Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Egypt: Neo-Mubarakism, Nasserism, and Confusion.

An Egyptian AH-64 Apache attack helicopter flies over an anti-government protester in Cairo's Tahrir square. The suspension of Egypt's FMF would be a major blow to its procurement and maintenance programmes. (PA Photos)

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood govt would have,and was, losing legitimacy and support off its own back and would have fallen without needing to be pushed by the army, which has only served to push MBs support firmly back behind it and defacto firmly against any potentially revolutionary trend that could have developed from within the opposition. 

MBs support is strongest amongst the urban poor. These people are now not just politically disenfranchised, but legally de-legitimized. Their only recourse is violence. The military putsch has made revolution harder, not easier; the masses are more divided, not less.

And crucially, what of the US troops in Egypt? Moved in barely a fortnight before the 4th of July coup? I keep coming back to this because I think it is central. There would have been no coup without a nod from the US. The US forces were moved there to secure strategic points if (when) the country slips into chaos as a result of this.

I think those that frame the military within the context of the Nasserist revolution minsunderstand the class nature of the state that movement established. It was not a workers and peasants state as in Russia or China, it was a national-revolutionary state, ie a state of the national bourgoisie. The army is the army of that state, and it represents the class interests of that state. As Nasserism gave way to Sadat and Mubarak, the state did not need to be replaced because the same class controlled it, just a different trend within that class, the comrpador bourgeoisie over time took over from the national-bourgeoisie. 40 years on, the state is not Nasserist, it is Mubarakist. And its military and security forces defends Mubarakist (ie comprador) interests, even at the expense of Mubarak himself (who was no loss, being on deaths door).

Am I misremebering when I say that the Egyptian military receives more funding from the US than any military in the region bar Israel? That itself should be enough to demonstrate that the military, under it's current leadership, is about as inclined towards revolutionary anti-imperialism as Israels is! He who pays the piper and all that...

That is not to say that there are no progressive/Nasserist elements in the military. But if there are, they are keeping very quiet. And by pushing the MB into militant opposition, the Mubarakist/imperialists are forcing potential secular-revolutionary/Nasserist/progressive forces further into the neo-Mubarakist/Mubarak-lite lead camp, under the protective umbrella of the Mubarakist military.

If the people will no longer accept being ruled in the old way, and the ruling class can no longer rule in the old way, then stirring sectarianism, division, violence and instability amongst the people, is preferable to those who do rule, than is the prospect of facing a people uniting for revolution.

So for those anti-imperialists getting themselves worked up about the last week in Egypt, it is usually a good rule of thumb that when it comes to analysis of international political developments, if you suddenly find yourself backing the same team as both the SWP/ISO and Tony Blair, its probably well worth considering retracing your steps and figuring out just where you took that wrong turn...

Saturday, 6 July 2013



Badgers are being killed off in pilot culls in West Somerset and Western Gloucestershire.

Cattle can get tuberculosis off badgers. Badgers get TB off cattle. Cattle can get TB off each other.

TB is a horrible disease that thrives in overcrowded conditions.

TB used to be rife among people in this country. TB sufferers had to be kept well away from other people in isolation hospitals.

With this in mind, it is interesting to look at the living conditions of cattle in England today.

Cattle are crowded together in large sheds much of the time. Shed floors soon become coated with excrement and urine.

Periodically, cattle sheds are hosed down. The excrement and urine washed into slurry pits. If one falls into a slurry pit, one is soon overcome by the fumes.

The farmer pumps up the slurry into a mobile tanker and transports it to his fields. He then spreads the slurry over his fields.

When the weather turns fine, the farmer turns his cattle out on to his fields to eat the grass.

It is from cattle reared under these conditions that milk is obtained.

Not surprisingly, the cattle contract TB and have to be put down along with any other cattle with whom they have come in contact.

Farmers will not blame their own filthy farming methods. They blame the badgers. They bring pressure to bear in rural areas to have the badgers put down.

Hence the pilot culls of 70% of the badger population in West Somerset and Western Gloucestershire."

From 'Finsbury Communist' No 582, July 2013

~ From 'Finsbury Communist' No 582, July 2013

Friday, 5 July 2013

4th of July: The New Egyptian Revolution? Or Same Boss, New Clothes?

