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?
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.