Out with Mubarak, in with Marx?

Had another piece published over at Comment is Free:

In a recent TV discussion, Hossam el-Hamalawy, the prominent Egyptianleftist blogger, was asked: “So you’re the president of Egypt. You wake up, what’s the first thing you’re going to do to reorient the economy?”

Hamalawy’s answer was admirably concrete: raise the minimum wage to 1,200 Egyptian pounds ($198) per month, set a wage ceiling of 15,000 pounds ($2,480), renationalise the corruptly privatised factories, cut military spending and redirect those funds to health and education.

That a Marxist should suggest such steps is not surprising, but in Egypt they have now entered the mainstream. Neoliberal economic policies were thoroughly tried under the Mubarak regime, and demonstrably failed.

In 2008 the World Bank named Egypt as its “top reformer”. Mubarak’s adherence to the Washington Consensus strategies, however, delivered prosperity only for the already affluent elite. Meanwhile, the quality of life for the rest of the country deteriorated. This has not been lost on Egyptians.

In a recent conversation, Ahmed Attiya, a journalist for the Egyptian daily al-Shorouk – who describes his own politics as centre-right – put it to me that “even the conservative liberals nowadays support income taxes and minimum wages”, adding that “social justice measures are on the agenda of every Egyptian party I have heard of”.

Read the rest here.


About Austin G. Mackell

I am a freelance journalist who has worked for a variety of corporate and community outlets from my hometown of Sydney and from the Middle East, including from Lebanon during Israels 2006 invasion and from Iran during the tumultuous presidential elections there in 2009. I have recently moved to Cairo to watch the revolutions in Arab world unfold.
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