|Written by Ronald Leon Nuñez|
|Monday, 04 February 2013 19:15|
The second anniversary of the beginning of the revolution found tens of thousands of demonstrators out in the streets of the main cities of Egypt.
In Suez, Alexandria, Mahalla, Port Said and essentially, on the emblematic Tahrir Square, Egyptian toiling masses staged rallies, marches and hard confrontations against the police and the army. They demand from the current Muslim Brotherhood administration presided by Mohamed Morsi to comply with democratic and economic demands unmet since February 2011 when, after 17 days of intense struggles with a toll of 850 martyrs, dictator Mubarak was finally toppled.
Egyptian streets and squares echo the mighty cry “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice” as well as the iconic slogan “people say down with the regime”. The Islamic administration, together with the military HQ, responded these demonstrations with brutal repression and even stricter hardening of the regime.
Last Monday 28th, the Upper House of Parliament passed a bill presented by the Executive authorising the army to “guarantee de security of the country and arrest demonstrators.” In this way, and with the mission of “protecting the vital institutions of the State” the military have been once more granted full freedom to repress people and act in close connection with the police in principle until the next legislative election to be held in April.
But Egyptian toiling masses and youth are not to be cowed by the military out in the streets. The contrary is true: demonstrations escalated in numbers and in radicalisation. With the situation getting out of control, Egyptian declared a month of “emergency state” in Port Said, Ismailia and Suez with curfew from 21:00 till 06:00 local time. As soon as this measure was announced several organisations and thousands of people declared that they would remain in the streets and challenged the restrictions.
In view of the above, the Head Quarters and the Minister of Defence, General Abdel Fattah al Sisi issued a statement according to which the country was on the verge of “collapse” and that “attempts at affecting stability of State institutions” was a dangerous affair, impairing national security of Egypt. Indeed, the army has deployed forces in several cities mainly in the area of the Suez Channel, a crucial waterway through which 17 000 ships go every year and it contributes $470 million of monthly revenues.
Since the beginning of this new wave of protests and our press time for this article, nearly 60 people have been killed in action against the forces of repression and hundreds have been injured.
The regime is maintained even without Mubarak
In this new revolutionary process that started in the entire region, millions walked out spurred by famine and lack of the most elementary democratic freedoms, and people started their revolution. Millions poured into the streets, fed up with long decades of poverty, exploitation, delivery of the country’s wealth to imperialism and of being submitted to the terrible oppression of Mubarak’s military dictatorship.
The revolutionary process released immense social forces that shook the country and were strengthened with the struggles of the neighbouring countries. Egyptian revolution, with high participation of impoverished youth and important participation of organised working class, achieved a first and important triumph when dictator Mubarak was toppled.
However, in spite of the mighty popular mobilisation and due to the betrayal of traditional leaderships with strong popular support, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the toppling of Mubarak did not spell the fall of political regime for it continued settled on the pre-eminence of economic privileges and the enormous economic privileges of the military top notches.
The military keep on wielding the economic and political power. First through the Military Junta headed by Marshal Hussein Tantawi (as from which the Parliament and the first Constituent Assembly were dissolved) and later on – as we described in other articles – by means of the counterrevolutionary pact that the Brotherhood signed with the high military command according to which Morsi took over in consideration of maintenance of economic and political interests of the Army.
With Morsi in charge, Egyptian military continued controlling not less than 40% of local economy because they are the owners of great entrepreneurial groups and extensions of land. Apart from that, the Armed Forces of the country continue receiving a yearly over $1400 million in respect of “military aid”. This fact makes them the military force with the highest financial resources received from imperialism after Israel. In other words, it is the USA who is still paying the salaries of Egyptian generals.
Within the political scope, the military still define and control their own budget with no control from any other state institution and they have the prerogative of appointing the Minister of Defence for the Cabinet, who can never be a civilian.
They furthermore enjoy irritating impunity that makes them all but untouchable. So far not one important officer has been convicted for the massacre of the 850 people during the demonstrations that toppled Mubarak and let alone the crimes against humanity committed during his dictatorship. A few weeks ago, for example, a Court of Cassation declared the life sentence for the former dictator and determined that the entire trial was to be repeated.
This is the regime that, even if without Mubarak, is still there and is upheld through the pact between the Brotherhood and the same HQ as ever. The essence of the Bonapartist regime – repressive but submissive in the face of imperialism remains intact because the regime was reformed (and that is why the situation is in many ways different to what it was in the days of Mubarak) but not destroyed as was the case of Libya.
The permanence of the essence of the regime is captured in the model of the Constitution defended by Morsi and the Brotherhood, written by the Islamites to please the generals and which, after another series of violent protests last December was passed in a plebiscite with scarce participation of 32% in spite of the fact that it had been defeated in the main urban centres such as Alexandria and even in the capital city, El Cairo.
