Re: [OPE] Brief Thoughts on the Egyptian Revolution

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Sat Feb 12 2011 - 08:12:09 EST

Jerry, share your careful optimism but I lack in-depth knowledge of the
Arab East and North Africa today to comment a lot further on what you wrote.

Two points (by two socialists who do have in-depth knowledge) can be
made though, which have not been adequately analysed in Western news
commentary, if at all.

First, the context of labour struggle in Egypt. As Hossam el-Hamalawy writes

    "Revolutions don't happen out of the blue. It's not because of
    Tunisia yesterday that we have one in Egypt mechanically the next
    day. You can't isolate these protests from the last four years of
    labour strikes in Egypt, or from international events such as the
    al-Aqsa intifada and the US invasion of Iraq. The outbreak of the
    al-Aqsa intifada was especially important because in the 1980s-90s,
    street activism had been effectively shut down by the government as
    part of the fight against Islamist insurgents. It only continued to
    exist inside university campuses or party headquarters. But when the
    2000 intifada erupted and Al Jazeera started airing images of it, it
    inspired our youth to take to the streets, in the same way we've
    been inspired by Tunisia today"

Second, the nature of actual and potential integration of the Arab
world, and the consequences for the balance of power. In an interview
Moshé Machover argues there is a material basis for Arab unification since

    "Resources in the Arab world are very unevenly spread. You have fuel
    resources concentrated in one place; material resources of various
    kinds - like minerals, land or water - somewhere else. For the
    genuine development of the Arab world, it needs unity." [...]

    "This is the instinctive response of the people, and it has real
    roots in history. We should also be very clear: an Arab revolution
    is counterposed to Islamism. The whole idea of the Arabs being a
    nation in the modern sense of the word is a 19th century concept
    that arose in conflict with pan-Islamism. The literature, the
    language, the culture obviously predate the 19th century, but that
    is when the notion of 'Arab' as a nationality gained currency. This
    is an antidote to Islamism, not the form Islamism takes in this part
    of the world."

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Sat Feb 12 08:13:11 2011

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