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Gamal Abdel Nasser sample essay

It is important to first identify the most common definition of a single party state. Single party, or one party states, usually arise during times of crisis. Crisis’s include economic collapse, Military instability, Social and class conflicts and ethnic differences. These conditions allow a single party leader to arise through the creation of a political ideology that provides a solution to one or more of these crisis’s. The concept of a single party state is one that is unique to the 20th century. Before the 20th century, single party states were most similar to absolute monarchies- where a monarch exercises all rights to govern and rule their country. There are many 20th century single party state leaders, amongst these is Gamal Abdel Nasser, a man who rose to power in Egypt.

Define the Dictatorship

What led to the rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser can be seen in the events that preceded his success as dictator. As mentioned, a single party leader usually arises during a period of crisis. In the case of Nasser, this crisis happened to be the Military and social crisis that was the Israeli war of 1948-49. This war started a day after the U.N. Recognised Israel as an in dependant country. The war provoked criticism toward the rulers of the Arab nations and also led to the development of more ideological movements and political platforms such as Nasser’s.

During a period that saw the assassination of King Abdullah of Jordan in 1952 and the overthrowing of various leaders, Nasser managed to arise as one of the key figures- not only in Egypt- but also in the Arab Israeli conflict.

In examining Nasser, It helps to have an idea of the climate that he grew up in that led to the development of his political ideology. From a young age, Nasser took part in anti- British protests that criticised the Egyptian royal family for maintaining British co ownership of the Suez canal. Throughout his young life, Nasser developed a strong anti British sentiment as he continued to participate in demonstrations against the British in 1938 while in the Egyptian Army. It was in 1942 when the British persuaded the Egyptian King Farouq to accept a government controlled by Nahas Pasha that Nasser began to use his influence over the Egyptian army to persuade officers that the British had no place in interfering with Egyptian politics, and that their influence had to be removed. His influence over these officers later led to the founding of the free officers movement, a movement aimed at removing the king and British Government from Egypt.

After fighting in the 1948 War against Israel, Nasser came to the conclusion that the royal family needed to go and it was the responsibility of the army to lead this movement. It was on July 23rd 1952 that Nasser led the revolution to overthrow King Farouk and remove British colonial rule. Only a few days later, General Mohammed Naquib removed Farouk from power and sent him to exile.

At this point Naquib handed power over to a young, 32 year old, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser then led Egypt to lead the Arab world and furthermore created hostility with the Western world . Nasser’s political ideology utilized the Islamic base of socialism as outlined by the Quran, stating that the Quran strives to eliminate class domination. While Nasser was in power he strived to create a stronger Arab national identity with little influence from the western world.

Concentration of Political Power

Nasser’s political policies concentrated on socialist ideas that were influenced by Communism. Socialism, often described as a weaker form of communism, is a far left wing ideology in which the government has almost- but not all- control. As dictator, Nasser put anyone who spoke against him under house arrest, such as those who protested against the construction of the Aswan dam due to its ecological consequences. Left wing leaders such as Nasser had policies to raise the standards of education and along with this he brought Egypt into the Arab league as a dominant power.

When it came to foreign affairs, Nasser dealt with issues such as Soviet-Egyptian relations, The Suez canal crisis, the Yemen War and Six-Day War.

As previously stated, Nasser developed part of his ideology around the idea that Britain had to withdraw their control over much of the Arab world. One of the first thing that Nasser did in 1954, even before he gained full power, was to make an agreement with Britain that saw their withdrawal from the Suez canal. Later on in 1955, when the U.S. And world bank had agreed to fund $256 Million for the construction of the Aswan Dam, however, in September of the same year, Nasser decided to negotiate an arms deal with the soviet union and Czechoslovakia.

This deal outraged the U.S. who then recalled their offer to finance the Aswan Dam. Nasser was left to find alternative methods of finance… what he did, announced the nationalization of the Suez canal. The impact of such an act created a political tension between the middle east, west and non aligned nations that could have potentially left the middle east as a cold war battleground. For one of the first times in history, the U.S.A. chose not to assist the British in a week long war in October 1956, but instead protected their vested oil interests.

The Soviet Union gained the image that they were defending the Arab world against imperial powers such as Great Britain whilst Britain was left with colonies east of the suez pushing for their independence.

