Millions Turn Up the Heat in Egypt

by Carl Finamore on July 2, 2013

First published by Znet.

The incredibly massive June 30 protests of millions in dozens of cities across Egypt exceeded expectations of supporters and adversaries alike. The protest demands were “to withdraw confidence in President Mohamed Morsi, to uphold the goals of the revolution and to call for early presidential elections.”

Despite hundreds of thousands of Morsi supporters rallying in Cairo on the same day, there can be no doubt that the one-year old Muslim Brotherhood government is under siege.

The opposition Tamarod (Rebel or Rebellion in Arabic) June 30 protests clearly marks a new and higher stage of the revolution, distinguished not just by their enormous size but by their far-reaching popular demands.

“We reject you,” Tamarod petitions signed by millions declared emphatically before each phrase, “…Because Security has not been established; …Because the deprived have still no place to fit; …Because we are still begging loans from the outside; …Because no justice has been brought to the martyrs; …Because no dignity was left neither for me nor for my country; …Because the economy has collapsed and depends only on begging and,…Because Egypt is still following the footsteps of the United States.”

A mass petition drive represented a new tactic for the government opposition, initiated several months ago by its radical youth wing.

Young Tamarod Rebel organizers switched tactical gears to prepare for June 30 by taking into account police repression of public protests that have increased fears and anxieties and dramatically reduced the size of protests this year.

“The rationale behind ‘Rebel’ is to move the revolution from the squares, in which demonstrations are held, to society at large,” Tamarod leader Abdel-Aziz told English.Ahram.org, website of Egypt’s largest circulation daily newspaper, Ahram.

Instead of simply calling for another demonstration, a broad educational campaign was begun with the ambitious intention of gathering 15 million signatures calling for early presidential elections in order to oust Morsi and to release the ever tightening grip of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“‘Rebel’ forms are now available from street vendors, at bakeries, at grocery stores and at kiosks,” another Tamarod leader told Ahram last week, adding that, instead of people hearing about protests and demonstrations through the media, they can directly communicate with each other in their homes, workplaces and the streets where critical political conversations can take shape.

Ultimately, as June 30 protests approached, credible news agencies reported 22 million people actually signed the Rebel petitions, another unprecedented milestone in a country of 84 million.

By contrast, Morsi was elected with 12 million votes on June 30 last year and that was only by the narrow margin of 51 percent. Many indicated they voted for Morsi in the second and final election round because there were only two choices left – Morsi and deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak’s cohort, Ahmed Shafik. Others indicated they voted for Morsi because they believed his religious values enhanced his promises to address the country’s grave social problems.

But, from the very first days of the new government, there were a series of missteps, including an incendiary presidential declaration by Morsi that his decisions would be immune from court review. This arrogant usurpation of power inflamed and outraged the population.

In addition, opposition grew ever more steadily once it became clear that neither were Morsi’s religious values leading to needed economic and social reforms. Instead, his religion was a thin veneer to conceal sectarian and divisive intentions to entrench the Muslim Brotherhood and even more conservative, traditional Islamists into leading government positions.

It is absolutely essential to remind ourselves that the conflict embroiling Egypt should not be posed in secular versus Islamic terms. As one young woman told me during a Tahrir protest last February: “Most of us protesting are also Muslim so it has nothing to do with Morsi being Muslim. It has everything to do with what he is doing to our country.”

The western press often describes the conflict in religious terms to avoid confronting real economic and social problems that is the horrible heritage of U.S. and European investment and aid policies that stress military strength and imports over the country’s domestic economic development.

In any case, religion is being used once again, as in so many historical precedents, as the mask to cover economic and political policies that have largely remain unchanged since the toppling of  Mubarak.

“Morsi is selling the same merchandise that Mubarak sold, only…there’s an Islamic label on it,” said lawyer Abdel-Aziz, a leader of the Tamorad Campaign, as quoted in the May 29, 2013 English.Ahram.org. He added that, were Morsi to shave his beard and look into a mirror, he would “see Mubarak staring back at him.”

With this background of seething discontent, the country’s press universally conceded that the Tamarod education campaign easily achieved its June 30 target of mobilizing several million people nationwide.

Army Threats

Foreign investors, western diplomats and Washington, in particular, were stunned. It explains the immediate reaction on July 1 of the equally shell-shocked Egyptian army brass to “give [all parties] 48 hours, as a last chance, to take responsibility for the historic circumstances the country is going through.”

“If the demands of the people are not met in this period,” the televised broadcast statement read, the army “will announce a future roadmap and measures to oversee its implementation.”

Photo: Daniel Greenfield

Muslim Brotherhood allies described the armed forces’ response as “ambiguous” and it certainly was intentionally designed that way by a military extremely reluctant to directly intervene. These are not the same popular defense forces embraced as liberators after dictator Hosni Mubarak was deposed on February 11, 2011.

Holding power for one year before the 2012 election of Muslim Brotherhood leader Morsi, the army failed to enact any meaningful reforms while killing and jailing more protestors than during the entire 29-year emergency-decree rule of Mubarak. A significant section of the population would no doubt be reconciled to another takeover by the military as an alternative to Morsi, but there is today a far more conscious and mobilized opposition to this option, openly expressed in statements by important leaders of Tamarod.

The army understands the risks to its stature by openly assuming power and prefers working behind the scenes without spotlights and without reviews in order to conduct its business, and it is a very big business indeed. Recall that the military is estimated to control up to 35 percent of the national economy. All its nefarious economic affairs are shrouded in secrecy and actually sealed off in the new constitution under “state security” protections.

With these considerations in mind, it is more likely the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces issued more of a veiled threat to exert maximum pressure on both the Muslim Brotherhood and the “loyal” opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) to come to some kind of agreement, such as a coalition government.

In the past, the Muslim Brotherhood totally rejected such efforts. At the same time, important radical leaders have chided their timid NSF partners in the Tamarod movement for their willingness to discard the fight for genuine reforms in exchange for seats in government.

Even if a new government coalition does emerge, it will only succeed in buying some time for the entrenched power structure. Just as all other government renovations have failed, this new “construct” will soon also “destruct” in the face of unaddressed problems of unemployment and rising inflation.

And to be sure, any government that agrees to U.S. government demands for reducing food and fuel subsidies as a precondition for International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans, risks setting off a “revolution of the hungry” –conjecture that appears regularly in the Egyptian press.

It is precisely this dangerous dilemma that has forestalled Morsi from approving pending IMF and World Bank offers of money attached with such onerous stipulations.

How all this plays out will become known rather soon. The Egyptian masses have shown that time has not diminished their zeal for genuine improvements in their lives.

Assemblies of the People

Unlike other upsurges in the Arab world of recent years, the Egyptian rebellion stands atop the field for a number of reasons.

The determination of its people has not been beaten back by U.S. and Saudi Arabia encouraged repression as in Bahrain, Jordan and Yemen; their hopes have not been subverted by fake “reform” governments as in Tunisia and Morocco and their great country has thankfully not been torn apart into tribalism and ethnic and religious conflicts through Balkanized “divide and conquer” U.S. and European influences as in Libya and Syria.

On the contrary, the Tamarod education campaign has begun an important broad discussion on separating church and state in a civil society, on recognizing international standards of labor and women’s rights, on increasing the minimum wage and social subsidies, on ending privatization schemes and protecting state property and on investing loans directly into the economy to create millions of jobs rather than using the money to pay off Mubarak’s debts to foreign banks and governments as demanded by the IMF and World Bank.

These and other absolutely critical reforms are deserving of debate and discussion among the people, particularly because they are not being addressed by parliament or the president. Tamarod is the result. Tamarod filled this political vacuum.

Leading up to June 30, discussions in plazas, squares, work sites, schools and homes throughout Egypt became, in effect, assemblies of the people.

Building an effective mass organization and establishing political clarity among the various strands of opinion within society is an extremely difficult task. The necessary mass political organization of the courageous Egyptian people still severely lags behind their individual political courage and determination to make radical changes but, as a result of Tamarod’s efforts leading up to June 30, it can be said with confidence that the gap began to close.


Carl Finamore arrived in Egypt only a few hours after Hosni Mubarak was deposed on February 11, 2011 and he has been back reporting twice more on the anniversaries of the revolution. He can be reached at local1781[at]yahoo.com 


More on the Egyptian revolution from The North Star:

{ 351 comments… read them below or add one }

Pham Binh July 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm
Arthur July 2, 2013 at 9:25 pm

It is no surprise that Znet instinctively sides with counter-revolution.

Anybody not against the coup is not a democrat, let alone a leftist.

Compare the clarity of this mainstream democratic view with the belated confusion from “sections of the Egyptian left”:

http://patrickgaley.com/2013/07/01/the-day-the-revolution-died/

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Aaron Aarons July 3, 2013 at 2:33 am

It’s disgusting, but not surprising, to see pseudo-leftist, pro-imperialist Arthur Dent slandering one of the largest popular uprisings in human history as a “counter-revolution” because it doesn’t share his privileging the forms of (bourgeois) democracy over the content. A far better article than the one by Patrick Galey can be found here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/02/egypt-revolution-continues

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Pham Binh July 3, 2013 at 11:01 am

A surprising charge coming from you who continuously and falsely compares the popular uprising in Syria to the Tea Party in terms of political content.

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Aaron Aarons July 3, 2013 at 11:54 am

I just wasted about 20 minutes trying and failing to find any page on this site where I mentioned the Tea Party in connection with anything Syrian. Maybe you, Binh, can point to such a page. If you can, in fact, point to such a page, we can then argue about how to interpret what I wrote.

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Aaron Aarons July 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I would retract my echoing of the wild over-estimates being spread around at the time of the size of the opposition movement. I should have known better, especially since I was always skeptical of the size estimates of the crowds in Tahrir in January and February, 2011, when I had more access to images of the scene.

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Brian S. July 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Right, Aron, Tahrir always looks packed because it only has an effective capacity of about 300, 000 – so its relatively easy to fill. What I think has happened is that the 2011 overestimates became “urban legends” and the standard by which all later demos were judged. The 30 June demonstrations were also at two other sites in Cairo, one of which might have rivalled Tahrir: but even then you’re struggling to get to a million.

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 9:29 am

There are various reports floating around about the shape of the military’s “roadmap” – all of them disturbing. There seem to be some proposals to redraft the constitution on a more consensual basis; but other elements involve a new “technocratic “government under overall military authority for somewhere between 9-18 months. The main opposition forces (Tamarod /NSF) seem thave completely lost their heads and are putting all their eggs in the military basket. Virtually no one seems to be thinking about long term implications.
I’m counting down the last five minutes to the military deadline – maybe there will be a last-minute pull-back by both sides, (there are reported regular meetings between all concerned) but I’m not hopeful. Don’t know how swiftly the army will move once their deadline has passed.

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 10:37 am

My source got its time zones wrong: so Egyptian military deadline has only just expired. Reports of military depoying across Cairo, and taking charge of state tv. I’m off to find the best live streaming reports.

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Pham Binh July 3, 2013 at 11:04 am
Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 11:09 am

Thanks. Also: http://live.reuters.com/Event/World_News Impressive but a bit monotonous.

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Pham Binh July 3, 2013 at 10:48 am

They didn’t have heads to lose, really. Arthur was correct to point out the anti-democratic strain of the opposition to the Brotherhood months ago, but the forces he derides as the pseudo-left (http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/75437/Egypt/Politics-/Egypt-revolutionary-forces-Army-should-stay-out-of.aspx) are against this coup and rightly so.

The opposition really needs to draw sharp lines between itself and the old regime elements instead of forming a bloc with them against the Islamists, whining when the masses reject this bloc by voting for the Brotherhood, and then refusing to extract compromises from Morsi, triggering SCAF intervention which of course they will eventually whine about as being undemocratic/bloody. Meanwhile the country becomes ungovernable by any force other than SCAF because the patience of the masses has run out and people are getting desperate. All of this is criminally irresponsible and is leading Egyptian politics into a blind alley where almost no one wins.

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 11:28 am

I share your bottom line evaluation of the outcome, and the responsibility of the liberal opposition in contributing to it. But I’m not convinced that “old regime elements” are significant players in the opposition. And you can’t talk about “the masses in this undifferentiated way: follow my Reuters link and you will see a very large section of the masses gathered in Tahrir square doing anything but voting for the Brotherhood. In a sense this makes the falings of the opposition all the greater, because it shows the potential that a cohesive and principled opposition could have tapped into . Instead we have this futile “culture war” obscuring the real political and social issues.

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Pham Binh July 3, 2013 at 11:55 am

SCAF counts as an old regime element. Forming a bloc with them against the democratically elected Brotherhood to oust them in the context of what’s actually going on in Egypt is not permissible.

I know “the masses” are extremely heterogeneous. I’m with the protests in so far as it is legitimate and necessary to rally people against the Brotherhood and their free-market, anti-woman policies. That is part of the “battle of democracy” Marx wrote about. But when these protests demand and celebrate a coup, then that is not something that we should be supporting.

I also draw a sharp distinction between the masses who are fed up with Brotherhood rule and mistakenly cheering SCAF and the leaders they are following who are calling the protests, issuing the demands, rejecting extracting concessions from Morsi. I blame the leaders for their misleadership here, not the masses, who are going to suffer the consequences of these dirty deals.

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 12:13 pm

OK: point taken about SCAF. But Morsi did his own deal with SCAF and al-Sisi was his appointee (rumoured to be sympathetic to the MB). I agree with the rest of what you say.

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Pham Binh July 3, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I’m not against making tactical/necessary compromises with SCAF. That would be ultra-left. Had Sabahi won the election, he would have had to reach some kind of understanding with SCAF for example. But forming a bloc with them (one that appears permanent in nature) against the MB is not the same thing as a tactical compromise pursuant to some greater end.

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Interesting statement from within the Morsi government – a bit of a whitewash and not sure of the accuracy of all of its claims – but some valid points:
https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=618096081548153&set=a.522553531102409.121628.522537587770670&type=1&ref=nf&refsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fphoto.php%3Fref%3Dnf&_rdr

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 8:07 am

Here I am carrying over the discussion started on the Marxist Idealism and the Arab Spring thread with my post on the recent Egyptian poll: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=5759#comment-55826
Poll:Summary: http://www.aaiusa.org/blog/entry/ahead-of-june-30th-zogby-research-poll-shows-the-reasons-egyptians-are-prot/
Link to poll: http://www.aaiusa.org/reports/after-tahrir-egyptian-attitudes-toward-morsi-and-the-muslim-brotherhood
Arthur’s comment:
The sharp discrepancy between the vote on the Constitution where the opposition mounted a “Vote No” campaign and the majority opposition to it in the survey strongly suggests the survey is distorted. However it could still be useful in understanding the views of the different segments. What stands out is that the supporters of the Morsi government want immediate parliamentary elections while the opponents do not. Half the opponents want military rule and a third support Mubarek.

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Arthur July 3, 2013 at 8:21 am

Fine. I’m having an early nite so response will be delayed.

Key point is what I pointed out long ago. The opposition can’t win elections against the muslim brotherhood so there strategy all along has been to join with the remnants in obstructing transition, blame the resulting chaos on the eleced government and use Mubarek’s army and judiciary to launch a coup.

But they have nothing to offer and SCAF will risk a lot if it actually goes along with this.

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 9:00 am

This is a whitewash of Morsi’s conduct . Its also a nonsensical assessment of the relation of political forces. But we will doubtless continue this discussion once you are refreshed.

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Aaron Aarons July 8, 2013 at 7:55 am

It’s wrong to lump everybody who opposes Morsi and the Brotherhood as a single entity called “the opposition”. In fact, for any sincere leftists to submerge themselves in “the opposition”, rather than remain an independent opposition to the Brotherhood, the military and all capitalist and Islamist factions, is a grievous error.

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S.Artesian July 8, 2013 at 10:50 am

^^^Word. Concise and correct.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 11, 2013 at 10:50 am

This is the point. And I find it fascinating that almost all posts in this thread are arguing about this or that faction of the ruling class (Muslim Brotherhood, military, former Mubarack) and not discussing the activity of the masses.

There have been a few posts and links showing that the coup enjoys, for the moment, popular support. But the work which leftists should be doing, which is not engaging in celebrity watching the ruling class but analyzing the groups, tendencies and factions of the working class.

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 8:52 am

OK: so my response to Arthur’s comment:
The poll figures on attitudes to the constitution (30% for – 63% against) do appear inconsistent with the referendum (64% for – 36% against). This may reflect some issues with the reporting of the poll results, but there are two other explanations:
a. the referendum had a low turnout (33%), the underlying view on the constitution – as opposed to the vote – could have been close to 50/50.
b. responses to particular questions in polls are often shaped by other associations – so the large scale rejection of Morsi (which seems to involve a shift of opinion for a significant number) could also have produced a changed attitude towards the constitution: rejecting Morsi -> rejecting all his works.
Of course the one thing we do need to recognise is that this is a sample of the Egyptian adult population – not of those who vote – so these figures may not translate directly into electoral choices.
“Half the opponents want military rule and a third support Mubarek.” I agree that these are disconcerting figures BUT: they want temporary military rule to manage the crisis; and 30% consider Mubarak “credible” – that’s obviously some sort of positive statement about the Mubarak era, but exactly what is not clear; and let’s remember our arithmetic – it means 70% of opposition supporters reject the old regime.
Also: remember that these are not the views of opposition leaders or activists but of their mass publics.

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Richard Estes July 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm

An excellent, nuanced analysis by Esam al-Amin at Counterpunch just before the protests started, one that examines the failings of all involved:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/26/egypts-fateful-day/

Al-Amin states that immediate parliamentary elections would be a good solution to the crisis if millions turned out in the streets, as they have now done. If SCAF intervenes to force Morsi to call them, that would be a positive outcome. Characterizing SCAF as a former regime element is accurate, but somewhat deceptive, because divisions within SCAF prevented Mubarak from violently suppressing the protests in 2011.

One of the reasons that Morsi is being driven out is because of the accurate perception that he and the Muslim Brotherhood are lapdogs of the US, Israel and the Gulf States. It is the reason why mainstream US media commentators are freaked out and why the Obama administration threatened to cut off military aid. If it happens, his departure should not be mourned.

Al-Amin observes that the opposition to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood has failed to create a politically effective mass movement, and that failure has contributed to the current crisis, resulting in the imperfect expression of mass sentiment through surrogates like SCAF. The Egyptian military has, relatively speaking, preserved its credibility, and, hence, its economic perquisites, while most others have not. It is serious problem that will cause perpetual instability regardless of the outcome of the crisis at hand.

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Thanks for the link, Richard. I’m not sure about its conspiratorial claims, and he doesn’t understand the restrictive nature of the Egyptian constitution, but overall a balanced and sensible comment.

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Aaron Aarons July 3, 2013 at 12:53 pm

What is being ignored here, especially by the worshippers of electoral results, is that, until the current uprising, the SCAF and the Brotherhood have been closely collaborating with each other since Morsi’s election, to the detriment of any pretense of “democracy”. The uprising, while contaminated by pragmatic, i.e., unprincipled, support for the apparent lesser evil, the military, is what led the latter to dump Morsi, not vice versa.

In other words, the split between Morsi and the SCAF is a falling out among thieves while their joint operation is under attack, with the military, so far successfully, managing to focus the blame for their crimes on their former partners.

No genuine leftist, or even democrat, can support either Morsi or the military. The proper role for leftists is to support the uprising while actively opposing the military and pushing the struggle to the left, including into direct anti-capitalist action.

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Richard Estes July 3, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Abukhalil on the coup a few minutes ago:

“It is quite a show to watch Egyptian liberals and some leftists cheering a reactionary military coup by the man, Sisi, who has been in charge of Egyptian-Israeli military-intelligence cooperation. Sisi is the man who tightened the siege of Gaza and who serviced Israel more than it was serviced in Mubarak’s days. This is a man who killed Egyptians and Palestinians to win US and Israeli approval. I understand that the AUC crowd is happy and that some of them have classist contempt for the Islamists and think of them as uncouth and backward, but how can one not see a coup when one is taking place on TV screens? No one has more detestation than the Ikhwan but Sisi and his other henchmen have less legitimacy than even the lousy Morsi. Any popular legitimacy that is lent to Sisi can permit him in the future to overthrow a different elected government, perhaps a progressive government. The battle against the Ikhwan should proceed side-by-side with a battle against the military dictators of Egypt who serve US-Israeli alliance. Lastly, I wish to point out that the Likudnik House of Saud media, like Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his sons) are very pleased with Sisi. That should be indicative.”

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Your heart is in the right place,Aaron – but the problem is its an anarchist’s heart. You believe that chaos is the road to liberation – whereas often its just the road to more chaos.
I fully support the popular movement and its legitimate grievances – but I fear its current direction is leading to a series of blind alleys: dependence on the military; violent polarisation of Egyptian society on cultural lines; erosion of coherent political values.

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Richard Estes July 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm

The military in Egypt is a working class institution. Probably more so than either the Ikhwan and the opposition movement. It will be interesting to see to what extent the mass base within the military pressures SCAF to continue to allow radical social movements to organize and participate in the political process. Or, will the coup serve as the means by which SCAF asserts c0ntrol over the rank and file?

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm

@ Richard E. The rank and file conscripts won’t have any influence over the army’s politics. The key layer are the operational commanders -career captains and majors, who aren’t part of the top brass and have only limited access to military privileges. There has been some defection from them in previous political crises, but there’s no reason in this one for them to dissent (except for any MB sympathisers among them). There has been a suggestion by one commentator that this experience of intervening allegedly to “meet the people’s demands” could have a radicalising influence in the event of a future collision between the military and the popular movement. Possible – but that’s going to be some distance in the future; and probably will be postponed by this dead end of faith in the military that the opposition has led the movement into.
We’ll get some idea of military thinking in the next few days – and it will be interesting to see how closely it conforms to opposition expectations, and what they do if it doesn’t live up to them.

