[Marxism] Fwd: Extreme capitalism of the Muslim Brothers, by Gilbert Achcar (Le Monde diplomatique - English edition, June

Joseph Green jgreen at communistvoice.org
Thu Mar 2 10:04:47 MST 2017

Louis Proyect wrote:

(The link is to an Achcar article entitled
"The neoliberal policy of Egypt´s new president Mohamed Morsi looks very much 
like a continuation of that of Mubarak. It is increasing social tensions.")

Thank you Louis for posting this. It illustrates one of the major points I 
have been stressing for years.

Gilbert Achcar's article of June 2013 pointed to the contradiction between 
the  policies of President Morsi and the expectations  of the masses after 
the downfall of Mubara, and it referred to the increased "social tensions". 
It should also be noted that the bourgeois leadership of the secular liberal 
trend in the Egyptian movement also backed such economic policies.

This is in accord with what I wrote in November 2011 about the nature of the 
Arab Spring. I firmly supported  the fight against the dictatorships, but 
didn't glamorize the regimes that would follow the dictatorships. I pointed 
out that conservative and neoliberal policies had in general followed the 
victory of democratization movements in this period. But in general, 
democracy leads to an extension of the class struggle. The class struggle is 
the path towards socialism, and to recoil from the anti-dictatorship movement 
because the governments that come to power following the tyrants were likely 
to be  conservative or neoliberal would mean to abandon both democracy and 

In South Africa too, we saw that the great victory of liberation from 
apartheid was followed by an ANC government that followed neo-liberal 
policies. In some ways, it was and is more free-market than the horrendous, 
inhuman, ultlra-racist apartheid regime that preceded it.

Again and again, the theory of permanent revolution has been proved wrong. 
According to the permanent revolution, the neoliberal nature of the ANC 
government should have meant that all the democratic gains were lost, and we 
should have seen South Africa suffering again from apartheid, indeed perhaps 
an even more intense apartheid than before. Instead we see that the old 
apartheid is dead, but the "social tensions" are increasing, and the 
extension and intensification of the class struggle is on the agenda. We see, 
for example, the massacre of miners at Marikana, and the struggle of the 
miitants in, for example, the National Union of Metworkers of South Africa 
(NUMSA) to resist the ANC's neoliberalism both economically and politically.  
The issue of the oppression of the black masses is still present, but it 
presents itself in a different form than before.

This is in accord with the Marxist theory, not permanent revolution. While I 
don't agree with everything in An-Nar's article, I think it's strong point is 
that it puts stress on the actual political situation facing the Egyptian 
political masses, while the dreams based on permanent revolution glossed 
over, obscured, and effectively ignored this reality. A realistic assessment 
is needed if revolutionary socialists are to know what special role they need 
to play in the movement in order to both help the democratic struggle and 
prepare a revolutionary workers movement with the goal of socialism.

Permanent revolution led various Trotskyist groups,, when the Arab Spring 
broke out, to paint glorious pictures of workers' power sweeping across the 
Middle East and North Africa, if only a revolutionary leadership was in 
charge of the struggle. It blinded them to a realistic assessment of the Arab 
Spring, and of what had to be done. It is a realistic assessment that is 
revolutionary, not idle dreaming and phrasemongering. Lenin stresses the 
importance of knowing how to pursue revolutionary goals in a backward period. 
Permanent revolution fails this test.

Below I give some excerpts from what I wrote in 2011, in the course of 
defending the importance of the Arab Spring. 

>From "Against left-wing doubts about the democratic movement", November 2011

"But this [the Arab Spring] is not a socialist movement, nor even a radical 
anti-imperialist one. Instead it has a lot in common with the liberalization 
movements which we have seen elsewhere around the world in the last several 
decades. These movements brought down various dictatorships, but often left 
conservative or even market-fundamentalist regimes in their place."

"In the case of the Arab Spring, everywhere the insurgent masses are split up 
in disparate groupings. Everywhere different class factions take part in the 
struggle, and different class interests are expressed. Nowhere is the 
struggle led by a clear revolutionary force, by a truly socialist force as 
opposed to the fake socialism of various regimes, or by a real 
anti-imperialist force as opposed to the fake anti-imperialism of the 
nationalist regimes. Even as the masses fight the market fundamentalism of 
the old regimes, there are strong elements in the movement who advocate more 
market fundamentalism, and these elements are supported by imperialism and 
the local bourgeoisie. And everywhere there are illusions about the 
imperialist powers."

>From "Leninism and the Arab Spring", November 2011

"It's not just that the present military rulers of Egypt, representing the 
old repressive apparatus, have issued repeated and futile bans against 
strikes and worker organizing. But as well, various sections of the Egyptian 
liberalization movement are expressing doubts and misgivings about 
working-class action. It is not an accident that this division within the 
democratic movement is taking place."

"... The military government has repeatedly demanded that strikes end, while 
liberal figures in the democratic movement have worried about the leftward 
movement of working-class activists. So already, while the movement to 
achieve democratic rights has only made its first steps in Egypt, it has 
brought forward class issues. How far the Egyptian masses actually achieve 
rights, and how far the military, or the conservative, business-oriented 
leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, is able to clamp down on things, will 
depend largely on how widely the working-class movement spreads. "

"The insurgent people have been motivated not only by hatred for political 
tyranny, but by the increasing poverty and inequality in the region. This 
economic misery has been aggravated by the market-fundamentalist or 
neo-liberal reforms of the last period. The waves of privatization and 
cutbacks have sharpened inequality, pushed down wages, and left a large 
section of the youth and workers unemployed and hopeless. On top of that, the 
recent sharp increases in food prices has brought economic distress to a 
boiling point.

"Nevertheless, a particular feature of the present movement is that it hasn't 
been directed at the bourgeoisie as a class. The working class in the Arab 
world, as elsewhere throughout the world, faces disorganization and an 
ideological crisis. This is true even in Egypt, where years of courageous 
strikes and workplace actions, undertaken despite government bans, paved the 
way for the overthrow of the tyrant Mubarak. The strike wave that has 
followed his downfall has drawn more workers into action and is one of the 
most promising developments in the current situation, but it is still only a 
start in strengthening working-class influence on the movement. Meanwhile, 
throughout the Arab Spring, sections of the bourgeoisie have taken part in 
the movement; indeed, a certain part of the movement even advocates more 
market fundamentalism as the way out for these countries, even though it is 
pro-market policies that have deepened the region's economic misery."

Joseph Green
mail at communistvoice.org

More information about the Marxism mailing list