Tasks of the Revolution in Egypt

 

Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 2.7.2013, www.thecommunists.net

 


Over the past two months, the National Salvation Front (NSF) – a coalition of Liberals, Left and Nationalist forces that includes figures from the Mubarak time like Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Moussa – has been infused with more energy by the activity of the dynamic Tamarod (Rebel) movement. This movement gathered 22 million signatures on a declaration calling for Mursi to step down and for new Presidential elections to be held.

Starting two months ago, the small cadre of the pre-Tahrir protest group “Kefaya” movement joined by the April 6 Movement - the group that organized the first January 25, 2011 demonstration – has become Tamarod. By now it has hundreds of thousands activists. Tamarod is the force that pulled together the June 30 Coordination Committee made of 30 parties, and organizations including the NSF that called for the June 30 demonstrations.

 

Capitalist Misery of the Masses continues under Morsi

 

On June 30, 2013 Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said there would not be a second revolution in Egypt. This misreading of the political reality brings to mind another figure, history did not deal with very kindly: Queen Marie Antoinettewho said to the French hungry masses "if you do not have bread eat cakes". Leading figures of the old regimes are known for being detached from reality in time of revolutions and what we have in Egypt is nothing less than the third wave of the revolution that began in 2011. The first one removed Mubarak, the second one removed the military council and the immediate aim of this wave is to remove Morsi and the Moslem Brotherhood from power. The only difference is that by now the misery caused by the capitalist system controlled by the imperialists is much worse than it was in 2011.

According to an analysis of the Egyptian Al-Masry Studies and Information Center:

"In the first year of Morsy's presidency (…) economic growth rates registering only 2.3 percent in the first nine months of the current fiscal year. This, in turn, has raised unemployment rates to 13.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013, compared to 12.5 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

Since its installment, Prime Minister Hesham Qandil’s cabinet has announced intentions to implement austerity measures to reduce the growing budget deficit to pave the way for borrowing from the IMF. However, the postponement of some of those measures because of the fear of the reaction of the masses has caused the budget deficit to continue to widen, reaching LE 203 billion in 11 months, up 48 percent from the same period in the previous fiscal year.

The budget deficit has led to greater internal and external borrowing, causing the local public debt to hit LE1.3 trillion by the end of March 2013, the equivalent of 80 percent of the gross domestic product. In June, the Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said external debt has climbed to US$44 billion. (…)

In the first year of Morsy's presidency, the fuel and electricity crises renewed, with the government failing to provide a solution and only making promises.” (Reported in Ibrahim al-Ghitany: The performance of the Egyptian economy under Morsy, Egypt Independent, 25/06/2013, http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/performance-egyptian-economy-under-morsy)

 

Imperialist Plunder of Egypt

 

The cause of the misery of the many millions workers and poor in Egypt is the continuing robbery of Egypt by the multinationals and the imperialist financial institutions served by the Egyptian semi-rulers – the local capitalists including the army generals. They are very good in creating the problems but are unable to solve the Egyptian economic and socio-political crisis which is part of the world economic crisis.

Egypt’s foreign debt has massively risen recently. According to the May 2013 issue of the Statistical Bulletin from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), the country’s foreign debt has reached $38.8 billion in the second quarter of 2013. This is an increase by 15.2% compared to the same quarter the previous year. According to the Finance Ministry it “is considered the highest growth rate recorded for Egyptian foreign debt since March 2008”. (See Central Bank of Egypt: May 2013 Statistical Bulletin, p. 95, http://www.cbe.org.eg/English/Economic+Research/Publications/Monthly+Statistical+Bulletin/May+2013+Statistical+Bulletin.htm)

The RCIT states that any government that intends to serve the Egyptian masses must begin by announcing that Egypt will not pay the debts as this debt is a form of a robbery. Needless to say neither Morsi nor the leadership of the Salvation front will take such an anti-imperialist step that will be supported by the masses because of their fear of losing control of the masses.

Independence from the imperialist monopolies and powers is part of the democratic revolution that the masses demand by striving for. For these democratic demands to be realized a socialist revolution is necessary. But such a socialist revolution can only win if a revolutionary party is leading the working class. Unfortunately such a party does not exist in Egypt as yet. For this reason what we have is an unfinished revolution.

 

A New Revolutionary Wave

 

The current revolutionary wave is the largest mobilization of the workers and the poor so far. Not tens of thousands as the supporters of Morsi hoped, not one million as the organizers hoped, but 15-17 millions took to the streets in different cities on 30th June! These cities did not only include Cairo, Alexandria or Suez but also for example the industrial proletarian stronghold of Mahalla where hundreds of thousands of workers were gathered at Al-Shoun Square.

