The fight between two fractions of the bourgeoisie plunges the country into chaos
On the 3rd of July the generals triggered a coup d’Etat, with the support of the post-Nasserist “foulouls” (all the parties stemming from Moubarak’s NDP), of the so-called “democrats” or “liberals” (Wafd party, LEP…), of the neo-Nasserists (CP…) and of the former Stalinists (ECP…).
The Egyptian armed forces siding with the people’s will, adopted the people’s demands and announced the roadmap to drop the Brotherhood regime and their allies of forces of religious right. This was the first time the Egyptian armed forces run that contrary to American will since more than 40 years. It was also the first time that the Egyptian people of all sects and political forces and institutions unite to correct the revolution path and begin to develop a civilian and democratic constitution for the country to exit from dependency and grovelling…We regard the Egyptian people’s revolution on June 30 as correcting the path of the January 25 revolution and an extension of all phases of the national democratic revolution that began with the Orabi Revolution in 1881 and continued through the 1919 revolution and the revolution in 1952… (Egyptian Communist Party, June 30 Revolution, August 3, 2013)
It means that for 80 years the “national democratic revolution” would have been be on the agenda, pushing the socialist revolution into a distant future. The revolution in stages is used to legitimate the “anti-imperialist united front” with the bourgeois parties and “the armed forces”. For the reformists, the army is not bourgeois, it is not an axis of the bourgeois State, but it would be at odds with the American imperialism, it would have become an instrument in the service of the “people”, for all classes, like in the old times when colonel Nasser executed the striking workers and prohibited the ECP.
That is why it is necessary to begin, and begin immediately, with a workers’ militia, in order that we may proceed gradually, but firmly and intelligently, to the creation of a people’s militia and the replacement of the police and the standing army by the universally armed people. (Vladimir Lenin, Inevitable Catastrophe and Extravagant Promises, May 29, 1917, Collected Works, vol. 24, p. 430)
For the opportunists, the proletariat should be subjected to a fraction of the ruling class, including the Islamists for some of them (like the Lebanese Communist Party now or the Tudeh Party in Iran in 1979), the soldiers who appear as the “supreme saviours” of the nation. It was already criminal with General Mustafa Kemal, with General Chiang Kai-shek, with General De Gaulle, with Colonel Nasser, with Colonel Perón, with Colonel Chavez… Such a fantasy becomes grotesque with the general Al-Sissi:
The independence of a backward state inevitably will be semi fictitious, and its political regime, under the influence of internal class contradictions and external pressure, will unavoidably fall into dictatorship against the people… (Léon Trotsky, Imperialist War And The Proletarian World Revolution, May 23, 1940)
The revisionists of “Trotskyism” in fact repeat the betrayals of Stalinism. The RS (associated with the British SWP and with the American ISO, valued by the French NPA) minimized the military putsch, presenting it as the crowning moment of what they call, like the ECP, the “second revolution”.
What has happened in Egypt is the height of democracy, a revolution of millions of people to directly topple a ruler. As for the military displacement of Morsi, this was nothing but a foregone conclusion once the military institution saw that the masses had already settled the issue in the streets and squares of Egypt. (RS, Statement, June 30, 2013)
What is more, the centrists asked the junta to appoint a good government and they asked the future government appointed by the junta to lead a good policy.
Whoever is the next prime minister must be from among the ranks of the January Revolution. We demand that the priorities of the coming government must be immediate steps to achieve social justice for the benefit of millions of poor and low-income… (RS, Statement, July 6, 2013)
Actually, the Council of the Armed Forces and its façade government suspended the democratic liberties on the 4th of August. They arrested the elected president, they suppressed the strikes of the steel workers in Suez, they accentuated the blockade in Gaza, they crushed the counter-attack by the Muslim Brothers (MB), in a bloody way, and they released Mubarak.
The Islamists and the generals are the two faces of the reaction
While Morsi is supported by Turkey and Qatar, the general staff enjoys the political and financial support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. None of these governments, especially the police-related, misogynous and clerical monarchies of the Gulf, is a guarantee for the democratic liberties and for social progress.
No lesson in democracy can come from the governments of the United States, of Germany, of France and of Britain either, which had not retain their support to Mubarak or to Ben Ali before and which aligned with the Islamist parties to rule Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. The American governments had already supported the MB from 1952 to 1991. Thanks to their popular support the MB appeared in 2012 as a credible barrier against the social revolution which came out in February 2011. Regardless of their ruling parties, each bourgeois “democratic” State defends the interests of its bourgeoisie, colludes with the Zionist colonial State and attempts to keep the imperialist order in Northern Africa and West Asia.
