Written by International Secretariat – IWL – FI
The revolution in the Arab World is still one of the centres of the world political situation; Egypt, one of the countries that shook the world with the fall of Mubarak in 2011, is still going through a revolutionary process with all its ups and downs.
The strength and the heroism of the masses in action could topple the Mubarak and Morsi administrations. But the military regime remained unmoved. The militaries unleashed a violent repressive process that is at present expressed by the conviction of 682 members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the north and the banning of the April 6th Movement. Together with this, they pretend to get legitimized by means of the election of Marshal Al-Sisi later this May.
The ebbs and circumstantial reversals of the revolutionary process were mistakenly interpreted by sectors of the world left as the end of it. Now, once more, we can see how these foresights collide with the reality of a live revolution.
A series of strikes resume the dynamics of the revolution that may be an indicator of future.
Armed Forces and the Brotherhood
Egyptian workers fight to evade tremendous poverty. Impoverished masses become active trying to determine their future in a revolution that moved the world.
But this Egyptian process is extraordinarily complex. There are particularities in Egyptian reality that are fundamental if their evolution is to be understood. The role of the Armed Forces is one of the most important ones. In Egypt the military control 40% of the economy, with high officers forming part of the bourgeoisie. They have a lot to lose with the revolutionary process. On the other hand, they did have that political fitness that allowed them to survive the ascent and adapting themselves to the situation to continue in the office.
The MB, a bourgeois organisation with Islamic roots of great weight in the country, is another particularity. They were a tolerated opposition in Mubarak days and they took over in the first presidential in the country. The Morsi administration, neoliberal because of their economic plan, Buonapartist and theocratic in political terms, the clashed fiercely with the masses and were defeated in 2013.
Unfortunately, there is no alternative that workers may regard as their own. Actually, there is a vacuum of revolutionary leadership. The left is extremely weak, independent alternatives in the trade unions are only now surfacing; there are no revolutionary parties of any weight, not even in the vanguard.
When the fury of the masses paralysed the Mubarak administration in 2011 and divided the Armed Forces, the Headquarters abstained from repressing directly (which might have led to a possible fragmentation of the Armed Forces) and forced Mubarak’s resignation. In this way, the militaries preserved their prestige and the regime, in spite of the fall of the government. Later on they tried to get legitimised in the first presidential elections with Ahmed Shafik, but they lost against a candidate of the MB.
The interpretation of this event led the world left to countless errors. Many saw only the coup of the militaries without seeing the revolutionary action of the masses repeating gigantic rallies (some of the greatest of the entire world history) and defeated Morsi. The only thing the militaries sought through their coup was to preserve the regime, usurping the victory of the masses.
In this way, Egyptian masses were not defeated when Morsi fell. They emerged victorious, but with an enormous confusion in their awareness. They regard the Armed Forces, the centre of the bourgeois power and their top enemy, as an ally who helped them to defeat Mubarak and Morsi. The crisis of the revolutionary leadership and the inexistence of a proletarian alternative produce terrible consequences in Egyptian reality.
Repression against the people to halt the revolution
With the fall of Morsi, MB suffered the worst defeat in their history; they reacted with demonstrates throughout the country. Exposing the coup and demanding their restitution.
Those who interpreted the fall of the Islamic administration simply as a military coup ought to agree with the vindication of the Brotherhood. But we understand that the fall of Morsi was a victory of the revolution, even if it was usurped by the militaries. That is why we defined that these demonstration of the Brotherhood as counterrevolutionary, with whom we could not hold any kind of unity but only exposure. We cannot aid Morsi’s return or the demands for his freedom. He is a criminal responsible for the death of hundreds of people.
Ever since the ousting of Morsi, the administration of General Al Sisi is leading the Buonapartist efforts to halt the revolution. At first he tried to build a government of national unity by incorporating the liberal El Baradei to the ministry and even summoning the Muslim Brotherhood to form part of it. When this plan failed, the militaries launched a strong repression against the MB apart from another repression, slightly more selective against all the other struggles. This repression started getting broader. They used the generalised popular repudiation to justify a “war against terror”. They declared the Brotherhood; they banned the Brotherhood and dubbed it a terrorist organisation. The government is aiming at justifying the repression against the entire movement. They attack Palestinian, Syrian and Yemeni refugees, publicly harassed by xenophobic campaigns and also the not aligned media, particularly Al Jazeera.
In this way, there are nearly 3,000 mortal casualties and 22,000 political prisoners in this country. Due to the law against the freedom of expression, demonstration and organisation, marches are now violently repressed and activists are imprisoned and convicted.
In April, the leader of the MB, Nohamed Badie and other 682 Islamist prisoners have been convicted to death by an Egyptian tribunal without any right to defence. Badie has a differentiated responsibility compared to the other Brotherhood militants for he was involved in the repression promoted by the Morsi administration. But the death sentence for them all is a sign of the fascistic character of this military regime.
The 6th April Movement – one of the most important organisations in the first line of the struggle for the fall of Mubarak – had two of its leaders jailed and convicted to three years in prison last December. Recently, in Aril, their offices were proscribed and illegalised and their offices were closed.
