Pharaohs of the deep state: Social capital in an obstinate regime
Marijn Clevers & Zina Nimeh
The paper aims to analyse the process of 'democratisation' or lack
thereof after the 2011 Egyptian Arab Spring uprisings in the context of
'social capital'. While popular demand for reform toppled Hosni Mubarak
in 2011, the transition period that followed showed the determination of
regime remnants and the deep state, to preserve the underlying
institutional structures of an entrenched authoritarian system.
Mubarak's power base was grounded in a complicated system of interwoven
relationships which entailed economic, social and political benefits.
This social structure is analysed under the umbrella term 'social
capital' to give an account of which network(s) pulled the cart in the
pursuit of a contra democratic political agenda. A critical analysis of
literature, relevant to the aim of the paper, is provided. Social
capital is defined as the generalisation of norms and reciprocity which
results from individuals' engagement in social networks. A general
account on the most important social networks in Egypt is provided in
the context of a military dominated social contract established after
the 1952 military coup. This analysis concludes that the existing social
capital network structure fostered and continues to foster the
preservation of the authoritarian status quo. The transition period
after the ousting of Mubarak presents a clear illustration of this. The
well-embeddedness and the interdisciplinary nature of the deep in state
in Egypt's power institutional structure were never eradicated, since
the deep state restricted the interference of any 'non-conforming'
entities in politics. The Egyptian deep state can be seen as
self-sufficient, their penetration in every realm of society enables
them to balance off adversaries when needed. The contribution of this
paper is twofold. First, it attempts to show that authoritarianism is
preserved when an elitists power network is established which thrives as
a direct consequence of the underlying institutional structure.
Secondly, it argues that social capital structures can produce an
environment which is unfavourable to democratic development.
JEL Classification: I30, I38, O17, N40, N45