Now, I don't claim to have any particular deep insight into what is happening in Egypt. I don't think too many people do. Including, I would suggest, most of the people on the streets of Cairo.

But I do believe that what are witnessing a series of "pantomime revolutions" where mass protests are being used and manipulated by forces behind the scenes to provide cover for national, regional and international class interests that have nothing to do with the people on the streets.

So, as far as facts go, what do we know so far?

- End of June 400 US troops move into Egypt, according to some reports to secure the Sinai region and the border with Israel.

- The US bankrolling the Egyptian Army to the tune of billions of dollars.

Reports of US Apache gunships over Cairo.

Then the protests kick off again organised by the National Salvation Front and Tamarod (Rebellion) which from what I can tell contains a few minor leftist groups such as the SWP's 'Revolutionay Socialists" franchise, the CP of Egypt (none of which appear to carry any real social weight), along with much larger and better funded liberal, social-democratic, 'soft' Mubarakist and pro-western groups (which immediately puts me in mind of the western-backed 'Kasparov front' in Russia).

- The military is often considered as a repository for Nasserist support, but to what meaningful extent?

- Then the coup happens on 4th July - significant date.

Morsi and MB were no threat to imperialism per se, but it is certainly not without significance that their government was developing good relations with China and Iran. Morsi's first international visit was to China.

Reading Stratfor's coverage (a good source in terms of imperialist interests) they seem very comfortable with it.

US and UK govts are not saying anything much, which would suggest they are comfortable.

Syria's Assad, understandably, welcomes the coup as the end of political islam in Egypt.

China says it respects the wishes of the Egyptian people - which could suggest they back Morsi as the elected president. Or it could suggest they support the mass supported coup. Or that they are happy to work with whoever is in charge, because they have little to no say in anything that is happening.

RT coverage was pretty much hostile to the coup, which may suggest that this reflects Russia's position.

What is certain is that the masses of Egypt are not really calling the shots. Not even close. Without conscious revolutionary leadership, these protests, no matter how massive, are just large angry crowds. Nothing more.

Now, my first instinct yesterday was to be happy with the Muslim Brotherhood being removed. There are progressive elements within the military and within the NSF. But on reflection it would appear that this is the US clearing house after getting rid of their populist stooge. The US/west, as we know, is more than happy to use Islamists to remove its enemies, but that does not mean they want to keep such politically unreliable elements in charge once that job is done.

The best that can be said is that a) the army is secular b) the opposition is dominated by secular parties c) this may end Egyptian interference in Syria.

But on the other hand it chimes in very nicely with the US promoted "democratic" revolutions. Indeed Tamarod (Rebellion), the NGO behind the mass protests, and which amassed the signatures and details of 22million people in it's campaign to bring down Morsi, is a perfect fit for the colour revolution project.

Indeed the wikipedia entry for Kefaya, The Egyptian Movement for Change, which is the main force behind Tamarod, describes it as "represent[ing] a “new style” of opposition in Egypt, with parallels to Ukraine’s Orange Revolution and Poland’s Solidarity movement"

Having said that, Kefaya. which was formed in opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, contained some interesting elements; Nasserists, socialists, Marxists alongside liberals and social-democrats. Ten years ago.

But then Kosova Liberation Army used to be Hoxhaists. The MEK (People's Mujahadeen of Iran) used to be Marxist-Leninist. A lot can change in a decade. Especially when the dollars start coming in.

Lenin once wrote "Oppression alone, no matter how great, does not always give rise to a revolutionary situation in a country. In most cases it is not enough for revolution that the lower classes should not want to live in the old way. It is also necessary that the upper classes should be unable to rule and govern in the old way. This is what we see in Russia today. A political crisis is maturing before our very eyes."

That sounds a lot like Egypt today too.

"The bourgeoisie has done everything in its power to back counter-revolution and ensure “peaceful development” on this counter-revolutionary basis. The bourgeoisie gave hangmen and feudal lords as much money as they wanted, the bourgeoisie reviled the revolution and renounced it".

However, today it isnt always the hangmen and fuedal lords that get as much money as they want. It is also the liberals, the NGO's, those who shout loudest for "democracy", "freedom" and "rights" that get it.

