The Egyptian "Spring" Between Reaction and Conservatism

After a week of disputed vote counting, deals, behind the scenes infighting, promises and threats, and accusations of vote rigging, the election for the Head of State came up with a winner: Mohammed Morsi, by a narrow margin against his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq. The former is the historic representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, the latter a man of the old regime, former minister and number two in the Mubarak government. Morsi has based his electoral game on religious "moderation", on promises of a fair and functional welfare state as befits a god-fearing man. The sermon he intoned was of brotherhood in society and Sharia in the courts. Shafiq has relied on playing up the fundamentalist danger of both the Salafist Al Nour and the powerful clique of the Muslim Brotherhood. His programme was based on the usual things: progress, strengthening civil society, jobs and development for all. The tumultuous events of the Egyptian pendulum have swung between the heavy reaction of the old regime of the military and the dull conservatism of the fundamentalists.

Is everything going according to plan? Yes, for three reasons.

  1. The elections for the new parliament had already swept the Islamic faction to power with 70% of the votes (456 seats against 132 for other groupings). 235 seats went to the Party of Freedom and Justice of the Muslim Brotherhood, 121 to the fundamentalist Salafi Al Nour, and 10 to the moderate Muslims of Al Wasat. The others picked up the crumbs. The Liberals of Al Wafd got 38 seats, the Egyptian Block 34, the Party for Reform and Development, which included the so-called reformist left, only nine seats. Behind this success lay the years of work by the Muslim Brotherhood which, in a world of blood and tears, proposed a path to salvation through faith against the lies of Western democracy and the "illusory" promises of the now-defunct communist egalitarianism.
  2. In addition it is the first time (since 1952) that a non-military individual will sit in the chair of the highest office in the state, thus sanctioning a "historic" change. Morsi has thus not only picked up the votes of the "faithful" associated with his religious tradition, but also those secularists who could not vote for a member of the military junta, a former minister of the old regime. They held their noses and voted for the Party of Freedom and Justice. Even a substantial part of the petty bourgeoisie, from the secular movement of April 6, ended up inside the Islamist front just to defy the representative of the old regime.
  3. Shafiq managed to get to 49% of the vote thanks to a series of factors that are all part of a reactionary strategy. He enjoyed the unconditional support of the military. Tantawi, the current power broker, has personally invested his reputation in favor of the candidate of the old regime. He dissolved Parliament and amended a law by which employees of Mubarak were rehabilitated. He carried out repression of any street demonstrations until the day before the election, encouraged fraud and orchestrated violent confrontations before the election. In addition, the former minister of Mubarak was able to play on many voters’ fear of Islamic fundamentalism who, in a mirror image of those who voted Islamist but with the opposite result, held their noses, so they voted for the secular Shafiq rather than run the risk of having a theocratic government, or a surrogate for it.

In conclusion, the electoral contest, which for Western analysts should have marked a historic shift in Egyptian society, has been played out in a conflict between the old, reactionary and violent regime, and the new conservative-style fundamentalists. That is the worst thing that could happen. From now on, the future Morsi government will have to deal with the excessive power of the army, with the attitude of U.S. imperialism which played such an enormous part in the political events in Egypt's long domination by the now-condemned "pharaoh", Mubarak. He will have to deal with the lavish funding that the U.S. government allocates to the army, which will not be forthcoming unless the new government remains aligned to the US. At stake are the old Camp David accords with Israel and the newly-proposed alliance on energy with Iran.

There is a need to settle accounts with the old and the new regime, to see in the international crisis, in the demonstrations in the streets and squares, the conditions for a revolutionary overthrow of the “system of the country”. Since in the face of the devastating consequences of the crisis, which has been increasing the poverty of the proletariat and has accelerated the process of proletarianisation of the petty bourgeoisie, there has not been the slightest class opposition which posits even embryonically such a need, nothing else could have been expected. If a political programme, which has as its stated goal the elimination of capitalism, wage labour, and which is for another way of producing and distributing wealth does not make an appearance, nothing can change. If in the political struggle there is no party proposing these ideas to the masses, the shipyard workers, the proletariat of the port of Suez, Ismailia and Port Said, workers in the agricultural world, to those in the cotton mills and textile companies, who have moved several times already, no other outcome is possible. For the Egyptian bourgeoisie, for its armed wing, the military, the overthrow of Mubarak was a sacrifice to the people’s demands for institutional change so that everything would remain as it was. Things are just the same if not worse, as the crisis continues to bite ever more painfully and unbearably for the already-starving, the urban proletariat, the peasants of the Nile Delta and that great "court of miracles" that barely survives on the outskirts of Cairo and Alexandria .

-FD

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Comments

Thanks to Unu Ossu for his improvements to this translation.

An ICT comrade in the Middle East has already commented

In first round of the election, only 46% took part and Mohamed Mursi collected just 24%. In the Presidential run-off participation rate was 49% despite all the tricks that they used.

Obviously most could not "hold their noses" and bring themselves to vote for either candidate in the supposedly great historic election.

You are welcome.

Texts

Tra i testi presentiamo scritti classici, tra cui alcuni di Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg; presentiamo inoltre alcuni documenti storici della sinistra comunista italiana, tutti in opposizione allo stalinismo e al trotskismo; infine presentiamo testi di autori che, pur non appartenendo alla nostra corrente e mostrando rispetto ad essa divergenze politiche anche marcate, tuttavia riteniamo abbiano dato un contributo significativo alla critica classista di questa società.