It’s a fact that the Left has been an integral part of the Egyptian revolution from the very beginning till this moment and may have inspired many Egyptians to join the revolution in the first 18 days and thereafter. Yet, their approach in tackling the daily lives causes of the Egyptians after the revolutions have alienated a large majority of the Egyptians from them. They have always claimed to be liberals while in fact they are far from it , in many cases the key figures of the socialist movement in Egypt seemed to be the leftists counterpart of the extremist Salafis groups with their non-objective points of views and statements on most the political issues. There are some certain traits which are distinctive among many Egyptian Leftists, Socialists, Pan Arab nationalists, classical leftists (Marxists, communists) , Extremist neo-leftists (Anarchists, Revolutionary socialists) and Progressive (Social Liberals) in Egypt :CLASSIC LEFTISTS
1- Creating a fantasy world and alternative reality:
From their early rise in the 1940’s through the 1950s and 1960s, the socialist movement in Egypt have faced several transformations but failed to adapt to the constant changes in the world and that manifested itself strongly during the 1970s till the end of the cold war. Socialists have managed to be in positions of authority in most of the world countries. Despite this fact, they managed to transform many potentially viable economies into bankrupt ones in most the countries they landed in starting from Mother Russia (Former Soviet Union) all the way to Egypt. The economy of Egypt before 1952 was among the most promising in the world and only compared to the Brazil, Argentina and USA with the demise of most European and Asian countries pre-world war.
However, thanks to the policy of Nationalization in Egypt which is the modern equivalent of the Spanish Main piracy acts of the 17th and 18th centuries on cargo ships passing through the Caribbean and the gulf of Mexico, the Nationalization of the Egyptian private sector companies and their takeover by the government from their rightful owners represented the deepest blow to the Egyptian economy in its modern history. The socialist always claimed that was a great time for Egyptian economy and Nassser’s reforms were important for it, but they neglect the fact that trade, agriculture and industry suffered badly and the private sector which most modern world countries rely on was obliterated by the Nationalization laws. The result was the poverty that spread even further in the society. There may have been some marginal achievements in the field of heavy industries like Steel and Aluminum but the overall experience was abysmal and not near as perfect as the socialist claim to be.
2- Treating Egyptian businessmen as crooks and foreign investors as colonizers
Since the early 1950’s till today, Marxist, communists and their allies in the left treated the Egyptian businessmen as the crooks to be and each and every one of them is guilty till proven innocent of stealing what they call the people’s money. El Tagamoa Party (The coalition- Marxist party) were among the pioneers of this movement since the 1970s and most leftist artists, filmmakers, journalist and scholars have propagated through the years that the businessmen are crooks and opportunists who are immoral in their business activities. That has affected the perception of the businessmen in Egypt in the eyes of the common Egyptians and created an unhealthy environment for the economy to thrive. The same can be applied to foreign investors who are perceived by the same Marxists and communists as being colonizers who seek to rip Egypt of its’ resources and fortunes in favour of their own wealth. All these perceptions escalated into creating an anti-business environment which needs to clear and instilling new perceptions that promote growth and prosperity for Egyptians. El Tagamoa Party led by Dr. Refaat El Said was in conflict with both Sadat and Mubarak policies, yet in the last years of Mubarak’s rule they became more domesticated as opposition especially after being given seats in the Upper house and lower house parliaments courtesy of the Mubarak’s regime.
PAN ARAB NATIONALISTS
1- Infatuation for Tyrants and dictators:
While seeking the just rights of the Palestinians and calling for the establishment of their sovereign nation, Egyptian Pan Arab Nationalist have turned their backs to the to the atrocities of some of the most notorious Arab tyrants in history represented by the likes of Moamar El Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Hafez El Assad and most recently Bashar El Assad whose criminal activities in Syria are mostly overlooked. This is due to the fact that many Egyptian Socialist figures have been regular guests at the palaces of these tyrants at different times during the past decades especially when they are in collision with the ruling president be that Anwar El Sadat or Hosni Mubarak. That applies on many famous Pan Arab journalists like Mustafa Bakry , Hamdy Kandeel and many others.
They felt no shame working for Newspapers or TV stations operated and owned by these tyrants. Even didn’t protest the fact these tyrants have been involved in the direct killing of Egyptian citizens throughout the past decades especially Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein. At the same time, they are willing to open the gates of hell on any other non-Arab country that harms or kills an Egyptian be that Israel, USA or any western country. They neglect the fact that Egyptians’ lives are sacred at all times because bullets possess no nationalities in the eyes of the victims and it’s irrelevant who fired it at them and caused their death.
These actions have alienated a lot of common Egyptians from the Socialists and they have been labeled by many as hypocrites who perceive matters in double standards and made their arguments and the causes they adopt hard to believe in the eyes of Egyptians, thus paving way for Islamists to take control of the Egyptians’ minds. That has been manifested clearly in the parliamentary elections when all of the socialist parties have managed to only gain less than 5% of the total parliament seats.
