70 Ibid., p. 110.

53Completely in accordance with Mirrît Boutros-Ghali’s own rationalism and the cosmopolitanism of the Egyptian elite, his ultimate definition of Egypt’s national character is ephemeral and strangely lacking in substance, especially when one realizes that it is meant to mobilize the population and pose an alternative to the ideologies of nationalist and Islamist movements. Despite his affirmation of the Egyptian nation as represented in her history, language, religion and literature, and the statement that "we belong to neither East nor West," he defines Egypt’s character as open and its task "to always strive to be, what it has always been, namely, a connecting link and a mixing ground for the civilizations of the Mediterranean world. Egypt’s world message is to work, in this unique position, for the rapprochement of peoples and countries and to do everything in its power to maintain cultural and spiritual trade between Europe, Asia and Africa."70

A new social order

  • 71 Baer Gabriel, "Egyptian Attitudes Towards Land. Reform, 1922-1955", in W. Laqueur (ed.) The Middle (...)
  • 72 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, Al-Islah al-zira‘î. Al-milkiyya, al-ijâr, al-’amal, Cairo, 1945, p. 3.
  • 73 Ibid., p. 72.

54The most well-known section of the reform programme of the Society of the National Rennaissance was its agrarian reform proposal. By the time the Society had drawn up its overall reform programme in 1945, the worsening political and social situation had made it clear to most liberals that reforms could no longer be limited to "civilizing" society by presenting models of conduct, disciplining the lower classes, and instilling a national consciousness. Reform had to extend to the social structure of society if the liberal ideal of the self-regulatory society was to be established. Though the reform plan that the Society drew up is often regarded in isolation, or compared to other agrarian reform plans,71 it is narrowly connected with the modernist attitude which characterized most of its members, especially Mirrît Boutros-Ghali. Semantically this attitude is reflected in the idea that relations prevalent in the countryside should be adapted and changed in accordance with the "new needs of the nation," comparable to the manner in which the constitution or criminal law are adapted to these needs. It was also expressed in the shift in content of the phrase "in accordance with the spirit of the age." Whereas Husayn Haykal had used the term in the first decade of the century in reference to the position of the superior individual who alone could discern the exigencies of the nation, Mirrît Boutros-Ghali uses it in a social context: Egyptian society does not comply with the (universal/Western) standards of development, therefore it should be brought "more in accordance with the spirit of the age and its demands."72 Although this phrase was not meant to delegitimize the ruling regime, as the Society believed that liberal institutions could only be established by extending them within the existing context, it did question for the first time the social order by liberals who called for its reform and appealed to the state to adopt its responsibility in "realizing social justice."73 Inadvertently, it also sharpened the basic tension in the liberal reform programme between on the one hand the ideal of the moral order based on private initiative and democratic, rational procedures, and on the other, the state as regulating and interventionist institution. With the growing power of the state the implementation of the liberal model of parliamentary democracy and the free play of market forces was receding further and further into the future.

  • 74 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, Al-Islah al-zira’î. Al-milkiyya, al-ijâr, al-’amal, Cairo, 1945, p. 3. Publi (...)
  • 75 Ibid., p. 4.
  • 76 Ibid., p. 57.

55The necessity of reforming the socio-economic agrarian structure was first laid down in Mirrît Boutros-Ghali’s book Agrarian Reform. Property, Rent, Labor,74 first published in 1945. Though written by himself, the ideas propounded in the book reflected the ideas of the members of the Society who had widely discussed its contents and endorsed them. This is all the more remarkable as most of the members of the Society themselves were large landowners and this social class was identified as the main obstacle to progress. Large landowners were accused of losing their grip on the rural areas and shrinking from "their mission (risala) that is the duty of every landowner to remain among his people and take part in their life and culture."75 They had become absentee landowners, who considered their land as any other investment and were no longer interested in rural society itself. As a consequence they had lost their civilizing function. Or, worse, large landowners had become an obstacle to social progress for the rural population, standing between the civilizing measures of the state and the rural population. Their very existence prevented other social classes from developing: "Large landownership is a form of property that does not comply with our special circumstances; one large estate deprives hundreds of rural families of their right of economic independence and social stability."76 A new rural social structure had to be established which could guarantee social order and permit the integration of the population in the new liberal society. The Society thought this could only be done by establishing a new class, a new rural middle class, that would form the "backbone of society", and uphold the basic principles of democracy.

