Revolution and Counterrevolution in Egypt (Editorial for RevCom#12)

By the Editorial Board of Revolutionary Communism, Journal of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 22.7.2013, www.thecommunists.net

 

Below is the editorial for the latest issue of the RCIT’s journal Revolutionary Communism which was published on 22th July 2013. It deals mostly with the revolutionary and counterrevolutionary events in Egypt since late June. This editorial was written before the latest crackdown of the army against the Muslim Brotherhood since the 26th July. These events however only reinforce our analysis.

 

 

 

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This issue of our journal contains an actual as well as a historic core theme: on one hand the advances and setbacks in the current phase of the Egyptian Revolution and on the other hand the historical assessment of Israel’s Six-Day War in 1967.

 

The fate of the Revolution in Egypt is without doubt a model example of the laws of dialectic in the class struggle. As such the lessons of the mass mobilizations against the Mursi government – culminating in an huge demonstration of many millions of workers and youth on 30th June – and the reactionary military coup d’état on 3rd July are highly instructive. They illustrate how a progressive class struggle can – given the lack of a revolutionary leadership – be exploited and politically beheaded by the reactionary state apparatus and the Western imperialist powers. The petty-bourgeois left – including the leadership of the new trade union movement around Kamal Abou Eita – tailed the bourgeois-liberal forces which were in opposition against the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mursi. The bourgeois-liberal forces (ElBaradei etc.) conspired with the pro-imperialist and US-paid army command to facilitate a military coup d’état. The lack of class independence in the program and perspective of the workers movement was related to their lack of a revolutionary understanding how to fight for democratic rights against the bourgeois-Islamist government of Mursi. As a result many workers who were on the streets on 30th June were politically paralyzed when faced with the old generals overthrowing Mursi and imposing a neoliberal, pro-Western regime.

 

The RCIT has promoted from the beginning a revolutionary program of class independence which called the activists of the workers movement to advance the class struggle both against the military dictatorship as well as against the Mursi government and to combine it with the perspective for a workers and peasants government and a socialist revolution. We insisted that working class organizations must refrain from any political alliance with bourgeois forces – be it left-Nasserites like Hamdeen Sabahi, liberals like ElBaradei or the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

 

Such a rejection of a political alliance with such forces – which would be nothing else but a popular front – does not exclude joint actions with them for strictly limited practical goals, provided that they advance the struggle for the democratic and social rights of the working class and the oppressed. Trotsky’s approach from the early 1930s – when he called for a united front tactic towards the social democratic party – is highly relevant for today:

 

No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike, and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.” (Leon Trotsky: For a Workers’ United Front Against Fascism, 1931)

 

Revolutionary events always imply the danger of a counter-revolution. Such is the nature of things. The counter-revolution in turn carries the seed of future revolutionary struggles. Revolutionary Communists have to be prepared for sudden changes in the situation and adapt their tactics on the basis of a firm revolutionary program. Such a program – as we have done in the RCIT’s Revolutionary Communist Manifesto – must be based on the lessons of the workers movement and the teachings of Marx, Engels, Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky. The current events in Egypt demonstrate once more the importance of such a revolutionary program and an international organization which is homogenously united on the basis of such a program.

 

In fact such a sudden turn in the relation of the class forces, as we see it currently in Egypt, is not without precedence. We have seen similar events a number of times in the past when for example progressive national liberation struggles were mixed with imperialist interference and finally exploited by one or several imperialist powers. (e.g. the Anti-Japanese resistance in the Philippines and Indonesia during and after the World War II, Bosnia 1992-95, Kosova 1997-99).

 

Other examples for such exploitations of class struggles and their change of character are the progressive democratic struggles of the working class in Eastern Europe and the USSR against the Stalinist bureaucracy in 1989-91. Given the lack of a revolutionary leadership, they ended in defeat for the political revolution and were utilized by Western imperialism to facilitate the restoration of capitalism.

 

As we elaborate in this journal, the response of many petty-bourgeois leftist in Egypt and international to the military coup has been characterized by a complete lack of understanding of its meaning and consequently a wrong tactic of not fighting consistently or even not at all against the coup. The Cliffite Revolutionary Socialists are a model for such a failure.

 

The hidden (or not so hidden) sympathy of these leftists for the army command coup brings the critique of Marx and Engels against Lassalle – the great German workers leader of the 19th century who however followed a program of petty-bourgeois and opportunist socialism – to mind. The founders of scientific socialism called Lassalle’s program sarcastically a "Royal Prussian Government Socialism," and denounced his “alliance with absolutist and feudal opponents against the bourgeoisie”. (Karl Marx: Critique of the Gotha Programme, 1875)

 

In fact the whole history of the workers movement is full with examples of such petty-bourgeois deviations where socialists “tactically” side with the ruling class – or their dominant faction – to beat another (petty-)bourgeois opponent. Obviously such a program is disastrous for the working class and its struggle for political independence from the numerous petty-bourgeois and bourgeois forces. With our modest forces the RCIT contributes to the programmatic clarification which is the precondition for the international workers vanguard to win in the coming struggles of which our historic revolutionary period is so rich.

 

The second important focus of this issue of Revolutionary Communism is a long historic analysis of Israel’s Six-Day War in 1967. Our comrade Yossi Schwartz elaborates the approach of Marxists who ought to have stood for the defeat of Israel and military victory for the Arab States without, at the same time, giving any political support to the Arab regimes. In an appendix, Schwartz critically examines the position of the Israeli Socialist Organization (ISO), better known as Matzpen, regarding the Six-Day War of 1967.

 

In other articles we analyze the popular uprising in Brazil and outline the revolutionary tactics. We also publish articles about the civil war in Syria as well as about the situation in Israel. We also reprint an Action Program on Venezuela written by the RCIT in Venezuela. We also reprint a leaflet of our Pakistani comrades about the national liberation struggle in Balochistan.

 

 

 

22nd July 2013, Editorial Board