2- Forging an unholy alliance with Nasserism
In the eyes of Pan Arab Nationalists, President Gamal Abdel Nasser is treated as a Greek demi-god and Hassanein Heikel is his messenger. Whatever came of out the mouth of the Egyptian late president of the 1950’s and 1960’s is like an irrefutable fact as to them he’s infallible. Similarly, the words of the prominent Egyptian political analyst and writers Heikal are treated as sacred scripture. Socialists fail to ignore the fact that Nasser was the root of the tyranny in the modern Egyptian political system. He banned all parties and formed a one soviet era like part he called “The Socialist Union” whereby his word is the infinite wisdom and final resolution. It’s the same party whose members danced in the parliament when President Nasser withdrew his resignation after the failed performance of the Egyptian army in 1967 war against Israel which result in defeat and occupation of Sinai and other Arab regions in Syria, Palestine and Jordan.
One of the ironic syndromes of the Egyptian political life is the existence of a party called the Arab Nasserite Democratic party. The name itself is an oxymoron since Nasserism and democracy can never meet. It’s the equivalent of calling a party the Nazi-Jewish alliance or the Stalinist human rights association which is quite unreal. Pan Arab Nationalists have been trying for years to paint the Nasserite era with an ingredient that it completely lacked and that was democracy.
Socialist writer Hassanein Heikal is the Egyptian counterpart of Joseph Goebbels – The German third Reich Minister of Propaganda who was a master in twisting facts and brain washing the masses with his ideas. Somehow throughout his 60 years of writings he managed to twist enough facts for the Egyptian populace enough to create an alternative world for them. He painted a completely different reality for Egyptians. His impeccable writing and journalistic skills was a great asset to achieve this aim and it worked perfectly for decades as the socialist propagate his books and writings like Holy Scripture. As a matter of fact many Egyptians still believe he is the only credible writer about Egyptian modern history which is a travesty of its own. Egyptian leftists have created a myth and a legend out of the man and the president and witch hunted all his adversaries and called them traitors for the cause. That was the same rhetoric that was used by communist Soviets against their adversaries and it’s still prevailing till this moment in the literature and rhetoric of Egyptian socialists.
To many Egyptians leftists President Gamal Abdel Nasser represented pride and glory. They always neglect the fact when he first stepped in office in 1954, Egypt was over 3.5 Million Sqm in Size and comprising Egypt, Sudan and Gaza Strip with the strongest currency in the world and a one of the most promising economies of that time. By the time Abdel Nasser passed away in 1970, he left the country at a size of 940,000 Sqm with the independence of Sudan and occupation of Sinai and Gaza strip and a battered and bankrupt economy. Added to the above, the involvement in 3 wars which Egypt has paid a hefty price to wage and lost during his presidency including one in Yemen! There appears to be no pride or glory in the results he achieved, something that Egyptian Pan Arab Nationalists and leftists must consider when pledging allegiance to President Nasser’s Ideology.
3- Witch-hunting those who oppose what they perceive as the national values
“The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just war” -Desiderius Erasmus Dutch Scholar and Philosopher
For many years, Egyptian socialists and particularly Nasserites have performed witch-hunting against any scholars, journalists or writers opposing them in what that they have self-declared as the national values. These national values can be summarized as Egypt should do everything towards what they call as Arab Unity and that the USA, Europe, Israel are the eternal enemies of Egypt whose aim on earth on earth to conspire against the Egyptian people and their ambitions for development and prosperity. And while wars have been fought between Egypt against Israel , Britain and France at one time in history, peace have prevailed after thousands of lives have been lost. But seemingly many socialists don’t like to let bygones be bygones and they are willing to go through it again for the sake of what they call National pride and values regardless of the consequences.
Whatever happened between Israel and Egypt will never match a fraction of what happened between Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Russia in 20th century Europe. Tens of millions have paid their lives for endless wars over resources, power and ideologies. But the difference that these nations decided that enough is enough and they couldn’t let blood be spilled indefinitely. So they came to the conclusion that they don’t have to love one another but at least try to co-exist as neighbours. The same applies to the Middle Eastern region. Only the difference that Israel is still breaking international law when dealing with Palestinians almost daily but at the same time, a good portion of Palestinians lead by Hamas are rejecting any peace deals with Israel and labeling anyone who attempts to walk that path as a traitor . This is the same position adopted by the Egyptian Pan Arab Nationalists for decades and they are even taking it a notch further by declaring that they seek to discontinue the Peace Treaty with Israel regardless of all the implications that a decision like that could take Egypt and the entire fragile region to. These situations and others like labeling the late President and war hero Anwar El Sadat as a traitor to the cause have a similar and equal reaction from the extremist in Israel who doesn’t want to see peace prevailing in the region. Shouldn’t Sadat have made that historical move, the Middle East would have been a much worse place that it’s already now. Thousands if not millions would have paid their lives for an endless war which would have ended as well with a peace treaty anyway. Therefore, he might have saved millions of lives and the world a possible third world war. The sooner Egyptians leftists and Pan Arab Nationalists realize this fact the better Egyptians and all the Middle East will be. Unlike most socialist activists and journalists around the world who are usually pro-peace, the Egyptian Pan Arab Nationalists hardly adopt this notion.
