For Permanent Revolution Throughout the Middle East!Egypt: Mubarak Regime Tottering
Egyptian riot police attack workers’ sit-in to demand raising the minimum wage, Cairo, May 2.
The bloody Israeli massacre of passengers on board ships in the Mediterranean delivering aid to besieged Gaza set off angry protests throughout the Middle East. The largest were in Turkey, where the flotilla was organized, and from where all but one of the martyred activists came (the other was a Turkish American). But nowhere did the Zionist crime have a greater impact than in Egypt, where the military-based government of the aging strongman Hosni Mubarak is on its last legs. Egypt has been swept by a series of strikes beginning in December 2006 at the giant Misr Spinning and Weaving Company complex at Mahalla al-Kubra in the Nile Delta. Thousands of workers, many of them women, threw off the state-sponsored corporatist labor bodies and forged their own unions. The fight for independent unions continued to mount through 2007-08. Then, following the devastating Israeli bombardment of nearby Gaza in December 2008-January 2009, striking workers from the textile center of Mahalla el-Kubra sent a convoy with supplies.
More recently, in response to the May 31 massacre, tens of thousands have taken to the street to protest in Alexandria and Cairo. A meeting with Egyptian textile workers from Tanta Flax, Amonsito Spinning and Weaving and Mahalla denounced the deadly Israeli attack (see report and video on 3arabawy, 4 June). And as police cracked down on a demonstration by Amonsito workers in front of Egypt’s parliament on May 23, angry workers drew parallels between their situation and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians (3arabawy, 25 May). Writing in Socialist Worker (12 June), the newspaper of the British Socialist Workers Party, Hossam el-Hamalawy says: “People are linking the causes of freedom for Palestine and freedom for Egyptian workers.” The Egyptian socialist sums up: “We are in a pre-revolutionary situation here.” In an accompanying article, the SWP headlined, “Workers' movements across the Middle East can free Palestine,” and even spoke of Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution. (Meanwhile, in demos in Britain, the SWP pushes the standard refrain of “boycott, divestment, sanctions.”)
But coming from such reformists, the words permanent revolution have a very different meaning. Leon Trotsky wrote, on the basis of three Russian Revolutions (1905, February 1917, October 1917), as well as the negative experience of the defeat of the Chinese Revolution of 1925-27, that in the imperialist epoch the bourgeoisie in colonial and semi-colonial countries is too weak, and too tightly bound to domestic reactionary and imperialist forces, to carry out the tasks of the classical bourgeois revolutions – democracy, national emancipation and agrarian revolution. The peasantry, in turn, is a contradictory layer with conflicting interests. It therefore falls to the working class, led by its communist party and backed by the poor peasants and the oppressed nation, to seize power to achieve those revolutionary-democratic tasks. In doing so, simply in order to preserve its class rule, it will be obliged to make the revolution permanent, proceeding directly to socialist tasks, expropriating the capitalists and extending the revolution internationally, centrally to the dominant imperialist powers.
Like many opportunists who abuse the name of Trotsky, the SWP divorces his theory from the program of permanent revolution by removing the key element, the need for a communist vanguard party, and turning it into an objectivist analysis of the “dynamic.” This is the device used by numerous pseudo-Trotskyists to support a variety of petty-bourgeois and bourgeois-nationalist forces ranging from Egyptian colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser to the Algerian FLN, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, the South African ANC and most recently Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, saying that objective forces will force them to go further than they intended. Yet the vital task is to forge a Leninist-Trotskyist revolutionary workers party, which requires above all fighting against illusions in precisely those petty-bourgeois and bourgeois forces. In Egypt in recent years, many socialists have argued it is necessary to unite with reactionaries such as the Muslim Brotherhood, who lead many protests over Gaza, but at the same time oppose workers’ strikes. This is a ticket to bloody defeat. Like Khomeini in Iran, these Islamists will slaughter the left if they ever take power.
Currently, as the Mubarak regime totters, some leftists are looking to Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who is positioning himself as a presidential candidate (see “ElBaradei Meets Leftist Supporters, Al Masry Al Youm [English edition], 12 June). While ElBaradei had numerous run-ins with the administration of U.S. president George W. Bush, it should not be forgotten that he also pushed for sanctions against Iran for developing its nuclear capability (and did nothing about Israel’s nuclear arsenal). He is a bourgeois politician, although one who is more in line with European than the American imperialists. Moreover, ElBaradei is busy making alliances with the Muslim Brotherhood (which is backing him) and the conservative Wafd Party, which ran Egypt on behalf of the British from 1920 until it was overthrown in 1952 by the officers coup that installed Nasser in the presidency. Any political bloc with ElBaradei means an alliance with these reactionaries. A revolutionary workers party would ally instead with landless peasants, women and oppressed minorities such as the Copts on a program to overthrow all the exploiters.
From the banks of the Nile to the straits of Bosporus and throughout the Middle East, the struggle for the political independence of the working class against Islamic fundamentalists, bourgeois nationalists and liberals, against sheiks and colonels, is key to the fight to sweep away the Zionist butchers and their imperialist patrons through international socialist revolution. ■See also: Israel’s Gaza Flotilla Massacre: Bloody War Provocation
The Blockade of Gaza and Zionist Plans for “Transfer”
Zionists Gearing Up for War on Iran
For an Arab-Hebrew Palestinian Workers State in a Socialist Federation of the Near East
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