This is the opening of an article by Anarkismo about the recent struggles in Egypt. In an email, the ICC asked what people thought about it.
Certain things caught my attention. An important one is the idea of "self-management" as a rejection of "everything authority represents". So what precisely do these comrades think "authority" represents? They don't say. But if they think it's the authority of the bourgeoisie and capitalism, then they are not alone in wanting to "reject" it. (Though wouldnt "abolish" be a better word? After all, you can reject something without necessarily getting rid of it!) But if the comrades really do have capitalism in mind as something to get rid of, are they right in supposing that self-management is the way to go about it? I think not. Think of the money the bourgeoisie, a factory owner for example, could save, by having the workers manage themselves! No need for expensively trained "professional" managers (probably a lot more trouble than they're worth), and no need for awkward trade union officials because the workers, in their self-organization on capital's behalf, will never dream of interrupting production by something as foolish as a strike, or some silly industrial dispute or other. Self-management is the panacea for many if not all the ills of capitalism; and must figure largely in the bourgeoisie's dreams of a perfect world. Then there's the question of "authority". The comrades clearly dislike it. All of it! Well, many of us dislike the authoritarian ways of the bourgeoisie, and would like to see their "authority" replaced by that of the proletariat dictatorship, so that we can set about building communism. But do our Anarkismo comrades reject working class power and authority too? I suspect they do. Though in their over-enthusiasm for self-management, they do have "young men, students and workers" replacing the traffic cops, and self-managing all the traffic. (More money saved for the bourgeoisie!) And by the way. Don't traffic cops and whoever replaces them for free, exercise some "authority" in regulating the traffic? I think they must. So much then for the comrades' rejection of all authority! But it would be impossible to live in a society without responsible authority at its root, wouldn't it? It'd be just a horrible mess and a free-for-all chaos. The comrades though make "no authority at all" sound like heaven on earth; and yippee we can all do just what we like, as though we're all stuck in some interminable and zany childishness. A bit like capitalism itself actually, with it's free-for-all of trade and exchange, the stock markets, and all the gangsters and wars. This is what a world without individual and group authority - without morality, and our mutual respect and affection for each other which is finally what genuine authority boils down to; the new working class legitimacy of human beings functioning for the benefit of all and the growth of each individual; the authority of solidarity - this is what a world where authority has been replaced by bossy and sometimes vengeful and selfish AUTHORITARIANISM becomes. Hell on earth. Or: I want to do what I want to do! In short Capitalism. And as for "Port Said is now completely in the hands of the people" what nonsense. In the hands of which people? The bourgeoisie or the proletariat or the lumpenized elements of society. Did someone clamber up the nearest minaret and declare the State abolished? Maybe not this time. But police roadblocks have been replaced by a checkpoint run by locals....a CHECKPOINT!?!?. Surely not another manifestation of loathed authority to be rejected on sight. But enough. Our Anarkismo comrades have their hearts in the right place in wishing to see an end to the misery of exploiting capitalism. Their article is interesting and exciting. But while their hearts are in the right place some questions are raised as to where exactly their brains are, as they appear to labour under a number of unchallenged assumptions and illusions as to the nature of the beast they seek to vanquish. This will not help our proletarian cause. Egypt: The self-management of Port Said and the workers' struggles An unprecedented situation is taking place in the city of Port Said - complete self-management, a rejection of everything that authority represents. It is a situation that the main actors in the Egyptian struggle at this time - the workers - are trying to reproduce in other cities too. Port Said is now completely in the hands of the people. At the entrance to the city, in place of the old police roadblocks, there is a checkpoint manned by locals, mostly striking workers calling themselves the "popular police". The same is true for the traffic - no more traffic cops but young men, students and workers who are self-managing the city's traffic.