[Marxism] The Bouazizi Spark: The Beginning of a Long Revolutionary Process | Al Akhbar English

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Feb 13 16:10:49 MST 2014

The Bouazizi Spark: The Beginning of a Long Revolutionary Process

By: Gilbert Achcar

Published Tuesday, January 10, 2012

We know the crucial role that the worker’s movement played in both 
Tunisia and Egypt in the revolution’s first stage, bringing down the 
dictators and sweeping away the symbols and institutions of the old 
political order. Nobody can ignore the fundamental role played by the 
Tunisian General Labor Union in this respect, nor the decisive role of 
the workers’ strikes movement in Egypt which began to expand in the days 
leading up to Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. These also led to the 
creation of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions whose 
ranks swelled to nearly 1.5 million members within a few months.

Herein lies the paradox of the revolutionary process that we are 
witnessing. The men and women of the labor movement paved the way for 
the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and played a decisive role in 
ousting the old regime, but they have been completely absent from the 
electoral stage. While the labor movement is arguably the only 
progressive force that has popular roots and a national reach capable of 
beating the conservative parties and raising itself up to the leading 
position in order to implement the necessary revolutionary change, it 
was physically absent from the electoral battle, as it lacked political 
representation. Hence it was also absent politically, with the parties 
that dominated the electoral scene almost completely ignoring the 
working class’s problems and demands, pushing them at best to a very 
secondary position.

The same goes for the youth movement, with its significant female 
component, which initiated the uprisings and revolutions, and continues 
to stand at their forefront everywhere. Yet, it was almost completely 
absent from the electoral stage, which has been dominated by political 
organizations led by older men who advocate a puritanical moral regime 
and an obscurantist cultural regression, far away from the aspirations 
of the vast majority of the revolutionary youth.

In short, we stand before a historical discordance in social nature 
between, on one hand, the forces that paved the way for the 
revolutionary movement, ignited it and pushed for its radicalization, 
sweeping out the institutions of the old regime; and, on the other hand, 
the forces that came to dominate the electoral scene and win the 
majority of parliament seats, all of which joined the revolutionary 
mobilization after it had already started and after having initially 
denounced those who set it off.

It is a discordance in nature between, on one hand, the deep problems 
that provoked the revolutionary explosion and continue to afflict the 
workers, the marginalized, the women and the youth; and, on the other 
hand, the forces that have seized the political spotlight and are trying 
to reduce the battle to a struggle between “secularism” and “Islam.” 
They claim to represent “Islam,” which they put forward as “the 
solution,” thus illustrating the appropriateness of the critique of the 
use of religion as an “opiate of the masses” intended to distract the 
people from facing the basic problems afflicting them.

This discordance can only be overcome through the build-up of the 
political representation of the workers’ movement and its entry into the 
electoral arena with the aim of coming to power in alliance with the 
independent youth and women’s organizations. As long as this is not 
achieved, the causes that provoked the revolutionary upheaval will not 
fade away but indeed will get worse, thus ensuring that the 
revolutionary process that was first ignited in Sidi Bouzid on 17 
December 2010 will truly be a long-term process.

full: http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/3232

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