56New also was the attention given to the detrimental economic consequences of large landownership. In The Policy of Tomorrow Mirrît Boutros-Ghali had described the basic problems rural society faced in terms of health and declining standards of living, without giving an analysis of rural society or drawing any conclusions, other than that agricultural productivity should increase. In Agrarian Reform he is much more explicit and direct. The differences in standard of living, poverty and economic development are clearly related to the development of the skewed landownership, which he traces during the past half-century:

  1. Large landownership (more than 50 faddan) stabilized between 1896 and 1942 at around 2 162 000 faddan [37% of the total agricultural land].
  2. During the same period the total area of small landownership (less than 5 faddan) doubled from 993 000 to 1 929 000 faddan, that is, from 20 % to 33% of total land.
  3. The consequences were even graver than these numbers indicate, as the percentage of small landownership of less than 1 faddan increased from 364 000 faddan in 1896 to 724 000 faddan in 1942, whereas the number of peasants owning these small plots had increased in the same period from 782 000 to 1 779 000.
  4. Middle large landownership (5-50 faddan) declined slightly in this period from 1 816 000 faddan to 1 765 000 feddan.
  5. The pressure on the land had increased as a result of the growth of the population from 9 507 000 persons in 1896 to 17 287 000 persons in 1942, while agricultural land increased only slightly from 5 million feddan to 5 858 000.77
  • 78 Ibid., p.72 sq.

57Mirrît Boutros-Ghali draws the conclusion from these figures that, as all plots of land under 3 faddan are regarded as economically incapable of keeping a family of six persons alive, poverty had grown to alarming proportions. The enormous pressure on the land worked to the advantage of the large landowners who were able to raise the rents to excessive heights, while the growing landless population was forced to sell its labour for a pittance. But even more important for the development of liberal thought is the direct link Boutros Ghali makes between agrarian reform and industrial development, an association he was unable to discern in The Policy of Tomorrow. He now realizes that industry and agriculture should be more thoroughly integrated and adjusted to each other in order to attain balanced economic and social development. Therefore, the proposed reforms in general aim to discourage large landownership, stimulate the transfer of capital from land to industry, create employment opportunities in industry for the surplus rural population, and ensure reasonable rents and wages as the result of decreasing pressure on the land. None of these goals will be attained unless the government intervenes.78

  • 79 Ibid., p. 14.
  • 80 Ibid., p. 15.
  • 81 Ibid., p. 22.
  • 82 Ibid., p. 13.
  • 83 Ibid., p. 29.
  • 84 Ibid., p. 58.

58The questions are, which measures should the government take, and will civil society still be able to retain some of its autonomy? As important is the question of the large landowners, for although this class is branded as an obstacle of growth, it is still the ruling class in Egypt. Boutros Ghali emphazises the particular Egyptian character in answering these questions. He stresses the necessity of a pragmatic approach.79 Land reform should take into account that "land has an important role to play in retaining the social system and the enhancement and promotion of the national renaissance (nahda) in all its aspects."80 Social justice is the principle on which the land reform should rest.81 Therefore the sense of social responsibility of the landed classes is addressed: "Our generation should take this to our heart and sacrifice itself for the respect of the nation and the execution of our duties."82 The cooperation between private initiative, in the form of land reclamation firms, and the government is also stressed.83 Finally, the reforms must be gradual. The transformation of society will be implemented over a long period of time which will give the ruling class enough time to adjust itself, and reform itself along the lines of a bourgeois model the society has set up for it. Instead of being uneconomical, wasteful, and a social burden, and apart from being a political obstacle — in preventing parliamentary democracy from working — large landowners have the choice of either becoming real agricultural entrepreneurs, living on the land and improving agricultural efficiency and productivity, or investing their capital in industry and transforming themselves into an industrial bourgeoisie.84

59Despite the bold thrust of the Society’s arguments, the reforms it proposed were extremely mild. In regard with distribution of land:

  1. Government land reclamation schemes would make 750 000 faddan available by 1970; 150 000 faddan is already cultivated and ready to be distributed. 30 000 faddan should be reclaimed every year.
  2. 100 000 faddan belonging to land reclamation companies should be divided among the peasantry.
  3. 50 000 feddan will become available as a result of the abolition of al-waqf al-ahli lands.

