Egyptian revolution at the crossroads
The Egyptian revolution has reached a critical point, with the weakness and lack of strategy of the opposition leadership allowing a once-discredited army elite to resume a key role just over a year after it was forced to yield power to civilian authority.
As a result, the growing authoritarianism of the Morsi/Muslim Brotherhood regime has, for the time being, been replaced by an authoritarian military-backed regime. The suspension of the constitution, the arrest of Morsi and the closing down of Muslim Brotherhood media outlets are dangerous signs.
So too is the reinstatement by the Supreme Judicial Council yesterday of Mubarak-era judge Abdel Meguid Mahmoud to the post of prosecutor general months after he was removed by Morsi.
With the liberals in Tamarod, who called for the street campaign to oust Morsi, joining the “interim” regime, the masses have been led up a cul de sac. The new regime has no intention of changing the real power relations in Egypt, whereby the army and the capitalist class between them direct and control the economy. Fresh elections for the presidency will not alter this position.
That explains the muted response to Morsi’s removal by the White House and the ConDem government. Their concern for the democratic process is, of course, hypocrisy writ large after decades of propping up Mubarak. Obama et al simply want the people off the streets as soon as possible in case other people cotton on to how revolutions work.
The Egyptian street was powerful enough to bring down the Morsi government that was increasingly ruling by decree and had failed to address soaring unemployment, rising prices and inequality. In fact, it was negotiating with the International Monetary Fund to end subsidies on key foodstuffs.
But as a situation of dual power developed in a revolution that is striving to go further than democratic reform, the movement was headed off at the pass. Tamarod (Rebel) has affirmed its support for the military’s intervention, as have a number of human rights groups.
Jonathan Steele, the Guardian commentator, is right when he says:
The fact that the army's move has been welcomed by many of the revolutionaries who first had the courage to go into the streets against Mubarak in 2011 is a desperate commentary on their political naivety and shortsightedness.
No good can ever come of the army’s role. History has shown repeatedly from Chile to Greece that the army is part of the status quo of the capitalist state and will remain so until that state is deconstructed. Declaring that it is “on the side of the people” is what Allende told Chileans shortly before Pinochet seized power in 1973.
What the Egyptian masses have shown is their capacity to become the decisive force in society. That is a lesson that will not be lost on people struggling against austerity and inequality around the globe as the economic crisis deepens.
is just that
- an illusion
But what is equally true is that without a plan, without a strategy that is based on actually taking the power away from the ruling elites, the revolution cannot succeed. The reorganisation of the economy along democratically-owned and controlled lines and the guaranteeing of human rights cannot be achieved within the existing political-state framework.
In Egypt, power was up for grabs but the inadequacy of the movement’s leadership saw the ball grabbed by the army as a vacuum emerged. The illusion that power can slip into the hands of the masses by sheer energy and presence alone is just that – an illusion.
The situation remains fluid, with the army balancing between the contending classes. The aspirations of the masses remain unfulfilled while their determination to win is undiminished. To prevent a counter-revolution from taking hold, in Egypt they will need to build a leadership and develop a strategy that actually has power as its goal. In other words, the social and political revolution have to come together. This is actually the challenge in every capitalist country today.
4 July 2013