On the recent developments in Egypt

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Leo
On the recent developments in Egypt
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Here's an interesting article: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/25022

What do people think? Is it exaggarated?

Alf
definitely needs studying

Mhou arged a while back that there were important developments in Mahalla along similar lines  - declaring independence from the state and signs of working class self-organisation or at least a powerful desire for it. I felt at the time that the democratic danger mixed up in all this was very strong, even if the working class was involved in what was happening. The events in Port Said reached the national press here (briefly - see below). The Guardian article highlights divisions: between the two sets of football fans, and between Port Said and the rest of the country. In the anarkismo article the proletarian element seems very strong (although for that reason the democratic traps will be even more dangerous). But we need to learn more. Volunteers to keep a 'watching brief'?

 

https://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/10/riots-egypt-death-sentences...

mhou
Reports have come out that

Reports have come out that the textile workers in Mahalla have been engaging in an escalating series of mass strikes since 2006- this started with demands, followed by ejecting union leaders (including at the least 1 hospitalization of a union official who tried to stop one of the strikes), since the fall of Mubarak they have thrown out all of the new 'democratic' local politicians from the Muslim Brotherhood and the 'official' Opposition parties and occupied the city council building, re-formed their revolutionary council from the Arab Spring revolt and declared themselves autonomous from the Muslim Brotherhood state. The events in Port Said are similarly exciting. Some blogs and websites are already calling it a soviet- I wouldn't go that far (with the available reports in English from places like the BBC), but I think the various reports, taken together, demonstrate an escalating cycle of struggle that has been growing and deepening for 7 years.

It would seem a near textbook example, in these times, for the subterranean maturation of consciousness (the way the events in Poland in 1980-1981 sparked the development of the theory).

Alf
revolutionary council

At a general level mhou is certainly correct in his last post - in Egypt we have clearly been seeing the process whereby the maturation comes out into the open (even if it later returns to the shadows)

We said as much before before 2011: https://en.internationalism.org/wr/304/egypt-germs-of-mass-strike

and again at the height of the 2011 events: https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2011/02/egypt-class-struggle-c...

However: we need to be cautious when we use terms like 'revolutionary councils' or soviets, the latter having been used in an article in the 'mainstream' press (and no doubt by the leftists). Even if it is an authentic class organ (and that has yet to be established) the Mahalla council might be more like the MKS in Poland - but that doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as a soviet, which is essentially an organ of proletarian revolution. That is generally something that develops at another stage in the movement.  But in any case, we need a lot more information about these organisational forms developing in Egypt. 

 

mhou
The way several of the

The way several of the reports read (from mainstream media, Arabic-English blogs, leftist press) their 'revolutionary council' is basically the same form as was used during the Arab Spring- a general assembly based organ encompassing all residents of the city; it sounds like the textile workers are the main engine of the organ and comprise its active participants, but it is probably inter-classist and localist. But Alf's right- there isn't enough information to definitively 'lock-down' what is happening.

Leo
http://autistici.org/tridniva

https://autistici.org/tridnivalka/egypt-nothing-has-changed-but-everythi...

Another interesting article. Do we know who this group is?

Alf
Czech group?

Are they the same people who post as 'Guerre de Classe' on libcom? They could be the 'other' group in the Czech republic which broke from the anarchist federation along with the Collectively against Capital group (KPK) which is very close to Mouvement Communiste. The former group were closer to the positions of the GCI, especially on the question of riots (disagreement about the nature of the riots in France was one of the motives for the separation if I recall correctly). But that's from a superficial glance and I need to read the article and their programmatic statement.  

Leo
"Are they the same people who

"Are they the same people who post as 'Guerre de Classe' on libcom?"

Yes, I think so.

"They could be the 'other' group in the Czech republic which broke from the anarchist federation along with the Collectively against Capital group (KPK) which is very close to Mouvement Communiste."

Isn't the KPK the group which is very close to Mouvement Communiste? Is there another one? Or was this other group the one close to the GCI?