60In total 1 050 000 faddan can be divided among 350 000 small landholders of under 5 faddan.

  • 85 Ibid., p. 33.

61This means that "one, to one and a half million rural inhabitants (family of five people) will acquire economic independence and the necessary measure of social stability in order to create a firm class of small farmers."85

  • 86 Ibid., p. 60.

62The most important and controversial measure, however, was the distribution of the large estates. Mirrît Boutros-Ghali proposed to set the maximum at 100 faddan. As expropriation is considered too "drastic a measure" (tadbir ‘anif), distribution of land will be attained through natural means, that is, the law of inheritance. No landholder with an estate larger than 100 faddan is allowed to buy land. Inheritance will dwindle away the large estates over time, while progressive taxation will encourage the landholders to sell their land and invest their money in industry. All this is based on the premise "that we want a reform and a transformation, not a revolution and a replacement [of the system]."86

  • 87 Ibid., pp. 51-52.
  • 88 Ibid., p. 58.
  • 89 Ibid., p. 80 and 83.
  • 90 Ibid., p. 74.
  • 91 Ibid., p. 75.
  • 92 Ibid., p. 91.

63If inheritence laws are used as a means to implement land reform concerning the large landowners, they are to be neutralized with regard to the small landholders on account of their tendency to fragment landholdings. Already 1 300 000 faddan are divided into plots of under 3 feddan, one fifth of the total amount of agricultural land. The state is called upon to either persuade the farmers to sell these uneconomical plots of land, or to consolidate the smaller holdings, if they are dispersed over several plots. The detrimental effects of inheritance laws are combatted by buying the other inheritors out in case the holding would be divided into plots of less than 3 feddan. A fund would have to be established for this purpose. Many inheritors who have lost land are requested to settle on the new reclaimed lands.87 These measures are in the service of the general interest, for "it is the duty of the government in the interest of society to guarantee land to as many farmers as possible."88 Another important measure, which is perhaps the most important one of the liberal reforms because it effectively would curtail the power of the large landowners over the rural population, is the proposal to set a maximum for rents and wages. The rents would not be allowed to exceed twice the land tax, while the wages are determined by a commission.89 To prevent absenteeism and the practice of renting large stretches of property to intermediairies, who then rent the land to small tenants, laws are proposed to forbid landowners from renting more than 10 feddan to one person.90 In addition, the duration of the rent should be extended to a minimum of three years, to enable the tenant to plan and improve the fertility of the soil.91 Boutros Ghali reckons it will take twenty five years for the reforms to come to fruition. By that time smallholdings will have increased by 120%, large landownership will have been halved, and landholdings under 3 feddan will remain the same.92 More important, however, is the establishment of a new middle class, and the encouragement of industry for which a whole new internal market will have opened up.

Control over the Central Bank

  • 93 Tignor R.L., State, Private Enterprise, and Economic Change in Egypt, 1918-1952, Princeton, 1984, (...)

64The central bank became an issue in Egypt during the process of decolonization. Since 1896 Egypt had known a bank of issue, the National Bank which was privately owned and belonged to British shareholders. The members of its board were all British and the bank was related to metropolitan capital. When the Egyptian currency was linked to the British currency during the First World War Egypt also became financially tied to Great Britian and lost its control over the internal financial market. Henceforth the British government determined Egyptian financial policy in London, and supervision over commercial banks became impossible as each bank could convert funds at par at any time. As long as currency and exchange controls were lacking foreign firms had no obligation or incentive to deposit funds in Egyptian banks, thus the National Bank was unable to excercise control over the expansion or contraction of credit or the money supply. This meant that not only did the central bank not excercise control over the commercial banks, but also credit for industrialization was very limited.93 With the increased sovereignty of the Egyptian state in the 1930s the call was raised to also obtain control over the finances of the country by turning the National Bank into a central bank, i.e. a bankers’ bank that would serve Egyptian national interests instead of the British shareholders’.

