Egypt – End of the beginning

The mighty power of revolution has been demonstrated with the resignation of Mubarak. It has shown that the staunchest, most vicious and stubborn of despots can be overthrown when the masses enter the arena of struggle and their resolve becomes absolute. But the most unique feature of this movement is that even after the tyrant has gone it refuses to relent.

What began as an uprising to overthrow the despotic regime of Mubarak has entered a new phase with clear socio-economic demands that challenge the existing relations of property and the exploitative system of capitalism. And yet there are many who had long abandoned any perspective of class struggle and social revolution and now refuse to recognize the revolution unfolding on the streets of Tunis and Cairo, and spreading to Amman, Tehran, Aden and many other cities across the Middle East. There are none so blind as those who will not see. But this whole generation of sceptics and cynics dominating the media and the intelligentsia is doomed by history. Leon Trotsky in his epic work ‘The History of the Russian Revolution’ defined revolution in the following terms:

“The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events. In ordinary times the state, be it monarchical or democratic, elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in that line of business – kings, ministers, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, journalists. But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, (...). The history of a revolution is for us first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.”

Revolution is not a one-act drama .To say that a revolution has begun is not to say that it has been completed, or even that victory is assured. It is a struggle of living forces. The masses learn from experience. In a revolution this process acquires lightning speed. The youth and workers of Egypt have learnt more in a matter of three weeks than in thirty years of ‘normal’ life. On the streets and in the factories they have come to realize their power in modern society. The attacks of the counter revolutionary forces have been smashed with the steeled will and determination of the people.

However, the Egyptian revolution has not finished. In order to solve the problems of the society, it is necessary to break with capitalism, expropriate the economy, industry, banks, finance capital and the imperialist assets and stop their plunder. These measures will enable the workers to carry out a socialist transformation of society. This is both necessary and possible.

As the revolution advances after the end of its beginning without a Leninist party and a Marxist leadership, the revolutionary process will become more and more protracted. There will be battles encompassing victories and defeats. There will be lulls in the movement, periods of despair, apathy, indifference and inactivity – which will be followed by bursts of feverish activity and social explosions. But one thing is assured Egypt will never be the same again. The revolution unleashed on January is not going to die down. It is unstoppable. It will keep on reverberating time and again until a victory is achieved by overthrowing the present system that is the root cause of all the burning problems of the Egyptian society.

The imperialists are terrified. Hilary Clinton’s remarks during the initial upsurge graphically illustrated the imperialist fears. She said, “In too many places, in too many ways, the region’s foundations are sinking in sand”. The greatest economic and military power on earth, the USA, is powerless to intervene in spite of the fact that they have a lot at stake. It could not even control the actions of Mubarak. The sending of US warships to Suez was in reality an empty gesture. The imperialists have already burned their fingers in Iraq. They are facing a defeat in Afghanistan. It is in no position to launch another military adventure in the Middle East, and least of all against the Egyptian revolution. After the departure of Mubarak from the scene the imperialists don’t really have a clue of how to resolve the situation to maintain the status quo.

The US state has had close relations with the Egyptian military for decades. But the cohesion and the chain of command of the army is very fragile to say the least. The relentless upsurge of the masses will never tolerate another military regime having just got rid of a despot. Another thrust of the masses and the military will break along class lines.

At the present time the imperialists are trying to manoeuvre in fabricating some sort of a ‘democratic’ façade. However that would be very vulnerable. Newsweek of 31 January wrote, “By definition, revolutions are unpredictable, but should democracy take hold in Egypt, the American administration will have to deal with a much more messy and turbulent situation.” The CIA’s experienced operative Bruce Riedel had this to say, “The challenge Obama has now, is managing the whirlwind.” Any imperialist imposed democratic set up will be for the continuation of the exploitation and plunder. Jawar Lal Nehru, who although he capitulated to the lure of imperialist negotiated power later due to his ideological confusion, wrote the following in 1935, “democracy for an eastern country seems to mean only one thing: to carry out the behests of the imperialist ruling power.”

The Islamic fundamentalists were left far behind by the revolution. But where the spontaneous nature of the movement was its strength it was also its principle weakness. Now the media are trying to prop up the Muslim Brotherhood. But the leaders of the Ikhwan are overwhelmed by the secular nature of the movement. When Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei even talked of an “Islamic awakening” the Brotherhood replied that the revolt was the “Egyptian people’s revolution.” Although they are offering their services to the west a regime including the Islamists would not be stable and would not last very long.

The main problem for the imperialists and the custodians of capitalism is the resilience of the movement on the one hand and the rising socio-economic demands that this decaying system can never fulfil on the other. Ultimately only a socialist transformation can guarantee the victory of this revolution.