Arab socialism is a socialist political ideology, but developed and implanted in Arab countries, which gives it its own singularities.
Arab socialism emerged during the twentieth century. It is necessary to distinguish it from other types of socialism, due to the cultural peculiarities that the Arab countries possess.
In general, it can be said that Arab socialism is a combination of nationalism and socialism.
What is socialism?
Socialism is an ideology whose economic and social system is based on the defense of the collective property of the means of production. Socialism seeks to achieve a just society, supportive and free of social classes, through the equal distribution of wealth.
For this reason, he defends the planning and centralization of the economy, the elimination of social classes, the nationalization of production factors and the development of public services that guarantee social welfare.
Arab nationalism is the other factor that defines this particular socialism. Cultural elements as strong as Islam, private property, collectivism, the rejection of free will or the condition of women in society, are some of the factors that shape this ideology.
This nationalism was promoted after colonial independence. For many years, countries like the Maghreb have been under European tutelage, serving their preferences, especially in the interwar period.
With the end of the Second World War and the weakening that it entailed, many countries achieved independence with the aim of building their own path.
Ideology of Arab Socialism
Although Arab socialism was inspired, in its beginnings, by Marxism and what was carried out in the USSR, notable differences would soon emerge, to the point of doubting the denomination of “socialist”.
Arab culture is very different from western or not so westernized countries as is the Russian case. This led to the emergence of clear divergences between the original communist postulates and the socialism finally implanted in the Arab countries.
Arab socialism defended the nationalization of the means of production, but not out of hatred of private property, but out of the conviction that national wealth should serve all citizens. In fact, they defended private property as well as the right of inheritance, both concepts prohibited by Marxist communism.
Although it promoted a certain secularism, Arab society is deeply believing, which is why they did not reject Islam, as the Soviets did with Christianity.
The Baath party, founded in 1947, was the main Arab socialist party to achieve this socialist establishment in Syria and Iraq.
Arab socialism came to Egypt from the hand of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1953. Among his main reforms were the following:
- Agrarian reform: Part of the land was expropriated, thus limiting private property over it. They worked in the form of cooperatives, making the peasants workers and owners at the same time.
- Nationalization of the industry: Numerous jobs were created in the sector, although the computation did not improve in the terms expected.
- Nationalization of the Suez Canal: This operation caused a war between Israel, Egypt and some western countries, finally nationalization was achieved. Thus Egypt came to control all merchandise and trade that passed through the canal.
- Construction of the Aswan Dam: It was carried out in collaboration with the USSR, which made technical and economic contributions.