Tunisia

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baboon
Tunisia
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Despite reports yesterday I didn't think that France would let Ben Ali in for the same reason, at different levels, that the British government refused the Bolsheviks offer of safe passage for the Romanovs - contagion. There's plenty in the press and on libcom about how this will affect "the Arab region", its despotic governments, etc, and this is obviously an important factor - there were reports of demonstrations against rising prices in Jorday yesterday. But this is also important for Europe, for the heartlands of capital. It is also a significant blow against the imperialisms of France, Britain, Germany and the US, all of which have backed the Tunisian mafia to the hilt.

 

Unlike Algeria, where unrest has been rumbling for some time, Tunisia has been relatively quiescent and the courage of the mainly working class contingent, men, women, boys, girls, all generations in the uprising has to be applauded. This is another welcome development. On the news last night an "expert" on why the uprising took place listed half-a-dozen reasons the majority of which applied to every country in western Europe and the United States.

 

The Tunisian state has been greatly weakened and looks like resorting  to some sort of democratic facade. Its unions are not so openly integrated into the state as Algeria's apparantly and the Tunisian Communist Party has called for "democratic change".

 

There is no doubt about the spontaneous nature of this uprising and it's one more expression of the fight back of the working class.

jk1921
Is there a translation in the

Is there a translation in the works of the statement on the French site?

Alf
Tunisia translation

 Thanks for pointing that out! We will get down to this asap. Anyone willing to assist translating the shorter one (campaign about ben ali?)

baboon
The British  press has been

The British  press has been banging on about "British holidaymakers in danger" but the response from those coming back has been quite interesting. Few of them cast any blame on the population and quite a few said that they wanted to stay seeing no threat from the uprising. On the late ITV news last night, one young working class woman returning home succinctly and angrily denounced the Tunisian police and offered heartfelt solidarity to the Tunisian masses.

I've just read the text on the French website and I'm up for any translation long or short. Let me know through the usual channels.

red flag
Tunisian Revolution continues

From tonights news it looks as if there is a fresh upsurge of revolution in Tunisia after the new coalition government was announced.  Lets hope that the Tunisian working class can learn lessons from their heroic struggle and form both councils of action free from leftists and trade unions.  Lets hope that this is their first step towards the Tunisian working class winning political power.

petey
media angle

baboon wrote:
The British  press has been banging on about "British holidaymakers in danger" but the response from those coming back has been quite interesting. Few of them cast any blame on the population and quite a few said that they wanted to stay seeing no threat from the uprising.

this reminds me of the real v. media split when the u.s. invaded grenada. very different sorts of parties involved in that, but the media were drumming up an 'americans in danger from leftists' angle which they had a very hard time substantiating with any eyewitness testimony.

may
Tunisian working class

red flag says: "Lets hope that the Tunisian working class can learn lessons from their heroic struggle and form both councils of action free from leftists and trade unions.  Lets hope that this is their first step towards the Tunisian working class winning political power."

I agree on the courage of the working class, and that the movement is a response to the appalling conditions they face - 55% unemployment of young graduates as the article on the french site reminds us. However, I think the danger now is, as that article says, that they will be able to use the departure of Ben Ali and push the lie of democracy.

Also, I think we need to face the fact that the working class will have to go through a lot of experience to free itself of leftists and trade unions - even in very profound movements and struggles we will have to fight their influence.

jk1921
This issue of working class

This issue of working class youth committing suicide as some kind of political protest against having no perspective for the future is deeply concerning. We also saw this in India, with peasants who had run up against the limits of the "micro-finance miracle" taking their own lives faced with debt. Of course, suicide also occurs in the metroploes in numerous, individualized instances, which are not overtly political, but more an act of despair and confusion. These are then written off by the dominant class as unfortunate expressions of "mental illness." Didn't Marx write about suicide at one point? I'll have to see if I can find the book.

red flag
Suicide and decomposition

The tragedy of suicide which jk1921 speaks of is I think more than an individual response to inhuman conditions it's a terrible act of desperation of human suffering.  The ICC I think recognises this as a new stage in capitalist decomposition through the analysis of decomposition as being a feature of this stage of capitalism.  The worry is that if the working class does not devlop a revolutionary perspective then suicide may become even more common than it is at present.  Also with the cutbacks in funding for NHS services then this may accentuate the suffering of workers.

I will try to look what Marx said about suicide.

zimmerwald1915
This?   http://www.marxists.o
jk1921
Does anyone have any thoughts

Does anyone have any thoughts on what is happening in Egypt? Lebanon? It seems like the lesson of Tunisia has been: "Change is possible;" however, the democratic trap is probably much stronger in Egypt; the sectarian one in Lebanon. Also, the great powers probably won't be as willing to watch Mubarak go down.

