In The Absence Of Truth


Two Revolts: Tunisia and Egypt 2010/11

Filed under: General — In the absence of truth @ 17:52

The Arab World is fully in uproar: this fact alone is already an historic fact.

1. The Arab World, this system of fossilized autocracies, who seem, like zombies, to have climbed out of the cemetaries of revolutionary history; this bizarre world, where it seemed possible, just a short while ago, that presidents found dynasties of presidents, that Pharaos be mumified alive; a world of permanent defense of the achievements of ever the last military „revolution“ made by ever the same officers; of permanent wars, and illusionary glorious victories against the arch-enemy; a system of all-powerful states, who have been failed states right from their beginnings; kep going only by their utter imcompetence, which had, in the meantime, become a economic factor in its own right. And, of course, for the most time, without a meaningful opposition.

This Arab World has, and that is a cause to celebrate!, these days come to an end – histroical days, indeed! Let us hope, that the products, too, of those nightmarish regimes will go down with it, and will not poison the time after; the passivity of the masses, coming from the rightful assumption that they won’t have a stake in all the bog official historical events, the putsches or the corrective „revolutions“; the omnipresent fear of conspiracies, all too well founded in the knowledge to be a mere object of all imaginable plans and designs of the powerful yet sinister figures; and the everlasting readiness to applaud the given stat of affairs, and to ascribe his every undeniable horrors to the external enemy, imperialism and zionism.

Let us hope, even if just fpr the moment, that the people in the Arab World, in these days, conquer their consciousness, and their history, and the sense of their historic responsibility, and the experience that they themselves are the ones who are to make their history. Because, and that is our sinister hope, as soon as a relevant part of mankind conquers this experience, it will start to become true; it will cease to be a desperate illusion and become an objective force; and that mankind could leave behind its passivity, and conquered its own history, what more could communists hope for, as a first step?

2. The Arab World has never been, even if it could appear like that, the sorry, left-behind and backward part of this so brave and modern world; on the contrary, all those all too obvious signs of their total failure have been signs of the failure of the modern world itself, which we all live in; and a historical punishment for the inconceivable failure of mankind, not to have done away with state and capital when there had still been time to do so; from the sorry state of the Arab societies, we only can conclude the sorry state of our own ones; and so, to us, it matters profoundly what is happening there today. It only places the burden ven more firmly onto us to do our part, so that this Arab revolt of today, as the Iranian before, will not have been in vain, or worse.

For the politcal analysts on all sides, it is very easy to track the state of things in the Arab countries back to the total incompetence of their elites; and yet another problem is explained to everyones satisfaction. But it is all too easily forgotten under what particular circumstances these states have come into being, and these societies have entered history, that is the world market.

Therefore, every analyst needs to conceal, or forget, that the whole capitalist modern world, be it of western or moscovite style, had long before lost its ability to give any semblance of a rational order to its societies; that it lost every inner reason it may have had at some point, and quite a long time ago (Wolfgang Pohrt even speaks of 1870); that this order has been „rational“, even „progressive“ only in as much as one could imagine the hewly created proletariat to overthrow it an put universal human emanzipation in it´s place.

After the world war, and the failed revolution, and the counterrevolution and National Socialism, this perspective is profoundly lost. And so domination and exploitation keeps itself alive, against all reason; it would be exaggerated to believe that domination and exploitation would not look, today, like the lived well beyond the point where the had outlived every semblance of their historical legitimation; that they should have been abolished long ago, and yet live, that is what gives them their zombie-like appearance. That they would at least fulfill, what Marx, shuddering himself, would concede to capital as its historic legitimation: that it would produce bourgeoise society, the modern society of free and equal trades of their own labor: no more talk about it! Capital itself, disguised in a spooky masque from pre-modern times, haunts its deserted ghost towns it itself has created.

Islamism itself, this horrible masquerade, is exactly a totally modern movement, which expresses nothing else than capital despairing on itself.

This Arab World, this backward entity, where only a short time ago nothing moved except for the apocalyptic madness of incited fanatics; that is the exact picture, the true face of this whole world we all live in, everywhere; and it is our case that is made on the streets of Tunis, and of Qahira, and, hopefully, soon Tehran again.

3. The revolt in Tunisia has torn apart, at first only for a short moment, the specifical Arab misery, and has shown, for the first time in history, that even an Arab regime can be overthrown by its own population;(1) that not even these seemingly timeless regimes are eternal; that the passivity of the Arab societies is not a fact of nature, but result from a singular historical dead-end street: a dead-end street, to which the specific post-colonial constellation, the failed enterprise of non-capitalist developementand the model of neoliberal modernization forced upon it may have contributed, but whose core is the continuing, never resolved crisis of capital.