Tempos in politics
Defence of democratic freedoms is never a principle for Marxists. It is always a relative issue, subordinate to class struggle. In order to localise our position we must answer the following questions: Who are the democratic liberties for? What are the democratic liberties for? To punt it in other words: repression for whom and for what?
The repression for the demonstrations for the MB could be justified at the immediate moment after the fall of Morsi. At that moment there was a real possibility for Morsi to fall. At that moment there was a real possibility that the MB demonstrations could achieve the return of Morsi to the Office and so reinstall a government that had already been defeated by the revolutionary mobilisation of the masses. Obviously, this repression did not include massacres soon exposed by us. The government and the regime, however soon manages to get stabilised. As from then on, any probability of a military victory of the MB started drifting away. There is an overwhelming military superiority. On the other hand, the prestige of the Brotherhood has been extremely worn out in the eyes of the masses with the fall of Morsi. Actually, the mobilisations of the Brotherhood are aimed at defending themselves against the vicious attacks by the military regime.
This is where the discussion on the relation of democratic liberties with class struggle is clarified. We are not for the return of Morsi to power. We are all for keeping him in jail because of his role in the repression against the masses; the same goes for the hierarchs of the MB for the state crimes against the toiling masses. On the other hand we are against the current repression against the MB, because this would legitimise the regime against the toiling masses as a whole.
Two examples illustrate this difference in the policies at different moments. In 2002, during the imperialist coup in Venezuela against Chavez, we defended a much tougher repression against the coup makers. We exposed Chavez for not jailing all the coup makers and for not expropriating all their properties.
In 2005, when Chavez closed the EVTV to attack the bourgeois opposition, we were against this even if it was imperialist opposition, the same who, only a few years previously constituted the social base of the military coup. We stand for Trotsky’s position when he warned that repression unleashed by a bourgeois government, even if it goes against another bourgeois sector, will in the long run strengthen this government when they repress working class.
This is precisely what is happening today with the military repression against the entire mass movement and being justified by “war on terror” against the MB. The government and the military regime are the main enemy of Egyptian people.
Workers lift her heads again
There is a new proletarian ascent in the country – in our opinion – the most important one for class struggle. After the ebb in the second semester of 2013, a strong strike wave started in February belying categorically all those who had decreed the end of the revolutionary process. As the living conditions of the Egyptian people are getting worse and the military cannot contain the movement with promises alone.
Strikes began again in Mahalla and spread to El Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities and engulfed different sectors such as public transport, post office, railways, chemistry and steel and health. The demand was extension to the entire public and private sector of the minimum wage of 1200 Egyptian pounds ($170).
In spite of the fact that there is no national unification of these struggles, committees were formed to group several sectors of workers. The power of this movement forced to negotiate and grant concessions. There was no way to repress the strikes directly even if there were some selective repressions, the way it happened as in the case of the activists from the Post Office strike. The resignation of Beblawi – prime minister since the fall of Morsi – is one of the consequences of that moment.
Rigged elections to keep Al-Sisi in the palace
The 26th May election is a manipulation of the military regime to make themselves look legitimate. The candidature of Al-Sisi, the strong man of the government should be imposing in these rigged elections.
The government continues with prestige problems that persist ever since Mubarak and Morsi. And yet, there are no democratic liberties in Egypt and that provides these elections with fraudulent character. Oppositions are violently persecuted, while the entire State apparatus the mass media support Al-Sisi.
Hamdeen Sabahi’s candidature for opposition is not a real alternative even if sectors of the left support him, including the Trotskyist organisation, Revolutionary Socialists. Sabahi is a Nasserite who reached the third position in the 2012 elections when Morsi proved triumphant. Apart from expressing a bourgeois alternative, he helps to legitimise rigged elections and the victory of Al-Sisi.
Workers need to build an alternative
It is most necessary to build the camp of the workers, alternative to all the bourgeois groupings, particularly against the military government and the Muslim Brotherhood. This alternative must lean on independent mobilisation of the masses, particularly on the proletarian strikes underway.
The military regime will now have to take over by means of Al-Sisi. This time, the ascent of the masses will collide this time the administration and the regime. Revolution and counterrevolution Revolution and counterrevolution will clash once again in Egypt. The future of the revolution is linked to the emergence of workers’ own alternative against the false solutions of the bourgeoisie.
Down with the government! Down with the military regime!
Annul the vote in the May elections!
Full support for workers’ struggles!
Put an end to all the organism of repression!
Down with the law of restriction of expression, organisation and demonstration!
Punish all those involved in the repression against the movement of the toiling masses under the Mubarak, SCAF, Morsi and Al-Sisi administrations!
Minimum wages of 1200 pounds!
Jobs and free health and education!
No to the payment of the foreign debt!
Reopen the frontier with Gaza!
End the agreements with Israel and the USA!
For a democratic and sovereign Constituent with no militaries or any other institution of the old regime!
No militaries and no Muslim Brotherhood!
For a classist and socialist alternative with a programme for the destruction of the military regime!
For a people’s and proletarian government!