Before, Morsi said that there would not be a second revolution in Egypt, but by the end of the day he was hiding while anger against Morsi swept the streets. At least seven people were killed and more than 600 wounded in clashes between the pro and anti-Morsi groups. Former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Tharwat Kherbawi said that President Mohamed Morsi is hiding now in an undisclosed location, in preparation for his escape out of the country. (http://www.alroeya-news.net/en/political/33266-33266.html?videoslimitstart=114)

While Morsi declares no revolution will take place five Ministers deserted him. The rats are leaving the sinking boat.

One year in power has been sufficient to expose the nature of Morsi regime. It showed to be a bourgeois regime in religious cloth, serving the imperialists and the local capitalists as well as an ally of Israel (as was Mubarak before Morsi).

On June 30 different marches met in Tharir Square. The fact that the revolutionary masses took over Tahrir square is by itself an indicator of the relationship of forces in favor of the revolution. The march from Giza was led by Nasserite presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi and the Kamal Abou Eita, the leader of the newly formed Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions. This march merged with another one led by liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei.

The Web site "Ahram Online" quoted the Egyptian socialist and workers leader, Kamal el-Fayoumi, who played a central role in organizing the protests on 30.6. in the working class city of Mahalla: "The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t dare to organize protests in Mahalla. The people of the city voted against the constitution and President Morsi and they reject the group’s presence in power. (…) I am expecting around 1 million people to take to the streets of Mahalla this afternoon. (…) Only 10 percent of workers at the state-owned Mahalla Misr Spinning and Weaving Company are working today, the others will be protesting. (…) President Mohamed Morsi Mubarak has failed to fulfill any of his election promises. (…) Mahalla contributed heavily to the removal of Mubarak from power, and we will do the same thing with Morsi." (Live updates: Millions join anti-Morsi protests in Egypt, Ahram Online, 30.6.2013, http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/75297.aspx)

 

No to a Popular Front with Nasserites and Liberals!

 

This is all very good but what was missing was a working class revolutionary perspective to replace Morsi. The workers, poor peasants, oppressed women and youth, the unemployed want nothing less than a revolution. They demanded bread and freedom in 2011 and they demand the same today. They know from experience they have the power toremove Morsi and they act on it today. They have shown all of those who only yesterday said that the masses can get only religious dictator instead of another dictator that the millions of workers and poor who want and deserve much better are able to get rid of the dictators whether secular or religious. However without a revolutionary leadership the masses cannot take power.

The lack of such a party is clearly visibly if one looks to those forces which claim to be revolutionary and pro-working class. The Revolutionary Socialists (sister organization of the British SWP) is part of the bourgeois-dominated alliance National Salvation Front.

The RCIT is of the opinion that while it is necessary to take part in joint actions with those forces – even if they are bourgeois – who lead sectors of the rebellious masses against the Moris regime, it is a betrayal to the principles of working class independence to join a political alliance with them.

So while it is correct to march with the June 30 coordination committee – including the forces of the Nasserite Hamdeen Sabahi and the bourgeois-lieral ElBaradei – as part of a united front, the question is which class will lead this revolution. This magnificent show of the power of the masses must not be wasted by the bourgeois leaders of the Salvation Front who simply want to take the place of Morsi in order to do the same-serving the imperialists and the local capitalist.

Meantime the US has joined the pressure on Morsi to include some of the leaders of the opposition in his government:

"The White House said Tuesday that U.S. President Barack Obama called embattled Morsi to convey concerns about mass protests against the Egyptian leader's regime and urged him to respond to issues raised by the demonstrators. The U.S. president "told President Morsi that the United States is committed to the democratic process in Egypt and does not support any single party or group," the White House said." (Haaretz: Morsi rebuffs Egypt army's ultimatum, as Obama urges him to respond to protesters, 2.7.2013, http://www.haaretz.com/misc/tags/Barack%20Obama-1.476751)

 

The Army threatens with a coup d’état

 

One of the key issues of the revolution is how to deal with the Egyptian army. On Monday the Egyptian army has given a 48 hours ultimatum to resolve the current political stalemate. The army statement, delivered on state television on Monday, stated:"The armed forces repeat their call for the people's demands to be met and give everyone 48 hours as a last chance,”. The national security of the state is in severe danger,” it added, warning that if there was no resolution the army "will be obliged by its patriotic and historic responsibilities... to announce a road map for the future and the steps for overseeing its implementation, with participation of all patriotic and sincere parties and movements." (Al Jazeera: Egyptian army issues 48-hour ultimatum, 02 Jul 2013, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/07/201371231726346358.html)

What is the meaning of this ultimatum? It could mean that the army has already decided to take over. Or that it applies pressure on Morsi and the National front to force them to make concessions, which could include changes in the constitution, adding representatives of the protest movements to the new government, or setting a date for new parliamentary elections. Such moves could allow both sides to call on their supporters to disperse. And they could lead to political demoralization of the masses rather than to a revolution.

