By Lal Khan
July 07, 2013
In Egypt, power outages, price hikes, unemployment, poverty and misery had escalated during the rule of Islamic fundamentalists under Morsi
Such was the ferocity, scale and sweep of the mass upheaval that in three days the Egyptian military was forced to remove President Muhammad Morsi and his Islamic fundamentalist government. In 2011, it took 18 days for the movement to humble the former dictator, Hosni Mubarak. The military was terrified at the sight of mass mobilisations and the consciousness displayed by the heaving millions. The generals had no option but to sacrifice Morsi.
According to some conservative estimates, there were 17 million people on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and beyond. The latest mobilisation was much bigger in scale than the one in 2011. It seemed as if the entire Egypt had taken to streets in a revolutionary insurrection. Indubitably, this has been the largest contemporary movement in the region.
The military is too scared to take direct control hence the generals have appointed the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court as the interim president. The imperial masters have also been stunned by these events. Their muted reaction mirrors their impotence. Washington is just as powerless as two years ago. Barack Obama’s belated statement was pathetic when he said he was deeply ‘concerned’ by the decision of the Egyptian military to depose President Morsi. Obama has called for a swift return to civilian rule. “The long standing partnership between the United States and Egypt is based on shared interests and values,” he added. This revolution has seriously threatened the ‘mutual interests’ of the imperialists and the Egyptian bourgeoisie.
The role of the so-called free capitalist media has also been deceptive. The most blatant lie is to say that President Morsi was removed in the military coup instead of crediting the mass revolt. It is an open secret that the military and the Islamic fundamentalists had a secret deal brokered by the CIA through its old fox, the wily operator Bruce Riedel. A year ago, the military handed over power to the Muslim Brotherhood with the clear understanding that the perks, privileges and financial assets of the military’s elite would be protected. Hence, the murderers and torturers of the old regime were allowed to go scot-free. No military general or police chief was put on trial by the Morsi government. However, the wealthy businessmen financing the Muslim Brotherhood were accommodated in the plunder of Egypt.
The other propaganda is that a ‘democratically’ elected president and his regime have been removed. When this puerile argument was put to a protestor he answered: “But this is a revolution.” In the words of the Marxist leader Alan Woods, “Since when does a Revolution bow its head before existing laws, governments and institutions? A Revolution by its very nature challenges defies and tries to overthrow the existing order, its laws, rules and values. To demand of a Revolution that it shows respect for the institutions and personalities it is trying to overthrow is to demand that the Revolution should renounce itself... For the masses, democracy is not an empty word. The acid test of democracy is if it can fill empty stomachs. The Egyptian Revolution was not fought in order to provide lucrative jobs for professional politicians. It was a rebellion of the masses against exploitation, unemployment and poverty. In a Revolution the mood of the masses changes with a lightening rapidity. Morsi’s alleged legitimacy was based on the vote of a minority and the support he had then has largely melted.”
The most striking aspect of the second Egyptian revolution has been that it has laid bare the falsity of the notion propagated by the bourgeois media and intelligentsia that the Arab Spring was about a democratic change. In fact, the self-immolation of Boazizi in Tunisia that ignited the mass revolutionary movements was a protest against unemployment and socio-economic injustices.
In Egypt, power outages, price hikes, unemployment, poverty and misery had escalated during the rule of Islamic fundamentalists under Morsi. The growth rate dropped by three percent; one in every four Egyptians is unemployed; more than half of the population lives in abject poverty and electricity and gas shortages have crippled social life. The masses had had enough. The demonstrators surrounded the Presidential Palace, padlocked the gates and put up posters saying: “Closed by the Order of the Revolution.”
Most domineering analysts including former ‘lefts’ actually refuse to call it a revolution as they did in 2011. There have been innumerable revolutions that were not able to overthrow the capitalist system yet they challenged the existing state and system while real power was in the hands of the people. The Russian revolutions of 1905 and February 1917, the Spanish revolutions from 1931 till 1936, the Chinese revolution of 1924-25, the revolution of 1946 in the Indian subcontinent triggered by the sailor’s revolt, and the 1968-69 revolution in Pakistan are some of the glaring examples.
Obviously without a Bolshevik Leninist party the present revolution in Egypt will not be able to overthrow capitalism and achieve a socialist victory. The power will slip through the hands of the masses and there would be a retreat. The media is already trying to prop up the Muslim Brotherhood and warning of a civil war. But the masses have learnt more in the last two years than they learnt in the last seven decades. Any set up that keeps the present system intact will face more revolutionary uprisings, as the Egyptian capitalism is too rotten to solve any of the burning problems afflicting society. Very cautiously, the US official statements have stopped short of calling it a coup. If they had done so they would have to stop the aid to Egypt. That could split the Egyptian army with the young officers rapidly moving to the left and taking power and going for expropriation of capital etc as happened during the revolution of 1952 in Egypt. This could still happen.
In any case, this revolution will have huge impact on the region. The upheavals in Turkey and Brazil were important factors that catalysed this revolution. The regimes in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and others countries in the region must be nervous. The right wing and the imperialists might use the Islamic fundamentalists to crush the revolution through terror and violence.
Revolts in other countries of the region that Egypt might inspire will be a source of great strength. A revolution is not a one-act play. It moves through a series of stages with its ebbs and flows. Ultimately the masses will carve out a revolutionary party and leadership that will overthrow capitalism and lay the basis of a planned socialist economy.
Lal Khan is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org