It is the splitting up of the bourgeoisie in many sectors, fractions and factions which so frequently cheated on people. In overthrowing a section we believe we overthrew the whole bourgeoisie but we just brought another sector to power. (Friedrich Engels, Letter to Laura Lafargue, 8th October 1889)
In late January 2011, the army relieves the police outflanked by powerful the demonstrations and emerging massive strikes. In cooperation with the American secret services, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) drops Mubarak and took the power on February 11th. It follows therefrom a period of ban on strikes, of suppression, of torture of hundreds persons, of persecution of Christians. In June 2012, the SCAF dissolved the Assembly elected in 2012 with a majority of clerical deputees (45% of the votes for the MB, 25% for Al-Nour). For the presidential election, the junta dismisses, under a pretext, the candidacy of the capitalist Khairat al-Chater, presented by the MB. The candidate of the junta, Ahmed Chafik, a former Prime Minister of Hosni Moubarak and a former general, is beaten by Morsi at the second round. After some dealings with the MB, the army transmits them the power but keeps its firms and its subsidies from the American State.
In 2001, the MB joined the movement against Mubarak which was initiated by young people. The clericals pretend: “Islam is the solution”. But in practice Islamism is nothing but capitalism with obscurantism and suppression. Morsi maintains the treaty with Israel. In October 2012, the Islamist gangs attacked the demonstrators on Tahrir square but the young revolutionaries succeeded in throwing them out. The Morsi government tries to ban the independent unions. In November 2012, the president Morsi appropriated full powers. In December 2012, the constituent assembly reinforces the influence of Islam (the sharia was already a reference in the previous constitution). The government hastily ratified the project of constitution. As much during the institutional coup as before the referendum, the Islamist gangs try to intimidate the opponents. Dozens of demonstrating young women are isolated and raped by misidentified gangs. Yet it is well established that the Islamist militia kidnapped and tortured dozens of opponents. Egyptian capitalism plunged into the depression that started under the junta, which leads to the depreciation of the pound, to galloping inflation, to increasing unemployment… The popularity of the government quickly wanes, while strikes proliferate and while millions of demonstrators demand its resignation in June 2013. It is brought down by the army which accuses it of “terrorism” in order to legitimize the putsch.
18th century revolutions often developed as constituent assemblies which lessened the arbitrary power and increased the rights of the masses. Despite their bourgeois character, their radical nature gave an historical example to the future revolutionary class, the proletariat, especially with the arming of the population.
Every man of the people fit for duty should have a weapon and keep it in his personal home. It is not mainly for reasons of economy that we demand the popular army instead of the permanent army, it is not for evading financial sacrifices, but for dispossessing the weapon of militarism of its bad use. Now it is occasionally used against the “inner enemy”, that is against the rise of the working class, and against its massive struggles. It should be exclusively used in defensive objectives against an exterior enemy, but also, if necessary, for defending the popular masses against putschist aspirations of a treacherous government. (Rosa Luxemburg, The New Army of Jean Jaurès, June 1911)
But an assembly convened by the junta (or by the MB) can only be counter-revolutionary. The constituent meetings in the hands of the soldiers in 2011 or of the Islamists in 2012 proved to be sham democracy. No constitution issuing from the general staff or from the Islamists cannot be really democratic. For the 2012 presidential elections, the junta selected its candidates, like the ayatollahs for the Iranian election in 2013; one year later, the general staff overthrew the elected president.
Is it not the duty of a democrat, who wishes to raise the question of re-elections, to recognise and emphasise the principle of democracy—the right of the population at any time to recall each and every representative, each and every person holding elected office? (Vladimir Lénine, One More Departure From Democratic Principles, 31st May 1917, Collected Works, vol. 24, p. 438)
Neither the stripers nor the zealots can guarantee liberties, establish secularism, ensure national independence, liberate women, hand over the land to the peasants, develop the economy, really rescue the Palestinians…
The class collaboration within Tamarrod prepared the ground for the putsch
The political ground of the putsch was prepared by the implementation of an alliance of class collaboration named “Tamarrod” (rebellion), supporte by some capitalists (Naguib Sawiris, Mamdouh Hamza…), high magistrates from Mubarak period, important capitalist media and the secret services of Morsi’s Minister of Defense, the general Al-Sissi.
Tamarrod unites all the bourgeois parties that are opposed to the MB, from Mubarak’s dignitaries (NDP’s “foulouls”) to Muslim fanatics (Al-Nour’s Salafis). With their fervent participation, all the workers’ political organizations (Egyptian Communist Party, Revolutionary Socialists, April 6 Movement, Socialist People’s Alliance Party, Egyptian Socialist Party) tragically backed the block ruled by the bourgeoisie.