This danger becomes clear from reports from the reaction of sectors of the masses at the Tahrir Square to the army’s ultimatum. Al Jazeera reports:

Mean time hours after the ultimatum, army helicopters flew over Tahrir Square trailing large Egyptian flags, a move interpreted by some protesters as a show of support. “The army and the people are one hand,” protesters chanted. Tamarod, praised the statement, saying it showed the military was on the side of the people. “I don’t think the army will control this transitional period,” said Eman el-Mahdy, a spokeswoman for the group. “I think they should play the role to prevent further bloodshed.” (Al Jazeera: Egyptian army issues 48-hour ultimatum, 02 Jul 2013)

To entertain hopes in the army is a serious mistake reflecting bourgeois illusions. The RCIT warns that the Egyptian army – like all armies in the capitalist society – is not the army of the workers the peasants and the rebelling youth. It is the core of the capitalist state apparatus and it defends capitalism. Therefore this army must be split and replaced by workers and peasants self defense guard.

The role of this illusion that the army is on the side of the people is leading to the subordination of the revolutionary masses to the capitalist state. The army generals may have reached the conclusion that Morsi does not serve them any more in controlling the masses, but the army high command is the enemy of the masses – not a friend!

 

Revolutionary Perspectives

 

The RCIT says that this is the time to bring down Morsi by a general strike and replace his government with a workers government, based on the poor peasantry and the urban poor. The Coordination Committee including the Salvation Front and Tamarod call for a new elections and spread illusion about the role of the army. By this they are pushing the movement backward trying to channel the revolutionary energy into reformist safe channels for the capitalist state.

The Revolutionary Socialist group (RS) in Egypt, the largest group on the left, is calling for a general strike and:

* The overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s failed regime and the withdrawal of confidence from its president Mohamed Mursi;

* The formation of a revolutionary government to manage the transitional period, the first of whose priorities will be the issue of social justice and security;

* The head of the revolutionary government shall be barred from candidacy in early presidential elections.”

(Egypt's Revolutionary Socialists call for general strike until the fall of the regime, June 30, 2013, in: Socialist Worker (Paper of the SWP Britain), http://socialistworker.co.uk/art/33754/Egypts+Revolutionary+Socialists+call+for+general+strike+until+the+fall+of+the+regime)

 

While the call for a general strike is correct the question is what kind of a transitional revolutionary government the RS has in their mind? From the formulation it sound’s as a call for a bourgeois revolutionary government not a workers revolutionary government. What does it mean: "social justice and security"? This is a meaningless abstraction – not a revolutionary action program. And who needs now new presidential elections now?!

No, the task ahead is organizing forms of workers and peasant’s power like popular actions committees organized nationally into a system of workers and peasant councils. Similarly it is urgent to organize an armed popular militia in order to defeat Morsi’s thugs as well as an army coup d’état. Furthermore a workers government, based on the poor peasantry and the urban poor, should immediately start to expropriate the big firms and banks under workers control.

If the reformists and the centrists of all stripes would be able to block for now the revolution and elections will be called, revolutionaries will not boycott the elections but use it as a platform to propagandize for a revolutionary perspective.

The revolution in Egypt can be won but for this a working class revolutionary leadership can and must be built. Otherwise we will have a new set back until the next revolutionary wave after further suffering. Forming a Bolshevik organization should be the first step in order to build an authentic revolutionary workers party.

In working towards such a goal, revolutionaries should also urge the independent trade unions and other workers organization to break with the Nasserite and liberal forces and to form an independent Mass Workers Party. Authentic socialists would fight for a revolutionary Action Program as the basis of such a Workers Party.

In this situation the RCIT raises the following slogans:

* For a General Strike to bring down Morsi government!

* No political support for the National Salvation Front!

* For action committees in each factory, workers neighborhood and village to be organized on district and national level to coordinate the revolutionary activities!

* For self defense committees! Split the army to win the soldiers for revolution!

* Cancel the debts!

* For a workers government, based on the poor peasantry and the urban poor committed to the expropriation of the multinationals, big capital and banks under workers control as well as the replacement of the bourgeois state apparatus by workers and peasant organs!

* Build a revolutionary organization! All Workers Organizations should break with the bourgeois opposition forces and form an independent Mass Workers Party based on a revolutionary program!

 

International Secretariat of the RCIT, 2.7.2013