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Brian S. July 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm

The military formally deposed Morsi about two hours ago. Summary of Sisi’s statement:
” Our roadmap consists of: 1- Suspending the constitution.
2-Holding early presidential elections. The High Constitutional Court head will be in charge of the country until then.
3-Forming a national coalition government.
4-Forming a committee to look into amendments of the constitution.
Taking measures to include the Egyptian youth in the decision-making process.”
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/75594/Egypt/Politics-/Live-updates-Morsi-ousted;-head-of-constitutional-.aspx

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Brian S. July 4, 2013 at 9:58 am

For me , time to wait for events and intentions to clarify and for some reflection on what’s going on. There are a lot of serious posts from various perspectives across the internet – I have appreciated those from Juan Cole, Human Rights Watch, and this lengthy interview with a pro-opposition journalist (especially on the dangers of military assumption of power): http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/12656/interview-with-cairo-based-journalist-ahmad-shokr-
So I’m not intending to post anything fresh for a few days, but may respond to the discussion.

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Arthur July 4, 2013 at 9:31 pm

The linked audio interview provides a good insight into the mentality of the “secular liberals” who hold their noses while supporting a military coup. Phil Ochs got it right with “Love me, I’m a liberal”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

Juan Cole is an open apologist for the coup. Some good replies can be found in the comments by Tahar, including link to this appraisal of just how bad the consequences could be:

http://laseptiemewilaya.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/egypt-military-coup-detat-in-egypt-7-immediate-consequences/

HRW is a more mealy mouthed semi-apologist, pretty much like the Obama administration. Utter hypocrisy blaming Morsi for not having been able to curb the forces of the old regime that still remained in power because they still had the army and police and that have now overthrown him (with popular acclaim).

As is typical of liberal apologists they simply lie. They supported dissolving parliament when they lost elections, then blocked new elections and denounced a decree preventing the judiciary from blocking a popular referendum to adopt a constitution so there would be elections as “dictatorship”.

Now that the largest party in Egypt has been suppressed, with its leaders imprisoned and media shut down they will call for “restraint” while the military and thugs crush the inconvenient majority.

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Matt July 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Ever the apologist for Qatari backed (and by extension, U.S. backed) “moderate Islam”. Unfortunately for Arthur, an objectively new phase of the revolution is breaking out all over the region: the democratic secular revolution against Arthur and his beloved “moderate Islamic” regimes, in Turkey, within rebel ranks in Syria, and now in Egypt. Hence the sour grapes tone of Arthur’s and (unfortunately) Binh’s commentary.

Promoting the Brotherhood and allies as if they were the only “legitimate” mass representatives, simply because of an election result, is pretty awful. What is next, a call on the US/NATO to attack the same military that it subsidizes on such a vast scale? Doesn’t look like that move makes any sense here. On the contrary, should the military move also against the democratic secular revolution, or if the moderate Islamists should thenselves call on that outside intervention, I will support that call 100%. Who in their right mind wouldn’t support US/NATO shooting their best friend in the region in the head? Unfortunately, the realistic chance of that
happening is exactly zero, so we must examine what is really possible.

Yes, the Egyptian military is a danger, precisely as it is the default surrogate of US/NATO intervention. Yes, since by definition a democratic revolution includes bourgeois elements, these in collaboration with either the brotherhood or the military are a danger.

But don’t forget that the Egyptian military is not simply a “military”, but the largest (state) capitalist in Egypt. It faces off against a lot of workers in its employ. The Egyptian working class, through its own actions, played a key role in preparing the stage for the current political phase of the revolution, the revolution that made the Tunisian revolt a regional phenomenon, and one that shows every sign of going global via the BRICS countries – every single one of them, with a further potential of feeding back into the Mediterranean tier of European states oppressed by the EU depression. Last I looked that Egyptian working class has not suffered a decisive defeat, and as the working class wing of the democratic secular revolution (don’t tell me they are all “moderate Islamists”) they will still have their say, particularly as the economic crisis deepens.

Sour grapes are entirely premature.

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Aaron Aarons July 4, 2013 at 1:05 am

To what extent does the Egyptian military consist of conscripts and to what extent is the rank-and-file ‘working class’ by either a narrow or broad definition of that term? But, whatever the statistics, has the anti-capitalist left in Egypt managed, or at least tried, to organize among those ranks?

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Jim Monaghan July 10, 2013 at 6:30 am

Most soldiers everywhere are workingclass. In the USA military ethnic minorities are over represented. I don’t think that makes much difference outside a major crisis, like losing a war.

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Aaron Aarons July 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm

When there’s a question of the military being used domestically against the working class and other popular classes, the class composition of the military is rather important.

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Aaron Aarons July 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm

This is especially the case when the ranks are conscripts from those oppressed classes, and not opportunistic volunteers (i.e., mercenaries) as the ranks of the U.S. military are.

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Richard Estes July 10, 2013 at 1:47 pm

“Most soldiers everywhere are workingclass. In the USA military ethnic minorities are over represented.”

Yes, this is why governments are careful about deploying the military domestically. In Venezuela, where the military was more rooted in the working and peasant classes, it produced a group of officers that included Hugo Chavez. In Egypt, the military is careful about ordering troops to use force only when it believes that it has the upper hand politically. The security services have been left to do the dirty work.

But my point was also about the relative lack of working class organization in Egypt independent of the military. Of course, there is a strong union movement, but it has been incapable of organizing workers nationally as a counterweight. A situation in which the working class is most prominent in the military is a dangerous one. It is also entirely possible that the Brotherhood also has a stronger working class component than the opposition. Such a situation is one that results in euphemisms like “popular forces” and “popular movement” because it becomes impossible to concretely align the opposition with the working class in any quantifiable sense.

My recollection is that Egypt has been experiencing a wave of localized strikes since the fall of Mubarak. If true, are the participants primarily associated with the opposition? Why the Brotherhood? Or spread across the political spectrum? My fear is that the coup will serve a means of suppressing such actions throught the ruthless enforcement of reimposed Mubarak era labor laws by decree (assuming that they were ever repealed under the new constitution). Such suppression would be part of a larger program of IMF imposed austerity by the new prime minister. I have read reports that the process for the development of a new constitution and subsequent elections is a lengthy one under the decree issued by the military. If so, that makes sense, plenty of time to privatize and implement austerity before adopting a constitution that makes it hard to reverse them as the 1982 Honduran one did.

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Brian S. July 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Hi Richard – I provide a brief overview of the current state of the Egyptian trade union movement in the first part of the introduction to my thread : http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=7986
As you can see, the independent trade union movement and the strikes have been primarily associated with the opposition. The Mahalla textile workers in particular have been active in the anti-Morsi movement. But that of course does not preculde their being a significant number of individual workers and peasants among Morsi voters and supporters.
There doesn’t seem to be a full english-language text of the constitutional decree available yet, but from the summaries I’ve seen there may be one important gain for the workers movement in its provisions: the corporatist provision of the 2012 Constitution that provided for only a single union for every profession has been removed, allowing trade union pluralism (acentral demand of the free unions.)
That of course has limited value with the military in the saddle and the security apparatus intact.
As you suggest, privatisation is another issue that will arise, and will be connected with IMF negotiations. I’m not familiar with the 1982 Honduran experience – can you say more?
I don’t think that terms like “popular movement/forces” are euphemisms – they are necessary concepts to understand the political dynamics of third world countries. If you have some familiarity with these sorts of societies you will know that social categories are fluid and social groups often hybrid in the large informal sectors. Any effective progressive political force will have to be a multi-class coalition , incorporating organised workers, informal sector workers, petty traders, peasants, etc.

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Richard Estes July 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Last year, Joel Beinin told me during an interview that the Egyptian trade union movement had been unable to establish a national presence. We are seeing the consequences of that now.

As for the terms “popular movement” and “popular forces”, I don’t mean to sound snarky, my concern is related to the fact that they can mystify as well as be put to use by rightist movements as well. They are terms that can be found in the lexicon of a left, liberal or rightist movement against the established order. The question is, of course, who constitutes the “movement” or “forces”.

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Brian S. July 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Beinin is the go to guy on this.

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Aaron Aarons July 4, 2013 at 12:57 am

1) I absolutely agree, Brian, that support for and dependence on the military hierarchy, as opposed to organizing among the rank-and-file and opposing the military as an institution, is a very negative aspect of current Egyptian reality.

2) I don’t see how “violent polarisation of Egyptian society on cultural lines” can be avoided without capitulating to Islamist domination. But the question of how that polarization interacts with, and probably weakens, the necessary polarization on class lines is a difficult one.

There is also the problem that oppressive practices against women and girls may go far beyond the Islamist milieu and may be more deeply embedded in Egyptian culture, but I’m only speculating.

3) I have no idea what you mean by “coherent political values”.

4) I’m not an “anarchist”. I do, however, prefer chaos to the power of capital, especially imperialist capital, and of religion.

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Brian S. July 4, 2013 at 9:44 am

@Aaron. Differences over religious and cultural values in the population should be manageable by negotiation and compromise (ie by dealing with them in the framework of “coherent political values” that would include core human rights.) If they aren’t then any form of class unity becomes impossible (or do you think that there are no Islamic believers among the working class and peasantry?)
If you agree that championing popular power and doing a deal with the military are inconsistent, then you do have a concept of “coherent political values”.

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Aaron Aarons July 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I have no doubt that the majority of the Egyptian peasantry, and even a majority of the industrial working class, consider themselves to be disciples of the religion known as Islam. I certainly support their right to have such beliefs, but not the right to materialize such beliefs with active support for anti-woman, anti-secularist, or sectarian policies.

Incidentally, my main reason for being strongly for the overthrow of Mubarak was his ties to the U.S. and Israel, and the role of the working class in the struggle against his regime. But I feared, with good reason, that whatever replaced him might be worse for women and girls.

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Brian S. July 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I agree entirely: but that is precisely what has to be discussed and negotiated if you want to secure class unity (or any kind of social liberation.)

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Aaron Aarons July 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm

It’s worth noting that the defenders of the pseudo-democratically-elected right-wing government of Egypt, while rightly opposing the interference of the Egyptian military in Egyptian politics, also supported and support the interference of the United Snakes military, and those of U.S. allies and clients, in Libya and Syria. I have no doubt they would have supported the same Egyptian military if it had joined the intervention in Libya, and will support it if it joins even more-right-wing foreign forces in the civil war in Syria.

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Matt July 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Yes, it is the “other”-sided mirror image caricature of what it proports to oppose: the rotten, corrupt (because they often accepted money from regimes such as Gadaffi) “counter-hegemonic anti-imperialist” crowd. What can’t “be abided” are those of us who haven’t lost our minds and abandoned the critique of imperialism regardless of its source, whether that be the US, Russia or China. For the US, or the US/NATO collectively, is not a global hegemon, and therefore there is no large “counter-hegemonic bloc”. Just competing imperialisms of various scopes and scales short of the global. Rather more like the world before 1914 but more globally distributed. It’s a world Lenin and Trotsky would recognize.

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Aaron Aarons July 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I’m afraid I disagree, Matt, with at least the first part of your assertion that

the US, or the US/NATO collectively, is not a global hegemon and therefore there is no large “counter-hegemonic bloc”.

If it wasn’t apparent a month ago, both the revelations by Edward Snowden of totally pervasive global U.S. espionage, and the failure of most governments, including those that were and are themselves the targets of such spying, to oppose or interfere with in any way the attempts by the U.S. to trap and punish Snowden, should have made the continued dominance of the U.S. over the world’s ruling elites and their toadies perfectly clear.

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Arthur July 3, 2013 at 8:13 pm

The english language Muslim Brotherhood web site has been hardened against denial of service attacks by moving to the cloud. So it may become a source of updates reasonably soon

http://www.ikhwanweb.com/

I tried to post the full text of statement Brian linked to above. But it hasn’t appeared, presumably too long. Its an important historical document:

https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=618096081548153&set=a.522553531102409.121628.522537587770670&type=1&ref=nf&refsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fphoto.php%3Fref%3Dnf&_rdr

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 4, 2013 at 9:15 am

Andrew Pollack posted this on MarxMail: It’s a breath of fresh air around here .
http://www.socialist.ca/node/1814

Statement by the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt: Stay in the streets …
all power to the people
By: Revolutionary Socialists

July 3, 2013

Every Egyptian should be proud that millions went out into all the streets
and squares of Egypt. Not only are they making their own history, but the
history of all humanity. They have confirmed that all power lies with the
revolutionary people, not with the Brotherhood and not with the National
Salvation Front, not even with the army or the police. All must now be
silent and listen to the thunderous voice of the people, demanding the fall
of the regime and the achievement of the goals of the January revolution,
for which thousands paid a price in blood.

An unprecedented revolutionary situation has developed over the demand that
the failed president and his group leave power. Practical steps towards
taking power are being taken, by shutting down provincial governors’
offices, and expelling the governors who are affiliated to the Brotherhood
in many provinces, confirming the principle of direct democracy in
governorate elections. In order to achieve this we call on the workers and
the masses to form their popular committees in the workplaces and
neighbourhoods.

The speech by the Minister of Defence raised more questions than it
answered, with its vague wording and expressions open to varying
interpretations. It gave government and opposition 48 hours to agree a way
out of the crisis but raised fears of deals and compromises, such as the
temporary handover of power to the president of the Shura Council (Morsi’s
brother-in-law).

The failed regime is still resisting, and this is unacceptable to the
masses of 30 June, who have rejected the Brotherhood’s rule. And although
the Minister of Defence’s statement began by stressing non-interference in
politics, it ended by indicating his participation in the drawing up a
road-map for the transitional period, building it into the political
process.
We are confident that the revolutionary people will not accept any scenario
which does not include Morsi’s departure and early presidential elections.

We call on all the revolutionary forces and partners in the Rebel campaign
to stand against any deals, American pressure, or coups. We affirm that any
transitional government must have the following as its priorities:

1. immediate steps to achieve social justice for the benefit of millions of
poor and low-income who paid a greater share of the price of Morsi’s
failure, and that of the Military Council before him, to implement the
goals of the revolution.

2. Election of a Constituent Assembly, representing all sections of the
people – workers, peasants and the poor, Coptic Christians and women – to
write a civil, democratic constitution which entrenches the values of
freedom and social justice

3. The drafting of a law of transitional justice which holds to account the
Brotherhood for the blood it has spilled, as well as the Military Council
and the symbols of the Mubarak regime, and achieves retribution for the
martyrs and injured of the revolution.

Despite our appreciation of the people’s joy at this great mobilisation and
the signs of victory, the theft of the January Revolution by a deal between
the Brotherhood and the Military Council in February 2011 and what followed
thereafter, stands as a warning. We must remained prepared and mobilised in
the streets, exercising constant pressure so as not to leave any chance for
traitors and opportunists to steal our glorious revolution.

We affirm that the general strike is the weapon for all wage-workers,
employees and professionals. It is an even more powerful weapon than
sit-ins and demonstrations, for it was strikes which finished off Mubarak.
Strikes will be our weapon to resist any deals or an attempted coup against
the demands of the masses.

Glory to the martyrs! Victory to the revolution! Shame on the murderers!

The Revolutionary Socialists
2 July 2013
__________

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Pham Binh July 4, 2013 at 10:05 am

By fresh air you must mean hot air. #3 is particularly fantastic — SCAF is going to investigate itself?

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 5, 2013 at 9:44 am

Still haven’t figured out what a transitional demand is, have you? A truly left-winbg manifeso, not a survey of the manipulation of bourgeois parties or imperialist governments, and that’s all you have to say?

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Pham Binh July 5, 2013 at 9:50 am

I’ve already dealt with the con game known as “transitional demands” elsewhere.

Demanding that SCAF investigate itself is about as useful as demanding the police police themselves. This statement just shows how isolated and disconnected RS is from the protest movement and the other revolutionary/oppositional forces.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 5, 2013 at 9:55 am

I’m glad, Binh, in your wisdom, that you have rejected transitional demands and, instead are flirting with Democratic Party entrism.

In any event, if you don’t understand the role of demands in a revolutionary situation in the building of a revolutionary movement, you may as well track the movements of various factions, instead.

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Pham Binh July 5, 2013 at 10:24 am

You haven’t explained why you think #3 makes any sense whatsoever or how you think it aids in building a revolutionary movement.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 5, 2013 at 10:41 am

#3: The drafting of a law of transitional justice which holds to account the Brotherhood for the blood it has spilled, as well as the Military Council and the symbols of the Mubarak regime, and achieves retribution for the martyrs and injured of the revolution.

PHAM BINH: You haven’t explained why you think #3 makes any sense whatsoever or how you think it aids in building a revolutionary movement.

DAVID BERGER: Are you really saying that you don’t understand why such a call for a law demanding “transitional justice” against “the Brotherhood f … as well as the Military Council and the symbols of the Mubarak regime,” is a proper revolutionary demand?

(Maybe you got confused by the word “transitional.”)

(Or maybe you have no concept of the self-activity of the masses in a arevolutionary situation, especially you think that all this is a “bourgeois-democratic revolution.”)

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Pham Binh July 5, 2013 at 10:54 am

How does it make sense to demand the counter-revolution regulate and limit itself?

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Matt July 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm

It makes the same sense as to ask US/NATO imperialism to intervene and shoot its own regional surrogates (Egyptian military OR Morsi(Qatar)). Which I support 100%. Alas that has much less chance of happening that what the Revolutionary Socialists are calling for.

So a tone of ridicule here is a little…inappropriate? If not hypocritical?

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Brian S. July 5, 2013 at 11:29 am

Actually, its an appaling demand – it calls for a “law” that already decides that “the Brotherhood” (not individual members) is guilty of particular crimes and places it on the same plane as the military. If this is “transitional” its a transition towards complete chaos.

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Pham Binh July 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Bingo! Egypt is on the road backwards towards chaos, Bonapartism, demagoguery, and all the worst, most reactionary features of 20th century Arab politics where strongmen and ruling class factions manipulate the masses as pawns in elite machinations. The role of the left and far left thus far is to grease the skids in this backward motion because of tremendous political confusion over who are allies and enemies in the democratic revolution. Lining up with the counter-revolution (SCAF) against the Brotherhood is a huge blow to the revolution, especially as the military persecutes their activists, government ministers, and news outlets like al-Jazeera. Iraq’s and Syria’s communists played similar games with the military and the Ba’athists in the 1950s-1970s and look where it got them and where it got the workers’ and peasants’ movements. Unbelievable.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm

BRIAN S: Actually, its an appaling demand – it calls for a “law” that already decides that “the Brotherhood” (not individual members) is guilty of particular crimes and places it on the same plane as the military. If this is “transitional” its a transition towards complete chaos.

PHAM BINH: Bingo! Egypt is on the road backwards towards chaos, Bonapartism, demagoguery, and all the worst, most reactionary features of 20th century Arab politics where strongmen and ruling class factions manipulate the masses as pawns in elite machinations.

DAVID BERGER: That may well be.

PHAM BINH: The role of the left and far left

DAVID BERGER: Please specify which groups in Egypt you are discussing. I notice that you haven’t, in any of your posts, mentioned Tamarod.

PHAM BINH: thus far is to grease the skids in this backward motion because of tremendous political confusion over who are allies and enemies in the democratic revolution.

DAVID BERGER: Again, which group[s] are you talking about?

PHAM BINH: Lining up with the counter-revolution (SCAF) against the Brotherhood is a huge blow to the revolution

DAVID BERGER: I posted a manifesto by a left group called The Revolutionary Socialists. Are they allied with the military? The manifesto refers to crimes of the Military Council.

PHAM BINH: especially as the military persecutes their activists, government ministers, and news outlets like al-Jazeera. Iraq’s and Syria’s communists played similar games with the military and the Ba’athists in the 1950s-1970s and look where it got them and where it got the workers’ and peasants’ movements. Unbelievable.

DAVID BERGER: I have posted a piece by one group. Please, instead of responding with a litany of the crimes of the military, which the document refers to, stick to a discussion of the document. You’re blowing smoke, as usual.

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Pham Binh July 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Groups collaborating with SCAF’s counter-revolution:

Tamarod:
http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/07/03/the-time-of-victory-has-come-tamarod/

Liberals (El Baradei):
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/04/mohammed-elbaradei-egypt_n_3546338.html

Confused far leftists who can’t figure out whether to support the coup or oppose it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKWxLlCi_z4 (Gigi Ibrahim of RS)

Surprisingly, the ISO’s Ahmed Shawki (who isn’t in Egypt):
http://socialistworker.org/2013/07/05/all-of-egypt-is-tahrir

Brian S. July 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm

David – I’ve made it clear that my comments were directed at the statement from the Revolutionary Socialists. Both Binh and I posted the statement that they issued with other left groups several days ago opposing a coup, and commented on it positively. But most of the signatories of that statement have not sold out. Listen to Hamdeen Sabahi sing the praises of the Egyptian army: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/07/05/uk-egypt-protests-sabahi-idUKBRE9640ZX20130705
As for Tamarod, they were last seen at the height of the mass mobilisations calling on the Presidential Guard to place Morsi under arrest.
The Rev Soc’s have managed to stop short of this sort of capitulation, but at the cost of making statements totally detached from reality:
“We call on all the revolutionary forces and partners in the Rebel campaign to stand against any deals, American pressure, or coups.” Well, that hasn’t worked out very well, has it?
“An unprecedented revolutionary situation has developed over the demand that the failed president and his group leave power. Practical steps towards taking power are being taken … confirming the principle of direct democracy in governorate elections. In order to achieve this we call on the workers and the masses to form their popular committees in the workplaces and neighbourhoods.”
Well, as I said earlier on, I am taking time to see how things shape up, but if you want to place a bet on the emergence of “direct democracy” based on “popular committees” in the coming weeks, I’m happy to take your money.
I should add that I’m in “stick bending” mode here – I don’t share (at least not fully) Binh’s pessimistic evaluation of the situation. But more on that anon.

Brian S. July 5, 2013 at 7:34 pm
Arthur July 6, 2013 at 4:40 am

I’m not as surprised as Pham Binh at the ISO supporting counter-revolution.

But it is certainly intriguing how open they are about it.

Here’s a really classic quote:

“So we had demonstrations of police officers in uniform, with their handguns on their side, saying, “Down with Morsi and down with the Muslim Brotherhood”. These are unprecedented scenes–very, very weird.”

There is of course nothing “unprecedented” about armed Egyptian police shouting “down with the Muslim Brotherhood”. That was cenral to the Mubarek regime.

With truly breathtaking hypocrisy they denounce the Brotherhood for its failure to dislodge the old regime’s military and police while openly supporting that military and police in a coup against it.

If in fact they had anything like the support the claim they would easily be able to win the parliamentary elections due later this year. But they know from each of the previous elections that their only hope lies in military suppression of the largest party supported by the majority.