 

Alf
KPK etc

KPK are the ones close to Mouvement Communiste, this other group is closer to the GCI

Leo
Can it be possible that

Can it be possible that they've perhaps evolved somewhat? Here's their programatic positions: https://autistici.org/tridnivalka/programmatical-positions-of-the-class-...

A few highlights:

"Democracy is the capitalist society’s own essence and not just one of its political forms. Atomised citizens, who achieve an artificial unity through a separated area of national politics, are a common characteristic of parliamentary, Stalinist, Fascist or for instance Islamist states (...) It’s a long time, since trade unions ceased to be working class organisations. They became a part of the capitalist State, an institution for an organised selling of labour power and keeping social peace. As such, they have to be destroyed, not reformed (...) Therefore, communist proletarians struggle against all forms of Leftism: Stalinism, Trotskyism, Maoism, many varieties of Anarchism, Anti-Globalism, “Third-Worldist” Anti-Imperialist movements (…) We are opposed to all united fronts with “progressive” political factions of the bourgeoisie and to all counter-revolutionary ideologies emerging around such fronts: Anti-Fascism or for example National Liberation"

To my knowledge, the GCI has infamously supported various third-worldist nationalist armed movements. Also, perhaps more significantly, their position on the unions seem to imply that trade-unions indeed have been working class organizations once - contradicting GCI's traditional position. Additionally, note that their list of leftists doesn't include Leninists or Bordigists as the GCI's does.

Also, the part of their platform on organization is pretty interesting:

"The revolutionary organisation spontaneously grows and gains specific forms directly from class struggle, because the proletariat is historically forced to do so. The revolutionary organisation neither makes the revolution nor enlightens and educates the proletariat for the revolution. The class is able to do this on its own and, on the contrary, through its militant activity creates conditions for centralisation of revolutionary groups, which are small and insignificant today in times of social peace, and the most conscious and radical sections of the proletariat into the communist party. This is based on self-organisation from below and organic centralisation and has the same interests as the whole class. What marks communists off, is that they act in an organised manner most decisively and consistently of all and always in the historical interest of the whole proletariat and thus they give direction to the rest of the class. The global communist party is a prefiguration of the worldwide human community."

They seem to be influenced by the communisation theory, they identify communisation with the dictatorship of the proletariat, hence implying that they see it as a transition period of sorts. Surely enough, there is some mention of revolutionary terror.

And last but not least, they quote Bordiga who I'm sure the GCI wouldn't, given their open anti-Leninism.

Alf
Could be...

Yes, interesting quotes. Could be why they never joined the GCI....Although the GCI would never openly proclaim support for national liberation mvoements in its programmatic texts. The point about the unions is, as you say, probably more significant. 

d-man
I don't know how useful it is

I don't know how useful it is to speak of "democratic illusion" (what about "economic illusion" in winning strikes, given the state of economy). For example here are some videos of "democratic illusion";

Cairo, April 6: Police attack several dozen protesters calling for democratic reforms

Interviews with Egyptian Opposition Members - Protest for April 6 Youth Activists (May 11, 2010): "Practically everyone in the political scene was here".

https://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/21/protests-egypt-gamal-mubarak-succession

It seems the "democratic illusion" sparked by rigged elections was a direct key to Mubarak's stepdown: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11890726

and this "democratic illusion" was promoted by the Brotherhood eg on the webpage; Mubarak’s Ticking Bomb, which references to the "economic illusion":

"The ruling regime even ignores legal decisions issued by Egyptian courts if they contradict its policies. Egypt 's economic and social fabric is spiralling downwards and any growth is not felt by the masses of poor people, and the obscene gap between rich and poor worsens daily. More than 40 percent of Egyptians live on less than $2 per day and nearly 30 percent are illiterate."

Finally there was an alleged interview with Mubarak now where even he expresses sadness for the poor.

So I don't know how useful it was to say to the protesters that that they have illusions in democracy. You can as well say to the strikers now that they have illusion in winning strikes. And then what have we learned? Just like the SWP say: keep the struggle on and stay tuned to the news? Feels kind of helpless.