This is what explains why ample sectors of the toiling masses feel betrayed in their aspiration to conquer real democratic liberties and they opt for fighting for the same targets for which they had crowded into the squares two years ago.
This situation is combined with the worsening of the dramatic economic situation with no chances of a solution in the near future. In the most important and populous country in the Arab world, 40% of the population lives beneath the line of poverty. In July 2012, the rate of unemployment admitted by the government reached 12.6%. According to Ministry of Human Resources in Egypt, among the young graduates from high school and university this rate is above 85%. On the other hand, unemployment is much worse among women and is heavier among urban inhabitants (16%) than in rural areas (10%). In the last two years more than 1500 companies closed and tourism, an important source of currency for the country is practically paralysed.
The country admits a foreign debt that represents 90% of their GDP. Last year, Morsi spent about 10% of the GDP on payments of interests of loans contracted by Mubarak. The fiscal deficit (spending more than the revenue) was 10.4%.
This is the cocktail that spurs the revolution. On the one hand an oppressive political regime that has been forced to introduce some changes because of the power of the revolution but is essentially for the maintenance of the bourgeois state and defence of the privileges of a parasitic minority of generals and local capitalists who in turn give the country away to imperialism, On the other hand, there is the economic situation that is unbearable for the broad sectors of the exploited masses.
That is why the revolution goes on. But it continues on new objective and subjective bases. Youth and toiling masses in general know that they are the protagonists of the fall of Mubarak and now they are out for more.
The very dynamics of the objective situation and the headway (in leaps) of the awareness of millions of workers stemming out of their collective public activity make the mobilisation and the revolution develop in a permanent process. Once Mubarak was defeated, now the demonstrators are directly out against the government of the Muslim Brotherhood in conspiracy with the generals, the principal bourgeois party in the country and, until a short time before, unchallenged political leadership.
The experience with the Brotherhood
Political erosion of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in the eyes of the activist advanced guard and sectors of the masses is a fact. We are not saying that the Brotherhood has lost their entire social and political base, but the current dynamics does not encourage prognosis for this party to increase their prestige; the contrary is true.
Each measure, each decree or repression produces new fissures on the “progressive” front of the Brotherhood. As the demonstrations accrue and the experience becomes more concrete, the real face of the Brotherhood becomes more visible and their role of the guarantor of maintenance of the regime and a tool of imperialism to defeat the revolution in Egypt in the entire region becomes that much clearer in the eyes of the Egyptians and other Arab countries.
Last December, when Morsi announced the decrees with which he concentrated practically the entire power around himself and forced a plebiscite to impose anti-workers, anti-strikes Constitution based on religious precepts and wrought by the military, thousands walked out into the streets and tens gave their lives to oppose such measures. Furious masses set fire to more than 40 party offices of the Brotherhood in several cities and tens gave their lives to stop this measure. Thousands once more crowded into Tahrir and climbed barbed wire fences and challenged army tanks and then besieged the President’s Palace. During the plebiscite, millions either abstained from going to vote or voted against the text proposed by Morsi and the military.
Now it is the same thing again. Other party premises were raided by the masses and one can read more and more posters on the squares demanding Morsi’s resignation, something unthinkable not more than six months before.
This is because the Brotherhood, fully absorbed by the task of defeating the revolution, is now compelled to reveal who they side with. In spite of all his speeches or charitable measures for some sectors of the population, and due to the increase of struggle and the “chaos”, the Brotherhood is now forced to call for overt repression.
On Sunday 27th January alone, in El Cairo, more than 90 people were arrested accused of “vandalism” and “saboteur”. While everything was getting out of control, the summit of the Brotherhood addressed Morsi publicly and demanded more repression. Mohamed Beltagy, one of the most prominent leaders of Party of Freedom and Justice, the political arm of the Brotherhood who admonished Morsi, “What are you waiting for?” Further on he says, “It is your duty to halt all this using all the resources that Constitution and law provides”, then he added, “including the declaration of state of emergency” (El País, 27.01).
Neither this nor bands armed with sticks of the Brotherhood as well as of the other ones linked to the Salafists (a sector whose programme is the instauration of a theocratic State, ever since the times of Mubarak were used as shock troops against mobilised masses), who barge in and disperse demonstrations. The entire concrete experience and the wearing out of the Brotherhood open real space to build new political alternatives of leadership.
Mobilisation ought to go on and get united
This is the moment that all the demonstrations should go on, spread out and rally round a plan of national struggle. It is fundamental to make headway in the most ample coordination of all the trade unions, youth and popular organisations that fought against Mubarak and are still mobilised. The struggle should go on not only for the democratic liberties, against the repressive measures of the government and even against the Bonapartist Constitution that rules since December, but also for concrete measures against unemployment, for better wages and for a radical land reform.
Against this background, it is also necessary to discuss the characterisation of the bourgeois opposition to the Morsi administration and our policy to it.