Control of Economic Life

When it came to economic policy, Nasser’s views were very much statist. After the free officer’s rebellion of 1952, Nasser’s economic policies focused mainly on the redistribution of land. Although it may seem like a communist idea, Nasser did not publicly express his communist views at the risk of upsetting the anti-communist Egyptian Muslims. Nasser was certainly not fascist (anti- communist or against class equality). During his time in power he was responsible for various economic schemes, such as the construction of the Aswan dam during the 1960s, a dam built to control the flooding of the Nile and to provide electricity. However, it is not the actual construction of the damn that created issues, but instead how this $1 billion project was funded.

Land reform was a major issue for Nasser, and one that he received much support. Through land reform, Nasser was able to reduce agricultural rent and take land from people who had to much (200 acres or more). The focus of his land reform acts were the peasants and with this the removal of social inequality. Nasser’s land reform acts are said to have received much support and unified the Egyptian Fellahin.

Although the Economic policy of Nasser was considered socialist, he took control of much of the private sector and with it progressed industry dramatically. One of the advantages of having vast oil reserves was Nasser’s ability to use oil as a weapon against the industrial west who needed the petroleum that the Arab countries provided.

Control of Social Life

Nasser’s social regime revolved mainly around the idea of Arab Socialism and Nasserism. Unlike Marxism, Arab socialism combines the theories of Pan- Arabism and socialism in order to create a socialist but not communist society. As the name suggests, Nasserism was Nasser’s very own political ideology. His ideology rejects Western capitalism but does not support communism either. In fact Nasserists from 1950-80 made clear that communism should not spread through the Arab nations.

Nasser had a strong dislike of Western interference in the Arab world. As a consequence, he moved towards the non aligned movement. A movement that still exists today as a group of approximately 77 countries who struggle against colonialism, Imperialism, Racism and other social issues.

For the most part, Nasser’s Egypt maintained a secular view towards religion, receiving criticism from Islamic parties that wanted to maintain Islam as the dominant religion in the Arab nations.

Women were considered equal under Nasser. His view was that they are 50% of the population and should therefore be given the rights to equality and suffrage. Along with promoting women’s equality, he also wanted to remove social class stigmas so that the fellahin ( peasants). were equal to the higher classes.

Control of the Mind

“In these days and in such circumstances Egypt has resolved to show the world that when small nations decide to preserve their sovereignty, they will do that all right and that when these small nations are fully determined to defend their rights and maintain their dignity, they will undoubtedly succeed in achieving their ends. . . .”

Anyone who is to rise as a single party dictator must posses the physical characteristics that make him appeal to the majority of people. In the above speech, it is clear that Nasser is able to associate with his people by identifying a problem – in this case sovereignty- and infer that a solution is required. Without his ability to make a good speech and show his people that he was capable of leading, Nasser would not have been able to rise to dictator. There are many more examples of speeches given by Nasser, all of which convey a persuasive argument that many find difficult to disagree with. Although it sounds strange, the way that Nasser speaks makes it very difficult to see that he means wrong- almost like he is able to brainwash his nation.

Unlike other political platforms, Nasser did not utilise any set national art as a means of Propaganda. He did however, use the media in order to express his views of anti-western and Americanism.

As mentioned previously, Nasser had a secular view towards religion in an effort to maintain social equality.

Work Cited

“BUILDING BIG: Databank: Aswan High Dam.” PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. 09 Oct. 2011 .

Cannon, Martin. 20th century world history: course companion. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009.

“Gamel Abdel Nasser – Communist or Nationalist? « Simple Utah Mormon Politics.”Simple Utah Mormon Politics. 09 Oct. 2011 .

“Gamal Abdel Nasser.” History Learning Site. 09 Oct. 2011 .

“Libya – POLITICAL IDEOLOGY.” Country Studies. Web. 10 Oct. 2011. .

“Modern History Sourcebook.” FORDHAM.EDU. 10 Oct. 2011 .

“Nasser, Gamal Abdel.” Info:Main Page – New World Encyclopedia. 10 Oct. 2011 .

“NATO Declassified | Les coulisses de l’OTAN.” NATO – Homepage. 09 Oct. 2011 .

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