 

 

 

 

soyonstout
d-man's post, the 'x-factor,' etc.

d-man makes some excellent points about the "illusions" these movements have for immediate relief either in a political or economic form, and I think points to the real conundrum the world's working class finds itself in today.  it seems no real progress can be made without some kind of dual power situation, but the movements that might be able to give birth to something like that are short-lived and the participants sometimes dispersed rapidly.  most critically, none of these movements (except perhaps in Spain) has had a significant tendency posing the question of replacing the existing government with the structures used to further the movements (the question of power), and in many of these movements, there is an expression of outrage and a will to 'be heard' but it is too often directed oppositionally at the class enemy seeking a redress of grievances and less often concerned with growing/galvanizing/preparing class power or the creation of networks of solidarity for the participants of the movement in their daily lives.  This goes back to something the Turkish cdes said after the 2010 tobacco strike about the gap between recognizing and demonstrating against union treason on the one hand, and the will to actually create networks of class power that can not only make demands but enforce them.

i don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but this gap was the first thing i thought of reading d-man's post talking of the democratic "illusion" and the economic "illusion"--often left communists ascribe the absense of revolutionary initiatives to the presence of the left of capital, but the left of capital will always be there and will likely become more sophisticated the more class confrontations become a frequent occurance.  regardless of what the left of capital is doing, what is missing is the active construction of class power against the state as an end in itself, rather than as a need of the movement for the state redress of grievances.  this 'x-factor' is something that, as far as I know, we (left communists) don't really have a theory for or a reliable way to produce, but seems to be precisely what the global working class needs, if it is to emancipate itself.  I apologize if this isn't a terribly fruitful contribution in terms of sparking more debate but it is something these movements bring up for me that hopefully some older cdes have some insight into, having seen (at least through news media) much bigger struggles which still often lacked the desire to replace the state not with another state but with the direct participation of the whole movement and ultimately the whole non-exploiting population.

jk1921
Soysonstout makes really good

Soysonstout makes really good points. All of the advancements of these various movements seem unlikely to amount to anything tangible, if they are unable to build on one another and to start making advances in the direction of going beyond the state. All of this, of course, only raises the issue of the subterreanean maturation of consciousness once again.

I am not sure what point is being made in regards to the critique of the idea that there are "democratic illusions." Is this made specific to the situation in Egypt or is it a more general rejection of the idea that there is a democratic ideology?

d-man
It's not useful to say that

It's not useful to say that people have democratic illusions, because it doesn't challenge them. Alf wrote actually just democratic danger or democratic trap, which takes away the protester's responsibilty for his belief. It seems the underlying scenario is that hardship will dispel the democratic illusion and through economic struggle (strikes) lead to the abolishment of the state. Is this not itself falling into the "syndicalist illusion"?

https://www.marxists.org/history/international/social-democracy/social-democrat/1912/04/illusions_02.htm

jk1921
Alternative?

d-man wrote:

 It seems the underlying scenario is that hardship will dispel the democratic illusion and through economic struggle (strikes) lead to the abolishment of the state. Is this not itself falling into the "syndicalist illusion"?

https://www.marxists.org/history/international/social-democracy/social-democrat/1912/04/illusions_02.htm

Is there an alternative to the "economic crisis will dispel political 'illusions'" assumption?

Fred
Surely the whole point about

Surely the whole point about an "illusion" is that you don't exactly know you've got it.  It's an unchallenged implicit  assumption.  It all boils down to "ideology" which, as Engels pointed out, is a false understanding of the world.  So how do people, workers, deal with this. Well, if the nice friendly policeman**who you had vaguely thought was on your side, suddenly bombards you from his helicopter with tear glass cylinders,  your assumption about the role of the police is suddenly questioned and put in doubt. You might even begin to register that he and his mates are working for "them" not "us"!  This could be the start of a disillusionment with bourgeois democracy. Or, if a government busy imposing austerity starts charging you for an unused bedroom, or slashes welfare facilities, or messes up the school system, or some political lefty says that going on strike will abolish the state when you know from experience that it never has, then your cosy take-it-for-granted illusions in your future and its security, are seriously bruised, and considered thought begins.   