Matt July 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm

“Bingo! Egypt is on the road backwards towards chaos, Bonapartism, demagoguery, and all the worst, most reactionary features of 20th century Arab politics where strongmen and ruling class factions manipulate the masses as pawns in elite machinations.”

Without minimizing the real danger posed by the Egyptian military (similar really to the Assad regime), I think this perspective is very wrong. It misses the real anti-Bonapartist thrust of the revolutionary mass movement *throughout the region*. This is the product of Binh’s tendency to myopically examine conditions in each country in isolation from its regional, let alone global, context.

It has become blindingly clear that “democratically elected moderate Islamic” regimes quickly tend towards Bonapartist behavior similar to the old ‘national bourgeois” regimes beloved of the corrupt “anti-imperialists” that emerged in the postwar. The democratic revolution is already reacting against this tendency throughout the region, including now Turkey, in every country already touched by the revolutionary wave: Tunisia, Libya, Syria and now Egypt. So there is a dual movement against “moderate Islam”, a reactionary one from the side of old regime opportunists, another from the secular masses. One fails to see how anyone is any less a “dupe” for being one for “democratically elected moderate Islam” (hell, even Louis Bonaparte was “democratically elected” by plebiscite), or for the old regime opportunists.

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Patrick A July 5, 2013 at 10:30 am

Yeah, but you dont really address where transitional demands – the theory amd term – actually came from: the German revolution in the early 1920’s, not Trotsky.

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Pham Binh July 5, 2013 at 10:53 am

This is the wrong thread for that debate, but I never claimed to have done a historical study of the term. What I would say is that methods developed in revolutionary situations by mass parties are not applicable, especially not directly, by miniscule groups on the fringes of the workers’ movement, i.e. Trotskyist organizations.

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Brian S. July 5, 2013 at 11:25 am

Interesting point Patrick – could you elaborate. Actually, I date them from Engels and the debate on German shipping subsidies in the 1890s (although he had a clearer concept of them).

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Pham Binh July 5, 2013 at 11:27 am

It would be better for that debate to go here, especially since it isn’t clear from the RS statement whether or not they consider those 3 to be “transitional demands”: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=8095

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Pham Binh July 7, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Also, Trotsky’s transitional demands and the method underpinning them were totally different than the KPD’s conception despite some of the same language. The KPD for instance would never have claimed that a sliding wage scale (meaning cost-of-living adjustments, or COLA) was incompatible with capitalism and necessitated socialist revolution as Trotsky (wrongly) claimed in the 1938 Transitional Program.

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Aaron Aarons July 5, 2013 at 11:16 am

Transitional demands make sense when the workers or, more broadly, the part of the oppressed population that one is trying to move in a radical direction, both believe in the desirability of what is being demanded and have illusions in the possibility that such demands can be met by those upon whom the demands are being made. Of course, if the revolutionaries are wrong and those demands actually can be met without a revolution, winning them would still be a victory for the workers and/or oppressed.

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Aaron Aarons July 5, 2013 at 11:24 am

A caveat here: The above logic only applies when the workers, etc., feel some confidence in their ability to force concessions from the capitalists/oppressors, and are willing to struggle. Otherwise, making demands that seem “reasonable” but won’t be met might just further demoralize those making the demands.

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Brian S. July 5, 2013 at 11:21 am

To be fair, it isn’t a demand on SCAF but upon the transitional government. On the other hand, the latter eill be largely a creature of the former: in which case it isn’t a demand that SCAF investigates itself but that it holds itself accountable to itself!
Dave is probably right that this is meant in the sense of a “transitional demand” – it sets up a criteria for judging any transitional govermen that claims to represent the revolution (and thereby exposes” it when it fails to meet it: but why they couldn’t just say “this is what a real government of the people would do” instead of adopting this convulted and confusing language, I don’t know.

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Aaron Aarons July 5, 2013 at 11:36 am

It seems to me that the only kind of demands that should be made on the SCAF and the transitional government should be either negative ones, i.e., that they not do certain things, or purely emergency measures, such as providing food to the hungry, and not policy demands that legitimize those institutions.

I include among “negative demands” things like the release of left-wing prisoners, even if it’s not syntactically “negative”.

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Arthur July 4, 2013 at 9:24 am

Its still too early to know the immediate implications and one can only speculate about the long term.

My speculations are:

1. This is a major tragedy that will be a huge setback for the democratic revolution in the whole region. Also the craven attitudes of US, EU and their media point towards worse to come.

2. On the other hand the exposure of the bourgeoisie and the old order is now almost complete with all of official “society” from the clerics to the judges lined up with the defeated and discredited politicians, including the Salafi parties, relying on the army in total concempt for the large majority of the people. Presumably both these leaders and their supporters will suffer the same sort of consequences that the bourgeoisie in France reaped from its betrayal. They will be humiliated by the corrupt beneficiaries of the deep state.

3. Presumably the next round will have less illusions that the army and state apparatus can be laid hold of rather than needing to be smashed and that “islam is the solution”. The only incomplete aspect is that so many see it as a response to popular will rather than a military coup. But that should become very clear when the “experts” draw up a constitution for “elections” they can win with suitably vetted candidates and when the remnants take their full revenge, not just against the Brotherhood. There will a movement against military rule soon enough and it won’t go away or leave the traitors with much of a fig leaf.

4. There seems little chance of the new regime resolving either politial or social crises so the next round may not be that far off. Hopefully the appalling behaviour of the “left” will result in new forces emerging.

But above is pure speculation. I was not following closely and did not expect this setback and don’t have a good understanding of why it happened or what will follow from it. (I thought SCAF would want to avoid being in the untenable situation it is now in).

Re the massive popular support. I’m not that impressed. It’s just a reminder of how fickle and easily manipulated public opinion can be. Urban Egyptians may be a lot worse than average in developed countries but we should not be surprised to see enthsiasm for “strong leaders” well beyond the fascist fringe in developed countries too as economic crisis deepens. Its a reminder that revolutions really do need a revolutionary party that can think through tactics and strategy.

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Aaron Aarons July 4, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Arthur Dent writes:

This is a major tragedy that will be a huge setback for the democratic revolution in the whole region. Also the craven attitudes of US, EU and their media point towards worse to come.

By referring to the “craven attitudes” of the world’s major imperialist power and its junior (in the military, bot economic, sense) partner. Mr. Dent appears, at least to the few people in the world familiar with his consistently pro-imperialist politics, to be expressing his own hope for intervention of some sort by a force much more dangerous to the oppressed and exploited of the world, and to their allies like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, than the Egyptian military could ever be.

Mr. Dent also writes:

Re the massive popular support. I’m not that impressed. It’s just a reminder of how fickle and easily manipulated public opinion can be.

This from someone who wants us to genuflect before the results of elections, where the choices before that manipulated public opinion are themselves manipulated. While I share Mr. Dent’s negative reaction to the support being shown to the officer corps of the Egyptian military, I don’t see a good reason not to have a similar negative reaction to the support shown to the Muslim Brotherhood by a different section of the population. And the latter is probably more dangerous precisely because it is not “fickle”!

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Matt July 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Copied off and saved for future reference…but had to comment on the last paragraphs:

“But above is pure speculation. I was not following closely and did not expect this setback and don’t have a good understanding of why it happened or what will follow from it. (I thought SCAF would want to avoid being in the untenable situation it is now in).”

Had you followed events among the Syrian rebellion, and especially Turkey, this would not have been a surprise. The “mass democratic” cachet of “moderate Islam” is vastly overrated.

“Re the massive popular support. I’m not that impressed. It’s just a reminder of how fickle and easily manipulated public opinion can be. Urban Egyptians may be a lot worse than average in developed countries but we should not be surprised to see enthsiasm for “strong leaders” well beyond the fascist fringe in developed countries too as economic crisis deepens. Its a reminder that revolutions really do need a revolutionary party that can think through tactics and strategy.”

Putting the display of elitism aside, I think there is some conceptual confusion here concerning “the revolutionary party” The revolutionary party desired is that of a revolutionary party of the *working class*, a revolutionary class party. Frankly, from a working class perspective, I don’t want a “revolutionary party of the democratic revolution”, as this will always end up with the installation of one or another bourgeois regime. Under modern conditions, this will always end up being Bonapartist to one degree or another. Given that “moderate Islamic” democratic Bonapartism (see the entire history of the USA for a good case history on “democratic Bonapartism”, i.e., democratic counterrevolution) has been the counterrevolutionary option of choice for the US in the region, this is a setback for US/Qatari-led counterrevolution. That is pretty clear from the very mixed tones in the US press, not to mention the wailing in Qatar.

So the events are not necessarily a step backward for the Egyptian revolution, and the regional revolutionary wave. One can just as easily speculate that this is “one step backward, two steps forward”, to turn Lenin’s old phrase. We shall see. But a continuation of the consolidation of a democratic Bonapartist Islamic regime is a greater danger, medium and long term. The old postwar bourgeois nationalist regimes are falling for real historical material reasons. Those reasons haven’t suddenly disappeared. So if some old regime fragments are trying to slip back into power in exploiting the crisis – including substantial “fragments” like the Egyptian military state capitalist – it signals that the task of completing the demolition of the old regime has been placed back at the top of the agenda where it belongs, without the distraction and diversion of the revolution into the dead end of Islamic democratic Bonapartism.

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Arthur July 4, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Updates have now started to flow from Ikwhanweb. Mass protests planned following Friday prayers (today):

http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=31092

Not clear yet, but hopefully they are settling in for the long haul of mass agitation against military rule.

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Richard Estes July 4, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Esam al-Amin today at Counterpunch, in another thoughtful article about the backdrop to the coup:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/04/in-egypt-the-military-is-supreme/

Al-Amin addresses the involvement of Mubarak remnants in the protests along with other groups. After working through a thorough analysis, he concludes:

“Liberals, democrats, and human rights activists have been preaching to Islamists for decades that democracy is the only legitimate system for peaceful political participation and transition of power. In 1992, when the Algerian military intervened and canceled elections after the Islamic Salvation front (FIS) won it, the West, led by the U.S. and France, looked the other way. Meanwhile, Algeria was engulfed in civil strife for over a decade, a conflict that resulted in over two hundred thousand deaths. Two decades later, whether or not one agrees with its political program, favors or despises the MB, there is no doubt that the group played by the rules of democracy and embraced the rule of law. It did not employ or advocate the use of violence. Yet, it is the height of irony that the ones who called for, encouraged, and cheered the military intervention to oust a democratically-elected president are the secular, liberal, and leftist parties and individuals such as ElBaradei, Amr Mousa, Naguib Sawiris, Ayman Noor, and Hamdein Sabbahi, as well as human and civil rights activists who frequently advocate for free media and freedom of political association.

The international community looked the other way when the will of the Algerian and Palestinian people were thwarted when they elected Islamists in 1992 and 2006. This is the third time in two decades Islamists are dislodged from power. It remains to be seen if the West will take a strong stand against the military’s latest attempt to prevent Islamists from holding power. It may indeed define the relationship between Islamist groups and Western governments for the foreseeable future. The message such stand would send to people around the world will be profound. Either the West stands for democratic principles and the rule of law or it does not. When President Obama called Morsi on June 30, he admonished him that “democracy is about more than elections.” But what is equally essential to recognize is that there is no democracy without respecting and protecting the legitimacy of its results regardless of its outcome.”

Back in early 2011, I expressed my concern that the US and it allies would, if necessary, instigate violent conflict in Egypt to prevent Egyptians from charting an autonomous course. I wonder if we are just now beginning to see this unfold. By some accounts, Morsi and the Brotherhood were far down the road towards political self-destruction, and could have been replaced through the existing constitutional form of governance. The coup short-circuited a process whereby a radical process could have resulted in the emergence of an independent, indigenous government. Instead, Egypt may be entering a period of protracted violent civil unrest.

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Arthur July 5, 2013 at 2:27 am

Yes, its well worth reading the whole article.

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Aaron Aarons July 5, 2013 at 9:35 am

The analogy between the imperialist-Zionist reaction to the election of Hamas and the reaction against the election of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is totally spurious. Hamas, which had, less than 20 years earlier, been promoted by the Zionist state as a preferable alternative to the secular Palestine Liberation Organization, was, by 2006, regarded as more of a threat than the latter, despite its not having become more Islamist in the interim. The refusal to recognize its victory had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with preserving imperialist-backed Jewish rule over Palestine.

OTOH, I have seen no evidence that either the Zionists nor their imperialist enablers felt threatened by Morsi and the Brotherhood, even if, in an ideal (for them) world, they would have preferred another Mubarak.

Either the West stands for democratic principles and the rule of law or it does not. When President Obama called Morsi on June 30, he admonished him that “democracy is about more than elections.” But what is equally essential to recognize is that there is no democracy without respecting and protecting the legitimacy of its results regardless of its outcome.”

It’s not clear what the pronoun “its”, used twice in the last sentence, references. But a concept of “democracy” that fetishizes election results is not one that we on the left should promote. If we did, we would have to be against any attempt to undermine, by direct action, the racist, anti-woman, anti-worker, anti-poor actions of elected state governments in the U.S.. And we would, retrospectively, have to consider the reconstruction governments in the U.S. South after the Civil War to have been “undemocratic”, since they were contrary to the wishes of the (white) majority of the potential electorate in most of those states. Moreover, we would have to repudiate the dissolution, by the Bolsheviks, of the Constituent Assembly in Soviet Russia in 1918.

But the most outrageous thing in the quote above is the first sentence, where “the West” is treated not as the blood-sucking imperialist bloc that it is, but as some entity that should be looked to for political guidance. Such an attitude disqualifies the writer of those lines from any right to be taken seriously as a “leftist”.

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Matt July 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Agreed with Esam al-Amin’s criticism of the anti-MB “official opposition” of old regimists and their “democratic” supporters. He is naive on the direction that the consolidation of an Islamic regime would have to take. Take it from the world’s #1 Bonapartist: There’s more to democracy than elections – there is shoving “neo-liberal reform” down the throats of the masses, as another article on the same CP issue reminds us:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/05/the-fall-of-morsi-and-the-neocolonial-project/

This also reminds me that a signal weakness of the Arthur/Binh approach, besides (and accompanying) the fuzzing thought on imperialism, is the almost total absence of political-economic perspective. The approach is almost entirely “political”-superstructural.

Anyway, Glazebrook gets suddenly vague on whether a reconstituted secular democratic Bonapartism would not be required to implement the same “neo-liberal” (I dislike this term, but it is in common coinage now) political economy. Of course it will! But this 1) runs right into the preponderant role of the Egyptian military state capitalist and 2) is guaranteed to generate fresh currents welling up from the masses.

Last paragraph is off base: What the US/NATO would love is a stable democratic Bonapartist regime imposing neo-liberal political economies on a passive population. In lieu of that, divide and rule along sectarian lines, playing both sides of the coin if necessary, as is already in play in Egypt.

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Brian S. July 6, 2013 at 6:05 am

As previously, he provides a relatively balanced view and raises valid concerns: but his argument is also marked by the standard Counterpunch formula of conspiracy theories backed up by unattributed or unreferenced sources.

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Pham Binh July 5, 2013 at 11:43 am

Gigi Ibrahim of RS in a 30-minute interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKWxLlCi_z4

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Matt July 5, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Bleach…stopped at 10 minutes. The military came “to enforce the people’s will”? So much for “revolutionary socialism”. Gigi only wishes them a “fair trial”.

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Arthur July 6, 2013 at 4:59 am

Well, I lasted the full 30 minutes and it didn’t get any better than “Bleach”.

I honestly can’t tell whether Gigi is “confused” as Pham Binh indicates (or less politely a mind boggling stupid naive dupe) or whether she really knows she is just spouting hot air while joining the other liberal secularists in betraying the democratic revolution.

Michael Neumann’s account of the liberal mentality strikes me as pretty reasonable:

http://insufficientrespect.blogspot.com/2013/06/egypt-outsiders-view.html

(Don’t know anything about him. Seems to be also good on Syria.)

One shouldn’t underestimate just how foolish and self-contradictory people can be. But its difficult to see how somebody actually living through these events could not be fully conscious of their hypocrisy when denouncing the Muslim Brotherhood for collaboration with the military as part of an argument for supporting a military coup against it.

Anyway, I am equally puzzled that Matt’s reaction (“Bleach”) is more or less identical to mine, while other comments from Matt seem directly opposite.

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Brian S. July 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I’m posting this here on the basis that its as good a place as any:
I don’t regard the situation in Egypt at the moment as a victory of “counter-revolution”: Morsi was not the revolution by any stretch of the imagination, and its as wrong to ignore the role of popular mobilisations in his downfall as it is to downplay the role of the military. What I do regard the situation as is a MESS.
However, those who believe that recent events are some sort of revolutionary achievement might like to reflect on the following:
• Now that the Egyptian army has started killing unarmed pro-Morsi demonstrators, as the y are in Cairo, whose side are you on?
• When pro and anti-Morsi demonstrators engage in violent confrontations (as they are in Alexandria) what do you think the police should be doing? a. kicking the hell out of Morsi supporters; b. kicking the hell out of everyone; c. standing on the sidelines and letting them kick the hell out of each other?
• The RS says that Morsi should be put on trial for crimes against the people committed while in office; the military appear to be preparing a trial based on things he did while in opposition (crimes against the military?). How do you propose to explain to the masses that they should oppose Morsi being tried in a real court but support him being tried in a fantasy court?
• When the next elections are held Morsi will be disqualified if he is convicted or involved in criminal proceedings: do you support that?
• What about the FJP as a whole: should they be banned from taking part in the election? If so, how do you propose to restore democracy while at the same time excluding the country’s largest party which has the support of some 25% of the electorate?
• If the FJP is allowed to run, with or without their leader, how do you think it will be possible to organise a free election with two bitterly opposed political camps, now divided by a blood feud? Who do you think will “maintain order” in those circumstances?

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Pham Binh July 6, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Yes, it is a mess and yes it is a victory for the counter-revolution precisely because SCAF has successfully divided the anti-Mubarak opposition against itself and forced it into all of the painful and ultimately intractable dilemmas you have outlined.

The role of the masses in the coup: Tamarod and the liberals conspired with SCAF and NDP remnants to oust and crush the Brotherhood by mobilizing millions fed up with the Brotherhood’s hyper-partisan, hyper-inept rule. If the masses played a self-concious and independent role in all this, they or forces among them would be pressing their demands and their interests against SCAF and its caretaker front. There is no evidence that this is happening and so it is safe to conclude that the mass mobilizations were really just used as pawns by elites and protest leaders to confer legitimacy on a coup that was a done deal weeks ago: http://news.yahoo.com/final-days-morsi-isolated-defiant-234801629.html

Egypt’s democratic revolution is now stuck in a blind alley that will be exceedingly difficult to escape from. The Brotherhood’s power has peaked, the left-libs won’t turn against SCAF anytime soon and can’t form a viable democratically elected government, so SCAF will play the role of political kingmaker/breaker for the forseeable future (maybe there is a parallel with Iran’s Guardian Council here).

The best way to defeat a revolution is not to smash it from without but to corrode, corrupt, and collapse it from within through betrayal and intrigue. When hope burns out and becomes the ashes of cynicism, the threat to the old order is at an end.

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Richard Estes July 6, 2013 at 11:11 pm

“Egypt’s democratic revolution is now stuck in a blind alley that will be exceedingly difficult to escape from.”

If the left wants to escape, it might start by focusing upon specific, concrete situations related to the inability of people to feed, house and take care of themselves. I am fearful that we are observing a conflict between secular and Islamic bourgeois, with the potentially most effective working class leaders incorporated within the military. There is a union movement, but, it has, to date, been incapable of becoming a national, politically effective influence.

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Arthur July 6, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Brian’s questions do not point to an answer of “it’s a mess”. They point unequivocally to an answer of “it’s a counter revolution”.

The WHOLE POINT of these events is to prevent another free and fair election by suppressing the FJP.

There is substantial mass support for that because a substantial section of the masses, especially in urban areas, do not in fact support democracy as a result of their vast social difference from the rural majority that supports the FJP.

BTW while I agree with most of his comment, I don’t agree with Pham Binh’s endorsement of the media line about “the Brotherhood’s hyper partisan and hyper inept rule”.

A more reasonable ciritque would be that they should have been more partisan, eg appointing Ministers who actually supported them to overcome sabotage from the bureaucracy – especially in the Interior Ministry. Here’s an outline of the case for that view:

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/03/opinion/ayoob-egypt-military/index.html

But it isn’t clear to me that they could in fact have done that without bringing on a military coup much earlier.

Egypt is a mess and anyone attempting to form a government while the old regime retains power over the armed forces, police, judiciary and bureaucracy is bound to appear “hyper inept” and be blamed for the resulting chaos.

But does that mean they should have stayed out of office? Perhaps. But I’m not going to second guess that from outside while not even speaking the language. I have some respect for the skill shown by the brotherhood in navigating a complex situation (especially in comparison to ALL the other parties). Now that their opponents are all (including the main Salafist party) exposed as lined up behind an utterly bankrupt regime, that outcome may not turn out to be the result of a strategic error in the long run.

Although its definately a victory for the counter-revolution it’s not at all clear to me how deep or long lasting that will be. Its now the turn of SCAF and all those who crawled to it to be blamed by the masses for all the mounting problems and crises while a demand grows for free and fair elections again.

If there was a Bolshevik party it could reasonably characterize the Brotherhood’s failure to vigorously suppress the counter-revolution as making it necessary to push it aside, regardless of majority support. But obviously one has to rally on their side against the Kornilovist coup.

There is no possibility of proletarian revolution in Egypt in this period so it is natural for the bourgeois democratic revolution to be led by bourgeois parties like the brotherhood’s FJP. So far they have behaved a lot better than the spineless wonders in the other bougeois parties.

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Aaron Aarons July 8, 2013 at 1:00 am

Arthur Dent must have been smoking something potent when he referred to the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood regime as “the Kornilovist coup”! The main purpose of Kornilov’s attempted coup, though it was superficially directed against the bourgeois-democratic Russian Provisional Government, was to prevent the seizure of power by the Bolshevik-led working class. Not only is there nothing like the Bolsheviks in Egypt now and nothing like the Muslim Brotherhood in 1917 Russia, but the Russian military hierarchy had broken down in 1917, with major rebellion and support for social revolution in the ranks of the military.

Even knowing Mr. Dent’s pseudo-left, bourgeois-pseudo-democratic perspective, it’s hard to see how he came up with that nonsensical analogy.