  • 94 Ibrahim Ahmad, Al-Bank al-markazî, Cairo, 1949, p. 38 sq.
  • 95 Ibid., p. 61.
  • 96 Ibid., p. 63.

65The Society of the National Renaissance was highly interested in the creation of a central bank because it was one of the institutions whose structure and function would determine the political character of the country especially in regard with the spheres of influence exerted by the state and private initiative. The fact that one of its prominent supporters, Ali Al-Shamsi, became the first Egyptian president of the National Bank, after it had agreed in principle to transform itself into a central bank, certainly contributed to the attention the Society spent on the issue. When the Society published the bank’s report on the central bank in 1949, the foreign influence over the bank’s affairs had already been reduced. In 1945 Egyptians were to become a majority of the board. Already in 1939 Egypt had acquired currency controls, and in 1947 definitely left the sterling zone and created an independent currency backed by gold and foreign securities. However, none of these developments in themselves were sufficient for the development of the Egyptian economy. In 1949 there was still no market in bonds and shares, because, as the report states, the commercial banks did not feel themselves supported by the central bank. Industrial credit remained underdeveloped.94 Additionally, the state’s financial reach could be extended if the central bank could support its financial policies. But what really interested the Society was the control over the central bank. "There is no doubt that the idea on which the project is based is in accordance with modern opinions which propound that the participation of the state in the supervision and control over the central banks should be expanded, without exceeding the limits of moderation and leading to nationalisation of the central bank as happened in other countries."95 In practice this meant that the state should acquire 51% of the capital, but acquire only 30% of the vote. Commercial banks should participate in the bank and hold a majority of the votes. Moreover, the power of the bank should be expanded. Commercial banks should be forced to keep 5% of their capital with the central bank, and the Egyptian state should be supported by state bonds.96 In short, the central bank affair confirms the liberal nationalist attitude the Society propounded. Egypt should be economically and financially sovereign, but foreign capital was needed. Both foreign and Egyptian capital should develop the country, with the help of the state.

Influence of the Society of the National Renaissance

  • 97 Baer Gabriel, Egyptian Attitudes Towards Land Reform, 1922-1955, in W. Laqueur (ed.) The Middle Ea (...)
  • 98Abbas, Jamd’at al-Nahda al-Qawmiyya, Cairo, Dâr al-Fikr li-l-Dirâsât wa l-Nashr wa 1-Tawzî‘, 1986 (...)

66It is difficult to determine the exact influence that the Society of the National Renaissance had on society in the 1940s and 1950s. Any attempt to ascertain its influence should distinguish between the practical influence of the Society on different fields of politics exerted by its members or supporters, and the influence the liberal programme had as a whole on political thought at the time. Judging by the negative reactions towards the Society’s agrarian reform proposals, the Society was not very influential before 1952. In 1944 Muhammad Khattab submitted an agrarian reform law that was very similar to the one Mirrît Boutros-Ghali had drawn. Although it was at first accepted by the Social Affairs Committee of the Senate, it was opposed by the government and a majority of senators voted to return it to the committee. On June 16, 1947, it was ultimately rejected by the Senate.97 On 23 February 1948 Ibrahim Bayumi Madkur submitted a proposal for land reform which was directly modelled on Mirrît Boutros-Ghali’s booklet who supported it in al-Fusul, but it also was rejected.98

  • 99 Al-Barrawi Râshid & Dalâwad ‘Ali, Mushkilâtunâ al-ijtimâ‘iyya. Al-Faqr, Al-fallâh, Al-tâ’mîm, Al-‘ (...)
  • 100 Al-Barrawi Râshid, Mashrû’at al-sanawât al-khams, Cairo, Maktabat al-Nahda al-Misriyya, 1948.
  • 101 Ramadan ‘Abd al-‘Azim, ‘Abd al-Nâsir wa azmat mâris 1954, Cairo, Maktabat Rûz al-Yûsuf, 1976. The (...)
  • 102 See for the articles Râshid al-Barrawi wrote at the time al-Misrî, 3/9/1952 5/9/1952, 12/9/1952, 2 (...)
  • 103 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, Taqrîr ‘an al-azma al-iqtisâdiyya wa l-ijtimâ‘iyya, Cairo, 1952. The report (...)
  • 104 Ibid., p. 45.
  • 105 Ibid., p. 47.