Socialists have been deeply involved in Tamarud. We’ve found great enthusiasm to sign the petition in working class areas. (Samuel Naguib, Interview in Cairo, June 2013, quoted in International Socialism Journal n° 139)
So, the genius Tamarrod campaign was able to mobilize all tributaries of popular rejection of the rule of Muslim Brotherhood through a campaign of signatures exceeding 22 million people signing in less than two months. These were collected by all sects, classes and categories of the Egyptian people, even within state institutions and bodies in all governorates of Egypt. (Egyptian Communist Party, June 30 Revolution, August 3, 2013)
Actually, Tammarrod’s perspective is entirely bourgeois, without even the smallest concession to the urgent demands of the workers: an “early presidential election” and, meanwhile, an “interim presidency” entrusted the president (appointed by Mubarak) of the Supreme Constitutional Court and an executive power handed over to a “consensual Prime Minister” assigned with the rescue of the economy, to the restoration of security and to the drafting of the new Constitution.
A few hours before the putsch, Mahmoud Badr and Mohamed Abdelaziz, the writers of the Tamarrod petition, met the general Al-Sissi, the leader of the military junta.
Since the liquidation of the Egyptian Communist Party, by the USSR bureaucracy, into bourgeois nationalism, in the name of the Anti-Imperialist United Front and of the revolution in stages, there is no more mass workers’ party. The independent unions are artificially divided in two confederations and their bureaucracies are increasingly collaborating with the corrupt union bureaucracies in Northern America and in Western Europe. The political organizations that claim now to adhere to class struggle and to socialism act as assistants to the ruling class, to the exploiters. The ECP and the ESP (the latter was taking part to the Mediterranean conference organized by the NPA in May 2011 in Marseille) support the candidacy of Kamara (Dignity Party, neo-Nasserian)
The forces of the revolutionary camp should have had Hamden Sabbahi as their single candidate. (Mamdouh Habaschi, Après les présidentielles, 25th June 2012, Inprecor n° 585)
The RS were formed with the International Socialist Tendency and therefore they defend, like the ECP, the “anti-imperialist united front”. Historically, this revisionist trend was born from Cliff’s capitulation to his imperialism when it was part of the American aggression against the Chinese revolution in 1950. In the 1990s it becomes compatible with Islamism.
Where the Islamists are in opposition, our rule should be, “with the Islamists sometimes, with the state never”. (Chris Harman, “The Prophet and the Proletariat”, automne 1994, International Socialist Journal, vol. 64, n°2,)
In 2004, the British SWP builds a Popular Front with Muslim capitalists (Respect). In 2012, the Egyptian RS support the Muslim Brothers’ candidacy in the second round of the presidential elections.
The victory of Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, is a great achievement in pushing back the counterrevolution and pushing back this coup d’état. For now, this is a real victory for the Egyptian masses and a real victory for the Egyptian revolution. (Sameh Naguib, Message to the ISO conference, June 28 –July 1, 2012)
In November 2012, the ECP, the RS, the A6M, the ESP, the SPAP join the “National Salvation Front”, built by the so-called secular bourgeois parties, including the “foulouls” which still rule the army and the justice (and which had sent the police and their militias, the Baltagiyas, against the anti-Mubarak demonstrators). As usual, the program of the Popular Front (the perspective of a “government of national union”) can only be bourgeois. In May 2013 the NSF naturally slips into Tamarrod’s class collaboration.
The expectations of the petit-bourgeois trends towards this or that sector of the big bourgeoisie are always denied by class struggle, in the expense of people.
The Bolshevik way, however, consists of an unconditional political and organizational demarcation from the bourgeoisie, of a relentless exposure of the bourgeoisie from the very first steps of the revolution, of a destruction of all petty-bourgeois illusions about the united front with the bourgeoisie, of tireless struggle with the bourgeoisie for the leadership of the masses, of the merciless expulsion from the Communist Party of all those elements who sow vain hopes in the bourgeoisie. (Leon Trotsky, The Chinese Revolution and the Theses of Comrade Stalin, 17th May 1927, in Problems of the Chinese Revolution, Pioneer Publishers, 1932)
As soon as they do not have their own party, which is opposed to all the fractions of the bourgeoisie, the working class and the youth will keep disoriented and unable to draw their own perspective, despite their bravery.