That this crisis is defying every trial to resolve it; that no system, the least the most rigid, has been able to organize national formation an world market competitiveness at the same time, without meeting resistance from its own population, which is only supposed to supply human material to this double enterprise; that would be good news for friends of the classless society, as we are; for this crisis, that is yet to be resolved, is nothing but ourselves.

(We will still pause for a moment, to become aware of the fact that there is, of course, indeed such a system, that is able to organize both world market competition, and managing national formation, with great approbation from its population; this systems name is Germany, it is the big winner of the ongoing crisis, and a minfest threat to the future of mankind; revolution, there, is really dead; and mankind to faint of mind and to dull at heart to treat this system, this country of Hitlers efficient grandchildren, as it is to be treated.)

The far-reaching and generally acknowledged redundancy of man, which shows itself in unemployment even of better educated labor, were not in itself a part of crisis of capital, if it not made a part of that crisis by the revolt of those made redundant themselves. Unfortunately, nobody can revolt against unemployment and lack of perspective for long without revolting against the human destiny to be labor in general. A insurrection for work is an absurdity in itself; an insurrection against it would have to be one against domination and exploitation, and as such an ambiguos affair, as long as it not in a position to occupy the factories and destroy the machinery of state.

But at this point, the conquest of the fortresses of domination, the question of the ways to organize a free society imposes itself forcibly, an to that day every revolution has failed to answer it. Until that point, it ist possible that the people in revolt take the way back, and decide to submit, again, to the powers that have always been: wage labour, sovereign state, and family; therefore breathing new life and vigor, which can only be of use of for horrible purposes, into these social forms. If there has been a thing which one can rely on, in all known history, it is counter-revolution.

4. There will not be a government that will be able to govern society as it is after the Tunisian uprising better than Ben Ali did, the wretched despot, and secretly, everybody knows that. But if this would have been all about a better government, none of this wold have happened.

It is not a coincidence that the Tunisian uprising took to forms which seemed to contain, one after the other, the French uprising of 2005, the Greek of 2008 and the Iranian of 2009. Neither is it a coincidence that the Tunisian events seem to fall in that line so seamlessly that every link of that chain seems to be fully understood only in relation to the other links; looked at for what they are alone, they seem to be mere spontanous eruptions of mass passion; looked at as related to each other, they give the disturbing

impression of an ever more precise, ever more encompassing, ever more conscious critique of contemporary society.

Of course we know that there is no such thing any more as positive dialectics of revolution. Yet it looks astonishingly like there was. We will see, in a moment, where it could come grindingly to an end; hope we will that it does’nt, but what is our hope to be counted for?

All these movements of insurrection proceeded from very different circumstances, but all of them developed in similar forms; only that they ste together these forms differently, according to the circumstances and what they demanded. In Tunisia we saw, for the first time, the interaction of all these diverse, even contradicting and conflictuos elements of all the preceding movements; the torching of cars for example, which seems to have evolved in the meantime into a internationally understandable expression of a certain critique of society of commondities, immediately met the feelings of need for safety of the owners of those cars, provoking them to guard their cars, baseball bat in hand. You won’t need a second guess to decide who’s gonna support the interims government, and who most likely isn’t; according to the infamous Arab maxime that 100 years of tyranny are better than a single day of chaos.

But the inner contradictions of the movement could only unfold, because it managed to broaden, and to expel the hated president, and htereby to lift the confrontation to the level of the question of what should come after him; a step further than the greek insurrection had come; and a step forwards into the unknown, where the tendency of those who torch cars will be forced to constitute itself as a historic party, or dissappear.

Doubtlessly, it is exactly this latter tendency which is the most unyielding enemy of a simple continuation of the status quo, and the best guarantee against it; as doubtlessly, their aspirations are wholly contradictory to those of the middle classes, or even more the military. But the latter two had never been able, on their own, to decide that the president must step down; that decision needed to be forced upon them.

What is most interesting is the obviously broad involvement of the industrial working class, which is reflected by all analysts cry, from the beginnings, for the labor unions to step in, solve the crisis and re-found the state! We will see how they get along with that work.

Alltogether the Tunisian movement appaers to be more rational, more wise and more pleasing than the French of 2005; in interesting find that will deliver interesting conclusions about the mistakes of the movement of 2005, which will, for sure, meet the attention it deserves, in the circles concerned.