67If the agrarian reforms proposals of the liberals were too radical before the revolution, they were too conservative after the military had taken over in July 1952. Not Mirrît Boutros-Ghali, but Rashid al-Barrawi was assigned the task of drawing up the land reform law in August 1952. The differences in ideas and careers between the two reformers are revealing. Whereas Mirrît Boutros-Ghali came from one of the most important Egyptian families and tried to reform society from within, Rashid al-Barrawi, who was from a middle class background and who had no extensive connections with the elite, wanted to eliminate the ruling class of large landowners. He had earlier proposed to confiscate and redistribute land above 50 feddan.99 As a socialist he had lost all confidence in capitalist development and advocated state intervention and a centrally planned economy.100 Just after the revolution he wrote an article in the newspaper al-Zaman in support of a drastic land reform law, expressing the hope that a land reform would terminate the "corrupt feudal circumstances" and the large landowners , "who form the most important source of corruption in this country and the largest obstacle for implementation of reforms, and the most important force that undermines the party system and parliament."101 After having established relations with the military, Rashid al-Barrawi became one of the most important spokesman for the revolution, defending the reform measures and the repression it entailed in the pages of al-Misri,102 In contrast, Mirrît Boutros-Ghali, who had been appointed minister of municipal and rural affairs in Najib al-Hilali’s cabinet of July 22, 1952, presented his own moderate reform programme to the military entitled Report on the Economic and Social Crisis.103 In his report Mirrît Boutros-Ghali reiterates most of the earlier reformist arguments of the Society. Remarkable is his defense of Ibrahim Bayumi Madkur’s agrarian reform law which he believed should not be subjected to "fundamental and essential changes."104 In general he is still very cautious about state intervention in the economy, especially concerning the establishment of state industries, asking himself "how a country could manage this [state industry] if its economy is backward and its bureaucracy inefficient?"105 Mirrît Boutros-Ghali was appointed minister in the last Ali Mahir cabinet after its reshuffle on 6 September. The next day he left his post when Muhammad Najib became prime minister. However, despite the adoption of the more radical agrarian reform of Rashid al-Barrawi, and the neglect of liberal reformers, the military pursued on the whole a liberal economic policy until the Suez crisis. As president of the National Bank, Ali al-Shamsi was influential in supporting the liberal economic policy.

68But economic policy was only a minor part of the larger liberal reform programme that centred on parliament as a model of conduct in society. It is on this idea that the influence of the Society should be judged. And it is on this issue that its influence was probably more conspicuous than is mostly assumed. As has been stated, the Society of the National Renaissance was part of a larger reform movement whose common programme was based on an integrative nationalism and a rationalisation of Egyptian society. The currents within this movement extended from the right to the far left. Within this perspective the Society stood on the right while the communist movement was on its far left. Those groups in between were influenced by both sides. Despite the lack of formal organization these liberal and social-democratic groups and individuals had considerable influence in the press, where they were well represented. The newspaper al-Misri under the editorship of Ahmad Abu al-Fath was one source of liberal reform proposals. The weekly Rose el-Youssef was another. The left-wing of the Wafd, al-Tali’ah al-Wafdiyya, with its newspapers al-Wafd al-Misri also belonged to this movement but on the far left.

  • 106 For a description of the conflict between the Wafd and Rûz al-Yûsuf see Fâtma Al-Yûsuf, Dhikriyyât (...)

