Socialist Worker

The hold of Nasser and nationalism remains a strong force

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2237

The figure of Gamal Addul Nasser towers over modern Egyptian history. As president between 1956 and 1970 he stood firm against imperialism and transformed Egypt (see page 10).

Despite years of repression and the rise of Islamist opposition to imperialism, Nasser’s brand of secular Arab nationalism still has many supporters inside Egypt.

They constitute a small but important voice of opposition to the Mubarak regime.

But they do not have the organisation on the ground to match that of the Muslim Brotherhood, or even sections of the left.

But the Nasserites’ influence remains strong.

They run the main opposition newspaper that has been among the most courageous voices against Mubarak. Among their ranks are key figures who have become prominent in the movement for change.

But the Nasserites suffer from contradictions. They are deeply hostile to neoliberalism—not because they oppose capitalism, but because they believe all industry should be under state control.

They support some peasants’ and workers’ demands, yet believe these should be limited by the needs of national unity.

This means that the role they will play in the coming period remains unclear.

The 6 April movement

The 6 April Movement, which helped initiate Egypt’s revolt, was founded after a wave of strikes shook Egypt in April 2008—notably in the textile factories of the Nile Delta city of Mahalla.

The Movement grew out of frustration that the strikes, despite their popularity, failed to trigger a wider rebellion.

The Movement is often seen as more concerned with Facebook and Twitter.

Boasting some 70,000 online followers, it has helped galvanise a generation.

It has organised protests and is part of an online news network that has become a main source of information.

Its members, and founder, have faced intimidation and prison. The Movement played a crucial role in the first days of the protests but it is not clear whether it will continue to provide leadership.

It has backed Mohammed ElBaradei’s move to be the negotiator with the regime.

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