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Brian S. July 6, 2013 at 6:10 am

Haven’t listened to it all the way through- but the sections that I have audited are painful – as with other RS statements, the attempt to minimise the negative side of the military intervention slides dangerously near to apologetics. And some of her factual claims sound like fantasies.

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Red Blob July 7, 2013 at 7:12 am

The good news, there has been a democratic revolution in Egypt in that a dictator has been overthrown and elections have been held.
The bad news is that the military have overthrown a democratically elected president.
The attitude of the left is never a good guide to what may happen next. If the military were to set up a junta it would all be simple but they haven’t, they have promised an election which if it occurs may not mean the end of democracy in Egypt. (I suspect that a rerun of the Presidential elections held in a free and fair manner would not end with a Muslim Brotherhood victory based on the assumption that this time the “Liberals” would combine with the Mubarak remnants rather than with the Muslim Brotherhood as they did last time)
In 1975 here in Australia the Queens unelected representative sacked a government which was elected with a majority in both houses. When this happened many on the left started to talk about the end of democracy but because both parties took the long view the impaired democracy was healed.
What I’m saying is that although the military coup is anti democratic it may not deliver a death blow to democracy. What will determine the outcome is the attitude of the major political actors. A similar situation in Algeria lead to a loss of democracy but Egypt will not necessarily go down that path.
The outcomes will be determined by things like will the army release Morsi and be conciliatory and will the Muslim Brotherhood take the long view. I suspect that they will all look at Algeria and say whatever we do we must avoid that.

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Arthur July 7, 2013 at 8:01 am

1. Actually most of liberals sided with the Mubarek remnant Shafiq in the second round of the presidential election. That is why it was so narrow. There was even criticism here of an obscure pseudoleft group for having failed to join the other pseudoleftists in that idiocy. (This time thy have joined the rest in calling for a military coup). BTW here’s one of the best of them, April 6 movement, or one faction from it, calling for exactly what the military implemented:
http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/75505.aspx

2. Ever since they have been opposing adoption of constituion and holding of fresh elections to replace the parliamentary elections where they lost heavily (with the legislature won by brotherhood dissolved by the Mubarek appointed judiciary). Instead they joined with the remnants to work for a military coup, which has now succeeded.

3. If they thought they could win elections together with the remnants they would not have blocked them. The only elections they want are under military rule with the brotherhood suppressed.

4. The 1975 events in Australia in no way resemble the military coup in Egypt. The Australian government was unable to get funds for governing through Parliament yet refused to call an election so it was dismissed by the Australian constitutional official responsible for doing so in order that an immediate election could be held. That official had been appointed to that job on the recommendation of the Prime Minister he ended up dismssing. Nobody got locked up or shot as in Egypt. (And the Queen’s only involvement was for her British Minister’s to advise that Australia is independent so the Queen only acts on advice from her Australian ministers, when an idiot speaker of the dissolved Parliament tried to appeal to the Queen to prevent the election, which would have required her to act on advice from British advisers concerning the government of independent Australia. That is the only attempt made at such British interference. It came from Australian “republicans” who didn’t want to face election and it got nowhere as the British rejected it.

5. Since the WHOLE POINT of the exercise is to prevent the brotherhod continuing to win elections by suppressing it, of course the army cannot be conciliatory (except in soothing words for foreign consumption). They have closed down all media opposed to them and arrested the entire leadership.

6. Neverthelss, I think the brotherhood is taking a long view and will avoid an Algeria civil war situation by sticking to unarmed mass protests. So far the killing by the army and thugs has been limited and apparantly aimed at dispersal rather than aimed at a full massacre. With leadership decapitated it might be difficult for brotherhood to maintain discipline, but so far they appear to have succeeded.

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Red Blob July 7, 2013 at 8:49 am

I think that the political actors might work through this because Morsi only got 25% in the 1st round and I am assuming that many of the people who voted for him in the second voted on the basis that he wasn’t Shafik rather than any other reason. I think that after a year of his rule the number of people prepared to vote for him in a fair election may well have declined. Therefor I’m suggesting that the military may be open to the idea of a fair election rather than an obviously rigged one.
I also think that the whole purpose of democracy is to facilitate the development of Capitalism which needs co option rather than coercion. All actors have a stake in resolution of these issues rather than a return to dictatorship.
It is possible to go backwards there’s no guarantee that people will adopt sensible positions and history has plenty of examples of ruling groups holding elections because they were deluded about their own popularity.
Just on Australia 1975 my point is that a government elected with majorities in both houses was thrown out
Leftists did argue all sorts of stuff about the death of democracy
But in the end both major parties agreed that the smooth running of Capitalism was more important than political outcomes. Ive always found it difficult to accept elections where the outcome is counter to the outcome of the popular vote. I live in a state where the government at the last election got well below 50% and the loosing party well over 50%. For a democratic purist like me I get really upset but the politicians grumble a bit and then just carry on because they realise that smoke and mirrors are well just smoke and mirrors
Just to be clear I still think that its an outrageous breach of the armies power to overthrow Morsi it is a counter revolutionary act. I’m just open to the idea that it might not be the end of democracy in Egypt

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Arthur July 7, 2013 at 9:07 am

It won’t be the end of democracy in Egypt because it will be resisted for as long as it takes to defeat it.

But if the military was open to the idea of another fair election there would have been no point in the coup to cancel the results of the previous fair election only a year earlier and the subsequent referendum at which a constitution was adopted by a large majority despite a completely united “No” campaign from the opposition. (Much easier to agree on a “No” vote than a joint election campaign).

Yes “leftists” spouted all sorts of crap about the 1975 Australian election and will be even more inclined to talk complete nonsense about events in countries they understand nothing at all about.

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Brian S. July 7, 2013 at 11:46 am

There wasn’t a “completely united No campaign from the opposition”. The Constitution was finalised just two weeks before the referendum, so opposition groups had little time in which to agree their position (the NSF only confirmed its call for a No vote 2 days before the polls opened) and virtually none in which to “campaign”. At least one opposition group called for a boycott (and others were known to be internally divided)
The point is, the high abstention rate (and above normal number of spoiled ballots) almost certainly reflected some degree of rejection of the constitution: there’s no way of calculating it, but its certainly possible that the real sentiment on the constitution was somewhare around the 50/50 mark. An ominous way to begin a supposed “democratic era”.

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Aaron Aarons July 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Most of what I know about the Egyptian constitution or, for that matter, current Egyptian politics, is from reading arguments on this site, so maybe I’ve got it wrong. But it does seem to me that any genuine leftist would have opposed the Constitution, because of, inter alia, its Islamist elements and its provisions favoring the military command. Whether that opposition should have been expressed by calling for a boycott of the referendum or for a NO vote is something I don’t know enough to opine on.

Whatever the tactical details, the Egyptian left and its international supporters should give no deference whatever to that constitution, the military, the Islamists, the pro-Western reformists, and to whatever bourgeois or right-wing person or party might have won any election.

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Brian S. July 7, 2013 at 6:45 pm

@Aaron. I quite agree, Aaron. The problem is, the opposition didn’t seriously engage with the constitution-making process, which weakened their ability to oppose it (although, as I said, they were handicapped by the short time frame imposed on them) But no new constitution adopted under the present set up is going to scale back on the power of the military, although it might have some marginal improvements in other respects.
We should come back a revisit this debate when the new constitutional draft is issued – it will be a good test of whether or not this costly upheaval has had any point whatsoever.

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Aaron Aarons July 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I’m not interested in what the amorphous largely bourgeois “opposition” did or didn’t do, but on what sincere (if not necessarily correct) leftists did do, didn’t do, should have done and should do in the future.

When you write, Brian, that “the opposition didn’t seriously engage with the constitution-making process”, what kind of engagement with that process are you arguing for? Do you think that anti-capitalist leftists should take part in negotiating a bourgeois constitution, rather than agitating and propagandizing against its most egregious provisions, and perhaps demanding some genuinely democratic, pro-working-class provisions as well, without any commitment or intention to support the inevitably pro-capitalist result of the process?

What I am arguing is that the genuine left must take a non-“constructive” attitude to the processes taking place among the elites, and focus almost entirely on undermining support for any bourgeois regime that may evolve, rather than pursue the chimera of “bourgeois democracy”.

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Red Blob July 9, 2013 at 6:50 am

Arthur I’m not sure why you are so confident that the pro coup groups would not win a fair election.
In the first round presidential elections
Ahmed Shakif received 24%
Hamdeen Sabahi received 21%
Amr Moussa received 11%
Clearly in the second round a lot of the second 2 candidates voters turned to Morsi but I cant see why this would happen if the elections were re run
As you like to say power flows from the barrel of a gun and the army has the gun.
I think that like any gangster the 50 dead Monday morning was just a warning and despite the understandable strong words the Muslim Brotherhood must realise that taking some lesser role within the system is a better option than being hunted down and killed. Im probably not the best person to predict what crazed fanatics might decide to do, obviously this site has many more people much better qualified than me to provide an answer.

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Arthur July 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm

My confidence that they could not win is based on their own view as demonstrated by their refusal to try and win parliamentary elections due later this year and insistence on suppression of the FJP by the military instead.

The deep state went all out to elect Shafiq in 2012 but failed. Distortions in the figures became a moot point and were not investigated since they conceded that Morsi won.

Although those 3 groups do appear to have united in support of a military coup at the moment, I don’t believe they are any better placed to unite behind a single candidate now than they were then. Much of the earlier support for Sabahi and Moussa is likely to dissipate now that they have completely exposed themselves as allies of the old regime.

“The military coup has had one benefit. It has made it crystal clear on which side everyone now stands. The liberals, nationalists, Salafis and head of the Coptic church have joined sides with Egypt’s unreformed and unreformable deep state. The ousted Muslim Brotherhood on the other have gained a cause even more potent than Islamism. They are now fighting for constitutional democracy. No longer can they be accused of trying to hide the worst sins of the army and the police when they are so obviously their victims. Morsi was arrested at his home by police and thugs. Can anyone imagine elections taking place in these conditions?”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/04/egypt-throwing-ballot-box-window

BTW the guardian’s coverage is generally surprisingly good.

Here’s an analysis from one of Morsi’s advisors:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/08/egyptians-resist-coup-until-democracy-restored

Also, while I am at it:

Pictures showing anti-coup rallies under threat from military, police and thugs comparable in size to the sponsored pro-coup rallies:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BObSXm5CYAAcGv6.jpg

Some more analysis from Michael Neumann:

http://insufficientrespect.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/secularist-reasons-for-supporting-morsi.html

http://insufficientrespect.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/egyptian-ideologies-for-whom.html

http://insufficientrespect.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/freedom-versis-democracy-in-egypt.html

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 7, 2013 at 9:27 am

RED BLOB: I also think that the whole purpose of democracy is to facilitate the development of Capitalism which needs co option rather than coercion.

DAVID BERGER: Do you, then, support the just-overthrown “democratic” government of Morsi against the Tamarod, which provided the mass base for the overthrow and the military?

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Red Blob July 7, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Red Dave I absolutely support the elected governments right to serve out its term of office.
I absolutely support the right of people to demonstrate.
I absolutely reject the idea that the military should remove any elected government.
Arthur you state that leftist talk a lot of crap about the situation in Australia 1975 and about countries that they know nothing about but I encourage people to speak their minds (100 flowers bloom if you like) because that’s a way to learn, we put ideas forward and they get tested in argument. Its healthier than being afraid to speak because of embarrassment. Where would we be if only the “learned” spoke wouldn’t that make for an interesting blog.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm

RED BLOB: Red Dave I absolutely support the elected governments right to serve out its term of office.

DAVID BERGER: Do you support that “right” in the face of mass demonstrations of tens of millions of people and the prosecution by the Morsi government of a neo-liberal agenda?

RED BLOB: I absolutely support the right of people to demonstrate.

DAVID BERGER: That’s big of you, Comrade. But let’s go one step further. Do you support the right of the people to overthrow their government? Because if the military hadn’t stepped in, we might have had a full-scale revolution.

RED BLOB: I absolutely reject the idea that the military should remove any elected government.

DAVID BERGER: As I think I have shown, the situation is a good deal more complicated, and fruitful, than a military coup. We have had mass demonstrations calling for the removal of the government, which process was cut short by the military action. To oppose the removal of the Morsi government by the military, which is riding on the backs of the people, is to put you in support of the Morsi government, against the masses.

Is that where you want to be, politically?

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Brian S. July 7, 2013 at 7:13 pm

@David. Come now – To oppose military rule is to support Morsi? Where did you learn that form of reasoning What about a mass campaign to force Morsi’s resignation without military intervention? Or to force the government to retreat on its specific abuses – over trade union rights, the constitution, etc. Or to press it to speed up its committment to move forward to parliamentary elections? Plenty of ways to fight Morsi without military rule.
” if the military hadn’t stepped in, we might have had a full-scale revolution.” An absurd claim – but if you are serious about it, shouldn’t you then have opposed the military stepping in?
By the way, I’ve just been doing some reality checking – the claim that the demonstrations involved “10s of millions” is key to the opposition argument, because they need to show that there were more people in the anti-Morsi demonstrations than the 13 million votes Morsi gained in the second round. . But it just doesn’t add up – I can’t find evidence of more than one million.

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Brian S. July 8, 2013 at 8:03 am

I have to amend the above statement on the size of the Egyptian mobilisations. After more detailed investigation I would estimate the total mobilisation across the country at under 1.5 million. No matter how wide you cast the net – the highest possible figure would still be under 5 million (and I don’t regard that as at all plausible).
The point here is not to quibble over precise figures – but to reject the idea that the mobilisations were on a large enough scale to counter Morsi’s mandate.
That’s not to say that I dismiss the significance of the demonstrations – they were impressive in size, in determination, in spread across the country, and in diversity of social composition. If their power had been harnessed for a serious political project they could have represented a big step forward for the revolution. But instead they were diverted into the blind alley of military internvetion.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 8, 2013 at 8:32 am

BRAIN S.: Morsi’s mandate

DAVID BERGER: I wasn’t aware that “mandate” was a political criterion for socialists. Our criteria are things like “class rule.” Morsi is a representative of the bourgeoisie. He has no “mandate” that we are bound to respect.

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Aaron Aarons July 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Hear, hear!

Pham Binh July 7, 2013 at 7:35 am

Revolutionary Socialists completely endorses the coup and repression of MB:

“Occupy the squares: stand firm in the face of the
conspiracy by the Brotherhood and America

“July 6, 2013 — During days that rocked the world,
millions of Egyptians poured into the streets and forced
their institutions to remove the failed president.
Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood had
betrayed the principles of the 25 January 2011
revolution and overthrown its goals.

“But the stubbornness, stupidity and criminality of the
US-backed Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Badie,
its General Guide, open the terrifying horizons of civil
war. This can only be stopped by millions coming into
the squares and streets to protect their revolution.

“They must abort the US-Brotherhood plan to portray
the Egyptian Revolution as a military coup.

“The popular uprising of 30 June threw the Muslim
Brotherhood out of power, and its plan is now clear.

“The Brotherhood is seeking to take over the squares in
order to project an image of false popularity for the
president who was removed by the uprising. It may
even be aiming to negotiate his return to power with
the support of the US and other imperialist powers in
order to accomplish what Mursi promised to do for
them in Syria and the region.

“Leaving the squares to Mursi and his supporters today
is the biggest danger that faces the revolution. The
return of the Brotherhood to power will mean the
defeat of the greatest uprising of the masses, setting
the revolution back and destroying the hopes that
launched it.

“The masses who made the revolution in January 2011,
and sought to complete it in June 2013, are the only
ones who can save it from danger.

“The people who called on the military to protect them
on 30 June and subsequently, can defend themselves,
without waiting for a hesitating army or police. The
valour of the people of Boulaq Abu Al-Ala and Maniyal
and Sayyida Zeinab and Sidi Gaber and elsewhere last
night in the face of the attacks of the Brotherhood, is
our best example.

“The revolution is continuing, but it still needs time and
to organise itself. This requires the reformation of
popular committees to defend our revolution in every
street, neighbourhood and factory. We are multitudes,
but we lack organisation in our ranks.

“Whoever is the next prime minister must be from
among the ranks of the January Revolution.

“We demand that the priorities of the coming
government must be:

“Immediate steps to achieve social justice for the
benefit of millions of poor and low-income.

“These are the people who paid the greatest share of
the price for Mursi’s failure to implement the goals of
the revolution—and that of the Military Council before
him.

“Election of a Constituent Assembly, representing all
sections of the people—workers, peasants and the
poor, Coptic Christians and women—to write a civil,
democratic constitution which entrenches the values of
freedom and social justice.

“The drafting of a law of transitional justice which holds
to account the Brotherhood for the blood it has spilled,
as well as the Military Council and the symbols of the
Mubarak regime, and achieves retribution for the
martyrs and injured of the revolution.

“We will not leave the streets and squares to the
merchants of religion, the friends of the US. We will not
wait for the army to protect us; we will defend our
revolution with our own hands.

“Glory to the martyrs! Victory to the Revolution! Shame
on the murderers!

“All power and wealth to the people.”

http://links.org.au

Completely bonkers.

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Arthur July 7, 2013 at 8:37 am

That’s not bonkers, THIS is bonkers…

http://213.158.162.45/~egyptian/index.php?action=news&id=29322&title=Temple+of+Evil+crumbles+down

The pseudoleft are just trailing behind the dominant ideas of the dominant class about the US plot represented by the brotherhood. They want the American ambassador “severely punished”.Obviously they aren’t going to let her minions, in the “axis of evil”, the “Temple of Devil”, aka Muslim Brotherhood take part in any elections if they can avoid it (or trials for that matter – just revenge for having tried to overthrow the old regime).

So, let’s face it, social fascism is pretty much the norm among pseudolefts these days. Way past time for some sharp lines of demarcation.

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Aaron Aarons July 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Social imperialism, i.e., pro-imperialist reformism, including fetishistic support for the results of electoral processes — results that can easily be determined, or at least greatly slanted, by those with wealth and institutional power — is characteristic of the pseudo-lefts most clearly represented by Arthur Dent and his friends who post here.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 7, 2013 at 9:30 am

PHAM BINH: Completely bonkers.

DAVID BERGER: The armchair radical sitting in New York has a better socialist program and strategy than a revolutionary socialist group actually in Egypt, actually involved in the struggle?

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Pham Binh July 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Not backing military coups against democratically elected governments and wholesale repression of mass-based Islamist opposition movements is something socialists anywhere in the world should be able to agree on. You don’t, apparently.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

PHAM BINH: Not backing military coups against democratically elected governments and wholesale repression of mass-based Islamist opposition movements is something socialists anywhere in the world should be able to agree on. You don’t, apparently.

DAVID BERGER: Leaving out the crucial self-activity of the masses, is typical of your thinking, Binh. All you see is the bubbles and steam at the top and not the boiling water below.

What follows is a very quick critique of the Revolutionary Socialist program above. I’m posting this not because the RS material is “perfect.” Quite the contary. But to show how a revolutionary group tries to cope with a very difficult political situation. (In my opinion, by the way, the treatment of the military is too soft and does leave the RS vulnerable to the charge of supporting a military coup if one looks at the situation from the tp. But the class position of the RS, viewing what has happened from the point of view of the masses, not the ruling class, is evident.

In addition, to call the Muslim Brotherhood, currently running a capitalist government, a “mass-based Islamist opposition movement[]” is to totally misunderstand the class nature of what is going on. Any ruling class, from that of the US to the Nazis to Tsarist Russia, can claim mass support. What is crucial is the class politics being evinced.

_______

RS: “Occupy the squares: stand firm in the face of the
conspiracy by the Brotherhood and America

DAVID BERGER: As to whether the word “conspiracy” is translated correctly or not, I don’t know. But there cetainly was an de facto “alliance” between the Muslim Brotherhood and the US and the Egyptian military.

RS: “July 6, 2013 — During days that rocked the world,
millions of Egyptians poured into the streets and forced
their institutions to remove the failed president.
Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood had
betrayed the principles of the 25 January 2011
revolution and overthrown its goals.

DAVID BERGER: Is it so incredible to think that the military, one component of the ruling class, would respond to an already-existing uprising nad seize the moment for itself?

RS: “But the stubbornness, stupidity and criminality of the
US-backed Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Badie,
its General Guide, open the terrifying horizons of civil
war. This can only be stopped by millions coming into
the squares and streets to protect their revolution.

DAVID BERGER: Given the complete failure of the Muslim Bortherhood government to bring about anything but an attempt at a neo-liberal agenda, is action by the masses unexpected?

RS: “They must abort the US-Brotherhood plan to portray
the Egyptian Revolution as a military coup.

DAVID BERGER: Thhis is perfect;y credible if we view recent events from the bottom, from the point of view of the masses who were in street. The military has taken advantage of a situation which they did nothing to create and did everything they could to avoid.

RS: “The popular uprising of 30 June threw the Muslim
Brotherhood out of power, and its plan is now clear.

DAVID BERGER: Once again, the military rode a wave of mass protest to power. It is not that the mass protesters backed the military. In fact, the military used the mass protests.

RS: “The Brotherhood is seeking to take over the squares in
order to project an image of false popularity for the
president who was removed by the uprising. It may
even be aiming to negotiate his return to power with
the support of the US and other imperialist powers in
order to accomplish what Mursi promised to do for
them in Syria and the region.

DAVID BERGER: Correct as I understand the situation.

RS: “Leaving the squares to Mursi and his supporters today
is the biggest danger that faces the revolution. The
return of the Brotherhood to power will mean the
defeat of the greatest uprising of the masses, setting
the revolution back and destroying the hopes that
launched it.

DAVID BERGER: This is an expression of the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is now the most advanced political entity of the Egyptian ruling class and its ally, the US. The military will, at various points, assume that role and hopefully expose itself in short order.

RS: “The masses who made the revolution in January 2011,
and sought to complete it in June 2013, are the only
ones who can save it from danger.

DAVID BERGER: This is a plain statement of revolutionary hope.

RS: “The people who called on the military to protect them on 30 June and subsequently, can defend themselves,
without waiting for a hesitating army or police. The
valour of the people of Boulaq Abu Al-Ala and Maniyal
and Sayyida Zeinab and Sidi Gaber and elsewhere last
night in the face of the attacks of the Brotherhood, is
our best example.

