Against Morsi, against the military: for class struggle!
In our previous article analysing the situation in Egypt, we wrote in our conclusion:
“capitalism has accumulated the means to destroy all human life on the planet. The collapse of social life and the rule of murderous armed gangs – that’s the road of barbarism indicated by what’s happening right now in Syria. The revolt of the exploited and the oppressed, their massive struggle in defence of human dignity, of a real future – that’s the promise of the revolts in Turkey and Brazil. Egypt stands at the crossroads of these two diametrically opposed choices, and in this sense it is a symbol of the dilemma facing the whole human species”.
The tragic events which have taken place and accelerated during the month of August in Egypt following the reactions to the army coup against former president Morsi, in particular the bloody repression of the Muslim Brotherhood which peaked on the 14th August, bear witness to the whole gravity of this historic situation and confirm this idea of a “crossroads” for the whole of humanity.
Getting caught up in the logic of civil war
The quagmire of decomposition, of economic and social crisis, the corruption and disastrous policies of the Morsi government (elected in June 2012) led the population back to the streets to express their discontent with growing poverty and insecurity. It was this deteriorating situation, aggravated by the political irrationality and endless provocations of the Muslim Brotherhood, which pushed the Egyptian army to carry out the coup of 3 July, deposing president Morsi from office. Parallel to this, the social agitation continued, stoking up very dangerous tensions and some bloody confrontations. This was nothing less than a juggernaut heading towards civil war. The only force capable of holding society together, the army, was compelled to step in and prevent it from breaking apart. The strongman of the hour is therefore the head of the army, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi. The latter was obliged to impose a policy of brutal repression, mainly using the civil police against the Muslim Brothers and the pro-Morsi forces. Throughout the summer, there was a growing number of clashes between the pro and anti- Morsi elements, resulting in a number of deaths, particularly among the Muslim Brotherhood. The pro-Morsi demonstrations and sit-ins, which gathered together men, women and children, were dispersed in a violent manner. The army assaults left over a thousand dead. Martial law, in the shape of a state of emergency and a curfew, was imposed in Cairo and 13 provinces. A number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and activists (over 2000) were arrested, including the ‘supreme leader’ Mohammed Badie and many others, some of whom died in prison after an escape attempt.
Since then, the demonstrations, targets for the bullets of the police and the army, have become less numerous. In maintaining order in this manner, the army and the police have won the support of the majority of the population who see the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists. This support for the army and the state, mixed up with a growing anti-Islamist feeling, but tainted with nationalism, can only weaken the proletariat, which risks being caught up in the negative logic of the situation. This is all the more true in that the rejection of religious fundamentalism is fed by the democratic mystification which still retains a great deal of strength.
Unlike the great demonstrations in Tahrir Square which led to the downfall of Mubarak and where the political presence of women was tolerated and where they were relatively protected, the terror reigning today has led to a spectacular moral regression, such as the collective rape of women in the middle of demonstrations, and the pogrom atmosphere against the Copts (hundreds of churches have been burned and a number of Copts have been killed).
As we wrote in our previous article:
“The working class in Egypt is a much more formidable force than it is in Libya or Syria. It has a long tradition of militant struggle against the state and its official trade union tentacles, going back at least as far as the 1970s. In 2006 and 2007 massive strikes radiated out from the highly concentrated textile sector, and this experience of open defiance of the regime subsequently fed into the movement of 2011, which was marked by a strong working class imprint, both in the tendencies towards self-organisation which appeared in Tahrir Square and the neighbourhoods, and in the wave of strikes which eventually convinced the ruling class to dump Mubarak. The Egyptian working class is by no means immune from the illusions in democracy which pervade the entire social movement, but neither will it be an easy task for the different cliques of the ruling class to persuade it to abandon its own interests and drag it into the cesspit of imperialist war”.
It’s also true that there have been some new expressions of the class struggle, notably in Mahalla where 24,000 workers came out on strike after half their wages were not paid. There have also been strikes in Suez. And while some demonstrators have held up banners proclaiming ‘Neither Morsi nor the military’. But these rare voices have been stifled more and more, just as the courageous struggles of the workers have been increasingly isolated and thus weakened. While the situation has not reached the tragic level it has in Syria, it is becoming more and more difficult to break out of the deadly logic leading towards such barbaric outcomes.
The threat of violent chaos and instability in the region
The internal instability that has been aggravated by recent events is not taking shape in a secondary country of the region. Egypt is a turning point between North Africa and the Middle East, between Africa and Asia. It is the most populous country of the Muslim world and Africa and its capital, Cairo, the biggest metropolis of the continent. The country is part of a Sunni arc opposed to the Shiite countries, notably Syria-Lebanon and Iran, the sworn enemy of the US and Israel in the region. From the geographical point of view Egypt therefore occupies a major strategic position, in particular with regard to the interests of the USA, the world’s leading, but declining, imperialist power. During the Cold War, Egypt was an essential pawn guaranteeing the stability of the region to the benefit of the US. This advantage was consolidated with the Camp David Accords of 1979, sealing the rapprochement between Egypt and Israel and the US. The relative stability linked to the balance between the rival military blocs of east and west made it possible contain and tolerate the Muslim Brotherhood even though they were kept under constant state surveillance – in the epoch of Nasser they had been banned outright. Today the disappearance of the bloc discipline and the development of every man for himself, of social decomposition, is accentuating centrifugal tendencies and especially the rise of radicalised factions like the Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood, which Mubarak had already seen as a ‘state with the state’.
The international context, above all the free for all between the big global powers, is now serving to exacerbate all these inherent tensions. In the Middle East itself, the growing cleavage between Qatar and Saudi Arabia on the one hand, which are close to the US despite their extreme Wahabite ideology, and Egypt on the other, is pouring oil on the fire. This is why the US can’t draw back from financing the Egyptian army (to the tune of at least 80%), even though it can see that the situation is getting more and more out of its control.
Capitalism has nothing to offer but poverty and chaos. Whatever bourgeois gang is in power, the situation of the mass of the population can only get worse. But contrary to what the bourgeoisie and its media would have us believe – that the failure in Egypt is indubitable proof that any uprising can only end up in religious obscurantism or in dictatorship - the historic perspective of the proletarian revolution, even if it’s not an immediate one, is the one and only alternative to barbarism. It is the responsibility of the proletariat to become aware of this and to express its class solidarity in order to offer a real perspective for all the struggles going on in the world. Only the decisive intervention of the world proletariat, above all its most experienced fractions in the old European industrial centres, can open the road to the future – world revolution
 The Muslim Brotherhood, constituted by Hasan al Banna in Egypt in 1928, quickly implanted itself in a number of Arab countries. It had a retrograde, traditionalist ideology, based on the project of a grand Sunni Caliphate, the logic of which came up against all the countries which had already been formed as national entities. See https://en.internationalism.org/ir/109_islam.html