And far from "reviling the revolution and renouncing it", they applaud it and encourage it. And they can do this because there is no independent working-class movement, not even any longer an independent nationalist movement. What is left of the Left hangs from the coat tails of others, first Morsi, now the NSF/Tamarod and the Army. The Left is tied to supporting factions of the same ruling-class as they jostle for US largesse

So while in Egypt "the upper classes should be unable to rule and govern in the old way" and "the lower classes no longer want to be ruled in the old war", there is no real threat to the actual rule of the ruling-class, just to *how* it rules, what methods it uses to rule.

While the outcome of this is not irrelevant to us, we currently have no dog in this race. And the masses on the streets are no more than the crowds jeering and cheering at the side of the track.

(Incidentally, the Lenin quote is from this ('May Day Action by the Proletariat' - 1913), which is worth reading in the context of what is happening in Egypt, and more to the point, what isnt happening, what is entirely absent...)

So while it is fantasy that there was 33 million on the streets. Unlikely there was even the 14 million also widely reported, there is certainly a huge number of people on the streets, risking life and liberty. And what have they achieved? and what have they achieved?

Getting the London based former head of the Egyptian Central Bank reportedly asked to become interim premier, and a Mubarak-era High Court judge taking the job of interim President, and the army deciding who gets to form governments, immediately continuing with the demolition of the Gaza tunnels and launching a crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood's leadership and activist base?
International finance capital must be shaking in its boots!

So while as usual the western left and anarchists cannot contain themselves about seeing masses on the streets, it tells us little if they never actually analyse what actual class forces are really at work.

There has been no revolution in the sense the usual Leftist cheerleaders are implying. There are millions of people people protesting. They are not the same thing. And without revolutionary leadership and organisation it will remain just protests, manipulated and misdirected, while the ruling class gets its house back in order in a fashion more suitable to the current situation. There is a process unfolding, that could potentially develop into a revolutionary process. But it isnt there yet.

It is claimed 22 million people, a quarter of the population, signed the Taramod petition. Just about believable. But the wild and unsourced claims of  33 million out on the streets of Cairo is just fantasy. And demonstrably so.

In 2011 it was reported that organs of dual power, workers/community/street councils were formed. This is not yet happening again. And if it does, will it make a difference? Because without revolutionary leadership they will be co-opted by other forces. As they were in 2011 by the Muslim Brotherhood. There is no longer any mass communist or socialist or left-nationialist movement in Egypt, not yet even close to being.

And unless you are an anarchist who believes these things just happen spontaneously, then you will know, from the history and experience of so many mass movements that were betrayed and co-opted in the past, that without a conscious and organised revolutionary leadership with a mass base amongst the people, it will lead nowhere.

The mass of people may well want "change". But so does imperialism. And it is imperialism that is calling the shots here, not the masses on the streets. How can they when they have no political representation? They are not even calling for a general strike, let alone all power to the people. Just elections. And they have no candidate, no figure representing a progressive, independent, anti-imperialist movement, as in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, etc. Just an amorphous demand for "change". Just not Morsi and the MB. And that suits the US down to the ground.

If they wanted, the masses *could* shut the country down. They *could* take over. But they havent. And they wont. Because once they go home from the Square, there is nothing left. The "movement" does not extend any further than protest. It is the ruling-class and their US patrons who are deciding what happens now.

It has been suggested by some on the Left, some who have a strong grasp of anti-imperialist politics, that this weeks mass-supported coup against the Muslim Brotherhood and the ousting of Morse, represents a victory against imperialist interests and the old order. I see no evidence for for this. The army is calling the shots, the head of the Central Bank is interim Premier, the politically unreliable MB is gone and the "soft" Mubarakists are keyplayers in the "opposition". If the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi were the ruling-class and imperialism's Plan B., then this to me seems like Plan B has been ditched to be replaced with Plan A.2.0

The only area I can see imperialism's hand being weakend is in Egypts position on Syria, but Egypt is not currently central to events in Syria.

And 400 US troops taking up strategic positions alongside the army just a couple of weeks before the army makes its move does not sound like either coincidence or defeat to me.

I am yet to see any evidence that what is going to replace Morsi is any less pro-imperialist.

I've said above that there are progressive elements in the National Salvation Front/Tamarod and the army, but in neither case are they in anyway decisive, nor do those elements have any real social weight or organisation among the protests or the working-class. Indeed from what I understand, the Muslim Brotherhood is still strongest among the working-class.