 And IT IS useful to say that "people have got democratic illusions" or that people have the illusion that capitalism will recover, or they have the illusion that there is no alternative to capitalism - this is a serious misreading of reality as Engels would confirm - because if the illuded  (deluded?) folk hear this, or read it,  a door can  swing open. A breakthrough for consciousness can start.  For how can an illusion be challenged without being named and shamed?  It's an educative process. 

 

A small point.  Georg Eliot, D.H.Lawrence and Joseph Conrad, novelists with an Intelligent interest in human motivation, have all commented that "it's difficult to live without  illusions", but I don't think they are talking about the sort of political nightmare perpetrated by the bourgeoisie in the hypocritical and violent maintenance  of their dictatorship, but about deeper matters of the sort that might have interested eg. Freud. 

 

** there are of course no "nice friendly policemen,  or policewomen" though some pretend. But it's a lie; an "illusion" many of us are conditioned to believe without question. 

jk1921
Situational Analysis

Fred wrote:

** there are of course no "nice friendly policemen,  or policewomen" though some pretend. But it's a lie; an "illusion" many of us are conditioned to believe without question. 

Fred, is it not possible that one day someone may think the police were on their side because they did something that "materially benefited" them, like rescued them from a mugger, found their stolen automobile or captured the evil Boston bombers who were terroizing their neighborhood? Is the idea that the policeman is my friend always "false" or is it more situationally complicated than that? In other words, one day, or in one contextual set of circumstances they could be your friend, but in another context (repressing a strike or demonstration, or arresting your kid, etc.) it is something different?

I am not saying that is what I believe, but I am trying to work through some of the implications of the "there is no such thing as false consciousness or illusions" idea.

Fred
it depends which side you're on

When I said "there's no such thing as nice friendly policemen" I was I think following the ICC line!!! Is that good or bad?  Policemen do help out from time to time.  But at base they serve the interests of the ruling class don't they, and once you've realized that - seen through the "good" policeman illusion - as a part of the working class how can you go on regarding them as "nice"? So, for the proletariat, the bourgeois ideological notion "that the policeman is everyone's friend"  is false. And it can be falsified in  Popperian mode just about everyday. Bombing protestors with tear gas cannisters is a recent example. And I don't think the police thought they were bombing the bourgeoisie, except by accident. After all they are the bourgeoisie's private army, are they not? 

 

With regard to: there is no such thing is false consciousness. Well. If there's any truth at all in the whole Marxist communist project, then "false", that is to say the limited and bewildered consciousness of the bourgeoisie, and of religion too, becomes what communists actually  mean by the word false, does it not; and what the more evolved consciousness of the revolutionary proletarian class is seeking to replace. This is a necessary part of the evolutionary process if humanity is to develop and survive, isn't it?  (I know this is full of Fred's assumptions, but then we all have them too, don't we?.)  As to illusions.  Who can escape them in this confused society?  Mine is that the ICC's and left communism's analysis of history is right; and that if we don't bring about a successful proletarian revolution fairly soon, humanity is doomed to barbarism and possible extinction, and that this could well apply to our lovely planet too as a nice place for us all to live on. 

 

Perhaps its a question of "be careful what illusions you fall for, because they can dictate your way of life."  But then how do we escape them, as d-man asked?  It's like peeling layers off an onion.  Though even that has its end.  Are we not currently living at a time when illusions stemming largely from bourgeois society are starting to get eroded and even fall like nine pins? This is the beginning of a revolutionary consciousness. But even that may turn out to be another illusion at some point. Didn't Marx suggest somewhere that communist society would not be the final societal achievement of humanity? 

 

Fred
It's a pity our to me

It's a pity our to me interesting discussion about "illusions" got itself mixed up with the thread about Turkey - an important  issue.  And on this thread it's got mixed up with Egypt - another important issue. What can we do? But isnt this issue of a Marxist commitment, and the role and function of illusions and unchallenged and possibly implcit political assumptions in confusing and mystifying our struggling comrades in Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere,  important too?