Sheldon
Without wanting to fall too

Without wanting to fall too much into the realm of conspiracism, I think we should be cautious in discounting the role of the security services in encouraging such discontent.  Recall that much of the Internet attacks against the government in Egypt has been towards calls of "no censorship."  Of course, such a thing is impossible under bourgeois guidance and is instead usually a callous call for allowing pro-"larger imperialist" propaganda into the target country's system.  Obviously this doesn't mean that there isn't a critique of media censorship that should be made--we just need to remember that the competition between imperialist powers is wrapped in the cloak of "democracy."

That being said, even if in actuality these digital attacks are from entirely sincere vigilante hackers, jk1921 correctly notes the strengthening of the democratic mystification.  As to whether the ruling powers would be "willing to watch Mubarak go down," I don't think that the ruling powers are operating entirely with respect to their rational needs.  Social decomposition weighs heavily on the ruling class, as they descend into lunacy internally so to do their external relations with other bourgeois factions.

Red Hughs
The protests in Egypt

The protests in Egypt certainly seem like an earthquake. It seems like the Mubarak regime has lost its democratic facade and its legitimacy (which isn't saying it will definitely be overthrown - that I don't know).

My guess would be that the great powers, especially the US, will mobilize everything they have to keep the Mubarak regime in power. Egypt is crucial to the present geo-political order. I'm not sure whether US and other efforts will be enough, however.

I would agree that in both Tunisia and Egypt, the chances of the revolution only ending up "satisfying the people's democratic aspirations" is quite high. It could most easily be something like a bourgeois-democratic revolution that the bourgeois are too-decayed and predatory to actually lead themselves.

Perhaps the most we can hope for is a space for further discussion and organization in a way that previously wasn't possible. But that doesn't mean the proletariat should not take steps like seizing work places.

And the context of all this, the crisis,  is not going away. Inflation in these areas, especially the high price of food has been an important factor in these revolts. The international bourgeois might desperately want to save the Mubarak regime but I suspect one resource they don't have or won't give is reasonably priced food, etc for the Egyptians. 

The much of the world is much more of a powder keg than the bourgeois press acknowledges.

jk1921
Seems like the press here is

Seems like the press here is doing its utmost to convince us that "Egypt is not Tunisia" and that the regime will survive.

red flag
Revolution

Seems to me that the there is very little likelihood that in Egypt or elsewhere in the middle east  that so called bourgeoise freedoms such as freedom of press, speech, free elections are realiseable will be realised due to the bankruptcy of capitalism.  The danger is that if the working class does not develop both a level of class consciousness that focuses on workers solidarity and independent interests then the danger that Marx spoke of namely the mutual destruction of the contending classes could be a real possibility.

baboon
Hello Caroline and

Hello Caroline and welcome.

 

I don't think that the left communist position on the impossibility of progressive bourgeois factions in decadence is at all brought into question by events in Tunisia or elsewhere. In fact, like all the other "revolutions" as designated by the bourgeoisie since Portugal in 1974, it will underline this very position that any faction of the bourgeoisie will be forced to increase its attacks on the working class.

 

There's been no "revolution" in Tunisia. What has happened there is that the movement has been against an autocratic government, rising prices, a perceived lack of any future for youth, unemployment, increased exploitation at work, attacks by the police and general state repression. Apart from the first mentioned everything else applies to Britain, France, Italy, Spain, etc., etc. Of course there specifics to Tunisia (and Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and so on) but the general question is the issue of capitalism's deepening economic crisis and its inability, in any sort of meaningful way, to attenuate its attacks on the working class. The autocratic government can be slightly dressed up in some democratic facade but this doesn't alter the fundamentals of the attack on the class - in fact it serves to make them stronger. Look at Britain where 13 years of viscous attacks by the Labour government, where the latter cuddled up to their capitalist cronies and facilitated the debt economy has been largely mystified by a campaign around the coalition of the "nasty" Tories and the "traitorous" LibDems.

 

The present movements of youth affecting Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, as far as I can see, have been expressions of a proletarian response, even if they've been mixed up with a democratic idealism that will only deliver more of the same. And while the latter remains the greatest danger in the longer term, these expressions are part of the fight back of the working class and, to some extent, have unsettled the actions of the major imperialisms.

 

jk1921
No, the events in Tunisia

No, the events in Tunisia were not "progressive" in the historic sense of creating a bourgeois-democratic state. What the events showed was that faced with poverty, unemployment and marginalization, the working-class can fight back against the state. Change is possible. They also demonstrate the power of popular mobilizations to spead beyond national borders--if for the moment they remain limited to the Arab world. Of course, the working-class there is politically much weaker than in the core countries, so the democratic illusions are still very strong. It won't be long before whatever bourgeois faction comes to power in these countries next is forced by the realties of the global crisis to resume the attacks on the working class. It's not clear what will happen in Egypt, but it appears the bourgeoisie is already planning for an alternative to Mubarak, if it becomes necessary to jettison him, having flown in El-Baradei and trying to establish him as a viable option to assume the reigns of the state. We will have to see what happens in the days ahead. 