DAVID BERGER: From this point of view, what can, from one class point of view be called a military coup, can, from a different class point of view be called protection against the Muslim Brotherhood. The contradictions of this, of asking the military branch of the ruling class for protections against the Muslim Brotherhood branch will, hopefully be seen soon. In my opinion, however, illusions are being sown here in the middle of a very complex political situation. Incidentally, what should be talked about is political agitation among the troops.

RS: “The revolution is continuing, but it still needs time and
to organise itself. This requires the reformation of
popular committees to defend our revolution in every
street, neighbourhood and factory. We are multitudes,
but we lack organisation in our ranks.

DAVID BERGER: This, in my opinion, expresses an intent to continue to use the military as protection for the masses against the Muslim Brotherhood government. This is, I believe, an incorrect strategy. But obviously, the masses are in no condition right now to confront the military and the Muslim Brotherhood government.

RS: “Whoever is the next prime minister must be from among the ranks of the January Revolution.

DAVID BERGER: This is, in my opinion, murky, and leaves the way open for a military government of one sort or another

RS: “We demand that the priorities of the coming
government must be:
“Immediate steps to achieve social justice for the
benefit of millions of poor and low-income.

DAVID BERGER: This is a proper transitional demand. It both expresses the needs of the masses and cannot be achieved under capitalism.

RS: “These are the people who paid the greatest share of
the price for Mursi’s failure to implement the goals of
the revolution—and that of the Military Council before
him.

DAVID BERGER: Placing the masses in the role of victim of the regime and actors against the regime.

RS: “Election of a Constituent Assembly, representing all
sections of the people—workers, peasants and the
poor, Coptic Christians and women—to write a civil,
democratic constitution which entrenches the values of
freedom and social justice.

DAVID BERGER: Again, a transitional demand. In the absence of organs of popular power, councils, a Constituent Assembly will come under the sway of bourgeois forces. On the other hand, there is a call first for “popular committees to defend our revolution in every
street, neighbourhood and factory.”

RS: “The drafting of a law of transitional justice which holds
to account the Brotherhood for the blood it has spilled,
as well as the Military Council and the symbols of the
Mubarak regime, and achieves retribution for the
martyrs and injured of the revolution.

DAVID BERGER: Calling for a new revolutionary government to judge the crimes of the old regimes.

RS: “We will not leave the streets and squares to the
merchants of religion, the friends of the US. We will not
wait for the army to protect us; we will defend our
revolution with our own hands.

DAVID BERGER: Opening the door to go beyond the military.

RS: “Glory to the martyrs! Victory to the Revolution! Shame
on the murderers!
“All power and wealth to the people.”

DAVID BERGER: Solidarity Forever.

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Brian S. July 7, 2013 at 4:36 pm

@ David. You are just repeating the fantasies of those on the Egyptian left who are deceiving themselves about what is happening.
“The military has taken advantage of a situation which they did nothing to create and did everything they could to avoid.” Where have you been for the last week? The military continuously encouraged the mobilisations, entered into discussions with the groups leading them, insisted that Morsi must “meet the demands of the people”, and finally ignored his (admittedly clumsy) offers of a compromise so that they could realise their real agenda of ousting him under cover of supporting a popular revolt.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm

BRIAN S: @ David. You are just repeating the fantasies of those on the Egyptian left who are deceiving themselves about what is happening.

DAVID BERGER: That may well be, but you are going to have to demonstrate that, not assert it.

DAVID BERGER: “The military has taken advantage of a situation which they did nothing to create and did everything they could to avoid.”

BRIAN S: Where have you been for the last week? The military continuously encouraged the mobilisations, entered into discussions with the groups leading them, insisted that Morsi must “meet the demands of the people”, and finally ignored his (admittedly clumsy) offers of a compromise so that they could realise their real agenda of ousting him under cover of supporting a popular revolt.

DAVID BERGER: Okay, I stand corrected on that one point.

On the other hand, this does not change one bit my fundamental point that this is far more than a military coup and that Leftists should support it. My feeling, though, still is that we are dealing with, with regard to the military, a situation of “if you can’t beat ’em, join em.” The class root of the government, though, Muslim Brotherhood or the military, is capitalist through and through.

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Brian S. July 7, 2013 at 4:09 pm

@David.It wouldn’t be the first time people deeply engaged in a struggle have gone off on the wrong track. They may be emotionally admirable, but it doesn’t stop them being politically wrong. But iIf you take a look at some of the links that have been posted here you’ll see that there are several different views being expresses by revolutionary socialist in Egypt – in some cases even by the same person.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 7, 2013 at 10:09 pm

BRIAN S.: @David.It wouldn’t be the first time people deeply engaged in a struggle have gone off on the wrong track.

DAVID BERGER: True. And I have some criticisms of the RS myself. But to do as many people around here are doing, including Pham Binh, which is tossing around a set of bourgeois criteria and trying to evaluate the Egyptian situation is as piss poor method as it gets.

BRIAN S.: They may be emotionally admirable, but it doesn’t stop them being politically wrong.

DAVID BERGER: Neither you, Binh, nor any of the Australian “Last Superpower” group have demonstrated that they’re wrong.

BRIAN S.: But iIf you take a look at some of the links that have been posted here you’ll see that there are several different views being expresses by revolutionary socialist in Egypt – in some cases even by the same person.

DAVID BERGER: I understand that. It’s a very complex situation. What’s important is to put forth a class analysis, not watch the bourgeoisie throw the dice and try to work with the numbers that they come up with. It’s not the only game in town.

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Brian S. July 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Now let’s try and maintain some accuracy here – this is not a justification of the coup; but the price it has to pay for not justifying the coup is to endorse the idea of self-organised “revolutionary” repression of the MB. Another example, I fear, of how ultraleftism rots the brain. I must say these people are beginning to sound more and more like stalinists – characterising their opponents as foreign agents (a theme already taken up by Sabahi), calling for repression and show trials for their opponents. What next -? A “transitional demand” to replace Egyptian security with a Cheka?
On the other hand, its worth reading the interview with Hannah Elsisi that precedes it, for a sobre evaluation of the current situation and of Egypt in general. She says ” Half of us see this as a victory for the revolution and the other half as a victory for the counterrevolution – half as a step forward, half as a step backwards.” Even if she – rather inconsistently – is in the wrong half, its encouraging to know that half of the revolutionary forces are seeking things clearly, and are talking to the other half. Still some hope there.
There’s also something from Gilbert Achcar: transcript here – http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article29127; videos here: http://www.marxsite.org/
A generally sensible approach, but not saying a great deal new.

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Pham Binh July 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm

The coup is described as a people’s victory that “forced” “their” army responded to popular pressure and it’s claimed that the U.S. wants Morsi back! Complete garbage on all counts.

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S.Artesian July 7, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I think that comment by Pham is partially correct. The coup is not a “people’s victory” and the army wasn’t responding to popular pressure, or the desire to “fulfill” the will of the people or any of that other junk. What the US wants or doesn’t want, I don’t know and I don’t think is critical to comprehending the coup as a coup.

I don’t claim to have detailed knowledge of the situation, but I have spent some time in Egypt recently, and do know a few things about its history.

Let’s be clear, the military turning out Morsi is no more a “victory” than the military turning out Mubarak was a victory. In both cases, the military acted only after it was clear that both Mubarak and Morsi were losing control of the struggle in the streets. The military acted and reacted to restore ORDER, its ORDER, and its privileges, and that’s all.

Despite the years of repression and explicit ‘hostility” to the MB, the connections between the military officer class and the MB go back a long way and are very deep, so I wouldn’t get all excited by this wave of repression.

And of course, both the MB and the military have in the past made breaking of strikes, arrests, and targeted assassinations of workers’ leaders their first order of business

More importantly, what’s driving the struggle in Egypt won’t and can’t be resolved by any “democratically elected” government made up of any of the current “players.” The economy has been pretty much withered over the past decade.

Keep in mind also, that after the departure of Mubarak and prior to the consolidation of the MB regime, the military was running the show and they weren’t exactly exhibiting great concern, sympathy, or support for the revolution.

Look, this struggle is just beginning. There’s no way anyone should support the MB with its past and recent practices. And for exactly the same reasons, no one should support the military.

Anybody shedding tears for the MB as a “mass-based” “Islamist opposition movement” really ought to take a look at the history of the MB, it’s creation and use of thugs and goons throughout the first half of the 20th century; it’s hostility to the secular programs in Egyptian society that have afforded women in the urban areas better access to jobs and education, etc. etc.

The fundamental issue is, is Egypt in the midst of a revolutionary struggle? If it is, what forces, what class, can make the revolution and what sort of program has to be advanced to bring a revolutionary struggle to fruition.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 7, 2013 at 7:47 pm

S.ARTESIAN: The fundamental issue is, is Egypt in the midst of a revolutionary struggle? If it is, what forces, what class, can make the revolution and what sort of program has to be advanced to bring a revolutionary struggle to fruition.

DAVID BERGER: Precisely.

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Pham Binh July 7, 2013 at 8:02 pm

I took a stab at your concluding questions here: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=5759

Defending the Brotherhood and Morsi from a coup is no more about supporting them than (to lapse into 1917-ism) fighting Kornilov was about supporting Kerensky, the SRs, and the Mensheviks who repressed peasant committees and committed other crimes during their brief rule. Only by fighting vigorously against the coup by any and all means would it be possible to take the revolution forward; instead, the left-liberal opposition actively collaborated with the coup and now SCAF has re-opened Assad’s embassy, closed the Rafah crossing, shut down Al-Jazeera, shot pro-Morsi demonstrators, and they are going to prosecute not just Morsi by Palestinians and Syrians in Egypt in show trials (see http://gulfnews.com/news/region/egypt/syrians-paid-to-kill-egypt-protesters-1.1206402?) without a peep from the so-called opposition.

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S.Artesian July 7, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Yes, there was approval, support of this coup; I have no information regarding “collaboration” by socialists. No “revolutionary” “socialist” “Marxist” has any business or reason to collaborate, approve, support the Egyptian military.

At the same time– bad analogy to the mobilization against Kornilov; which mobilization was quite clearly about NOT defending Kerensky (much less “supporting” the Prov Gov) but actually made use of the opportunity to undermine the PG– mobilizing independently of the PG under the authority of the soviets, with no order/instruction of the PG to be executed unless a soviet offiical authorized the action. Big, big, big difference, and we spell such difference– s-0-v-i-e-ts.

In addition Pham, you posed the issue not in terms of the mobilization for the revolution and against repression of the revolution, which was exactly the issue posed by Kornilov’s threats, but rather as this:

“Not backing military coups against democratically elected governments and wholesale repression of mass-based Islamist opposition movements is something socialists anywhere in the world should be able to agree on.”

If that’s defense that is NOT also support, well the distinction is not readily apparent. Democratically elected government? Mass-based Islamist opposition movement? Really? Look a bit into the history of the MB; it’s association with the fascist “Green Militia” (I think it was called); its use of thugs and goons against striking workers.

Bottom line in this is that no “constitutional” “democratic” etc.etc. revolution is possible in Egypt. There is no class to make such a revolution; and there is no organization of property that will support a “democratic” revolution.

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Pham Binh July 7, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Use the 1921 Kapp putsch in Germany if you don’t like the 1917 analogy since you got hung up on soviets which has no bearing on this disucssion. Fighting coups is not about politically supporting whatever schmuck the military is trying to oust.

The Arab Spring is nothing but democratic revolutions. Socialist revolutions won’t be on the cards for decades, if we’re lucky. I covered this in the previous link.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm

PHAM BINH: The Arab Spring is nothing but democratic revolutions. Socialist revolutions won’t be on the cards for decades, if we’re lucky. I covered this in the previous link.

DAVID BERGER: Says it all. We better get behind those bourgeois democratic regimes ’cause socialism ain’t comin’ in our time. I suggest you study Russia in 1917 and France in 1968 to see how fast a revolutionary crisis have happen.

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Pham Binh July 8, 2013 at 8:52 am

Russia 1917 wasn’t a socialist revolution because it involved the whole of the peasantry and they are a bourgeois class. Read Lenin.

France in 1968 was a large general strike, not a revolution or even a failed revolution.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 8, 2013 at 9:38 am

PHAM BINH: The Arab Spring is nothing but democratic revolutions. Socialist revolutions won’t be on the cards for decades, if we’re lucky. I covered this in the previous link.

DAVID BERGER: Says it all. We better get behind those bourgeois democratic regimes ’cause socialism ain’t comin’ in our time. I suggest you study Russia in 1917 and France in 1968 to see how fast a revolutionary crisis have happen.

PHAM BINH: Russia 1917 wasn’t a socialist revolution because it involved the whole of the peasantry and they are a bourgeois class. Read Lenin.

DAVID BERGER: Read what I wrote. I used the term “revolutionary crisis,” not “socialist revolution.”

PHAM BINH: France in 1968 was a large general strike, not a revolution or even a failed revolution.

DAVID BERGER: Again, learn to read what you are responding to. France in ’68 had a revolutionary crisis.

The “Arab Spring” has involved a series of revolutionary crises, coming to the highest level in Egypt. To claim that these are “nothing but democratic revolutions” is to misunderstand democracy, revolution, socialism, etc.

S.Artesian July 8, 2013 at 9:56 am

Which 1917 are we talking about? February? October? Makes a slight bit of difference. What October 1917 was NOT was a “democratic” or a “bourgeois-democratic” revolution. It most certainly was proletarian revolution centered in the major urban areas, coincident with the poor peasantry and laborers rising against the landlords.

After that, it’s impossible to talk about the RR without discussing the international connections and penetrations of capital.

And no, the peasantry are NOT a “bourgeois class.” The bourgeois class is organized around the bourgeois mode of production, which is itself organized around the expropriation of surplus labor time as surplus value, where production is production for the accumulation of value.

The peasantry is, for lack of a better label, a “petty-bourgeois” formation, possessing property but no mode of production for the organization of the society, since peasant production is organized around subsistence production, with differentiation within the mass of the peasantry based on marketing or the expropriation of surplus PRODUCT after subsistence needs.

Hope that’s not too technical, and I admit the explanation is based more on Marx than Lenin, although I have read Lenin– just think he’s wrong a lot.

S.Artesian July 8, 2013 at 8:21 am

For you to now claim “soviets have no bearing on the discussion” after YOU brought up the mobilization against Kornilov is pretty hilarious, amounts to a disavowal of the actual content of your own example, and is probably determined by an ideological hostility to actual class analysis. Just sayin’

The Arab Spring is nothing but “democratic revolutions”? Really? Where is there a successful functioning “democracy” actually doing what “democratic revolutions” do– that is to say fundamentally changing the organization of landed property, expanding a” bourgeois-democratic” economy?

What you covered in your previous link provides zero insight into the economic determinants of the struggle, the conditions and relations of classes on both the national and international scale.

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Pham Binh July 8, 2013 at 9:10 am

Again, the Kapp putsch is a good example. Which of course you’ve chosen to ignore so you can harp on about soviets.

Democratic revolutions do not necessarily involve “changing the organization of landed property”. Where on Earth did you ever get that idea?

I agree my previous article did not cover the economic and class determinants of the Arab Spring except to say that democratic revolutions involve different classes and class alliances than socialist revolutions, a point that is almost never acknowledged by so-called Marxists in these discussions.

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S.Artesian July 8, 2013 at 9:42 am

Where on earth did I ever get that idea? Uh…..from history, the history of so-called democratic revolutions, including those that failed.

So….uh we can start with the English one, and the French one, and then there was that one in North America called the US Civil War, and then there all those failed ones, like Spain 1936– failed because there were those with an interest in anointing the revolution as ” democratic” and rolling back the collectivization already accomplished; and before that there was Mexico, 1910; and around the same time as Spain, there was Vietnam in 1937, and again in 1945, with vested interests trying to cram the revolution into the “democratic” trick bag; and Bolivia under the MNR 1952-1964, another attempt at “democratic” containment, and on and on and on….

I suppose we can add South Africa, post 1994 to the list of failed so-called “democratic revolutions……”

I’m not harping on soviets; I mentioned soviets as the critical distinction when you tried to bring in a distorted notion of defense of Kerensky against Kornilov.

You’re harping on my mentioning that to avoid dealing with the fact you argued for a bit more than “defense” with your characterization of the MB as a “democratically elected government” and a “mass-based Islamist opposition.”

I do agree that democratic revolutions involve different classes and class alliances than socialist revolutions. Kind of why I said there is no class capable of making such a democratic revolution… not to put too fine a point on it.

But look, you obviously got a good gig here, and I wouldn’t want to disturb it, or disrupt the take at the gate…

… so let me just repeat no revolutionist has any business supporting or endorsing the coup; just as no revolutionist has any reason to defend the MB. Say, did you ever get around to checking into the history of the MB?

You know, the nasty bits of that history, attacking strikers, invading the old Jewish neighborhoods in Cairo, and the connections to the Green Militia?

Oh sorry, that’s just me harping away…. Harpo, a little harp music, please.

S.Artesian July 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm

You know, I think we should take up the Kapp Putsch. After relying on the official and unofficial military (the Freikorps) to keep the radical workers under control, the social democratic government of Germany faced a coup by these very same official and unofficial elements.

After several days, and after exhausting every other option, the government called on the workers to engage in a general strike. The SD unions and workers immediately went on strike, joined later by the communist led organizations.

Now if we look at this process, we are immediately struck by the fact that when and if a general strike is initiated and is heeded by the workers, this presents a tremendous opportunity to advance a class-specific program independent of both the government and the military without supporting either– in fact, opposing both.

Now the coup in Egypt could have prevented a similar opportunity, provided of course that such programmatic class-based, “socialist” demands had been offered, independent of the military or MB . But Pham’s argument is that we are light year away from such open class struggle, from a “socialist revolution,” and Egypt presents the opportunity for only a democratic revolution. So this precludes the injection of any independent class-based program– even one that is modest and demands the right of workers to strike without interference from the courts, the police, the military, and/or the Muslim Brotherhood.

If the revolutionary socialists of Egypt have not yet and do not take this moment to inject such independent class-based program, as opposed to the purely abstract and DOA “democratic demands’– well so much for being revolutionary or socialist.

However, I think Pham’s own depiction of the social nature of the revolution eliminates the prospects for advancing that revolution beyond the options of supporting the MB or the military– a lose-lose situation if ever there was one.

Pham Binh July 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm

So a petty-bourgeois class is not a type of bourgeois class? Interesting.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm

PHAM BINH: So a petty-bourgeois class is not a type of bourgeois class? Interesting.

DAVID BERGER: No, it is not. Very interesting, isn’t it. Yes, there are property owners among the petty-bougeoisie, but there are also non-property-owning elements, such as artists.

Pham Binh July 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm

DB: We’re discussing the peasantry here, not artists. FYI.

S.Artesian July 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm

No, the petty-bourtgeoisie are not the bourgeoisie. No they are not a “type” of bourgeoisie. The term petty-bourgeoisie is applied to the peasantry, as I said, FOR LACK of a better term. Peasant based production is fundamentally circumscribed by subsistence, or subsistence + surplus product, but is not the bourgeois mode of production as, for example, capitalist farming IS.

Aaron Aarons July 8, 2013 at 1:33 am

Let’s be clear, the military turning out Morsi is no more a “victory” than the military turning out Mubarak was a victory. In both cases, the military acted only after it was clear that both Mubarak and Morsi were losing control of the struggle in the streets. The military acted and reacted to restore ORDER, its ORDER, and its privileges, and that’s all.

The successes of the mass movements in 2011 and now in 2013 in making the continuation of military-dominated bourgeois rule through Mubarak and, now, Morsi, impossible were and are victories, though limited ones. The main hope is that the working class and its potential allies can develop the consciousness and organization necessary so that the ultimate outcome of this ongoing struggle will be proletarian rule and not a stable bourgeois dictatorship, Islamic or not.

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Aaron Aarons July 8, 2013 at 1:37 am

The first paragraph of my comment above is a quote from S. Artesian’s comment above:
http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=9130#comment-56332

BTW, I do agree with most of what comrade Artesian has written here.

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Brian S. July 8, 2013 at 9:07 am

For me, the issue is not one of supporting or not supporting Morsi, but of determining what, in the given political context and relationship of forces, was the right way to take the revolution forward, beyond Morsi and its current stage. That is most certainly NOT through forming a political bloc with the military.
Its debatable whether or not it was good strategy to focus on Morsi’s resignation: on the one hand there is evidence that he had lost enough support to call his legitimacy into question; on the other, in a context where the opposition was disorganised and had was no clear alternative programme, it could be seen as premature.
There were multiple channels available to pursue the struggle against the Morsi regime without either invoking the military or focusing on the resignation of the President. Parliamentary elections were due and the elections would have been an ideal opportunity for the different opposition political forces to get their acts together; if the FJP had lost the elections badly, Morsi’s position in the Presidency would have become untenable. In the meantime there was extensive scope for important sectoral struggles – over trade union rights, womens rights, accountability of the security services – which could have made a coherent anti-Morsi coalition possible.
Let’s remember that , despite all the vacuous talk of “second revolutions”, Egypt was just starting to take advantage of the democratic opening created by the fall of Mubarak. The left was just starting to gain some organisational shape; the free trade union movement was in its embryonic stage (split into two currents); community based popular organisations were just emerging. All that has now either been frozen or thrown into reverse gear. “Is Egypt in the midst of a revolutionary struggle?” Not any longer: at best its been sent back to square one (or maybe two) of the revolutionary process.

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Arthur July 8, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Although you have correctly understood that the NSF and it’s allies (including those claiming to be “left” as well as the Salafist Nour party) are supporting a counter-revolutionary coup, you still haven’t grasped that has been their whole strategy since it became obvious they have no hope of winning free and fair elections.

” Parliamentary elections were due and the elections would have been an ideal opportunity for the different opposition political forces to get their acts together; if the FJP had lost the elections badly, Morsi’s position in the Presidency would have become untenable.”

Obviously they would have taken that path if it was possible. They know, from repeated experience in multiple elections and referenda that they are a minority with no immediate prospect of becoming a majority. That is why they have energetically opposed elections and a constituton.

You are still framing the struggle in Egypt from their perspective – as the revolution fighting a non-revolutionary Morsi regime. Faced with the simple fact that these “revolutionaries” have united with the remnants in a military coup to suppress democracy it is about time you stopped accepting their framework that the Morsi government is the enemy. The enemy of the democratic revolution is the people engaged in suppressing democracy.

