islamists steal the arab uprising

24 02 2013

duvinrouge offers a view on the Arab Uprising in advance of the Commune’s Discussion Day meeting on Saturday 2nd March in London.

People-power has changed regimes. The Arab ruling classes are now scared of their people. This has had reverberations worldwide & the power of social media has shown its potency. Unfortunately the main beneficiaries of the upheavals have been the Islamists. This has echoes of the Pan-Arab Nationalism that brought Nasser to power in 1952. Then US imperialism was able to react, maintain & even extend its interests. The only defeat being the Iranian ‘Revolution’ of 1979. Are we now seeing a Sunni version of this reaction against western imperialism & its accompanying immorality?

Islamists in Syria

As we all know the Arab revolt began in Tunisia when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight on 17th December 2010. The corrupt Ben Ali family was chased out by the people 28 days later. Then came Egypt with the dramatic scenes in Tahrir Square. After the death of over 800 people Mubarak resigned on the 11th February 2011, only to be replaced by the military. The winners of subsequent elections in both countries were the Islamists: Ennahda in Tunisia & the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

In Libya things were a little different. Although Gaddafi had been partially rehabilitated by the West because of their mutual fight against Islamic extremism, he still understood imperialism & wasn’t going to give the western oil companies free reign. Hence military action from the US, Britain & France primarily, enabled the Libyan rebels to win their civil war. Of course the US has been happy to support Islamists when it suits them, only to find them turn at a later date. The killing of the US Ambassador in Libya having echoes of the previous support of the mujahedeen in Afghanistan.

In contrast the West didn’t provide any support to the protestors in Bahrain demanding democracy. Their repression by the Saudi army was allowed to go uncriticised. This is a clear example of how imperialism trumps any pretence of democracy. A Shia uprising in Bahrain spreading to the Saudi oilfields is not what the West wants. They know they can get away with supporting corrupt, undemocratic puppets & any charges of hypocrisy.

Syria is similar to Libya. A leader who understands imperialism & the US desire to encircle Iran & revenge the downfall of the Shah. So far military support has been indirect & the hard-line Islamists are taking a leading role in the fighting. The latest estimates are more than 70,000 dead. Another Baathist state likely to succumb to the Islamists.

So are we seeing a continuation of the use of religion as a reaction against the power of international capital, as initiated in Iran in 1979? A reaction that also uses religion as a constraint on the workers taking power themselves, leaving a class of priests & national businessmen to control production & so society?

It would appear to be so. But the Islamists face a hostile West & a continuing decline in living standards that threatens a further radicalisation of the people & even the prospect of a genuine revolution with the people taking control of the means of production themselves. For the moment the Islamists are in the driving seat, but they face a long struggle trying to consolidate power as the West seeks to play up the sectarian divisions & avoid a united Arab power emerging in such a resource important region of the world.

Red flag waving revolutionary organisations are not prominent. The Tunisian Workers’ Communist Party polled just 1.6% of the vote in 2011. In Egypt the Coalition of Socialist Forces is small & currently insignificant. But the days of vanguard revolutionary party’s leading the combined workers & peasants to socialist revolution are long gone. Vast numbers of people see the parliamentary game as offering nothing. Voting won’t change much. But what die-hard revolutionaries find hard to come to terms with is the fact that most people don’t want to even be part of a revolutionary organisation. Times have changed & adherence to a set ideology with strict party lines is unappealing. That’s not to say that revolution is off the agenda. People are used to having their say & expressing themselves freely – again, the role of social media. Any group that denies people control over their lives runs the risk of coming into the people’s sights all the time that improvements in living standards cannot be delivered. And this is exactly the problem capitalism faces everywhere in the world as the crisis of overproduction continues to remain unresolved.

Politics is catching-up with economics & the Islamists won’t be able to delay the true revolution forever.

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4 responses

24 02 2013
Maju

As I understand it, Islamism is not anti-imperialist at all. Not even in Iran, where it may take that form because of fascist-nationalism and the fact that Iran is a relatively developed country with aspirations to regional hegemony (but look at how their allies in Iraq collaborate with US occupation and spread fascist terror through the streets with total “normality”).

But anyhow, the main face of Islamism, as of Islam, is its Sunni variant, which has been historically supported by Saudi Arabia first and foremost and also by other Western allies including the USA themselves. In Syria they are clearly acting for Western interests, in Egypt too after some doubts, in Azawad/Mali they served as the perfect pretext (as in Afghanistan before) for Western imperialist intervention (Algeria denounced Qatar and Morocco being behind them but they are surely not acting alone) and even in Palestine they have served the divisionist purpose that plays into the hands of the Zionist oppressor.

Islamism is the perfect “supervillain”: for most of the World it is naturally hateful and can therefore never spread beyond their cultural region (which works as a global ghetto), their violence and abuses (typical of fascism) allow for all kind of imperialist interventions and, even if they win, they won’t be much of a problem because they are a bourgeois reactionary force. Compare all that with the real danger they would face if socialist/communist ideology would be at play instead.

24 02 2013
robertanthonyford

I agree with this analysis, there is hope for change but it will not be as it has been in the past. There needs to be a different approach, one that is all involving for the people, one where its the people themselves who make the changes but it will need a philosophy that offers a new world to be seen as a possibility. A vanguard of thought?

25 02 2013
commie46

we are debating this at a meeting on the 2nd of March at the Lucas Arms near kings Cross Station 1-30 (as well as is Leninism Finished?) so I will just make a few points.

I had another look at the special Commune edition on Libya which we produced a couple of years ago. Joe Thorn made this comment,”however I don’t want to say that automatically any non revolutionary democratic struggle in the current period will turn to despotic reaction” He went on to add that this would amount to defeatism. This is the trap that Duvinrouge falls in.

The revolutionary masses in Egypt have continued to take to the streets, putting their lives at risk, to change the regime, following the election of the candidate supported by the Muslim brotherhood. They do not share his pessimism that another state is likely to succumb to the Islamists. Although Duvunrouge gives the election success of the Muslim Brotherhood as an aspect of stealing the revolution, he inconsistently concedes that many do not think elections will change much.

Also using Islamists and islam as a blanket label without specifying political forces and dynamics does tend to conform to the media stereotype about Islam. The other point to come out of the debate in the paper on Libya which had a very long discussion in the comments section.(over 44 contributions) was the different political and structural make up of the different regimes in Libya Egypt and Tunisia and the need for a concrete analysis of the dynamics in each country.

Finally, Daved Spencer said we should be for the rebels against depotism,”since to stand any real chance of organising there needs to be a few democratic freedoms” And Barry Biddulph added that any democratic revolution from below was not restricted to Bourgeois democracy in advance.

19 03 2013
commie46

The Egyptian working class is still fighting back following the second anniversary of the Revolution. It has been Reported that In Mahalla,an industrial city, there were strikes at 1,300 factories in protest against the two main leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood,the ‘Supreme Guide’ Mohamed Badic and the President Mohamed Morsi. Bus Drivers and Taxi Drivers were also on strike. Students joined the demonstrations against the brotherhood. There have also been sustained protests in Port Said and Mansoura.




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