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