It already met attention, in the wider region, as one may know; it wasn’t restricted to Tunisia in the first place, already, but had included Algeria, too; under unequally harder circumstances, and confronted with a more brutal and reckless military and a more terrorized population. But then it spread, in short time, to Libya, where there seem to have been incredible squatting movements; and then to the Arab peninsula, and, as one may have heard, to Egypt, where in these days the dawn of Arab freedom is to be seen, or the reflection of its catastrofe.

5. Which of the two, that is not, in the long run, in the hands of the Egyption regime, but in the hand of the revolting Egyptians themselves; because now, when the affair hit Egypt, the center of the Arab world, another player entered the field.

In Egypt, too, it is not about the president; had it been about the president, all this had never happened. One could see (if one could see) a steady build-up of radical opposition activity over the last years; even including fully blown workers insurrections; and none of the so called opposition organizations, not the jaded character masques of the lefts (left-behinds form Arab revolutionary history themselves, too, around the infamous Kifaya coalition), and not the way more powerful Ikhwan al muslimun (the main organisation of Islamism) has been in any position to speak for these movements. To the contrary, their attempts to mobilize for demonstrations, even to call a general strike on the anniversaries of the uprising at Mahala al kubra had met no measurable response.

That was encouraging; if, inversely, there could masses be mobilized in Egypt by organization calling for a reprise of the war against Israel, that would be a desaster.

It appears that these demands have no room in todays demonstrations, and are actively denied room; and for some mysterious reason there seems to be an active substratum of the protests, from whence a spontanous organization goes out, which has managed to deny a voice both to Islamists and to Nasserists.

Whether this substratum consists in a generally shared consciousness, or even is embodied in a central quasi-organization, can not yet be decided.

But nevertheless, nobody knows how much power the Islamists reall can project to the streets; and if one factor is not to be underrated, it is presicely this one. That is something the Iranian Left, for instance, does know better than anyone else. The Ikhwan al muslimun will have to, and the day is not far, place everything they have on bringing this movement down; it is unknowlingly their deadly enenemy, but they know it very well; as soon as the regime collapses, the decisive battle against an unknown foe will start.

And every step the movement goes is astep further into the unknown; there won’t come, after the bad president, a good one who will be much better; but the bad president is historys revenge for still having something like state, and presidents, long after it has emerged that their existence is contradictory to mankinds existence. And hesitation before that problem, united with the attack of a sudden and murderous foe, could be the end that awaits that movement.

6. What do they want, who take part in these uprisings? Not a presideny Baradei, nor Musavi. Not necessarily new elections. And not a war against Israel. But, as they themselves say: a better live. That’s quite reasonable, and one doesn’t have to decide: you cannot be but on their side.

What we don’t know, and not even can guess, is how far the changes they demm necessary will reach; with how little they would be content; and in how far they are aware of how terrible foes will stand in their ways. More terrible than the Arab military, which once had only one destiny: to shoot at its own population, and whose officers are standing on the streets of Egypt today, trying to persuade people to go home.

The Iranian insurgents, who will be watching closely what happens these days, have already had their defeat, long ago, and the last enemy before them. If the Egyptians will take that lection, we will see.

Truely, upsetting times. No one knows yet if it is the beginning of a great peace, or a great war. But spome day, it had to happen.

That mankind is at a turning point: that’s for free. This, it is every day. And every day, it decides, one way or another, in favor of going on like ever before. But not every day the logic of history itself, the objective process forces upon it a decision to be taken explicitly, actively and consciously. And the days, where this happes, are days, where there is room for both admirable heroism and fateful moronity; days of decision, when common and generalized doubts on the way the world is going are possible; and where mankind could muster the force to awake, shuddering, to its situation. Days where the isolation around us seems to be lifted; where we no longer seem lonely with our doubts and fear; days, where things could start shifting, and concepts start moving; like the painful seconds between sleep and awakening. Days where is seems we could still become human. It is these days solely that it’s worth living for.

1 There hasn’t been a thing like that before, not 1988 in Algeria nor 1985 in the Sudan; even you hear that sometimes today. Those events, incisive as they have been, are by a far shot differnet than what is happening today.

2 And you won’t need a second guess, too, to understand that the torching of cars is exactly an anticipated attack on those parts of the own class who are viewed as partisans of the order, rightfully or wrongly; and therefore, at least a symbolic attack on passivity and connivency on part of the working class; it is as much an attack on the central pillar of the self-conception of labor power, its mobility and its social status.

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