In The Absence Of Truth


Two Revolts. Egypt. Part II

Filed under: General — In the absence of truth @ 02:45

To see part I, go to

The Arab world holds its breath, and looks to Egypt. The struggle that is about to unfold there foreshadows the result of the struggles that will, maybe, soon emerge everywhere in that region.

A defeat of the Egyptian uprising, whether at the hands of the military or at the hands of the Islamists, will translate into a defeat for the uprisings that are already in its throes, in Libya, the Arab Sudan, Yemen, and Algeria. It will preclude what will come out of them, in one way or another.

1. In Egypt, matters have evolved to a point where there are clearly signs of revolutionary decomposion and re-organisation of society.

The much-hated police force has nearly disintegrated, it had withdrawn from the streets, it was nowhere to be seen. This astonishing observation, which nobody may have foreseen, and which met unbelief and mistrust at the part of the protesters, indicates not the relative strength of the latter – in military terms – , but the inner weakness of the police force.

This force proved halfways reliable as long as the protesters were perceived as middle class people with an academic beackground. It seemed this notion broke down when people from the lower strata of society, after some hesitation, started to relate to their struggle and poored into the streets in support.

The police force, composed mostly of people from that lower strata, seems to have instantly faltered in the face of an uprising that showed itself to be largely a proletarian one.

The vanishing of the police force from the street, and the instant wave of looting that followed it – most Egyptians claim: organized by the police force itself – prompted a response by the masses: they started to set up neighborhood commitees dedicated to safeguarding the population and organizing its defence, against the state as well as against the gangs.

2. In much the same way, another form of sel-organization sprang into existence: workers factories commitees, at least in the industrial strongholds, where workers unites to defend (we could translate that as: occupy) their workplace, and to organize a general strike. From these circles the attempt to form independent labor unions started, too.

These developements are significant in that there existed, at this stage, no more state control over parts of the life of society. People were given the opportunity, and the obligation, to organize themselves.

It seems that if there is a criterion defining social revolution in contrast to mere political revolution, that is this criterion. What we are facing, in Egypt, today, is a full blown social revolution.

Judging from how the Iranian revolution went wrong, back in 1979, you can already deduce that there is a danger, deeply entrenched in the twofold structure of this new and spontaneuos self-organization. The two branches, if you will, might tend to go different ways, because they represent totally different needs, and experience a total different dynamic; and this could be used to eventually undo them.

Back in 1978/79, the neighborhood comitees, the komiteha, came at some point under the influence of the Islamist clerics and their following; because they had a large and devoted and organized following in those quarters, and one which was wreckless and organized and not willing to play by the rules of revolutionary democracy, but went out to crush their opponents. Their armed wing was later embedded in what would become the Pasdaran organization, in much the same way as Feliks Dzershinsky created the Cheka from what remaind of the military comitees of the local soviets, after having purgend them of all non-bolsheviks and turned them in to a mere instrument.

On the other hand, the workers councils would gradually become controled by leninist and populist left-wing groups which narrowed the scope and potential impact of these councils to a mere political instrument; when the time came when the Islamists turned against the workers, all there organization fell to their attack within months.

Thus, the whole self-organization of the proletariat succumbed to Islamist counter-revolution.

Their two branches represented two different types of tendencies, and ultimately served two different classes: the neighborhood comitees representing more and more what could be called a small bourgeoisie, and the factory councils the industrial proletariat. There was no organization, however, that could see to the organization of post-revolutionary society as a whole; insurgent democracy, born out of defence, proved to be crippled, and ultimately unfit to counter the enemy.

We don’t see what, today, would help the Egyptian uprising to avoid this trap.

3. The Egyptian military seems to be undecided whether to turn against Mubarak, or to turn against the uprising. It has entered the cities, cheered by the crowd who looked at it as a counterweight to the loathed police; and it has, so far, refrained from cracking down on the insurgent people.

Few anaylsts don’t believe it could. We do, however, because we don’t see how the army would avoid meeting the same fate as the police force; and if it did, then the armed defectors would join the uprising, which would thus go armed. And that would spell the end of any attempt to restore order soon; which is what the military leadership is looking for.

Also, the military desperately wants to be perceived as part of the solution, not part of the problem. Therefore it will only crack down on the protests if a political solution is found, that is a governemt of so called national unity, under Baradei or somebody else, and with or without the governing party NDP.

The day such a solution is brought forward is the day the crackdown will begin in earnest.

The last factor in the equation are the Ikhwan al muslimun. The Islamists seem not to be ready to jump to the foreground, and to try to grab for power. They will wait for the moment when the winner is to be seen, and hedge their bets. They maintain a largely symbolic presence within the protests, and negotiating behind the curtain. They know that they will be part of any politial solution, and that they have enough clout on the street to eventually have their voice heard on the street if need be.

They are a foe to be reckoned with. Nobody shall think they are sidelined. The are just cautious. They will be heard of, in some way or another.

Any so called political solution, this we shall remember, is not a solution. This is not about a new government; had it ever been, none of it would have happened.

The Arab world, and not only the Arab world, is watching. Great things are about to unfold. Nobody knows how it will play itself out. It could all go horribly wrong. To not go horribly wrong, things need assistance. In Europe, and elsewhere, action is needed. Everone interested in the success of the Egyptian revolution should become active. You will know what to do, if you are not completely a whacko. Which some of you are.

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