69The Society of the National Renaissance was to have considerable influence on this trend through its monthly al-Fusul. When in the 1940s and 1950s it became a popular monthly under the editorship of Muhammad Zaki Abd al-Qadir many later journalists of Rose el-Youssef, such as Ahmad Baha al-Din, Fathi Ghanim, and Adil Thabit, had their apprenticeships there, where they underwent the liberal influence of its editor-in-chief. Rose el-Yousef was to adopt many of the democratic notions of reformist liberalism and propagate them. Like the Society of the National Renaissance, Rose el-Youssef had a long history of struggling for independence from the traditional parties in the 1930s.106 But in contrast to the Society it succeeded in becoming a formidable independent force on its own. Once Ihsan Abd al-Quddus was appointed its editor-in-chief and Ahmad al-Din and Fathi Ghanim joined the board of editors the journal become a formidable force for liberal reform in the 1950s. Together with al-Misri and liberal and social-democratic intellectuals, such as Wahid Ra’fat, Rose el-Youssef defended the Constitution of 1923 and liberal rights against the military dictatorship during the March year crisis. Only after their defeat and the success of Nasser’s independent foreign policy after 1955 was the liberal reform programme superseded by a completely different one.


1 Gershoni Israel, "The Emergence of Pan-Nationalism in Egypt: Pan-Islamism and Pan-Arabism in the 1930s". Asian and African Studies 16,1982, pp. 65-66.

2 Kazziha Walid, "The Jaridah-Umma Group and Egyptian Politics", Middle Eastern Studies 13, 1977, pp. 373-385.

3 Smith Charles D., Islam and the Search for Social Order in Modern Egypt: A Biography of Muhammad Husayn Haykal, Albany, NY, Suny Press, 1983.

4 Egger Vernon, A Fabian in Egypt. Salamah Musa and the Rise of the Professional Classes in Egypt, 1909-1939, Lanham, New York University Press, 1986.

5 Gershoni Israel & James P. Jankowski, Egypt, Islam and the Arabs: The Search for Egyptian Nationhood, 1900-1930. New York, Oxford University Press, 1986, pp. 35-38 and 135.

6 Haggai Erlich, Students and University in Twentieth Century Egyptian Politics, London, Frank Cass, 1989, pp. 111-123, and Ahmad Abdalla, The Student Movement and National Politics in Egypt, London, Al-Saqi Books, 1985, pp. 39-43.

7 Beinin Joel and Zacharay Lockman, Workers on the Nile. Nationalism, Communism, Islam and the Egyptian Working Class, 1882-1954, London, I.B. Taurus, 1988, pp. 225-236.

8 Gellner Ernest, Nations and Nationalism, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1983.

9 For Mirrît Boutros-Ghali’s involvement in Coptic affairs, see the article by Donald Malcolm Reid in this collection Aracheology, Social reform, and Modern identity Among the Copts.

10Abd al-Qadir Muhammad Zakî, Aqdâm 'ala al-tarîq, Cairo, AI-Mu’assassa al- misriyya al-’amma li-l-ta’lîf wa l-nashr, 1967, p. 104.

11 Ibid., p. 175 and pp. 226-227.

12 Ibid., p. 250.

13 Ibid., pp. 320-324. 14

14 Ibid., pp. 334-335. 15.

15 Ibid., pp. 356-357.

16 Ra’uf ‘Abbas, Jama’at al-Nahda al-Qawmiyya, Cairo, Dâr al-Fikr li-l-Dirâsât wa l-Nashr wa l-Tawzî', 1986, p. 50.

17 Ibid., p. 75.

18 Ibid., p. 50.

19 Ibid., pp. 65-69. The books published by Dar al-Fusûl are: Mirrît Boutros-Ghali, Al-Islah al-zira‘î. Al-Milkiyya, al-îjâr, al-‘amal, Cairo, 1945; Mirrît Boutros-Ghali & Ibrâhîm Bayûmî Madkur, al-’Adât al-hukûmiyya. Nizâm jadîd, hayât jadîda, Cairo, 1945; Ahmad Ibrahim. Al-Bank al-markazî, Cairo, 1949; Sanâ Laqani, Arsida istirlîniyya, Cairo, 1949. Wahîd Ra’fat, Misr wa l-nizâm al-duwwaliyya, Cairo, 1949; Wadî‘ Faraj, Al-Siyâsa al-khârijiyya, Cairo, 1949. Wadî’ Faraj, Misr wa l- ittifâqât al-duwwaliyya, Cairo, 1949.

