IV. Lessons for the Revolutionary Vanguard

18.          A key lesson of the preliminary failure of the Arab Revolution is that, in order to be victorious, the workers and fallahin must pursue the revolution to its end, and not stop in the middle. This means essentially that, first of all, the democratic, to say nothing of the socialist, revolution must smash the old state apparatus which is so dramatically overblown both in the Maghreb and Mashreq. As long as this huge “bureaucratic-military machine” (Karl Marx) including the army, the secret services, the judges etc. at its heart continues to exist, the ruling class will always possess an unbeatable weapon to defeat the rebellious people. In fact, the top bureaucracy of the repressive apparatus represents a key component of the Arab bourgeoisie. Historically, this apparatus has constituted the basis for the specific bonapartist-authoritarian character of the political regimes of the Arab world, based as it is on the belated formation of the native capitalist class in North Africa and the Middle East due to the colonial occupation of the region by the Great Powers. As a result, when these countries formally became independent following World War II, the bourgeois state played an indispensible role in propelling each country’s domestic capital accumulation. Consequently, in a number of countries, state-capitalist regimes – irrespective of some of their “progressive” policies – were by no means socialist, contrary to the myth disseminated by various Stalinophile nationalist – yet they nonetheless played a leading role in the Arab world (e.g., the regimes of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Habib Bourguiba in Tunisia, and Houari Boumediene in Algeria). As a result, the military bureaucracy became a key component of the ruling class. Later, in the period of neoliberal reforms and privatizations, the military bureaucratic caste transformed itself more and more into direct capitalists. For example, in Egypt, the army still controls up to 40% of the economy! Thus, in order to successfully complete the revolution, the state apparatus – and with it the material basis for the bonapartist-authoritarian regime as well as a key sector of the capitalist class – must, as we have said, be smashed and replaced by a new state controlled by councils and militias of the workers and fallahin. Hence, the reformist utopia of a peaceful revolution is a dangerous illusion. The Arab Revolution has once more confirmed Lenin’s dictum: The supersession of the bourgeois state by the proletarian state is impossible without a violent revolution.“ (State and Revolution, 1917)


19.          Another crucial lesson of recent years is that the revolution cannot put an end to the poverty and unemployment of the popular masses, if it does not liberate the country from it servitude to imperialist domination. Unfortunately, the revolutions in the Arab world which broke out in 2011 have left untouched the private ownership of the large enterprises, media, etc., which remain in the hands of a few oligarchs. Only when the working class expropriates the foreign corporations and the powerful native capitalists – who are so closely allied with the imperialists – and ends the subordination the country’s bloodsucking IMF austerity programs and “free trade” agreements with the Great Powers, only then can the workers and fallahin start to re-build and plan the economy based on the needs of the people.


20.          Furthermore, revolutionaries must renounce any political collaboration with imperialist powers, whether these are the western Great Powers like the US, EU or Japan or the eastern Great Powers like Russia or China – none of these forces are friends of the Arab people. Rather, they all crave Arab natural resources and cheap labor by means of which they generate make extra-profits for themselves. The US and the EU have consistently been long-time collaborators with Israel and numerous kingdoms and dictatorships in the region. Russia and China are close friends of the butcher Bashar al-Assad and the capitalist-theocratic dictatorship in Iran. And all the Great Powers kiss the feet of General al-Sisi! Revolutionaries must denounce all those who call for an alliance of the Arab people with one of the imperialist powers. Such calls will lead to nothing but the perpetuation of political subordination of the Arab working class to imperialism. We condemn all those who seek to align the rebellious masses with the US or the EU as pro-western social-imperialists, while those who call for forming an alliance with Russia and China as pro-eastern social-imperialists.


21.          The Arab Revolution has also served as spectacular proof of the counter-revolutionary nature of the bourgeois-liberal and left-liberal forces, of bourgeois Islamism, and of reformism. The bourgeois liberals as well as the reformists all supported the coup d’état of General al-Sisi in Egypt which resulted in an unprecedented wave of state terrorism. In Tunisia these counter-revolutionary forces supported the bourgeois Nidaa Tounes and the old guard of Ben Ali in their struggle for power against Ennahda. Bourgeois Islamism has exposed itself as loyal guardians of the capitalists’ power and wealth, as was demonstrated both by the governments of both Morsi and Ennahda. Salafist Islamism has uncovered its reactionary nature in the actions of groups like Daash/IS and their mad terrorism. Only the working class, in alliance with the fallahin, and under the leadership of a revolutionary party can save the Arab masses from the misery of capitalist impoverishment and imperialist wars.

22.          In order to successfully complete the tasks of the Arab Revolution, i.e., to foment a permanent revolution, the working class in the Arab countries needs the leadership of a revolutionary party in the tradition of Lenin and Trotsky as part of a new World Party of Socialist Revolution. However, until now such a party has been sorely missing in all countries, and this absence was the most important factor in the defeats which the Arab proletariats have faced in the past few years. From this it follows that the most important task for revolutionaries today is to create an international Bolshevik organization – as a precursor of such a world party – with sections throughout the world, including in the countries of the Arab world.


23.          In order to advance the founding of such an international revolutionary organization with sections in the Arab countries, militants will have to intervene in the Arab Revolution armed with a revolutionary program of action. Such a program – based on the method of Trotsky’s Transitional Program – must support democratic rights, fight for social gains, and culminate in the struggle for the expropriation of the capitalist class, the nationalization of the large enterprises and banks under workers’ control, and the formation of workers’ governments allied with the peasants and urban poor and based on local councils and militias!


24.          Revolutionaries must combine the struggle for such a program with their active participation in the ranks of the militant workers and youth fighting against the dictatorships of the like of Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gaddafi, and Saleh in the past and of General al-Sisi, Assad, and al-Hadi now. Irrespective of their inadequate leaderships, no organization can claim to be revolutionary unless it participates in the ongoing mass movements fighting for democratic and social rights. Authentic revolutionaries must currently fight from within the masses to advance the independent organization of the working class and the popular masses, i.e., the formation of action committees and popular militias in places of work, urban neighborhoods, and villages. At the same time, revolutionaries must stringently oppose all attempts by the imperialist powers to intervene in these liberation struggles. They must fight against the various Islamist and secular petty-bourgeois leaderships which so often possess significant influence among the popular masses, as well as against various reformist and centrist forces which often join the camp of the open counterrevolutions, or instead take a neutral stand on the sidelines in battles of life and death.