Tunisia: no to class collaboration!

We publish this article, written by a Tunisian comrade, which offers a criticism of the idea of a "national salvation government" as a solution to the current political crisis in the country, and argues instead for a revolutionary way forward. 

In the aftermath of the assassination of Mohamed Brahmi, the Nasserite deputy and member of the Popular Front, on the 25th July, the leadership of left and right wing parties along with the main trade union, UGTT and the bosses organisation UTICA, gathered together into a political initiative called the “National Salvation Front”. Its main aims are the dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly as well as the setting up of a “technocratic government”. Such a government would be in charge of taking urgent measures regarding “economic, social and political security”. The signatories demand the creation of a “committee of experts” in charge of drawing up a constitution to be submitted to a referendum. Scandalously, the Popular Front (a coalition of left wing and Arab nationalist parties) and the UGTT trade union joined the initiative, side by the side with Nidaa Tounès and UTICA, respectively the party and the organisation of the capitalists.  

Béji Caïd Essebsi, the former Prime Minister and leader of Nidaa Tounès, presents himself to the public  as the main opposition to Ennahdha, the Islamist party in power. His ideology can be traced back to a lengthy philosophical Tunisian tradition (“Modernism”) which argues for a petty-bourgeois form of women’s emancipation, along with  openness to  Western culture. This ideology is resolutely opposed to the philosophical tradition of the Muslim Brotherhood, which argues for a return to a society that would be governed in accordance to the Islamic law and do away with the influence of Sufi and Western traditions. 

The previous elections were the scene of very violent verbal confrontations between these two ideologies, to the extent that it hid the main issue which is the misery and under-development which affects many regions of the country, particularly in the interior. The Communist-Nasserite Revolutionary Alternative coalition was the only political organisation to defend a program which set its priorities in favour of the disadvantaged classes and the youth.  

From the 27th of February until the 24th of December 2011, the period during which he was Prime Minister, Béji Caïd Essebsi initiated a resolutely pro-capitalist policy, under the authority of the World Bank and the IMF. Nicknamed the Deauville Partnership, this policy gave birth to reactionary reforms from the point of view of the Tunisian workers and large layers of society. He put the Tunisian state under the diktat of the IMF and the World Bank for everything regarding capital flows, public debt and social regulation. 

Decided in an anti-democratic way by an un-elected government, this policy has been carried on under the government of the Troïka, that came to power after the elections that took place on the 23rd of October 2011, a government in which Ennahdha is the main component. Among all the opposition parties, only the Popular Front, heir of the Revolutionary Alternative coalition, has been denouncing this felony. A few days before being assassinated in February, its leader Chokri Belaïd violently opposed  the subjugation of the country to the IMF/WB. As for Deputy Mohamed Brahmi, he denounced the links between Ennahdha and Nidaa Tounès, just a few days before being assassinated too.  Furthermore, on the 30th of July, one of the representatives of Ennahdha proposed a "national unity government" to the opposition parties including their "ennemy" Nidaa Tounès!

The fact is that the so-called antagonism between religion and secularism is a myth, well maintained by the two parties. On the one hand, it is obvious that the implementation of the sharia can be nothing but a catastrophe for all women in the country. On the other hand, petty-bourgeois feminism would benefit only a few Tunisian women. They are the ones that run capitalist companies, those who occupy high level positions inside the administration and all women who belong to the well-off middle class with a high standard of living. But the other women in the country, like the oppressed workers in the textile industry, the cleaning ladies that have been exploited since their childhood by bourgeois families and who have been victims of all kinds of harassment, the young graduate women who desperately seek a future, in summary, the majority of women would not win any benefit. Only the liberation of the whole Tunisian working class will permit the social and political emancipation of all Tunisian women. 

Blinded by the haste of events, the UGTT and the Popular Front don’t take into account the mass mobilisations that are taking place in entire regions of the country. Workers and the unemployed have taken by storm governorates and town halls of entire regions in the interior of the country, and decided to march on the capital Tunis. Faced with the idea of a National Salvation government, the alternative is a revolutionary assembly, based on revolutionary committees in the workplaces and neighbourhoods, in the cities and regions, electing representatives to a genuine Revolutionary Constituent Assembly to take over the running of the country. Tunisian revolutionaries desperately need a political expression of their mobilisation on the ground. Instead of participating in the “National Salvation Front”, this last embodiment of class collaboration, the Popular Front and the UGTT must trust their social basis and march towards the conquest of power, thus, also kick-starting the Arab and world socialist revolution. 

