developing the nile
June 14, 2010 § Leave a comment
thinking about the relationships of the ancient nile river, indigenous nubians, industrial civilization that saw the building of the aswan dam as a victory for arab nationalism, and all of the damage that the aswan dam has caused and will cause. what is amazing is how one attack from israel could destroy cairo, just because of that dam.
btw i saw that dam. its not visually impressive. but then industrial civilization need to control existance rarely creates beauty, goodness, or truth.
excerpted from the same writer who wrote the piece on resistance as a dirty word.
Their contemporary relationship with Mubarak’s state is defined by ‘development’ and the tourism-heritage industry.
The controversial Aswan High Dam is just a few kilometres up the Nile. It was built to control the sometimes destructive annual Nile flood and to generate hydro-electricity, as well as to symbolise modern Egypt’s coming-of-age and independence. One of the triggers for Nasser’s nationalisation of the Suez canal (and the imperialist aggression against Egypt which followed) was America’s cancellation of promised funds for the dam. Its construction with Soviet help was thus seen as a victory for the Arabs and the third world as well as for Egypt. But the silt which formerly fertilised the Nile banks, the Delta, and even the Mediterranean Sea is now trapped behind the dam. Without the annual replenishment of silt, the Delta is more prone to flood (as the ice caps melt, this could become an unimaginably huge problem). The lack of silt has even led to the erosion of coastlines around the eastern Mediterranean. The dam also provides an easy target for a sophisticated enemy. One Israeli bomb on the dam would result in Cairo being devastated, so I’ve been told. But as far as the Nubians are concerned, the most profound consequence of the dam was the destruction of their villages and farms and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people when Lake Nasser was formed.
Abdul-Nasser’s government made great progress in redistributing wealth and enfranchising the poor through socialist land reforms – reforms which have since been dismantled. Nasser also won important victories against imperialism. On the other hand, his was the first regime in the Arab world to build a comprehensive police state. The state imposed itself not only on café conversations but even on nature. The history of Egypt, and in some way therefore of the world, is the history of the Nile’s fertile flood. The dam which put an end to it is an example of the folly of ‘development’, the global materialist mania for control. And the dream of Egyptian and Arab independence which was dreamed in the Rapid Eye Movement of the 50s and 60s has become a nightmare of dependence today. The Egyptian state controls a degraded Nile, and the Empire controls the Egyptian state.