The Rocket in The Haystack: Between Nasser’s Developmental Vision and The Neo-Imperialist Mission

Kareem Megahed & Omar Ghannam

This article assesses Gamal Abdel Nasser’s efforts to transform Egypt’s post-colonial economy via his industrialisation policies, drawing lessons for today from both his successes and shortcomings. By analysing outcomes through indicators of industrial production, employment patterns, productivity, and main beneficiaries in the post-independence period, the article critiques Nasser’s incremental approach, the undermining of worker’s movements, and the limiting nature of ‘state feminism,’ which contributed to the failure to achieve full economic and political independence, leading to its eventual collapse in the face of imperialist resurgence. Nasser’s industrialisation project, however, does demonstrate the superiority of active policy intervention, particularly of planning and import-substitution-industrialization, and suggests the need to pursue central planning, economic inclusion, self sufficiency, and social production aimed at meeting the material needs of the population in the contemporary period.

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Kareem Megahed is Economic Justice Programs’ Officer at Social Justice Platform (SJP). He finished his Master’s in Political Economy at the University of Manchester in 2017, where he wrote his thesis on Egypt’s 1919 revolution and its economic nationalism, and he studied political science and history at the American University in Cairo (AUC). Previously, he worked as a teaching assistant in the department of Political Science in AUC and for two years he was a researcher at the Economic and Business History Research Center (EBHRC) in AUC.

Omar Ghannam is Research Director at Social Justice Platform (SJP). Omar attained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy from the American University in Cairo (AUC) and is currently pursuing his master’s degree at the same institution with a focus on debt and imperialism. Previously, he was the Operations Director of a marketing firm and media production house, and he headed the economic justice program for the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR). He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJN-A) as the constituent representative of North Africa.

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