The reality is that the Morsi government has been trying to institutionalize democracy against the entrenched remnants who still controlled the armed forces, police, judiciary, bureaucracy and most business while the opposition has been waging a joint struggle with the remnants to prevent that – under the same banner the Mubarek regime always raised – “secularist dictatorship is the only way to avoid an islamist regime”.

You should by now have grasped, from Syria and from the comments on Syria here that it is very normal for people claiming to be “left” to actively and virulently side with counter revolution. That is what is happening in Egypt and it did not just suddenly happen recently. They are not supporting a military coup because of some tactical mistake. That is their only hope.

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Richard Estes July 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm

It is tempting to agree with this analysis, sans the discussion of Syria, because, as the excerpt from the article that I posted earlier today indicates, the relatively secular revolutionaries have a contemptuous attitude towards the people who support the Brotherhood, analoguous to what the drafters of the US Constitution thought about women, African Americans and people who didn’t own property: they were incapable of exercising their right to vote responsibly. The revolutionaries appear to have the same attitude, the supporters of the Brotherhood are sheep, and their opinions and their votes should be disregarded.

Now, as a consequence, we have the Egyptian military or armed paramilitaries associated with the Mubarak regime killling and wounding large numbers of praying Brotherhood members. It is a catastrophe, pushing the country towards a civil war that will open the door towards more intrusive US, Saudi and Israeli manipulation. It is a tragedy that the Egyptians have failed to recognize this peril.

But there is another problem, and that is the failure of representative democratic structures to actually represent the people who voted for them. In Egypt, the populace was angered that Morsi was not doing what they voted for him to do, and took to the streets. Of course, in the US, this would never happen, as there is surely sufficient justification in the betrayals of the Obama presidency, just as there would be in France in relation to the Socialists and Hollande, or would have beein in the UK during the Blair government, but, in Egypt, the populace actually believed that Morse and the Brotherhood were supposed to follow through on their rhetoric of inclusion and reform, and rebelled when Morsi failed to fulfill their expectations.

In other words, there is a naivete about the democratic structures so prized and promoted by the US and the EU that exposes the hollowness within. If there is any hope for a positive turn of events in Egypt. it requires a radical recognition as to these imperfections accompanied by an effort to develop truly inclusive structures of political participation. A military coup is not a promising way of doing it.

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Aaron Aarons July 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm

This from the ‘Last Superpower’ grouplet (and probably one of the very individuals) that asserts that George W. Bush became a promoter of “democratic revolution” in response to the events of 11 September 2001. They (I think it was Patrick Muldowney specifically) have said that, in the world today, “the struggle is for bourgeois democracy”, which, for them, means elections that global capital, with its wealth and power, will always win, either directly or by imposing its program on the nominal winners.

Arthur Dent (né Albert Langer) appears to be quite loyal to his class.

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Richard Estes July 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm

there are a lot of lower middle income and lower income people associated with the Brotherhood (without getting into a precise analysis of their class affiliation)

please explain how having the Egyptian military shoot and kill them helps crystalize their class consciousness in support of the revolution

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S.Artesian July 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Look the military and the MB have squabbled for years. The MB has been outlawed, repressed, arrested, tortured etc.– doesn’t mean there aren’t deep connections between the MB and military officer corps going back a long time, connections that reached deep into the “colonels’ revolt,” into the supreme council itself.

Is everyone here really so unaware of the history of the MB in Egypt? And pointing out its real history, its connections to strike-breaking gangs, the Green Militia doesn’t mean I support the Egyptian military.

It just means don’t knock yourself out jumping to their defense as if that jump is a defense of the revolution.

What unites the MB and the military is the need to bring the revolution to an end. What divides them is who can do it better, with less risk of triggering a mass movement threatening, of all things, capitalist property. The military is quite deep into the ownership of factories, food processing plants, and even agriculture in Egypt.

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Richard Estes July 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

yes, but the military didn’t kill Brotherhood leaders responsible for these actions

it killed Brotherhood supporters who turned out for protests against the coup

how that does anything other than reinforce the appeal of the Brotherhood amongst its supporters at all levels is beyond me

Brian S. July 9, 2013 at 6:38 am

There’s little value in invoking the history of the MB 60 years back to understand its current role. The current generation of MB activists have been formed in opposition to military rule with a set of broadly democratic political values (their leadership core may be a different story). I know of no evidence that the MB has recent connections “reaching deep” into SCARF. Do you?

Aaron Aarons July 9, 2013 at 2:17 am

Brian S. writes:

Its debatable whether or not it was good strategy to focus on Morsi’s resignation: […] in a context where the opposition was disorganised and had was no clear alternative programme, it could be seen as premature.
[…]
Parliamentary elections were due and the elections would have been an ideal opportunity for the different opposition political forces to get their acts together
[…]
In the meantime there was extensive scope for important sectoral struggles – over trade union rights, womens rights, accountability of the security services – which could have made a coherent anti-Morsi coalition possible.
[…]
Egypt was just starting to take advantage of the democratic opening created by the fall of Mubarak.

The trouble with this is that it treats “the opposition” (or even worse, “Egypt”) as the political subject (i.e., actor) to which leftists outside of Egypt should be proposing strategy and tactics, rather than as an amalgam of diverse forces, many of which are enemies of the left, the working class, and the oppressed. If we are going to be discussing what people in Egypt should be doing, it should be those individuals and groups in Egypt who are at least subjectively on our side. In particular, it was not the job of the left inside or outside of Egypt to “have made a coherent anti-Morsi coalition possible”, although Egyptian leftists might at various times make limited coalitions with bourgeois elements over specific demands against Morsi, the military, or both.

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Brian S. July 9, 2013 at 6:45 am

Aaron: We both might like there to be a clear, independent left pole in Egypt that could contend for the leadership of the popular movement. But there isn’t: what there is, is a broad “opposition” front. For better or for worse most of “those individuals and groups in Egypt who are at least subjectively on our side. ” (certainly if you are talking about the mass movement) are supporters of that amalgam. My point in dealing with strategic issues for opposition to the Morsi regime was to demonstrate the bankruptcy of the leadership of that movement and to give some indication of how an alternative was possible. That alternative could only have been implemented by a united left.

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Aaron Aarons July 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I’m having a bit of trouble understanding you here, Brian. In particular, I don’t know who you are referring to as part of a hypothetical “united left”?

Anyway, I don’t believe that a genuine left can separate opposition to the Morsi regime from opposition to the capitalists in general, although opposition to particular things that any ruling-class faction, MB or otherwise, does can be organized on a transitory united-front basis.

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Brian S. July 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm

@Aron.Precisely – a United left would be a united front of the different components of the left – as you say such a formation is “hypotherical” but in my view the main candidates would include the myriad small socialist groups, the 6 April Youth Movement, the Nasserists, left Islamists like Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh (Strong Egypt Party), and the two wings of the Free Trade Union movement.

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Aaron Aarons July 12, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Socialists should not take part in electoral coalitions with pro-capitalist, non-working-class groups, which I presume several of the groups you mention to be.

OTOH, it may perhaps be correct to participate in an internally-democratic, pro-working-class, pro-woman, etc., left electoral party that is not explicitly anti-capitalist, provided it is not explicitly anti-revolutionary, i.e., Arthurian (Dentist?).

Aaron Aarons July 8, 2013 at 1:13 am

Interesting article from the World Socialist Web Site:
Violent clashes spread in Egypt as US backs army coup
I don’t know if their assertions about the U.S. role have any merit, but at least they manage to oppose the coup without giving any support or legitimacy to Morsi and the MB.

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Brian S. July 8, 2013 at 9:23 am

WSWS would like you to believe that they have some secret channel to insider information – but all they do is gloss material from the mainstream media. That can be useful -but you have to watch out forthe spin they put on things.
No one else in the world thinks that the US supported the coup (hence the outcry against the US administration in Cairo) and I don’t see any reason take a different view.

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Aaron Aarons July 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Brian S.: “No one else in the world [other than the WSWS] thinks that the US supported the coup”.

Elsewhere on this page, Richard Estes quotes from an article,On Sheep and Infidels: “pro-Morsi protesters and pro-Morsi media […] allege that the church was behind the feloul-US-Zionist plot to oust Morsi”. I have come across many other places where, alternately, Morsi supporters or their opponents claim that the U.S. is backing the other side.

I would suspect that the U.S. backed the military’s alliance with Morsi and the Brotherhood, and, after the fact if not before, has supported the military’s actions against Morsi and the MB, if for no other reason than that it preempted a potential popular insurrection.

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Brian S. July 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Apologies Aaron: Of course, the Morsi camp made such claims – but I assume you are not using them as a reliable source. The supporters of the coup certainly did not regard the US as on their side. Nor, I’m sorry to say, do your suspicions count in my book as serious evidence. In what sense could Egypt have been on the verge of a “popular insurrection”?

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Aaron Aarons July 8, 2013 at 7:59 am

My comment about the phrase, “the opposition”, was a reply to Arthur Dent’s comment at
http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=9130#comment-55850
As often happens to replies here, it got posted as a top-level comment, which was not my intention.

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Richard Estes July 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm

“On Sheep and Infidels”

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/12779/on-sheep-and-infidels

An excerpt:

“. . . . For the past week I have been trundling between the pro- and anti-Morsi protests. It is like travelling between two planets. The pro-camp has significantly more men than woman (although there are women and children there) and it lacks the social diversity of the anti-camp. I have never seen one unveiled woman who is not a journalist there. I have never met a Christian or encountered any other journalist who has met one there. It is important to note that pro-Morsi protesters and pro-Morsi media have often claimed that there are Christians attending their sit-in. At the same time, they also allege that the church was behind the feloul-US-Zionist plot to oust Morsi.

The point is that that the pro-Morsi crowd is largely homogenous. Their opponents use this homogeneity as evidence that the MB, is at best, an organization that has failed to market itself to non-supporters and at worst a closed group unconcerned with non-members.

While the MB’s opposition might be correct in this assertion, many go one step further. They suggest that Morsi supporters are all members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and all unthinking androids programmed by the Supreme Guide. The popular derogatory term for them is khirfan (sheep). The aim here is to dehumanize and deny agency, much in the same way the Muslim Brotherhood dismiss their opponents as kuffar (infidels) or feloul (Mubarak regime beneficiaries or loyalists).”

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Brian S. July 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Thanks for the link Richard – a sobre, if depressing assessment. Shows how difficult it will be to row back from this situation (if anyone ever realises that is what they have to do).

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Richard Estes July 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Interesting. The Egyptian stock market went up after the coup, and economist Caroline Freund suggests that the military can implement a Chicago School, Pinochet-type solution:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/07/08/this-graph-shows-why-egypt-is-falling-apart/

“Since the military coup that toppled the Morsi government last week, some economists have been cautiously optimistic. The country’s stock market soared by 7 percent on Thursday, shortly after the coup. The BBC quotes several analysts hoping that Egypt can now finally apply for a long-stalled loan from the IMF to shore up its finances and buy time to make structural reforms.

But that’s not as easy as it sounds. In our interview, Freund noted that many of those economic reforms were likely to be painful — like scaling back Egypt’s fuel subsidies, which currently consume 8 percent of the country’s GDP. She argued that many of these moves would likely need to happen quickly: “What we found is that in revolutions and other political transitions, speed seems to be an important factor for success.” Otherwise, Egypt could keep jumping from crisis to crisis.”

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Brian S. July 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm

The question of the IMF loan is one to watch: El-Baradei is in favour; the new PM is in favour; Hamdeen Sabahi is against, as will be most of the rest of the opposition. SCAF probably hasn’t got a clue. So interesting to see how it plays out and, if it goes ahead (as I suspect it will) if there are any compensatory measures to prevent furthe social unrest. The popular movement could be in for a rude and rapid awakening.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm

BRIAN S.: The question of the IMF loan is one to watch: El-Baradei is in favour; the new PM is in favour; Hamdeen Sabahi is against, as will be most of the rest of the opposition. SCAF probably hasn’t got a clue. So interesting to see how it plays out and, if it goes ahead (as I suspect it will) if there are any compensatory measures to prevent furthe social unrest. The popular movement could be in for a rude and rapid awakening.

DAVID BERGER: This is a marvelous little post as it reveals the methodology and approach of Brian S. and his ilk. Instead of, as a socialist should, proceeding from the point of view of the masses who are the background of the current coup and whose interests we should be supporting, Brian S. sticks “the popular movement,” with contempt, at the end of a list of bourgeois swine.

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Brian S. July 9, 2013 at 7:18 am

@David. Glad you found some use for my “marvelous little post” – even if its only to produce a caricatured dramatic dividing line between your views and mine (what exactly is “my ilk” – I think anyone would struggle to find much of an “ilk factor” in my posts).My comment was clearly intended to point out the dangers of the IMF agreement being pushed through in the current political context – precisely because it would be an attack the interests of the masses. Unfortunately al arrge section of masses are currently supporting a movement which is leading in this very direction. To say that they will “face a rude awakening” when this comes to pass is just a statement of fact . Perhaps the choice of language was a little unsympathetic – but that hardly makes me the class enemy. And I certainly don’t understand what is wrong with listing “bourgeois swine” (although that”s a bit unfair for Sabahi) when you are doing so to expose their reactionary political role.

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Pham Binh July 8, 2013 at 4:09 pm

An interview with a figure from the Brotherhood by Walaa Quisay that discusses how their litany of errors helped bring about the coup:
http://commentmideast.com/2013/07/safwat-hegazy-interview/

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Brian S. July 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm

This guy is from the wilder fringes of the Brotherhood – if he has people listening to him as a result of recent events, then its even worse than I feared.

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Arthur July 9, 2013 at 1:18 pm

The brotherhood does still have some “wilder fringes” (though most of those opposed to its moderation have left for competing islamist groups). But Hegazy doesn’t sound at all like those wilder fringes.

His analysis makes a lot of sense to me, and seems quite consistent with Michael Neumann’s:

http://insufficientrespect.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/egypts-wily-coyote-moment.html

“WQ: Can you please tell us in our opinion the mistakes committed by the Brotherhood and the president [ousted president Mohammed Morsi] in the past year?

SH: The Brotherhood did not stand with the president as they should have. The Brotherhood and the FJP [Freedom and Justice Party] proved to be inefficient in matters of governance. The methodology of the Muslim Brotherhood itself should have changed. We were in a phase of revolutionary transformation. There should have been a revolutionary methodology not a reformist one. The Brotherhood and the Party were stuck in a reformist methodology, which should have not been the case.

WQ: What is the revolutionary methodology that they should have used?

SH: In my opinion, they should have cleansed the government institutions even if that included exceptional measures. How can a president leave institutions such as the media to insult and destroy the state for a whole year? Contrarily, the first thing they [the army] did after the coup was shut down the channels they believed supported the president. Furthermore, the president did nothing to the figures of the old regime. Whereas, the first thing the proponents of the coup did was to arrest those they believe to be siding with the president. The president did not do either of these things with the men of the past regime or the leaders of the fake opposition.
In Egypt, we need to differentiate between the national opposition with the opposition with foreign agendas, which is something the president did not do. With regards to the Interior Ministry, the president changed nothing. Similarly, with the military he should have played a more effective role as the leader of the Armed Forces.”

There’s a case that being so accomodating has laid a sounder political basis for the future struggle and fully exposed the enemies of democracy and there’s a case that if they had attempted less reformist measures against the counter-revolution the army would have thrown them out earlier.

But it is hard to argue that demands for revolutionary measures to cleanse the state and suppress the counter-revolution should not be listened to. Obviously every single leader of the coup belongs in prison as a traitor – and that does include most of the opposition leaders and most of the opposition media. Only the tamest fringe reformists will tolerate these people remaining at large when democracy is re-established.

“WQ: What do you think should change in the Muslim Brotherhood?

SH: There should definitely be a restructuring of the Brotherhood. A new generation of youth must take charge with new ideas and a new consciousness.

WQ: Everyone said this before..

SH: This is one of their mistakes.

WQ: The youth or the Brotherhood

SH: The Brotherhood.”

Again, there is a case that the old leadership has been remarkably skillful. But since they are all being imprisoned it is hard to argue that proposals for restructuring with new leadership and new consciousness should not be listened to.

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Brian S. July 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Both this and Hegazy’s vision are absurd fantasies – they ignore the fact that Morsi came to power in a pact with the military (although Hegazy at least has the sense to admit that) and the Morsi administration never had the capacity to do any of these things on its own.
Read Hegazy with your eyes open for crying out loud – he’s a quasi fascist (maybe not so quasi at that): what do you think all this talk of “foreign agendas” (the Zionist hand, of course), “cleansing”, and the demonisation of “the Church, Egyptian liberals, socialists, leftists, and Marxists. ” is all about.

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Arthur July 10, 2013 at 1:11 am

The foreign agendas are not explained clearly but I assume are referring primarily to the quite massive funding of the counter-revolution from Saudi Arabia and the UAE (throwing in a reference to Zionism and the US is unfortunately almost obligatory in the middle-east – just the same pathetic custom found in “left” circles, sometimes, but not necessarily quasi-fascist).

No demonization is required to identify “the Church, Egyptian liberals, socialists, leftists and Marxists” as key components of the counter-revolutionary bloc who need to be suppressed and especally cleaned out of state institutions.

The persistent habit here of referring to pseudo-leftists and social fascists as though they are fellow “socialists, leftists, and Marxists” only reinforces the widespread belief that anyone who admits to being a socialist, leftist or Marxist is some sort of social-fascist naturally inclined to support tyranny.

There was some mention from someone in a youth movement that half of them see the coup as a counter-revolution and the other half as a revolution. I would be very interested in a direct link to that (I did look but could not find it).

Until that “half” that really is socialist, left or Marxist speaks up loudly and clearly and identifies the other half as its enemy others are bound to continue assuming that these terms imply support for military coup in Egypt.

BTW there is experience showing that confusion on this DOES dissipate rapidly as soon as people draw the essential line of demarcation.

I was in Portugal after the collapse of fascism when there was a sharp struggle by the social fascist Portuguese Communist Party to establish an eastern european style dictatorship, that was defeated by all the democratic forces.

I recall being told by a representative of the Portuguese Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) that they had been worried the peasants who were burning down the offices of the social-fascists that had tried to impose their rule would also attack them because their hammer and sickle flag and name looked identical (distinguished only by the letters “ML”) and the rhetoric being used both by and against the PCP was that they were “communists” and should either rule or be suppressed as such. He said that in fact they had no such problems. It was the actual behaviour of the PCP in attempting to impose its dictatorship that people were fighting and they had no such reaction against genuine communists who did not behave like that but joined them in fighting the social-fascists.

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Brian S. July 10, 2013 at 9:58 am

@Arthur: Let me get this straight and explicit: You are calling for “the [Christian] Church, Egyptian liberals, socialists, leftists and Marxists” to be “to be suppressed and especally cleaned out of state institutions.” ?
By the way, I too was in Portugal in 1975. There were two groups with the name you refer to: I presume yours was the small counter-revolutionary sect led by Heduíno Gomes (aka Vilar). The “peasants” burning down PCP offices were almost certainly landowners goons attempting to block land reform. Gomes is now a militant of the right-wing Partido Social Democrata, where he belongs to its “most conservative faction”.

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Arthur July 10, 2013 at 11:42 am

Those who participated in the military suppression of democracy obviously include the leaders who stood side by side with General Al Sisi announcing the coup such as the leader of the Coptic church, Pope Tawadros II, Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb of Al Azhar, Mohamed ElBaradei representing the Liberal parties, and Hamdeen Sabahi representing what is generally understood as “the left” in Egypt, (and also by others here), more accurately the Nasserists.

The smaller “socialist” and “Marxist” groups like Tagammu were not at the announcement because they are already notorious as remnants of the Mubarek regime, but of course they also enthusiastically supported the coup and likewise belong in prison.

As for insignificant groups like the “Revolutionary Socialists”, their support for the coup has also been documented in this thread.

Supporting a military coup to suppress democracy isn’t just a difference of opinion to be debated. It obviously requires suppression, including imprisonment of the leaders.

Re Portugal, there were more like a dozen “ML” groups, not two. For obvious reasons no two of them had the same name. (A rather better known former member of one of the others than the one you mention or the one I met with became Prime Minister of Portugal and is currently the President of the EU).

The PCP was fighting for an Eastern European style police state, not “land reform”. As usual most of the “left” got it wrong at the time and fantasized about the situation being ripe for socialist revolution (not quite as bizarre as similar fantasies about Eypt but with similar consequences of siding with the enemies of the democratic revolution). Needless to say Portgal ended up moving from fascism to bourgeois democracy as Egypt will. The fantasies about a socialist revolution there were just people taken in by the social-fascists like those taken in by rather similar “left” enemies of democracy in Egypt.

Don’t get distracted from my point re Portugal. My point was that as well as it being vitally important to draw a sharp line between the left and enemies of democracy claiming to be left it is also entirely feasible to do so. Claims that one is being “conservative” or goons for the landlords etc for opposing these social-fascists will have even less success in Egypt than they did in Portugal. After all the PCP was not actually allied with the old fascist regime in Portugal, unlike the Egyptian social-fascists who plainly are.

Absolutely nothing compels you to accept that the people fighting against democracy in Egypt are any sort of leftist, socialist or Marxist. When you are clear that they are in fact enemies you will start to understand both Egypt and many other things a lot better.

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Aaron Aarons July 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Arthur Dent writes: “Needless to say Portgal ended up moving from fascism to bourgeois democracy as Egypt will.”

What happened in Portugal in 1975 was an example of what I have referred to elsewhere as “bourgeois-democratic counter-revolution”. In other words, when a revolution starts going beyond the limits acceptable to domestic and foreign capital, it is violently suppressed and, if and when its remnants are too weak to pose a continuing threat to the domination of capital, bourgeois democracy is instituted. What happened in Chile from 1973 to 1990 was a case where the bourgeois counter-revolution took many years of authoritarian rule and traumatization of the workers and allied forces before the bourgeoisie, led by the United States, decided that formal democracy, with a large but thoroughly tamed “Socialist” Party as a key player, was not only safe but preferable for maintaining popular submission to the rule of capital.