Red Hughs
Despite all the coverage, I

Despite all the coverage, I certainly don't know terribly much about the situation in either Tunisia or Egypt. My impression is that the upsurges involve a working class pushed to the absolute brink and rising up. As jk says, the near-certainty is that some form of bourgeois democrat will be chosen to rule. As Baboon says, the world market will exert massive pressure on any such ruling group to impose austerity.

I don't think I'd want to draw any wide conclusions about "progressiveness" here. I don't necessarily have the same view of decadence as the ICC. Yet I would say that a decadence perspective would entail that the development of capitalism doesn't offer concessions to the working class and current capitalist conditions more than bear that out. Despite this, the capitalist class can still be forced to make concessions.

I used the word "revolution" in the "naive" sense of the overthrow of the state.

I didn't mean to call any of these events proletarian revolutions since they clear are that.

kinglear
Uprisings in N. Africa

All hail to the uprisings in N Africa. The downtrodden masses, the screwed and exploited, the unemployed and starving, have suffered enough at the hands of their respective capitalist states and risen up. It isn't a revolution of course, as some on this forum seem to think,though it could move in that direction as people realize that changing the government changes nothing, and as the working class starts to understand itself and it's own solution to the horrors of capitalism. But beware! Even if things started to turn revolutionary inN Africa - or anywhere else for that matter - without the proletariat's revolutionary organization in the form of the party we're not likely to get anywhere. For the party knows the lessons of the past , the pitfalls to avoid, and the goal of the struggle. Without it we'll get nowhere as happened in Germany in the twenties. And in North Africa we don't even have a revolutionary vanguard do we?

Red Hughs
Yes indeed... I feel as if we

Yes indeed...

I feel as if we can say it; the fuse has been lit, the battle has begun...

The complex, terrible, aweful, and awe-inspiring struggle awaits us.

Nothing is finished, nothing is sure ... except that capitalist society's days are numbered... (but it is all of our efforts which will decide whether this means ... "numbered in a good way")

jk1921
Marx argued that in the

Marx argued that in the economy as a whole, goods and services do not sell at their labor values but rather at "prices of production" that are determined by a number of complicated factors including the rate of profit in various industries. Could one apply this analysis to the global economy as a whole to explain the disparity in wages between various geographic zones that gives the appearance of "captialist developmet" taking place in certain regions? I think the ICC has always argued that whatever development is happening in East Asia, etc. is predicated upon the attacks against the working class in the core--kind of an evening out of the rate of exploitation on the global level. Of course, this doesn't mean that those regions are immune from crisis. China lost 3 million jobs as a result of the financial crisis. This is less than the 8 million lost in the U.S. alone, but still not an insignificant event.

Red Hughs
Good topic for

Good topic for discussion...

I would take the "decadence" thesis as meaning that Capitalist society has moved from accented to descendant - that capitalism's development in various ways is doing "more harm than good" to the working class; that capitalist society is decaying when considered as-a-human-society.

More specifically, I sort-of agree with jk that the disconnect between labor-value and producer prices masks the general decline of capitalist society. Even more, I would see this disconnect as itself a significant part of capitalist society's decline. We can see that physical production has been increased over the last through years by the more and more bubbles, state interventions, out-and-out scams and enforced-consumption schemes. One hidden cost is the increasing distortion of the economy (though naturally this is ONLY ONE part - it is important to steer clear of the right-wing monetary fetishists who solely fixate on this part of capitalist society's decline). So I think things are more complex than a hidden declining living standard - though we have had such a hidden decline over the last twenty years in most advanced nations.

I think it should be clear that capitalist society is still able to development the means of production. Technological progress continues a-pace (though possibly with a decline in scientific rationality).

We can see the massive development of China in the last twenty years. But we can also see that this development cannot offer Chinese workers the wage levels of US workers but that US workers are certainly headed towards the condition of the Chinese ( China has as many bridges as the US while having a third of the waterways, raw building continues but often in an irrational and environmentally devastating). Capitalism can still spread and physically development but this doesn't revive it as a "healthy" system (contrary to what a variety of Marx-inspired folks argued during the last "recovery").

I tend to think that, given sufficient unrest, Capitalists may be able to offer something akin to emergency concession, to be revoked in the shortest possible once capital's power is stabilized. But it is quite possible that capital can not even do this. I'll admit that the recent events don't show the slightest sign of such concessions, except perhaps in China, where wages have risen and the state has operated job-creation schemes in the hinterlands to make up for jobs lost during the crisis.

There are also degrees of decadence phenomena. It may be argued that capital reached decadence at the time of the words wars. Still, the end of the post war order in 1973 was another demarcation point since US living standards have declined since then and all of the "recoveries" since that time fueled by speculation and attacks on the working class. And presently, I think we can an acceleration of general decay.

And naturally, it is important for us to use the concept of capital's decadence as a tool analyzing current events rather than as a dogma. I think it is very useful as this - as mentioned, I think the rosy scenarios offered by various Marx-influenced folks very much came from accepting the raw data of capital's graphs without considering the overall decline that has overtaken this society (that more of capital's production is false and ill-a-portioned than ever before, etc).

Apologies for typos, etc