20 Roussillon Alain, "Sociologie et société en Egypte : le contournement des intellectuels par l’Etat", p. 102.

21 Letter from Mrs. Gertrude Boutros-Ghali to the author dated 30/1/1993.

22 Wallwork Ernest, Durkheim: Morality and Milieu, Cambridge MA, 1972, p. 31.

23 Nisbet Robert A., The Sociology of Emile Durkheim, London, 1975, p. 16 sq p. 32 and 67.

24 Nisbet, op. cit., p. 135 and Wallwork, op. cit., p. 116.

25 Wallwork, op. cit., p. 37 sq.

26 Ibid., p. 83.

27 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, Siyâsat al-ghad. Barnâmij siyâsî wa iqtisâdî wa ijtimâ’î, Cairo, Matba’at al-risâla, 1938. In 1944, Siyâsat al-ghad was republished by the publishing house Maktabat al-nahda al-misriyya without any adjustments, despite the fact that Mirrît Boutros-Ghali doesn’t mention agrarian reform in it, and only one year later became convinced of its necessity. Later it was translated into English: Mirrît Boutros Ghali, The Policy of Tomorrow. Translated from the Arabic by Isma‘il R. Al-Faruqi, Washington D.C., American Council of Learned Societies, 1953. I have used the English translation for this article.

28 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, The Policy of Tomorrow, Washington D.C., 1953, p. 3.

29 Ibid., p. 5.

30 Ibid., p. 8.

31 Ibid., p. 6.

32 Ibid., p. 9.

33 Ibid., p. 10.

34 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît & Ibrâhîm Bayûmî Madkur, Al-’Adât al-hukûmiyya. nizâm

jadîd, hayâh jadîd, Cairo, 1945, p. 66.

35 Ibid., p. 69.

36 Ibid., pp. 70-73.

37 Boutros-ghali Mirrît, The Policy of Tomorrow, Washington D.C., 1953, pp. 11-13.

38 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît & Ibrâhîm Bayûmî Madkur, Al-’Adât al-hukûmiyya. nizâm jadîd, hayâh jadîd, Cairo, 1945, p. 74.

39 Ibid., p. 48.

40 Ibid., p. 34.

41 Ibid., p. 36.

42 Ibid., p. 46 sq.

43 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, The Policy of Tomorrow, Washington D.C., 1953, p. 7.

44 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît & Ibrâhîm Bayûmî Madkur, Al-’Adât al-hukûmiyya. Nizâm jadîd, hayâh jadîd, Cairo, 1945, p. 82.

45 Ibid., p. 66.

46 Ibid., p. 62 sq.

47 Ibid., p. 74.

48 Owen Roger, "The Ideology of Economic Nationalism in its Egyptian Context: 1919-1939", in Intellectual Life in the Arab East, 1890-1939. ed. M.R. Buheiry, Beirut, American University of Beirut Press, 1981, p. 6.

49 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, The Policy of Tomorrow, Washington D.C.. 1953, p. 16.

50 Ibid., p. 49.

51 Ibid.

52 Ibid., p. 50.

53 Ibid., p. 38.

54 Ibid., p. 62.

55 Ibid., p. 63 sq.

56 Ibid., p. 16.

57 Ibid., p. 17.

58 Hussein Taha, The Future of Culture in Egypt, New York, Octagon Books, 1975, p. 29 and 49-55.

59 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, The Policy of Tomorrow, Washington D.C., 1953, p. 68.

60 Ibid.

61 Ibid., p. 68 sq.

62 Ibid., pp. 70-72.

63 Ibid., pp. 73-75.

64 Ibid., p. 97.

65 Ibid., p. 99 sq.

66 Ibid., p. 102 sq.

67 Ibid., p. 104.

68 Ibid., pp. 105-108.

69 Ibid., p. 108 sq.

70 Ibid., p. 110.

71 Baer Gabriel, "Egyptian Attitudes Towards Land. Reform, 1922-1955", in W. Laqueur (ed.) The Middle East in Transition. Studies in Contemporary History, London, RKP, 1958, p. 92.