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Brian S. July 10, 2013 at 4:00 pm

@Arthur. Your post doesn’t talk about breaking with the those who collaborated with the military, but purging Christians, Marxists, etc – the sectarian language of the Brotherhood.
In the light of this, your comments about Portugal are not a diversion but a confirmation of the continuity of your politics.
The alleged attempt to create an “Eastern European style police state” was in fact a broad working class movement for workers control of industry, led by the shipyard workers and independent of the PCP.
You’re right, the PCP “was not actually allied with the old fascist regime in Portugal” but your pals were allied with their successors.

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Arthur July 11, 2013 at 12:45 am

Certainly my position reflects the continuity of my politics. I gained an early understanding of the degeneration of the pseudo-left from their sympathy with social-fascism and Khomeinism in the 1970s, long before their tears at the collapse of soviet-imperialism, and “solidarity” with Iraqi fascism, let alone their current rallying behind fascism in Syria and Egypt etc.

Hopefully your current confusion reflects less continuity in your politics. You seem to understand that you cannot side with the fascists in Syria or Egypt but are reluctant to acknowledge that those who do so while still claiming to support the same politics you supported are in fact deadly enemies.

BTW I looked up the PCP(ML) and believe you probably correctly identified which group I met. Certainly they regarded Soviet social-imperialism and the local social-fascist PCP as the main enemy and actively allied with the (bourgeois democratic) Socialist Party in defeating it (eg helping them establish trade union sections which the bourgeois “socialists” did not have). Also they were widely denounced as a counter-revolutionary sect by the forces they were fighting (who were of course thoroughly defeated – Portugal did become a bourgeois democracy and the pseudoleft sects miserably failed to prevent that).

The successors of Portuguese fascism were indeed a typical bourgeois democracy, as anyone not completely out of touch with reality would expect. In your fantasy world at the time, did you really imagine a regime run by the PCP would have been a better outcome or that some third option was possible? If so, have you given any thought to the implications of the simple fact that it turned out there was no such third option (not just failed, but non-existant – as with the “revolutionary socialists” in Egypt) and have you given any thought to the implications of the overwhelming sense of relief throughout eastern Europe when the rule of parties similar to the PCP finally collapsed?

Are you able to pretend to yourself that there is some prospect of proletarian revolution in Egypt and that the groups that have joined with the remnants of the Mubarek regime in supporting a military coup are somehow part of that and should be protected from the resulting backlash against them?

Already the first 1000 or more have been injured and 100 or more killed by the military “fighting armed terrorist sectarian gangs” as in Syria. Naturally those who supported that are going to be cleaned out of state institutions when they are defeated.

You have already partially broken with the continuity of your politics by supporting the Syrian people against the fascists. You know very well that there are millions of Syrians who support the Assad dictatorshi and that most of what you still call “the left” is against solidarity with the revolution there.

You can pretend to yourself as much as you like that the pseudo-left are still “misguided comrades” rather than enemies. But they know what side of the barricades they are on and where they will end up when the fascist regimes are overthrown.

It is frankly absurd to regard Hegazy as a “wilder fringe” in Egypt while supporting far less democratic and far more sectarian revolutionary forces in Syria. (Indeed your illusions about enemies like Jabhat Al Nusra go way overboard in the opposite direction).

Better continue with your previous intention to catch up and think before posting. Your current posts reflect an attempt at continuity with politics that is self-contradictory.

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S.Artesian July 10, 2013 at 10:53 am

Unbelievable— supporting the “cleansing”? That’s democracy? And most certainly, the history of the MB, the actual acts of “cleansing” in which it engaged is immaterial because they happened so long ago.

The only “social-fascist” I see around here is Arthur with his endorsement of “cleansing” of state institutions, rather than the overthrow of such institutions.

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Arthur July 10, 2013 at 11:49 am

Of course, by preserving the supporters of a military coup in the state institutions you show your revolutionary profundity.

All the chatter about lessons from the Russian revolution and you don’t even understand that much!

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 10, 2013 at 11:55 am

ARTHRU: Supporting a military coup to suppress democracy isn’t just a difference of opinion to be debated. It obviously requires suppression, including imprisonment of the leaders.

…Absolutely nothing compels you to accept that the people fighting against democracy in Egypt are any sort of leftist, socialist or Marxist. When you are clear that they are in fact enemies you will start to understand both Egypt and many other things a lot better

DAVID BERGER: A pure expression of anti-socialist attitude: calling for the suppression of the Left in favor of bourgeois pseudo-democracy. You are no socialist. You are a stalking horse of the ruling class: a fifth columnist for the ruling class.

You would have had a great time with the Social Democrats suppressing the Spartacists.

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Aaron Aarons July 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Based on his arguments here, Arthur Dent would have supported the Provisional Government against the Bolsheviks.

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Aaron Aarons July 10, 2013 at 6:08 pm

And not just the Provisional Government, but the Right S.R.’s and other bourgeois democrats in the civil war.

S.Artesian July 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Apparently, reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit. The MB wants “cleansing” so it can maintain, preserve and run the institutions of capitalist rule in Egypt. I oppose that. I’m for the overthrow of the institutions. Put down your guide to recidivist Maoism and read the post again.

The Russian Revolution was supposed to break up the apparatus of the old state and was supposed to replace it with the new one (as Pham said referring to something else, and incorrectly BTW, “read Lenin”– State and Revolution to be exact) based on (uh-oh here comes that word again, close your eyes Pham– soviets) to the degree that the leadership did not do that is an index to 1)the uneven and backward conditions confronting the Russian Revolution 2) the fading of the prospects for international revolution 3)the rollback of the revolution in Russia itself.

And to put a point on it, I didn’t bring up the RR– Pham did.

Be that as it may, you want to support the MB’s “democratic right” to serve out its term, which includes democratically “cleansing” Marxists? You think that cleansing somehow is going to be confined to the few Marxists, Nasserites, liberals whatever actually in the government? You don’t think it’s going to involve “cleansing” unions, student groups, workers?

Your version of democracy is nothing but the path to the charnel house.

I don’t care if the MB and the officers in the military all kill each other. Wish they would. I care about who’s going to be using the state apparatus, the police forces, the intelligence agencies to “cleanse” the REVOLUTION, not the state, of its socialist, Marxist elements.

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Arthur July 11, 2013 at 6:35 am

Of course the Muslim Brotherhood as bourgeois party intends to “maintain, preserve and run the institutions of capitalist rule in Egypt”. We live under institutions of capitalist rule that are both “bourgeois democratic” and “bourgeois dictatorship”. There are other institutions of capitalist rule that are a violent terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary bourgeoiie – fascism.

The pseudo-left in Egypt shouted against bourgeois institutions and especially against “collaboration” with the old regime’s army and police exactly as you do. Bu it turns out, UNAMBIGUOUSLY FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE that they were in fact participating in a purely demagogic campaign in SUPPORT OF RESTORING FULL MILITARY DICTATORSHIP.

They have chosen to stand on the same side of the barrivades as the other fascists and no amount of idle chatter about bolshevik tactics in the Russian revolution will result in anybody who supports them doing so being mistaken for a bolshevik raher than a black hundred element.

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S.Artesian July 11, 2013 at 7:02 am

Typical Maoist pseudo-analytic baloney, and in the service, as always, of this or that capitalist party.

I’m not sure if you’re lack of understanding of the actual economic, social conflicts driving the struggle in Egypt is determined by your ignorant ideological adherence to the garbage called Maoism, or whether you’re lack of understanding determines your ideological bent.

Let’s just say they need, and deserve, each other.

And either or both ways, soon, when the military turns its guns on those people, those masses, those Marxists, leftists, socialists who demonstrated against Morsi, you’ll find a way and a reason to side with the military, which will become your new bulwark of democracy.

It’s, by which I mean you and your Maoism, enough to gag a maggot.

Aaron Aarons July 10, 2013 at 11:56 am

So Arthur has come out of the closet as a supporter of the combined fascist, “Socialist”, bourgeois-democratic and Maoist counter-revolutionary assault on the workers’, peasants’ revolution in Portugal in 1975-76. (That revolution was started by a rebellion of junior officers against the war by Portuguese fascism against leftist anti-colonial revolution in Angola and Mozambique.) During that revolution, peasants took over many landed estates, but landowners were able to recover that land after the defeat of the revolution by the “democratic” scum that Arthur Dent (i.e., Albert Langer of the wealthy Langer family of Melbourne) praises.

BTW, virtually everybody in the Western Left, including most of those who were extremely hostile to the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and to the official Communist Parties, supported the Portuguese Revolution that Mr.Dent/Langer denounces. Virtually everybody, that is, except for those Maoists who were loyal enough to the Chinese rulers to go along with their alliance with U.S. imperialism, which included support for the U.S.- and South Africa-backed UNITA and FNLA in Angola, and China’s military assault on Vietnam in 1979 in tandem with the continued U.S.-led economic war against that country.

I don’t see, based on this latest self-exposure, how the editors of this site can continue to treat Arthur Dent and his close associates as legitimate contributors to any discussion among “leftists” or “socialists”.

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S.Artesian July 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Agree. Maoists as “democrats”? You can’t make this up. Like Savimbi was a democrat. Like Botha.

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Red Blob July 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I’m in complete agreement with Aaron, re Arthur’s incorrect class background. We true leftists would never be associated with people from the wrong class except Engels but no one else. Well perhaps Marx but the line is drawn there. OK Lenin was OK but no one else. I guess Tony Benn is alright but definitely no one else from the wrong class except Che yeah Che’s OK but no one else. Bob Avakian was the son of a judge yes? But he probably was a poor judge.
Get real, refute the arguments not the person.

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S.Artesian July 10, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Has nothing to do with his background and everything to do with his politics.

Arguing that the MB should “cleanse” the state in order to secure “democracy” is nothing but a cover for unrestricted assaults on workers.

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Aaron Aarons July 11, 2013 at 2:58 am

When people born into the capitalist class call themselves “socialists” or “leftists” but explicitly defend capitalist rule (“bourgeois democracy”) against worker-peasant revolution, there is reason to question the relation between their class position and their politics. While it is sometimes relevant even with sincere leftists from the wealthy classes to interrogate the ways in which their class background might have affected their politics, none of the people mentioned by Comrade Blob here are, unlike Albert Langer/Arthur Dent, known (by me, at least) to ever have taken positions explicitly in favor of the capitalist class against the working class and other victims of capitalism who dare to rise against it.

Re: “refute the arguments not the person.” I don’t think we should be wasting time on a purportedly left site refuting the arguments, i.e., unsubstantiated assertions and name-calling, of someone who is clearly hostile to everything the left stands for. If this were a “mainstream” web site, refuting such right-wing “arguments” before an audience that is open to both leftist and pro-capitalist ideas might be worthwhile, but Dent/Langer’s crap belongs on this site about as much as Christian fundamentalism does.

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Red Blob July 11, 2013 at 9:04 am

One Arthur has seen the inside of prison on several occasions (for his dissident politics)
Two Arthur’s opinions are always worth a read
Three Arthur presents an opinion that is very close to those of Marx in short he is a Marxist fundamentalist and often points to “modern” ideas that are dressed up as Marxist which have no basis in Marxism IE the anti progress ideas that get an airing here.
This thread is about the counter revolution in Egypt, you Aaron have a plague on both houses position. Arthur has a position that calls counter revolution counter revolution. To para phrase George Orwell its a very rare struggle where the outcome is neutral.

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 11, 2013 at 9:26 am

RED BLOB: To para phrase George Orwell its a very rare struggle where the outcome is neutral.

DAVID BERGER: True. And you and Arthur are very clearly on the side of the ruling class. Why you pretend to be socialists is beyond me? Since, I gather, your activity is limited to Internet posting, I guess it’s a hobby for the two of you.

Why not take up knitting.? At least at the end, you’ll have something to show for it.

S.Artesian July 11, 2013 at 11:40 am

Arthur’s position has nothing to do with “Marxism.” First there is no such thing as “fundamentalist Marxism.”

Secondly, supporting an organization of religious fundamentalists whose history is a history of attacks on workers, attacks on “non-believers,” explicitly opposed to communism in the small c version is about as anti-Marxist as you can get. It’s called supporting capitalism.

Thirdly, the bit about “anti-progress ideas” is now, and always has been an accommodation to the nonsense of a progressive, enlightened capitalism, a developmental capitalism. You call the MB “progressive” and “enlightened”– that’s worse than nonsense, that’s Goebbels-ism.

As for a “developmental” capitalism– sure thing that. Like Pinochet’s; like Botha’s.

And you have the cojones to site Orwell? Did you ever read Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia where he confronts the vicious dishonesty, reactionary service of your beloved pre-Maoists Stalinists in the service of “democracy”– literally assassinating the revolution?

Red Blob is right– the blob being your inchoate gibberish you call Marxist fundamentalism; the red being other peoples’ blood.

Red Blob July 12, 2013 at 3:23 am

Red Dave and S.Artisan you guys seem a bit over the top “I’m clearly on the side of the ruling class and the Red in my pseudo name stands for other peoples blood.” Really?
Why shouldn’t I refer to Orwell he is my favorite author and Homage to Catatonia is my favorite book.
OK you may think that Marxist fundamentalist is not a useful term but I think that it accurately describes people who want their Marxism pure and don’t accept as progressive feminism and environmentalism and maybe third world-ism, worker-ism and gay liberation although the exact mix of these things can vary.
Red Dave you say Im on the side of the ruling class. Really. We are talking about Egypt. I supported the overthrow of the dictator and the holding of elections. I have no sympathy with the Muslim Brotherhood but they won the elections that I supported and the army has now arrested its leaders and massacred its followers. I object to the army take over and the massacre of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Thats my position. How you turn that into support for the ruling class and how you turn that into blood on my hands may explain why you cant make a connection with working class people and attract them to your organisations.
If you can turn me, a fairly mild mannered Left Social Democrat into bloodthirsty ruling class supporter well it probably explains alot.

Pham Binh July 9, 2013 at 3:53 am

Two really excellent, in-depth articles:

– on how Egypt’s Islamists are in practice more consistently democratic than their anti-democratic, power hungry, counter-revolutionary secular opponents:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/12/14/egypts-constitution-the-opposition-and-the-dialogue-of-the-deaf/

– on the basic socio-political forces at work in Egypt and some of their contradictions:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/08/egypts-political-map-clearing-the-fog/

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Brian S. July 9, 2013 at 6:17 am

Yes, both good pieces – they are a powerful indictment of the opposition, but also show the manipulations of Morsi: essentially he chose what bits of SCARF legislation to challenge and which to accept on the basis of what suited him. Morsi wasn’t a “democrat”, but he started out as a semi-democratic POLITICIAN – which meant that he had some notion of the need for social and political consensus and compromise: a quality which much of the opposition lacked.

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Brian S. July 9, 2013 at 6:19 am

Another quite good piece – from a broadly western liberal perspective – http://mararevkin.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/egyptians-paying-the-price-for-reckless-leadership/

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Aaron Aarons July 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm

What genuine leftist cares in principle (leaving aside tactical considerations affecting our propaganda and agitation) that those who would impose anti-worker, anti-woman, generally right-wing polices did or would come to power by “democratic”, i.e., electoral, means? Are we supposed to accept the anti-woman, anti-worker, anti-poor laws passed by Scott Walker’s forces in Wisconsin or Rick Perry’s in Texas because they were “democratically” elected? Or do we, as serious leftists and not electoral cretins, support direct action — non-violent or otherwise — to prevent the implementation of such laws?

This is not, of course, an endorsement of anything done by Morsi’s and the MB’s equally right-wing rivals who are prevalent in the “opposition”. If they were to win an election, they would deserve no more deference for having been elected than Morsi, et al., deserve or deserved.

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Aaron Aarons July 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Pham Binh effusively praises the article, Egypt’s Constitution, the Opposition, and the Dialogue of the Deaf by ESAM AL-AMIN. I’m not surprised at Binh’s praise, since this “really excellent, in-depth article” (Binh’s words) is purely bourgeois in its perspective, and its only mention of workers is a criticism of the constitution he is discussing for promising a higher minimum wage to the workers than the country (i.e., the bourgeoisie) could afford!

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S.Artesian July 9, 2013 at 8:04 am

Simple question, to sort this out. Do you think “revolutionaries” of either a “democratic” or “socialist” should demand the return of Morsi and the FJP to power?

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Pham Binh July 9, 2013 at 9:40 am

That is anyone who is pro-democracy should demand at this point.

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S.Artesian July 9, 2013 at 10:54 am

Have to disagree. Using your original Kornilov reference, then your demand would have been– “Keep the PG in Power. Democracy needs Kerensky.” Or with the Kapp Putsch “For a Government of Ebert, Noske, and Bauer.” (Jesus, just writing that makes my skin crawl)

Uhh……not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s been tried and the results aren’t really very positive, either for democracy or revolution.

Most glaring example is, IMO, the Spanish struggle 1936-1936– “Democracy, not Revolution” was the rallying cry of and for the Popular Front. And there were armed militias, and councils there. We know that the demand for “democracy” was the demand to forestall the revolution.

Or one can even look closer– to Allende and Chile, whose rallying cry for democracy was “Stay home, do nothing, trust the constitution.”

Phrase it any way you want, but this is not a struggle for a “democratic revolution” in Egypt.

How about something a bit more class-based in its “democracy”– like for the unrestricted right to strike without interference from the military, the MB, the courts etc?

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Pham Binh July 9, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Those slogans don’t follow because they offer political support for the coup’s intended targets, targets our side intends to overthrow or defeat at the first available opportunity. Against Kornilov, Kapp, and Sisi is a start. Demanding the release of Morsi and MB leaders is imperative. SCAF is getting ready to subject them and Syrians and Palestinians to show trials, which of course will fan the flames of pogroms and lynchings:
http://gulfnews.com/news/region/egypt/syrians-paid-to-kill-egypt-protesters-1.1206402

So yes, democracy and democratic revolution are under attack in Egypt. Lapsing into economism won’t help.

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Aaron Aarons July 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm

There is a difference between demanding the release of political prisoners including Morsi and the MB leaders, something that may be wholly or partially correct, and demanding their return to power. So stop being your slippery self, Binh! You’re much too transparent.

Also, is gulfnews.com a credible source? If anybody — Syrian, Palestinian or Egyptian — is accused by the new regime of committing acts of violence against anti-Morsi demonstrators, open, fair trials should be demanded, as should trials of the military officers responsible for killing unarmed Morsi supporters. (I don’t know enough about Egyptian courts, etc., to suggest any specific phrasing of such demands.)

Lastly, I don’t know how democracy and democratic revolution can be under attack in a place where they don’t exist.

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S.Artesian July 9, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Aaron nailed it– the question isn’t the release of political prisoners. The question is if the struggle should be conducted around returning Morsi and the MB/FJP to power? Yes or no? If you think the struggle is a struggle for “democracy” and suffrage, then do you think the struggle needs to demand the return of the FJP to power?

You can say “against Kornilov, Kapp, and Sisi” is a “start.” But so what? This isn’t about “a start.” It’s all about, EVERYTHING is about what happens NEXT. Oh you are against Sisi? Fantastic. But the question is, what are you for? And what forces do you need to get it?

Morsi’s power did not hinge on any sort of commitment to “democracy.” It hinged on an agreement with the military.

Clearly, the military cannot resolve the conflicts at the heart of the revolution, which Pham likes to dismiss by calling “economist”– as if the right to strike; as if the inflation; as if the decline in real wages; as if the treatment of women, as if the under and unemployment are economist issue. . Uh… Pham, that’s not economism. I would suggest you take your own advice and read Lenin on economism…

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Pham Binh July 9, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Not sure how many times I have to say “yes” before the answer registers…

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S.Artesian July 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm

No– you have been slippery about your answer– distinguishing between “defense” and “support” citing first the soviet mobilization against Kornilov (oops! I said it again –channeling Britney Spears– there’s that word you want to erase from the history of your own example); then the Kapp Putsch.

Then you said “against Sisi” is a “start.” But obviously, as I pointed out, “starting” is meaningless. That’s what registers when you acknowledge your support for Morsi and the MB in power.

OK, you’re for the return of Morsi and FJP to power; which will mean they can carry out the law replacing union officials with MB approved candidates.

I guess corporatism is the new democracy.

How about against Sisi, against the SCAF, against Morsi, against the FJP, for a new starter?

Pham’s picked his pony and he can ride it as long as he likes. He can even call it “democracy.” Doesn’t make any difference what he calls it. It’s a horse of a different color, but the same breed as the military’s– the horse of counterrevolution.

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Richard Estes July 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Unfortunately, it looks as if the coup may result in the appointment of an IMF friendly prime minister, Samir Radwan:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/09/egypt-samir-radwan-al-nour

For more elaboration of his economic views:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/16/egypt-worst-economic-crisis-1930s

“. . . . “Restore stability, restore tourism, and restore confidence from investors,” summarised Amin. Such a process would raise employment, and so lift millions from poverty, gradually allowing the government to end food subsidies for those who would no longer need them.

“It has to be spread over a period of time otherwise the social consequences would be very dire,” said Amin. “As you succeed in raising the income of the poor, you [can] reduce the subsidy.”

The delivery of a much-delayed $4.8bn International Monetary Fund loan – and a further $12bn in contingent loans from the EU and elsewhere – depends on Egypt’s agreement to such reforms. Without the loan, foreign investment – which has fallen by 56% since 2011 – is also unlikely to return.

Radwan said: “I regard the IMF loan, which I was the first to negotiate, and it was turned down, as the key. Not because of the sum. But because if you sign with the IMF, it means you have a sound financial and monetary programme to get you out of the crisis.”

So, there may be an economic as well as a political argument for the return of Morsi, as flawed an alternative as he is.

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Jim Monaghan July 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm

A number of articles on the situation here.
http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?rubrique129
I am a bit pessimistic. I regard the army and the MB as twins not opposites. I think it is easy for either side to divert the anger of the masses against minorities such as Copts.The socialist and secular movement has to try to create a third space independent of both army and MB.In time they will succeed. For now I feel that time is not on their side and an Algerian situation could occur.

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S.Artesian July 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Thanks for the link. Some good articles.

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Brian S. July 9, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Thanks, Jim: a useful compendium of articles. I don’t think the elements are there for Egypt to turn into an Algerian situation. I doubt that the FJP/MB leadership will want to turn back the clock, so my guess is they will eventually try to come to terms with the new realities. But much will depend on whether the military/opposition alliance give them space to do that. There are some signs that elements in the civilian opposition at least understand the need for that – but it hasn’t yet been settled who is tail and who is dog in the current situation..

