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

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Sun Mar 5 17:29:43 MST 2017

-----Original Message----- 
From: Joseph Green via Marxism
Andrew Pollack wrote:
> re Green's latest on Egypt:  I'm sure all the RS comrades who've been
> jailed because they fought for DEMOCRATIC demands will be glad to hear 
> that
> their protests and jailings never happened.

The issue re Egypt isn't whether Trotskyists ever fight for democratic
demands. Of course they have.

The issue is why did the RS briefly back the military coup? What was the
source of this horrendous error? And in fact, the theory of permanent
revolution was one of the sources of this error.


Let's try and have this debate calmly. Andy is right about the RS 
comrades fighting for democratic demands and getting brutally repressed 
for it. Joseph is right that they made other serious errors. But he 
should also mention that they fixed them very fast, and that in itself 
raises questions about his interpretation of concrete errors in Egypt.

Here's what I think. On the broad theoretical questions, I've long been 
in agreement with much of what Joseph Green says (on the question of 
Assad an-Nar's article in Khiyana, less so: I agree with some points but 
it seemed to be greatly over-stated). I agree that permanent revolution 
is too narrow a lens through which to understand world politics and 
revolution (and in particular the Arab Spring, as Joseph notes), in as 
much as we mean the particular aspects of Trotsky's theory that were 
different from Lenin's views - though in my opinion they are 
fundamentally similar. The main advantage of Trotsky is that he put it 
all together in a couple of highly readable volumes, whereas Lenin's 
views are written on the rush in various articles, big and small, 
throughout 1905-6 and later (not only Two Tactics). For the record I 
view Lenin's April Thesis as perfectly consistent with his 1905-6 views. 
I agree with many of Joseph's comments about the broader sweep. But we 
can discuss all this calmly.

Where I don't agree with Joseph is in his attempt to somewhat 
mechanically explain the actions and errors of small Trotskyist groups 
as being caused by the Original Sin of PR. As I see it, the problem with 
this is that Joseph in a way is doing what the more caricaturish kinds 
of Trotskyists do: they seek to explain everything on the basis of the 
need for the "correct program" (and everyone messes up because they 
don't have it), and Joseph is kind of saying the same about those who do 
have the PR view. I think in both cases it is an idealist error.

Why do I think the RS initially messed up in 2013 in the face of Sisi's 
coup? Human error. That's it. They are a tiny group of people; 
surrounding them were millions of people demanding the fall of Morsi, 
mostly for good reason. They were completely swamped by it. Inspired by 
this movement for *democratic* demands (note!), they missed the deeply 
anti-democratic elements of the same movement trying to ride it. When 
the military struck and was given backing by this element of the 
movement (and probably by a lot of others among the ordinary folk in 
those demonstrations who were simply politically naive), they were 
unprepared for it. They came out with some terrible formulations. After 
that, I distinctly remember reading about one declaration from RS a week 
for the next month. Each one got progressively better. By the time we 
get to the one a month later, the error has been fully fixed: not only 
is there any doubt that Sisi is not just the enemy, he has also emerged, 
rightly, as the main enemy; the MB demonstrations should be protected 
from repression, its cadres released from prison; and it is even now 
permissible to do joint work with the MB against Sisi's repression, as 
long as a very clear line of political demarcation is maintained. 

Here's my problem with attempting to explain the RS' error by their 
adherence to PR. Leaving aside the question of whether PR influences 
Trotskyist groups to downplay the democratic revolution or see it as 
useless unless it goes fast to socialist revolution: even IF we were to 
accept this for argument's sake (and I think it only applies to the more 
sectarian groups and their sectarian interpretations), that cannot 
explain the RS error at all. Why would they have got themselves too 
carried away with the mass movement in the streets centred around 
democratic demands? Sectarian Trotskyism should have denounced the 
movement from the outset as inevitably leading nowhere, or to reaction, 
since it did not have revolutionary proletarian leadership. They would 
have been MORE aware, not less aware, of the dangers of the movement 
being hijacked by reaction. There is no basis in mechanical PR (or in 
ordinary PR) in being soft on a military coup in a capitalist country: 
they would have either denounced both sides with equal vigour or taken 
the side of the corrupt, repressive bourgeois democracy against 
dictatorship, as Trotsky always did. In other words Joseph, even 
accepting your premise, I can't see how it applies.

Also, if PR had such a negative impact on their thinking, how did they 
so rapidly fix their error? Surely, if we adopt such an idealist view on 
the power of "wrong program", then PR would have made any process of 
fixing errors long and tortuous. While I think the initial error was a 
bad one, to fix it so fast in such a situation in flux puts many 
western-based revolutionary organisations to shame.

Why is it that the Mandelista Fourth International has been fully 
supportive of the Syrian revolutionary process from the outset, if PR 
has such a negative impact? Yes, other Trotskyist-origin groups have 
held horrible views, becoming apologists for the Assad regime: how can 
that be explained by PR which, in its narrower interpretations, rejects 
all bourgeois forces and stages? Why is it that much much more of the 
pro-Assad left is precisely Stalinist and stageist in its ideological 

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