Thanks to the Egyptian Pan Arab Nationalist socialist’s propaganda, many Egyptians now are paranoid towards anything from USA and the west that portrayed the west to them as predator that is waiting to devour the Egyptian nation. This rhetoric is one that has been used since the early 1950s all the way till now even with the existence of private channels. Yet, private channels still utilize the service of old school socialists’ journalist and anchors. Most of the guests are also socialists who call themselves liberals which happen to be another conundrum for the liberals being categorized in the same league as leftists/socialists in Egypt
NEO LEFTISTS (ANARCHISTS AND REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALISTS)
The latest faction to appear among of the Egyptian leftists, yet they have made quite an impact in the political spectrum though not all of it is positive. They have joined forces with other political factions in the Egyptian revolution and their most famous group 6th of April have been heavily involved in the political scene since 2008. They believe in a utopia where people are completely free with almost no governmental control or laws. However, these ideas collide with the more conservative tendencies of the nowadays Egyptian society. The 6th of April Youth group managed to be a major ingredient in the Egyptian revolution first 18 days and months that followed but felt into the abyss of chaos in certain ways since they only seek to achieve a certain goals that they believe that without their will be no revolution. They collided with many factions SCAF, Islamists, other socialists and liberals seeking that goal. Their political training in Serbia was used by their opposition to label them as traitors and infiltrators yet these allegations haven’t been proven and they are definitely patriots though their unorthodox methods aren’t welcomed by many Egyptians. Their impetuousness and overzealous nature in their political activities, riots involvements and protests have always worked against them in most occasions.
In a similar manner, the anarchists and lately the revolutionary socialists have played the same above role but with an extreme version. The declaration of the Revolutionary Socialists that they seek to achieve fall of the country was met was a massive scorn from the Egyptian society and while some of the leaders of the group explained that they mean the fall of the old regime and country and rebuilding a new one, that didn’t change the fact that their immature tactics failed to grip the minds of most Egyptians towards their cause
Ironically, most the neo-leftists are usually upper-class and upper-middle wealthy Egyptians who perform their activities using pricey laptops and ipads as well as luxurious means of transportations in the forms Mercedes, BMW and other sports SUVs which has given little credibility to their real intentions and they were in many cases deemed as rebels without a cause by many Egyptians.
Represented by parties like Egyptian Social Democratic Party of Dr. Mohamed Abou El Ghar, or The Democratic Front Party of Dr. Ghazaly Harb and Masr El Horeya of Dr. Amro Hamzawy, these can be considered as the most modern and most progressive of the leftist movements since they believe as much as liberals with the freedom of speech, women rights and free markets and they are hand in hand now trying to establish a free Egypt for the future to come. Yet, they succumb sometimes in their economic ideologies to Marxists and communists and their mixing of the liberal values with the socialist government controlled economy in their rhetoric lead them to fall into a web of their mistakes. It’s not a secret that social democrats are trying to adopt some of their European counterparts’ methods for organizing the economy. But it’s also not a secret that these same strategies have failed in many countries that applied them in Europe and was a factor in the current economic crisis in Europe. However, they remain more open minded and able to learn from their mistakes than most the other Egyptian left factions. It’s up to Social Democrats to try to lead the left towards a more positive approach in tackling the daily life problems of the Egyptians as well as coordinating with other liberal powers like Free Egyptians to draw long terms plans for political, economic, social development in Egypt.
Egyptian leftists/Socialists are patriots who love Egypt but they happen to have all their priorities in the wrong order. Their heightened emotions always prove as their downfall. They must realize that we are living in a different time and different era where the world will not tolerate a lot of their antiquated rhetoric or another war in the Middle East or words of war-mongering. For years they have neglected their work on the ground with the working class whom they supposed to represent in favour of media exposure and in most instances they use these causes for the sake of popularity and not seeking actual results on the grounds.
The leftists believe in a secular/civic state is one of the sources of their strength and these kinds of issues are the ones that they can align themselves with liberals in Egypt in opposition of the Islamists tyrannical and radical forces. The Left can still thrive through the social democrats factions who represent a more modern version of the socialist ideology that be applied in modern day Egypt. Adopting freedom of speech and all sorts of freedom is the only way that socialists/leftists will regain the lost ground in the hearts of Egyptians. Egyptian socialists have a lot to learn from their counterparts in the west particular in the past few decades. Their attachment to old rhetoric’s and outdated ideologies will only increase the rift between them and the average Egyptian even further regardless of how gilded their classical rhetoric sounds. They have to disassociate themselves from tyrants and their ideologies. Leftists are patriots and can be even ultra-patriots in some cases. Yet, some of their factions are the political equivalent of “Friendly-fire” in wars.