 

And we've also got side-tracked by jk' s seizing  on policemen, friendly or otherwise, as the real issue at stake, which it isn't.  I  only referred to  the police as an example of the vital need to have "a point of view"  on matters.  Could it be that jk and possibly other comrades don't believe that taking sides in the class struggle Is significant for someone professing to be a Marxist?  It is of course possible instead of developing a Marxist point of view, to go on behaving like an academic and continue juggling different and even contradictory ideas in the air, as if that's what sensible and intelligent folk have always done and always will. But this is machiavellianism at work. This is exactly  what  bourgeois academics do. Its their professional job. They are expected to know everything in their appointed field, but not to make value judgements as to the comparative value of what they know. Their task is not to judge the socialand  political value of  any of the stuff they are immersed in, just to juggle it cleverly, and present it for the consideration of others  in a phony kind of quasi-neutrality.  This is the illusion of academic impartiality at work. It's based on another illusion - or implicit assumption - that a well-trained mind can wriggle its way out of anything through a non-committal attitude. 

 

But this won't do for a Marxist will it?  Marxism looks at and analyses the world from the proletarian standpoint, with a view to changing it, This is why how Marxism  sees the world is different from what the bourgeoisie says it sees, which is often hypocritical.  So, to return to d-man above, IT IS useful to point out that people have illusions in democracy, which is precisely what the bourgeoisie want them to have, because exposing a lie is the start of dispelling it. False consciousness is there and needs exposing wherever we are aware of it. 

 

d-man
Qaddafi's Green Book

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUSiCEx3e-0

 

My point is that everyone knows this about democracy

 

jk1921
Come On Fred

Fred wrote:

 

 

And we've also got side-tracked by jk' s seizing  on policemen, friendly or otherwise, as the real issue at stake, which it isn't.  I  only referred to  the police as an example of the vital need to have "a point of view"  on matters.  Could it be that jk and possibly other comrades don't believe that taking sides in the class struggle Is significant for someone professing to be a Marxist? 

Come on Fred. When did I say it was the "real issue at stake" and when did I say that I don't believe "taking sides in the class struggle is significant for someone professing to be a Marxist"? That's unfair and you know it. 

Moreover, your constant retreat to "academic bashing" when you get frustrated is really starting to wear thin. Yes, it is the sensible thing to do to consider ideas that don't exactly jive with your assumptions. The idea of "false consciousness" has come under severe criticism in recent years BY MARXISTS (or at least people who call themselves Marxists or operating in the Marxist tradition or something). Before you can denounce this idea, you first need to understand it, don't you? Unless it is utterly imcomprehensible, but how would you know that without first trying to work through it? Simply labeling it "bourgeois" isn't going to cut it. That's intellectual laziness of the first order. And academics make value judegments all the time; many self-consciously so. The entire "bourgeois academics" profess a false sense of impartiality is really just another straw man. Set-it up so you can knock it down.

And I am sorry, the issue of "illusions" is intimately tied in with the discussions on Egypt and Turkey as it is the Indignadoes and Occupy. The main thrust of the ICC's analysis of these movements was that they were derailed by illusions in democracy. KT's analysis of the Turkish events was similar--derailed by "democratic illusions" (Posted almost simulataneously with d-man's critique of the idea of democratic illusions). I don't think these issues can be seperated so neatly.

For the record, I think the idea of false consciousness is absolutely central to understanding the world, but I want to know why others think it is not useful. I am sorry if this is seen as a derailement of more important discussions.

D-man raises an interesting twist on all--everyone knows democracy is bullshit, but yet it seems the ideology continues to work anyway. How can that be?

baboon
a bit of a derailment here

Apologies for a bit of a derailment here but just to state a point of view. I think that the "light touch" moderation on these threads is entirely appropriate but in return it does demand a certain amount of self-discipline. In the communist perspective everything is related to everything but I don't think that this is an argument for "one big discussion". Separate threads on different issues, though they are related to everything else, is, in my opinion, a good way to develop discussion and to keep it on track. It is also useful for referencing past discussion when they have long ceased to be active. It demands a collective effort - a culture of debate if you like.