Since late 2012, a major sector of the opposition to the Brotherhood, who claims to be “liberal and secular” and stands aloof from the “Mubarak era”, grouped together in what is known as “Front for National Salvation”. It is a very broad front and is headed by such characters as Mohamed el Baradei and the former Mubarak’s Foreign Minister and former secretary of Arab League, Amr Musa. Other figures, such as Hamdin Sabahi, a bourgeois nationalist, who was the third most voted candidate in the latest elections, who has important influence in the social scope and in the unions is also an outstanding figure there. For the last plebiscite, the Front of National Salvation called to vote NO.
Within the framework of struggle against the government and the Bonapartist regime, it is very important for proletarian and youth organisations should apply a policy of ample joint action against Morsi’ measures. That is why it is correct to to coordinate rallies and demonstrations with all those who actually challenge the regime, even with those bourgeois sectors.
However, this policy must never mean abandoning class independence nor should it spawn any kind of illusion regarding the bourgeois opposition being any kind of alternative of change with respect to Morsi and the military. Because of their class character, bourgeois “secular and democratic” can never be consistent to the end in the struggle against the regime and let alone the struggle against imperialism.
Faced with increasingly radicalised demonstration, the summons issued by the Front is essentially to “seek dialogue” with the government, because they fear – as much as Morsi is – that the masses may overwhelm the channels of the capitalist state. This can be clearly seen, for example, in the recent summons by El Baradi, who summoned Morsi and the military to sit down and seek a form of pacifying the situation. “We urgently need a meeting of the President, the Ministers of Defence Home, the ruling party, the Salafist trend and the Front of National Salvation (FNS) to take urgent steps to put an end to violence and to begin a serious dialogue”, because “neither the FNS nor the government wish to cover up for violence.”. (EFE, 30.01)
It is obvious that regardless the tactic differences or those related to the distribution of positions and shares of power, the Morsi sector and the military as where El Baradi or Musa sit in (whose main banner is “a government of national unity”, what in practice means a new pact with the Brotherhood and the military) coincide in the strategic vision of appeasing the popular mobilisation and defeat the revolution in Egypt.
The revolution is permanent
Due to the above mentioned, we insist on the need of continuing and deepening independent mobilisation of the working class and popular sectors. It is fundamental also to see thoroughly into the process of trade union reorganisation – even if it is just beginning. It is expressed in the foundation or renewal of several trade unions and even federations, such as the case of Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU). Social and popular organisations should become stronger and centralise their struggles hinging round a plan of struggles that should include the main demands of all the sectors; this is to be defined democratically.
At present, the most immediate task on the agenda in Egypt is to destroy the regime upheld by generals and financed by imperialism of which the Brotherhood administration is the main guarantor. The mobilisation must advance until the regime is annihilated. The compliance with this task is fundamental if the revolution is to make headway, it is fundamental if democratic freedom is to be achieved and if the proletarian and popular organisation is to be broadened creating better conditions to build a revolutionary – and that means proletarian and internationalist – leadership for the process.
That is why it is necessary for the entire movement of workers, youths and popular should pose the demands;
– Out with the government of Morsi and the military!
– Down with Constitution of Morsi and the military!
– We demand a new Constituent Assembly to install ample and total democratic freedoms, to break all the agreements with imperialism, to expropriate Mubarak’s wealth and the entire old regime and to build a Socialist. We demand a new Constitution in the service of the toiling masses!
– For an immediate and general improvement of wages in correspondence with the price of the family basket! For an immediate emergency plan and immediate reduction of working hours without reducing the wages so as to guarantee jobs for all! For the expropriation of the great national and multinational companies and of the financial system!
Of course, it is necessary to fight for the complete split with imperialism, saying Immediate breach of the Camp David Treaty and all the financial and political subordination to imperialism and Israel! No to a new indebtedness for $4 800 million that Morsi and the military are negotiating with the Washington bankers
– No to the payment of the foreign debt so that these resources can be invested in jobs, health and education for Egyptian people! Total split with the IMF and all the imperialist organisms.
At the same time, the task of destroying the regime is to be place within the strategic perspective of immediate instauration of a proletarian, peasant and popular government leaning on social organisation and their democracy.
With this dynamics, only a government of the above characteristics will be able to make headway with the tasks of social and national liberation, beginning with the complete breach of all pacts that bind Egypt to imperialism and the Nazi-fascist State of Israel. Only the seizure of power by the working class will enable us to punish all the crimes committed by Mubarak and the military HQ and it will be possible to confiscate all their properties and the enormous fortune amassed through sheer robbery against people and the giving away of the national wealth to imperialism.
The revolution in Egypt like all those that are underway in the region, is still going on and illuminating the path for all the people in the world. Two years later, the revolution reveals itself as a permanent process that combines democratic and anti-capitalist tasks and interlinks the political revolution with the social revolution as a part of the whole process that is world socialist revolution.