The social revolution is the solution
No fraction of the bourgeoisie can solve the problems faced by the country because their solution goes through the confrontation with the imperialist bourgeoisie, it requires action from urban and countryside workers who, when mobilized, will target the private ownership of the means of production defended by the army and by the Muslim and Christian clergies.
The Pan-Arabic nationalism which was lectured by Colonel Nasser in 1952 and was supported by the Egyptian Communist Party, which enjoyed the trust of a significant part of the working class, was an historical failure. After the initial achievements (overthrow of the monarchy, nationalization of the Suez Canal, failure of the military intervention by Britain, France and Israel, beginning of the land reform…), the projects of Arab unification fell apart, Israel defeated the Egyptian army twice, the country is not really industrialized.
The failure of Nasserism led the army to stop using “socialist” and anti-imperialist words. The regime returned its alliances, from the USSR to the United States. In order to recover the Sinai, the generals recognized Israel. They sold themselves out to American imperialism for 1.3 million dollars a year. Then they privatized, as a failed attempt to reinvigorate national capitalism.
As a result, the army is overstaffing and over-equipped, but most of the fellahs work in archaic conditions, so that Egypt is the first importer of wheat in the world. More than 30% of the population is illiterate. The administration is corrupted. The police, the army and the Islamist gangs arrest, detain, torture and execute the opponents. The women have limited civil rights in terms of divorce and inheritance; more than 50% of the girls suffer genital mutilations with the blessings of Muslim and Christian priests. Creating a party based on class struggle is still forbidden.
The failure of Nasserism, leading to the failure of Stalinism which bowed down before it and dissolved itself within a single party, encouraged the Islamist reaction. Resorting to pre-capitalist religious ideology, despite its archaism, seduces many capitalists who regard as advocating private ownership. The MB can rely on the dense network of mosques, reinforced by Sadate and by Mubarak. With their charitable donations, they appear, for the peasants, for the urban petit-bourgeois and for the lumpens, to be less submitted to foreign interests, and to be able to compensate, the social, health and school problems of the State
Only the working class can dig the country and the region out of the stalemate. But the deepening of the revolution is not an inevitable process, as demonstrated by the election of Morsi or by the putsch. In order to defeat the reaction, it is necessary to build a workers’ party which gives no trust to the various sets of exploiters, an internationalist and insurrectionary party on the mode of the 1917 Bolshevik Party
In its struggle against the collective power of the propertied classes, the working class cannot act as a class except by constituting itself into a political party, distinct from, and opposed to all old parties formed by the propertied classes… The conquest of political power has therefore become the great duty of the working class. (Resolutions of the Fifth Congress of the International Working Men’s Association, The International Herald, December 14th, 1872)
Then the waged workers, the unemployed, the poor peasants, most of the urban independent workers, a large part of the students, the conscripts… will be able to unite against their exploiters and their oppressors, to impose a workers’ and peasants’ government based on workers’ and popular councils, to disarm the mercenaries of capital and to spread the revolution to the neighboring countries and to Southern Europe in order to ensure history, for the fulfillment of the basic needs of the masses.
- Break-up of all the workers’ organizations with the junta, with the liberal parties, with the bourgeois parties whatever their secularism is! United front against the junta!
Down with the military junta! Restoration of the democratic liberties! Immediate liberation of all the workers’ activists! Respect of the right of strike! End of the ban on the revolutionary parties!
- Neither the military junta nor a president with all powers! A sovereign constituent assembly based on elections under popular control, with dismissible deputies, who are paid at the same level as waged workers!
Hands off the religious, national and sexual minorities! Complete separation of the State and the religion!
- Legal equality between women and men! Ban of polygamy and of circumcision! Free sexual education for young people and contraceptives!
Workers’ and peasants’ government! Committees in firms, administrations, working class districts, universities for discussing the situation and tasks for appointing and controlling the government, for counter the counter-revolution without mercy!
- Dismissal of the professional police force! Democratic rights for the conscripts! Election of the officers! Arming of the urban and countryside workers! Disarming of the police, of the army, of the Baltagiyas and of the Islamist militias!
- Workers’ and popular control on production and on repartition! Expropriation of the landowners and of the big capitalists!
- Opening of the border with Gaza! Socialist United of Northern Africa and of the Middle East! Socialist Federation of the Mediterranean!
International bureau of Permanent Revolution Collective
Lexicon of the parties
Al-Nour (The Light). Clerical bourgeois party founded in 2011 in competition with the MB, on their right. Supported by Saudi Arabia.
April 6 Movement (A6M). Youth movement founded in 2008. Active in the 2011 uprising on Tahrir square.
