Egypt: The Endless Road

The comedian known as Egypt's Bob Hope, Abdel Moneim Ibrahim, danced around the stage of a Cairo theater last week and cried: "I'm going to be nationalized! I'm going to be nationalized!" The audience roared, but immediately after the performance the unamused police arrested the comic. The incident illustrates the intensity of Gamal Abdel Nasser's drive to socialize Egypt, as well as the high political cost his people are paying for it.

Since last summer, Nasser has turned Egypt into perhaps the most thoroughly nationalized state outside the Communist bloc. In a series of sweeping decrees, he has taken over almost...

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