Re: [OPE] Brief Thoughts on the Egyptian Revolution

Date: Sat Feb 12 2011 - 09:07:18 EST

Hi Dave Z:
Thanks for your thoughts. I agree completely with the first one.
Of course, the revolution in Egypt has to be put in a historic,
national, and regional context. One sees over and over again
(especially with media in the US) an inability and/or unwillingness
to do this and hence struggles just seem to fall from the sky and
are unfathomable,
As for Moishe Machover's point about the material basis for
unification in the Arab world, couldn't one could see that exact dynamic
as a material basis for disunity in the Arab world? I also
wonder whether the 'genuine development of the Arab world' needs
that unity for the reason he states.
As for whether an 'Arab revolution is counter posed to Islamism',
that will be determined in practice and, no doubt, there will be
struggles over just this question. Certainly the developments
in the Iranian revolution of 1979 should give revolutionaries cause for
concern: let us recall that this revolution was widely supported
by the working class (indeed, the oil workers played a decisive part
in the revolution) and Left parties in Iran (and Iranian feminists), but
after the Khomeini government was formed there was repression of the trade
unions (including those same oil workers) and the Left (and an attack
on womens' rights). Having said that, I don't think (for a variety
of historical reasons) the same thing is going to happen in Egypt
but there will be struggles in Egypt and the region over this and related
questions (we will see indications of likely changes coming fairly soon
with the changes in the Egyptian Constitution and whether those changes are
acceptable to the people).
I heard on the (NBC) news a little while a ago, btw, the suggestion that
right now a variety of social forces, most notably the 'entreprenourial
class', are positioning themselves for power in the current caretaker
government and for a role in setting the agenda, including proposed
changes to the Constitution. Another social force mentioned were
'hangovers' from the Mubarak regime which seek to retain power and
influence. This suggests that there will be a struggle in the coming days
over how far the revolution is going to advance or whether a (counter-revolutionary)
reaction gains momentum. I also think that the generals now being in command
is - to put it mildly - a cause for concern: I'll bet that the US right now
is trying (through various ways) to influence them and thereby influence
the agenda for change (indeed, one line of thought says that the US was
influential in getting the generals to tell Mubarak when it was time to go).
Imperialism, like rust on steel boats, never sleeps.
In solidarity, Jerry
> 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."
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Received on Sat Feb 12 09:08:10 2011

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