In the aftermath of the assassination of Mohamed Brahmi, the Nasserite deputy and member of the Popular Front, on the 25th July, the leadership of left and right wing parties along with the main trade union, UGTT and the bosses organisation UTICA, gathered together into a political initiative called the “National Salvation Front”. Its main aims are the dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly as well as the setting up of a “technocratic government”. Such a government would be in charge of taking urgent measures regarding “economic, social and political security”. The signatories demand the creation of a “committee of experts” in charge of drawing up a constitution to be submitted to a referendum. Scandalously, the Popular Front (a coalition of left wing and Arab nationalist parties) and the UGTT trade union joined the initiative, side by the side with Nidaa Tounès and UTICA, respectively the party and the organisation of the capitalists.  

 

Béji Caïd Essebsi, the former Prime Minister and leader of Nidaa Tounès, presents himself to the public  as the main opposition to Ennahdha, the Islamist party in power. His ideology can be traced back to a lengthy philosophical Tunisian tradition (“Modernism”) which argues for a petty-bourgeois form of women’s emancipation, along with  openness to  Western culture. This ideology is resolutely opposed to the philosophical tradition of the Muslim Brotherhood, which argues for a return to a society that would be governed in accordance to the Islamic law and do away with the influence of Sufi and Western traditions. 

 

The previous elections were the scene of very violent verbal confrontations between these two ideologies, to the extent that it hid the main issue which is the misery and under-development which affects many regions of the country, particularly in the interior. The Communist-Nasserite Revolutionary Alternative coalition was the only political organisation to defend a program which set its priorities in favour of the disadvantaged classes and the youth.  

 

From the 27th of February until the 24th of December 2011, the period during which he was Prime Minister, Béji Caïd Essebsi initiated a resolutely pro-capitalist policy, under the authority of the World Bank and the IMF. Nicknamed the Deauville Partnership, this policy gave birth to reactionary reforms from the point of view of the Tunisian workers and large layers of society. He put the Tunisian state under the diktat of the IMF and the World Bank for everything regarding capital flows, public debt and social regulation. 

 

Decided in an anti-democratic way by an un-elected government, this policy has been carried on under the government of the Troïka, that came to power after the elections that took place on the 23rd of October 2011, a government in which Ennahdha is the main component. Among all the opposition parties, only the Popular Front, heir of the Revolutionary Alternative coalition, has been denouncing this felony. A few days before being assassinated in February, its leader Chokri Belaïd violently opposed  the subjugation of the country to the IMF/WB. As for Deputy Mohamed Brahmi, he denounced the links between Ennahdha and Nidaa Tounès, just a few days before being assassinated too. We know now that even Ennahdha seeks to join the National Salvation Front!  

 

The fact is that the so-called antagonism between religion and secularism is a myth, well maintained by the two parties. On the one hand, it is obvious that the implementation of the charia can be nothing but a catastrophe for all women in the country. On the other hand, petty-bourgeois feminism would benefit only a few Tunisian women. They are the ones that run capitalist companies, those who occupy high level positions inside the administration and all women who belong to the well-off middle class with a high standard of living. But the other women in the country, like the oppressed workers in the textile industry, the cleaning ladies that have been exploited since their childhood by bourgeois families and who have been victims of all kinds of harassment, the young graduate women who desperately seek a future, in summary, the majority of women would not win any benefit. Only the liberation of the whole Tunisian working class will permit the social and political emancipation of all Tunisian women. 

 