72 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, Al-Islah al-zira‘î. Al-milkiyya, al-ijâr, al-’amal, Cairo, 1945, p. 3.

73 Ibid., p. 72.

74 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, Al-Islah al-zira’î. Al-milkiyya, al-ijâr, al-’amal, Cairo, 1945, p. 3. Published first by the publishing house of the Society of the National Renaissance, Dâr al-Fusûl, it was later republished in French by L’Egypte Contemporaine. Mirrît Boutros-Ghali, "Un programme de réforme agraire pour l’Egypte", L’Egypte contemporaine 38, January-February 1947, pp. 3-66.

75 Ibid., p. 4.

76 Ibid., p. 57.

77 . Ibid., pp. 7-9.

78 Ibid., p.72 sq.

79 Ibid., p. 14.

80 Ibid., p. 15.

81 Ibid., p. 22.

82 Ibid., p. 13.

83 Ibid., p. 29.

84 Ibid., p. 58.

85 Ibid., p. 33.

86 Ibid., p. 60.

87 Ibid., pp. 51-52.

88 Ibid., p. 58.

89 Ibid., p. 80 and 83.

90 Ibid., p. 74.

91 Ibid., p. 75.

92 Ibid., p. 91.

93 Tignor R.L., State, Private Enterprise, and Economic Change in Egypt, 1918-1952, Princeton, 1984, p. 195 sq.

94 Ibrahim Ahmad, Al-Bank al-markazî, Cairo, 1949, p. 38 sq.

95 Ibid., p. 61.

96 Ibid., p. 63.

97 Baer Gabriel, Egyptian Attitudes Towards Land Reform, 1922-1955, in W. Laqueur (ed.) The Middle East in Transition. Studies in Contemporary History, London, RKP, 1958, p. 91.

98Abbas, Jamd’at al-Nahda al-Qawmiyya, Cairo, Dâr al-Fikr li-l-Dirâsât wa l-Nashr wa 1-Tawzî‘, 1986, pp. 106-109, for a reproduction of the law proposal see pp. 221- 247. For Mirrît Boutros-Ghali’s support of the proposal see "Al-Islâh al-zira‘î", Al-Fusûl, no. 44, February 1948, pp. 26-28.

99 Al-Barrawi Râshid & Dalâwad ‘Ali, Mushkilâtunâ al-ijtimâ‘iyya. Al-Faqr, Al-fallâh, Al-tâ’mîm, Al-‘ummâl, Cairo, Maktabat al-Nahda al-Misriyya, 1948, pp. 25-40.

100 Al-Barrawi Râshid, Mashrû’at al-sanawât al-khams, Cairo, Maktabat al-Nahda al-Misriyya, 1948.

101 Ramadan ‘Abd al-‘Azim, ‘Abd al-Nâsir wa azmat mâris 1954, Cairo, Maktabat Rûz al-Yûsuf, 1976. The article in al-Zamân, 4/8/1952 is reproduced on pages 329-331.

102 See for the articles Râshid al-Barrawi wrote at the time al-Misrî, 3/9/1952 5/9/1952, 12/9/1952, 26/9/1952, 4/10/1952, 25/10/1952.

103 Boutros-Ghali Mirrît, Taqrîr ‘an al-azma al-iqtisâdiyya wa l-ijtimâ‘iyya, Cairo, 1952. The report was probably published on his own expenses and not by a publishing house.

104 Ibid., p. 45.

105 Ibid., p. 47.

106 For a description of the conflict between the Wafd and Rûz al-Yûsuf see Fâtma Al-Yûsuf, Dhikriyyât, Cairo, Kitâb Rûz al-Yûsuf, 1953, pp. 155-216.

Notes de fin

* I must thank professor Ra’uf ‘Abbas for giving to me most of the works written by members of the Society of the National Renaissance. Without his generous support I would not have been able to write this article.


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