RP57 - Editorial

Insurrection and Imperialism

Egypt. As we went to press last January the Tunisian revolt had just toppled Ben Ali and we were already seeing “A New Stirring in the Arab World”. Those who thought this would have some positive consequences for the working class have been premature in their optimism. Since Egyptians toppled Mubarak they have found the old French proverb that “the more it changes the more it stays the same” has kicked in with a vengeance. We noted at the time that the Army had waited for over a fortnight whilst a standoff took place in Tahrir Square. They only moved against their boss when the working class started to go on strike. And the first thing they did was ban strikes.

According to Al Ahram, the National Democratic Party (NDP) is still alive and kicking despite the revolutionaries insisting that it has to be dissolved. The local councils and governors appointed by the old regime have not been replaced; editors of all the national papers, associated and hired by the old regime, remain in their positions; members of the old regime still dominate most workers’ unions and public companies; the emergency law has not been lifted and most political detainees remain in captivity.


The same source tells us that anyone advocating strikes can be jailed for one year and fined €60,000 (a fortune). Political parties under Mubarak could register when they had 1000 names - now you need 5000. This benefits the existing parties of The Muslim Brotherhood and the NDP.

The Army did a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood to get a yes vote in the recent referendum on minor changes to the Constitution. Extreme Islamists (including the assassin of Sadat) have been released and Salafist threats against women who don’t cover up are increasing. Attacks on Coptic Christians are also increasing. The arrest of Mubarak and his sons is only a sop to those who demonstrated for a better chance to decide their own futures.

Libya and Beyond. Whatever popular elements started off the revolt against Gadaffi the whole thing quickly descended into a tribal war (see www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2011-03-19/ the-libyan-crisis-imperialism-prepares new%E2%80%9Cdemocratic%E2%80%9Dbombs) which naturally provided an excuse for imperialist intervention to secure oil supplies and maintain a strategic position in the area. Behind the hypocritical “humanitarian” resolution 1973 of the UN Security Council lies the transparent aim of the West to take out Gadaffi. Having halted his forces through the no-fly zone the Western powers are now preparing to arm and train Libya’s Eastern tribes.

In this situation we support neither our own imperialism nor the bloody dictator.

Working class autonomy means we fight for our own agenda which is to get rid of all exploiting factions wherever they come from. (see leftcom.org en/articles/2011-04-02/neither-gaddafinor- nato-but-on-the-side-of-the-workingclass) And let us make no mistake, the revolts in the Arab-speaking world are entirely linked to the long slow capitalist crisis which has produced decades of social stagnation for millions of workers.

These revolts have now spread to Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco and Syria. In the latter the repression of the regime has been ferocious but as yet it has not suffered any major defections which could seriously affect its ability to carry on crushing the revolts. Having no serious oil deposits, Syria is not a frontline target for the West despite its hated alliance with Iran so we can expect only “humanitarian” handwringing over the hundreds who have died there so far.

Crisis and Cuts

The austerity and cuts we face in the advanced capitalist countries as they attempt to make us pay for a crisis of their system are as yet minor compared to the horrendous conditions facing most of the world’s working class. However, as the articles in this issue on the UK and US demonstrate, the frame of reference for the ruling class is now more global than ever. This means that they want to reduce the cost of labour power to the lowest they can on a world-wide scale. Using the banking collapse as a suitable opportunity, they aim to reduce the workers in the old capitalist centres to the same level as those of workers everywhere else, even as Chinese workers are themselves fighting for higher wages.

In truth the crisis is more serious than ever, no matter how much the ruling class babble about “recovery”. In meaningful terms the economy is not reviving, unemployment is increasing, and with unemployment, so is job insecurity. The young are hit most. In the most seriously affected places half of them have no job. The rest fight for temporary jobs at derisory wages. Investment is not taking off, the profits crisis and the search for a higher rate of financial profit continue to stimulate speculation on the raw materials markets especially in cereals like wheat.

The inevitable consequence is an increase in prices of basic goods. In the case of less developed countries these have been at the root of the recent impoverishment of growing masses of working class families, despite the recent bread revolts.

The welfare state - where it exists or used to exist - continues to be progressively dismantled making access to school, healthcare, pensions, and unemployment benefit more difficult.

The rich capitalist countries are no longer able to guarantee what they once could to workers but are forced to reduce wages, jobs and welfare.

Workers have to resist and are already signalling that they are ready to fight back in many places. However, as the articles in this issue show, they will need to learn in the course of that resistance that their enemy is not this or that set of politicians. It is not this or that cut. It is the whole system and its mode of operation which produces the cuts in the first place. Our perspective is a long one. The crisis will make things worse for workers and in the course of this many will come to understand what the system is all about. We want to join with those groups of workers and ultimately create an international party to fight in every country to overthrow the profits system and replace it with communism. Not the abortion that was passed off as such in the ex-USSR and elsewhere, but a system of freely associated producers who will banish exploitation, money, wars, and states to the museum of anthropology.


Thanks for the insight. It brings light into the dark!

You're the greatset! JMHO

Re:the abortion that was passed off as communism in the USSR. I've just been reading a forum on Libcom headed:"Kronstadt - split from IBRP." It was the IBRP split that caught my eye. But there was nothing in this forum about that. Rather there was, what I thought, a not very satisfactory discussion about the meaning of Kronstadt, and the role of the Bolsheviks. It's very disturbing stuff. Hoping for something a little clearer I tried a link provided by "mic" to "1921:Beginning of the counter revolution" which broughtcme to your home page but nothing about Kronstadt. I should say, however, that this forum on Libcom was back in December 2006. Perhaps that explains it's absence. Butvsomething else that's disappeared only a few days ago is the link to leftcom/links, which seemed so promising a resource. But now it's gone again. Things come and go. But why?


I am the last one to explain the workings of the web but Mic might have an answer. However the libcom thread: ”Kronstadt — split from IBRP.” was there before I signed up to libcom and I have chased it around like you have a few times without success. I can only assume that some mischevious individual put it up but we have not even had a resignation let alone a split over the issue in all our years of existence so I don't know what might have inspired this. But then it was on libcom ...

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