Blinded by the haste of events, the UGTT and the Popular Front don’t take into account the mass mobilisations that are taking place in entire regions of the country. Workers and the unemployed have taken by storm governorates and town halls of entire regions in the interior of the country, and decided to march on the capital Tunis. Faced with the idea of a National Salvation government, the alternative is a revolutionary assembly, based on revolutionary committees in the workplaces and neighbourhoods, in the cities and regions, electing representatives to a genuine Revolutionary Constituent Assembly to take over the running of the country. Tunisian revolutionaries desperately need a political expression of their mobilisation on the ground. Instead of participating in the “National Salvation Front”, this last embodiment of class collaboration, the Popular Front and the UGTT must trust their social basis and march towards the conquest of power, thus, also kick-starting the Arab and world socialist revolution. In the aftermath of the assassination of Mohamed Brahmi, the Nasserite deputy and member of the Popular Front, on the 25th July, the leadership of left and right wing parties along with the main trade union, UGTT and the bosses organisation UTICA, gathered together into a political initiative called the “National Salvation Front”. Its main aims are the dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly as well as the setting up of a “technocratic government”. Such a government would be in charge of taking urgent measures regarding “economic, social and political security”. The signatories demand the creation of a “committee of experts” in charge of drawing up a constitution to be submitted to a referendum. Scandalously, the Popular Front (a coalition of left wing and Arab nationalist parties) and the UGTT trade union joined the initiative, side by the side with Nidaa Tounès and UTICA, respectively the party and the organisation of the capitalists.  

 

Béji Caïd Essebsi, the former Prime Minister and leader of Nidaa Tounès, presents himself to the public  as the main opposition to Ennahdha, the Islamist party in power. His ideology can be traced back to a lengthy philosophical Tunisian tradition (“Modernism”) which argues for a petty-bourgeois form of women’s emancipation, along with  openness to  Western culture. This ideology is resolutely opposed to the philosophical tradition of the Muslim Brotherhood, which argues for a return to a society that would be governed in accordance to the Islamic law and do away with the influence of Sufi and Western traditions. 

 

The previous elections were the scene of very violent verbal confrontations between these two ideologies, to the extent that it hid the main issue which is the misery and under-development which affects many regions of the country, particularly in the interior. The Communist-Nasserite Revolutionary Alternative coalition was the only political organisation to defend a program which set its priorities in favour of the disadvantaged classes and the youth.  

 

From the 27th of February until the 24th of December 2011, the period during which he was Prime Minister, Béji Caïd Essebsi initiated a resolutely pro-capitalist policy, under the authority of the World Bank and the IMF. Nicknamed the Deauville Partnership, this policy gave birth to reactionary reforms from the point of view of the Tunisian workers and large layers of society. He put the Tunisian state under the diktat of the IMF and the World Bank for everything regarding capital flows, public debt and social regulation. 

 

Decided in an anti-democratic way by an un-elected government, this policy has been carried on under the government of the Troïka, that came to power after the elections that took place on the 23rd of October 2011, a government in which Ennahdha is the main component. Among all the opposition parties, only the Popular Front, heir of the Revolutionary Alternative coalition, has been denouncing this felony. A few days before being assassinated in February, its leader Chokri Belaïd violently opposed  the subjugation of the country to the IMF/WB. As for Deputy Mohamed Brahmi, he denounced the links between Ennahdha and Nidaa Tounès, just a few days before being assassinated too. We know now that even Ennahdha seeks to join the National Salvation Front!  

 

The fact is that the so-called antagonism between religion and secularism is a myth, well maintained by the two parties. On the one hand, it is obvious that the implementation of the charia can be nothing but a catastrophe for all women in the country. On the other hand, petty-bourgeois feminism would benefit only a few Tunisian women. They are the ones that run capitalist companies, those who occupy high level positions inside the administration and all women who belong to the well-off middle class with a high standard of living. But the other women in the country, like the oppressed workers in the textile industry, the cleaning ladies that have been exploited since their childhood by bourgeois families and who have been victims of all kinds of harassment, the young graduate women who desperately seek a future, in summary, the majority of women would not win any benefit. Only the liberation of the whole Tunisian working class will permit the social and political emancipation of all Tunisian women. 

Blinded by the haste of events, the UGTT and the Popular Front don’t take into account the mass mobilisations that are taking place in entire regions of the country. Workers and the unemployed have taken by storm governorates and town halls of entire regions in the interior of the country, and decided to march on the capital Tunis. Faced with the idea of a National Salvation government, the alternative is a revolutionary assembly, based on revolutionary committees in the workplaces and neighbourhoods, in the cities and regions, electing representatives to a genuine Revolutionary Constituent Assembly to take over the running of the country. Tunisian revolutionaries desperately need a political expression of their mobilisation on the ground. Instead of participating in the “National Salvation Front”, this last embodiment of class collaboration, the Popular Front and the UGTT must trust their social basis and march towards the conquest of power, thus, also kick-starting the Arab and world socialist revolution.