Arab Socialist Union (ASU). Pan-Arabic nationalist bourgeois party created by Nasser in 1961. Single party until 1976. The General Sadate turned it into the NDP in 1978.
Communist Party of Egypt. Born from the decision of the Egyptian Socialist Party to join the Communist International in 1922. It leads then the CGT. Both are suppressed in 1924 and disappear.
Egyptian Communist Party (ECP). In the late 1930s, on the basis of the Communist International reversal on the “Popular Fronts”, some Stalinist organizations appear: Egyptian Movement for National Liberation, Iskra, Popular Democracy, Popular Vanguard of Liberation… They were suppressed, together with the unionist and the students, from 1946 to 1948. The first two merged in 1947 in the Democratic Movement for National Liberation (DMNL) led by Curiel. The Stalinist groups took part in demonstrations, strikes and guerillas against the British occupation of Suez Canal. In 1952, the DMNL comes over to the putsch by the “Free Officers” which overthrows the monarchy, but the USSR still supports the Wafd. Nasser bans the unions and the parties in 1953. Between 1955 and 1957, the Stalinists united and formed the ECP. Nasser turns to the USSR and in 1956 he liberates the ECP who were jailed. In 1959, he suppresses the ECP again. In 1961, Colonel Nasser founds a single party, the Arab Socialist Union, in which the ECP dissolves itself in 1964. In 1979, the ECP gets reorganized, it is suppressed by General Sadate in 1981.
Free Egyptians Party (FEP). Liberal bourgeois party founded by Naguib Sawiris, a Coptic billionaire owner of Mobinil (telecommunications)
Muslim Brothers (MB). Old clerical bourgeois party founded in 1928 for imposing the sharia. It is related to the “Free Officers” but breaks with Nasser in 1954. Now it is the only mass party. Its financial resources come from the exploiters (capitalists, landowners) and from Qatar. The Brotherhood has a charity network which includes 23 hospitals. Under the FJP banner, its candidate Morsi received 24.8% of the votes at the first round of the 2012 presidential election and 51.73% in the second round.
National Democratic Party (NDP). Bourgeois party, member of the Socialist International, it replaced the Arab Socialist Union in 1978. It was formally dissolved when Mubarak fell, and it gave rise to several bourgeois parties. The former members of this party are named the foulouls (the residues of General Mubarak’s regime). Many of them are active in the army, in the high administration and in judicial authorities. Ahmed Chafiq, a retired general, a former chairman of Egypt Air and a former Prime Minister under Mubarak, ran the presidential election in May 2012. He received 23.66% at the first round and 48.27% at the second round.
National Salvation Front (NSF). 2012 coalition of bourgeois parties that are hostile to the Islamists (PC, FEP, Wafd, ESDP, DFP…), joined by all the small workers’ organizations (ESP, RS, ECP…)
Popular Current (PC). Small neo-Nasserian nationalist bourgeois party. Its candidate Hamdîn Sabbahi received 20.7% of the votes in the 2012 presidential election.
Revolutionary Socialists (RS). Centrist organization founded in 1995, within the sphere of the revisionist IST, the Cliffist current which analyzed the USSR as capitalist and was excluded in 1950 from the British section of the 4th International for its refusal to support China during the Korean war. This current proved to be opportunistic with Islamism during the Iranian revolution in 1979 and during the war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. For covering their opportunism, the IST leadership revived the anti-imperialist united front of the CI’s 4th Congress, like Pablo and Healy did before for justifying their capitulation before Pan-Arabic bourgeois nationalism: Islamism could be progressive. The British SWP created the Respect coalition in 2004 which included social-democrats and Islamists. The RS were active in the Tahrir square uprising in 2011. They supported the MB candidate at the second round of the elections in 2012, they joined the anti-Morsi popular front (NSF) in 2012 and they took part to the Tamarrod campaign in 2013. SR refuses to present the seizure of power by the army as a putsch and it describes it as a by-product of the “second revolution”.
Socialist Party of Egypt (SPE). Pool of former Stalinists and centrists founded in 2011. It seems active in the independent unions.
Tamarrod (Rebellion). Movement initiated in April 2013 around the petition for an early presidential election, supportd by the NSF. Then it called for the 30th June huge demonstrations against Morsi. Its intiators negotiate with the leader of the junta, the General Al-Sissi, on the day of the putsch.
Wafd (Delegation). The oldest nationalist bourgeois party. As soon as it took the power in 1924, it turned against the workers’ movement. In 1936, the Wafd returned to power and suppressed the strikes (in textile, sugar, transport). Many former members of the NDP are now in Wafd.