I think it is more likely that the Muslim Brotherhood will be pushed into a militarist/terrorist response, pushing secular forces deeper into alliance with the state/army. Reports from Egypt today would suggest this process is already beginning to unfold.

The masses on the streets may be forcing the hand of the ruling-class and Empire, but they don't currently hold any trump cards of their own. Not least because the army is still the one dealing the cards.

There is a potentially revolutionary process unfolding within Egypt, and there has been since 2011, but as of yet that process has been successfully derailed, destabilised and co-opted to meet imperialism's and the ruling-classes broad interests.

Where, if or how the process can become independent of the imperialist, ruling and middle class interests (which are not themselves necessarily homogenous by any means) and develop independently as a consciously and organisationally revolutionary and anti-imperialist movement is not something that is yet answerable.

However, such situations as we are seeing are deeply fluid. And what is happening in Egypt is more complex than anything similar we have witnessed. Time will tell. But I am not presently enthused with optimism!

So no matter how this particular turn develops, there are two things that are clear, and I am sure we all agree on.

The working-class is no longer willing to be ruled in the old way.

The ruling-class is no longer able to rule in the old way.

The problem is that the working-class are not conscious of themselves as a class, and they do not have a voice representing their interests. Things change quickly in such circumstances, hitherto small or newly formed groupings can gain a hearing and capture and direct the mood of the people. Individuals can be thrust forward by events who are able to rally the masses around their message. We will see.

And if the local SWP franchise manage to become that voice, who one day are with the Muslim Brotherhood, the next with the Mubarak-lite opposition and army, and which appears to be where the hopes of the entire western left are hinged, then I will eat my imaginary hat.

But, these are just my observations from afar. I sincerely hope those with more optimism are able to be proven correct.

The masses make history. But at the moment they are making it for someone else.

Monday, 1 July 2013

British troops into Libya? Well, they do have a revolution to defend...

US troops move into Egypt. British troops into Libya. Well, they do have a revolution to defend.

The recolonisation by Britain of it's former Libyan colony begins in earnest. Gaddafi died fighting to keep his nation free, to keep Empire out. Along with tens of thousands of others who will never see another day.

Meanwhile our own "revolutionaries" were sitting at home, cheer-leading for his overthrow. Ian Bone, founder of the cartoon anarchists, "Class War", even called on the RAF to bomb Gaddafi out of power so the "revolutionaries" could take over. That of course is the Royal Air Force, not the Red Army Faction, just to avoid understandable confusion.

The RAF acquiesced to the anarchist's demand, and Class War, the Socialist Workers Party, Hilary Clinton and David Cameron exalted in their revolutionary victory as death squads cleansed the land of black skins and gangsters masquerading as the new political rulers sat down with western company executives to sell off the oil and sign the billion dollar "reconstruction" contracts. Viva la revolution!

Anarchists and trots often like to fantasise about the British Army being won over to the revolutionary cause in a revolutionary period, despite this never happening in 30 years of brutal counter-insurgency against a genuine revolution in the six-counties. But In Libya their dreams have come true.

Who needs a Red Army, when you have the 4th Infantry Brigade?

Who needs a 'revolutionary Left', when the tory party and MI6 are making all the revolutions you could dream of? And all safely out of your harms way, so you can watch it all on the telly, never leaving your armchair!

So, Syria next, comrades. First Al Qaeda, then NATO, then the multi-nationals. Then us? Who knows, maybe, just maybe, one day we might even be able to set up a branch of the Fourth/Fifth/nth International at the last remaining university to discuss the counter-revolutionary role of Stalinism in the Russian Revolution. And then split. Or organise a punk gig.

These are heady times! "Welcome to the Red 90's." "Never has there been a better time to be a socialist". People scorned our optimism when we hailed the collapse of communism, but who is laughing now? No one, that's who!

Permanent revolution, comrades, comes from the barrel of the British Army's guns.

Hundreds of British soldiers to deploy to Libya 'within months' to train army in their battle with Al Qaeda extremists

  • UK soldiers would be sent ‘within months’ to help train the Libyan army
  • There are fears that Libya is becoming a safe haven for Islamist fanatics
  • Critics have raised concerns that Britain could suffer ‘mission creep’ and be sucked into another bloody war

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2353215/Hundreds-British-soldiers-deploy-Libya-months-train-army-battle-Al-Qaeda-extremists.html#ixzz2XrT64nxC