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Jim Monaghan July 10, 2013 at 6:39 am

My guess is that in Algeria the situation quickly went out of the control of the “moderate” Islamsts.
The position of the Fourth International here. At least Gilbert Acfar’s view. http://www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1985/dictprole/1985.htm Aside form whether you agree with his position, he tends to be good on the facts.
Another here http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2866
I am sympa to the far left forces trying to stay on top of teh situation. I m wary of denouncing what I see as mistakes. They are in the eye of teh storm and still very small. Hopefully as time goes by they will grow and become a factor that can genuinely influence things.

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Brian S. July 10, 2013 at 9:21 am

@Jim: here’s a piece that gives a bit more credence to your Algerian comparison (although I remain unconvinced): http://www.opendemocracy.net/hicham-yezza/what-algeria-1992-can-and-cannot-teach-us-about-egypt-2013

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Jim Monaghan July 10, 2013 at 11:44 am

A collection of Guardian (UK) here.http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article29163
There will be differences and hopefully the worst case scenario does not happen. The left needs a democratic space to grow and indeed survive. In the worst case I see a huge pogrom directed at the Copts. I am an atheist with a particular animus against the Catholic Church being Irish. But across the Middle East the Christians are being driven out. East targets. We then to think racism and sectarianism are unique to the “western” world. In Burma the regime has diverted the anger of much of the masses against the Moslem minority. In too many countries a minority can be substituted for Jews in Germany 1932.

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Aaron Aarons July 10, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I just came across this rather interesting article from CounterPunch, published yesterday:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/09/class-warfare-in-egypt/
I’m interested in finding out what S. Artesian, David Berger, Brian S., and other leftists more knowledgeable than myself have to say about the issues it raises.

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Richard Estes July 10, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I’m accepting your invitation even though I doubt I know any more than you do.

Without embracing everything that McMahon says, I agree with his overall thrust as implied by my earlier post today about the perils associated with the lack of a working class mobilization independent of the Egyptian military. I have moved towards the view that the coup in Egypt is a struggle of bourgeois versus bourgeois, and McMahon’s article gives expression to that perspective, even if his analysis is a bit reductionist. I also agree with McMahon that the working class, the peasantry and people in what some call the informal sector have been substantially disempowered by the counter-revolutionary process that he describes.

I find this quote to be persuasive:

“Third, power in the global order is permitting this counter-revolutionary intervention because the form of state the Ikhwan was constituting was not permissible to the order. This was not because of the group’s religious ideology. The global order tolerates theocracies, see Israel and Saudi Arabia. It was not because of the group’s economic policies. The Ikhwan is neoliberal; they, like Republicans and Tories, are market fundamentalists. The Ikhwan is being marginalized because it was not reforming the state along neoliberal lines fast enough. Because of the group’s material interests in the Egyptian political economy it was slow to accept the conditionalities of the long-negotiated International Monetary Fund loan. Global capital wanted access to Egyptian labor and resources and when financial coercion in the form of a capital strike proved unsuccessful, military coercion was exerted by an American client mechanism in the country. In a move that evidences that the global order wants a different form of Egyptian state faster, Mohammed ElBaradei, a former functionary of that very order, is now the anointed representative of acceptable change.”

Leaving aside that ElBaradei was not appointed prime minister, this sounds right to me. The Ikhwan assumed a degree of autonomy for Egypt economically that does not exist, there was no time for a neoliberalism reformism that would allow the Ikhwan to cement itself as the dominant economic and political power in the country.

McMahon is pessimistic, arguably even deterministic. There may be some small grounds for arguing against his neoliberal inevitability. First, the military, the “state capitalist class” in McMahon’s words, is being used to carry the ruthless implementation of neoliberal policy even though it is more dependent upon trade barriers and subsidy than the Ikhwan (“the competitive capitalist class”) . It worked with Pinochent, but then, the Chilean military was not as nearly interwoven throughout the Chilean economy as the Egyptian one is. Second, the economic situation in Egypt is truly dire. Greece is an example of the unrest that erupts in a relatively prosperous European country when state support is curtailed and workers’ rights and benefits reduced. What is going to happen in Egypt when food and fuel subsidies are reduced when people can barely survive day to day?

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 11, 2013 at 5:26 am

As others have said, much of it seems right, but like much writing about the coup, it ignores the self-moblization of the the masses which made it possible and who have their own agenda, separate from that of the military.

Why is it that practically no one discusses the rise of the Tamrod and its role?

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Brian S. July 11, 2013 at 7:05 am

Hi David – I agree about Tamarod – but its difficult to find much about them. But take a look at Cihan Tugal’s piece on “the end of the ‘leaderless revolution’ ” that I link to below.

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Brian S. July 11, 2013 at 8:20 am

@Richard: The claim that the MB regime was ousted because it was “not reforming the state along neoliberal lines fast enough” is both over-conspiratorial and doesn’t make sense. First, I’m not sure what it means – that they weren’t adopting the right economic policies? But MacMahon has just pointed out the MB’s committment to neo-liberal policies. (And they were actively promoting foreign investment). Some other aspect of economic reform? He has pointed out the anti-working class policies of SCAF/Morsi.
He suggests that the army was the instrument for someone (“global capital”) removing Morsi, but as you point out (and he acknowledges in passing) the army interests are in conflict with neo-liberal reforms.
The idea that the MB “represents” some “competitive capitalist class” suffers from similar problems. Again I’m not sure what it is (presumably what stalinists used to refer to as “the “national bourgeoisie”) but I’m pretty sure that MB businessmen can’t be accurately described in this way: “[In 2007] seventy-two Brotherhood-owned companies were confiscated as a result of the trials. They were rentier-based and primarily produced consumer products that targeted upper and middle classes.”
Both McMahon and Tugal assume that the coup was undertaken by the military at their own volition (rather than in response to pressure from the mass movement and concern about social disorder) and that it is therefore ushering in an extended period of military rule or tightening of military control. I don’t think that it right, and while we don’t have enough evidence yet to discern the military’s long term intentions , early indications don’t seem to support this interpretation.

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Arthur July 11, 2013 at 8:45 am

“…ushering in an extended period of military rule or tightening of military control. I don’t think that it right, and while we don’t have enough evidence yet to discern the military’s long term intentions , early indications don’t seem to support this interpretation.”

Curioser and curioser. The “early indications” are that the military has openly appointed a puppet government whose authority is officially derived from a speech by General Al Sisi, suppressed the constitution and largest party in Egypt and started massacring its supporters. The parties supporting the military are now 100% dependent on it.

Your efforts to not see the obvious are getting well beyond mere incoherence to outright mendacity.

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Brian S. July 11, 2013 at 10:10 am

@Arthur In the spirit of full disclosure, Arthur, I feel obliged to offer you this link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/world/middleeast/improvements-in-egypt-suggest-a-campaign-that-undermined-morsi.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed&_r=1&
Others will find it interesting – although I imagine those of you in the US will have already seen it.
While this clearly shifts the discussion to your advantage,I’m not abandoning ship just yet. As far as your last comment is concerned:
As I’ve said before – the Egyptian military do not want the responsibility of governing the country directly and this operation has not altered that: they will be looking for a new partnership with civilian political forces. The process for doing that has already commenced with the adoption of a new Constitutional declaration. This provides a timetable for the adoption of a new Constitution within 4 months, and a set of elections after that is completed. There isn’t an English text of the new constitutional declaration available as far as I can see, but the available summaries indicate that there is neither enhancement nor reduction of military prerogatives (except that the maximum period for states of emergency has been reduced); and there appears to have been an important gain for the trade unions by removing the corporatist provision that there can only be one trade union per profession.
Of course, this could turn out to be a house of cards that comes tumbling down if there is deepening political unrest. But that remains to be seen.

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Arthur July 11, 2013 at 10:42 am

Thanks for posting that link. (I had also included it in a comment “awaiting moderation”).

General Al Sisi announced his cancellation of the constitution adopted by referendum and appointed a puppet to issue a replacement “constiutional declaration”.

That simple fact is the greatest conceivable clarification of “enhancement or reduction of military prerogatives”. In case anyone was too stupid to understand it was immediately followed by shooting more than a thousand people and killing a hundred.

But you want to examine the text and you imagine that their might be a gain for trade unions in this situation!

Get a grip!

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Brian S. July 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm

@Aaron Its past my bedtime – but get back to you tomorrow morning. Thanks for the link.

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S.Artesian July 10, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Don’t know about the “4 phases” stuff, and I don’t think that the IMF loan plays a big part, or that the coup is manipulated or even driven in part by those in sync with the IMF.

I think he’s right about the uneasy but real alliance between Morsi and the military to drive the working class from the field, and I think it is the continued downward spiral of the economy and the threat of class struggle that compelled the military to break the alliance.

Am I more optimistic about future prospects than McMahon? Don’t know if I can even hazard a guess. I just think this struggle is just beginning, and the military will be compelled to turn its guns on those who took to the streets against Morsi.

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Richard Estes July 10, 2013 at 9:10 pm

I wasn’t enthusiastic about the “4 phases” stuff, either, I thought it was too mechanistic. But I did agree with the overall emphasis about the marginalization of the working class.

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Brian S. July 11, 2013 at 7:01 am

Good morning all – McMahon’s article should be read in conjunction with this one from Cihan Tugal http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/10/the-end-of-the-leaderless-revolution/ which I think is a much better piece.
McMahon’s article summarises his political conclusion in a nice turn of phrase that I concur with: “when the ‘people’ have to turn to the military to realize their politics, it is the military, and not the people, that is powerful.”
While McMahon is generally well informed I find his underlying analysis schematic, inconsistent, and in places incoherent. Rather than details these I would suggest that Aaron (or anyone else interested) follows Richard and flags up points they find of significance, and we can discuss them.

Tugal’s political position is close to McMahon’s (and mine):
“Under the Brotherhood-military coalition, Egypt was quickly moving from popularly supported authoritarian rule to popularly supported totalitarian rule; Tahrir activists had the radicalism and the will to slow down this transformation, but did not have the tools to stop it without the military’s pernicious ‘aid.’
“Procedure-focused liberal critics of the military intervention completely ignored that under certain conditions, an elected president can help build a totalitarian regime that will render all future elections simple plebiscites. The street needed to act to defend the Egyptian revolution and perhaps even to recall the president. Liberal accounts, with their pronounced fear of the mob, ruled out not only such risky moves, but all other forms of participatory democracy.
“… the priority could have been organizing popular power, alternative institutions, and revolutionary leadership in order to prevent (or at least slow down) the increasing authoritarianism of elected powerholders, rather than toppling them to open the way for the old enemies of the revolution.”

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Arthur July 11, 2013 at 8:04 am

Tugal’s article makes it clear this was a counter-revolutionary mobilization supporting a military coup.

It also makes a good general point that:

“We now have to wake up and realize that if we do not develop solid alternatives (and organizations and institutions that will implement them), the downfall of the system will not mean the making of a better world.”

But you focus instead on another claim made in passing with no argument or evidence whatever:

“…Egypt was quickly moving from popularly supported authoritarian rule to popularly supported totalitarian rule;…”

Far from being “totalitarian” Morsi’s government had no control over even the bureaucracy, army and police, let alone civil society:

http://insufficientrespect.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/egypts-wily-coyote-moment.html

I gather this sort of really bizarre position is how you are (not) coping with the obvious impossibility of maintaining political continuity with your past positions given the glaring reality that the people you thought were your comrades are in fact supporting a fascist military coup against a very weak government that was trying to institutionalize the ordinary mechanisms of bourgeois electoral democracy rather than traditional Arab “strong man” autocracy.

Presenting the weak and ineffectual Morsi government as “totalitarian” is as pathetic as it gets. Purely a reflection of the language used by those who were so desperate not to face yet another electoral defeat that they prefer military rule to suppress their opponents.

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Brian S. July 11, 2013 at 8:47 am

@Arthur. Tugal is clearly sympathetic to those who took part in the mobilisations, but regards the movement as politically confused and its outcome as politically negative. As do I.
The section I quoted was not made in passing but is one of his two core arguments. As it happens I agree with you about the use of “totalitarian” – I originally had a phrase dissenting from it, but cut it out in the interests of concision.
But Tugal was not arguing that Morsi had constructed a totalitarian regime – but that that he had such a (I would say “authoritarian”) project.
It seems curious that in a previous argument over who played the leading role in Tahrir Square, you were emphasising the organisation, discipline and power of the MB cadres: now you are treating them like naive and helpless lambs overwhelmed by a hostile universe.

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Arthur July 11, 2013 at 10:10 am

1. Glad you agree with the opposite of what you said about “totalitarian”.

2. The brotherhood were both the organized, disciplined and powerful leading force in the January 25 revolution and the government they were able to form did not have control of the state. That is not at all difficult to understand.

3. Here’s a less “nuanced” version of this “core argument” about an “authoritarian project”, from George Will. Perhaps that wil help you understand that it is the age old argument for western support of the Mubarek regime and the other “moderate arab allies”.

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130711/OPINION02/130719889/1004/opinion

4. Here’s a good account of the mentality of the “secular progressives” from which their relapse to craven support for autocracy flowed. Not as explicit about the class basis as Marx’s description of the French bourgeois betrayal, but without using that language, and using islamic language instead, it sheds real light on the class basis for autocratic hatred of the lower class masses being empowered by democracy:

“The collapse of legitimacy: how Egypt’s secular intelligentsia betryaed the revolution”:
http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2013/07/11/3800817.htm

5. While I am at it, here’s some background emerging on the preparations for the coup, which sheds light on the demagogic shouting about Morsi’s incompetence:

“Suden improvements in egypt suggest a campaign to undermine Morsi”:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/world/middleeast/improvements-in-egypt-suggest-a-campaign-that-undermined-morsi.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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S.Artesian July 11, 2013 at 2:49 pm

“2. The brotherhood were both the organized, disciplined and powerful leading force in the January 25 revolution and the government they were able to form did not have control of the state. That is not at all difficult to understand.”

Simply not true. The MB was never a leading force in the original and sustained struggle. The MB joined such demonstrations only after the demonstrations had pretty much dispersed the police; after the assaults by Mubarak paid goons and thugs had been repulsed and it became clear that the army was not going to risk itself in having its ranks turning on its officers if it continued to maintain Mubarak in power.

The MB played no role in “leading” the revolution.

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Brian S. July 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm

@ Artesian: Arthur and I have argued this out previously, and presumably he will respond to you in due course. In my view Arthur exaggerates the role of the MB, but your post is nonsense: MB Youth were involved in Tahrir Square (and the provinces) from the start and the Brotherhood officially supported the Tahrir Square mobilisations and turned out in force from day 3 – 28 January -and played an important role in combatting the police (especially during the 2 February “Battle of the Camel”

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S.Artesian July 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm

correction taken. It was day 3 of the struggle.

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Arthur July 11, 2013 at 7:59 pm

It was a multi-decade struggle and the brotherhood leadership took only a few days to join its youth in understanding that a section of the secular intelligentsia had actually joined in a way that reduced the risk of openly confronting the authorities and made the prospects of real change resulting from doing so more plausible.

The groups that moved earlier can take pride in being the detonator, but were not the main or leading force.

BTW although its clear that some of them have fallen for the latest stupidity I’m still hoping to see links the other way from those detonators that I have the most respect for like Asma Mahfouz:

http://www.countercurrents.org/mahfouz040211.htm

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Brian S. July 11, 2013 at 3:26 pm

@Arthur:
I didn’t say anything about “totalitarianism” – Tugal did. I could go on, but perhaps we could shift gear towards a more productive discussion.
1. I’ve expressed the view that the Egyptian military does not want to go back to ruling the country directly, and therefore will need to restore some form of civilian government in the near future. Do you agree or disagree?
2. I expect there to be a serious effort by the post-coup political leaders to keep to the timetable outlined in the Constitutional Declaration (although various things could get in the way of that). If you don’t agree, why do you think the military agreed to the issuing of this Declaration?

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Arthur July 11, 2013 at 7:02 pm

1. You explicitly said that Tugan’s position on totalitarianism was also yours.
“Tugal’s political position is close to McMahon’s (and mine):
“Under the Brotherhood-military coalition, Egypt was quickly moving from popularly supported authoritarian rule to popularly supported totalitarian rule;…”
Subsequently you said that you had in.tended to say something different from what you did say and I acknowledged that.

2. The military obviously intends for civilians to be blamed for all problems while they sit back as kingmakers. That is a return to the Mubarek situation as opposed to the SCAF situation. It is too early to say whether that will be feasible as the cowards and traitors offering to work for them are also totally discredited with no mass base and each hate each other almost as much as they hate the majority of Egyptians.

3. It appears that they intend to quickly adopt a constitution that affirms the new (and old) Egyptian constitutional principal that constitutions are adopted by the elite and rubber stamped by plebiscites managed by goons in which opposition is criminalized.

4. They then intend to hold “elections” from which the lagest party is effectively secluded by imprisonment of its leaders and suppression of its media, and possibility by complete criminalization as a “terrotist organization” for which the fascist media are shouting. Combined with unleashing the same goons around polling booths that they used in the past and used recently in burning down their opponents offices (for which the brotherhood will be found quilty of fighting back)

5. The opposition politicians have already indicated that they will further discredit themselves by participating in this traditional fraud (just as Tagammu and other “socialists” and “Marxists” did under Mubare). In particular the Nasserists led by Hamdeen Sabahi who previously had a certain mass base will now lose it and be reduced to just another of the collaborators like Tagammu.

6. The Salafi party Nour is already backing away to try and preserve its much larger mass base (built from Saudi and UAE funding. Perhaps others like the Nasserists will do the same. Either way they have already completely discredited themselves and while not be much help in defusing the main slogan of the revoluton in the next period “down with military rule”.

7. That new slogan is of course a vast step forward from “the army and the people are one hand”, but necessarily involves a much longer an bloodier struggle.

8. Its too early to tell whether the timetable will be as illusory as the promises of “inclusion”, whether the Brotherhood will boycott or attempt to expose the elections as a fraud while participating as “independents” or what the turnout will be.

9. In any case it has been spelled out that who governs egypt is not determined by elections but by official announcements from the military and by the Mubarek era non-entity appointed by the military to make such announcements. The military therefore remains 100% in charge and its front men have been reduced from independent politicians with not enough of a mass base to win elections against the dominan parties, to simple puppets completely dependent on their masters suppressing their opponents for them by shooting as mmany thousands as it takes.

10. The shooting has already started. Focus yorr mind on it. It clarifies things in ways that studying tea leaves in military documets cannot.

11. The other links I posted are well worth a look. In particular the one of the attitudes of the secular intelligentsia explains why they will cravenly go along with this and the article by George Will exposes the claims about “autocracy” or “totalitarianism” as just the traditional apologetics for supporting Arab autocracy as “moderate arab allies” in opposition to islamist democrats. Please comment on those. You have already acknowledged that the last link sheds light on how the “mass support” for the coup was whipped up.

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Richard Estes July 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm

It’s beginning to look more and more like a Pinochet scenario or. perhaps, a Mossadegh one, even if Morsi was neither:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/07/2013710113522489801.html

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Brian S. July 11, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Thanks for the link Richard.

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Brian S. July 12, 2013 at 4:58 am

Hi Richard -I don’t think this piece lives up to its hype – and certainly doesn’t prove a Chilean style destabilisation operation. It has a strong “conspiracy theory” methodology to it, so needs careful reading and unpacking. Haven’t had time to do this – but will fill in these comments shortly.

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Jim Monaghan July 12, 2013 at 7:47 am

http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3030 and http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3029 and http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3028
I think dignitaries lining up are not the same as the masses. Eg the Coptic Pope is basically a state functionary. Minorities are in a difficult position ,hanged if they do, hanged if they don’t.

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Brian S. July 12, 2013 at 6:18 pm

@Richard. Re al-Jazeera on US funding. Done more work on this: Its methodology is classical “guilt by association” conspiracy theory. All these people are in the Anti Morsi opposition; they are connected with organisations that received US funding; therefore the US was funding the anti-Morsi movement.
But if you unpick the article: the money involved was chicken feed; only one of these people is a significant opposition figure (Copt leader Michael Meunier); one is a fringe non-entity (Omar Afifi Soliman). All of them but one were longstanding anti-Mubarak oppositionists – and their funding often went back to that period.
In most cases the money went to substantial NGO projects – while the individuals running them were in the opposition, there’s no evidence that the money was allocated to them for that purpose (indeed there’s no evidence at all in the article of recent funding).
There is one exception – Mohammed Essmat al-Sadat (nephew of Anwar Sadaat and minor felool figure) but it doesn’t change the overall picture.
See Juan Cole’s Comment:
http://www.juancole.com/2013/07/aljazeeras-conspiracy-brainless.html
http://www.juancole.com/2013/07/aljazeeras-conspiracy-brainless.html

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 12, 2013 at 8:58 am

RED BLOB: Red Dave and S.Artisan you guys seem a bit over the top “I’m clearly on the side of the ruling class and the Red in my pseudo name stands for other peoples blood.” Really?

DAVID BERGER: What Artisian is pointing out is that you, to try to encapsulate your attitude, spend more time defending a bourgeois government than analyzing and dealing with the Egyptian Left and the opposition to that government.

RED BLOB: Why shouldn’t I refer to Orwell he is my favorite author and Homage to Catatonia is my favorite book.

DAVID BERGER: Then maybe you should learn from “Homage” about how to deal with class forces. Orwell cast his lot with the Spanish revolution. You are clearly on the side of bourgeois democracy.

RED BLOB: OK you may think that Marxist fundamentalist is not a useful term

DAVID BERGER: It’s a bullshit term. And Arthur is no Marxist.

RED BLOB: but I think

DAVID BERGER: You think. So you make up a Marxist category all your own, off the top of your head. That’s what I call political cursing, not thinking.

RED BLOB: that it accurately describes people who want their Marxism pure and don’t accept as progressive feminism and environmentalism and maybe third world-ism, worker-ism and gay liberation although the exact mix of these things can vary.

DAVID BERGER: Anyone with the characteristics you delineate has nothing to do with Marxism.

RED BLOB: Red Dave you say Im on the side of the ruling class.

DAVID BERGER: It sure looks that way.

RED BLOB: Really.

DAVID BERGER: Really.

RED BLOB: We are talking about Egypt.

DAVID BERGER: Oh, excuse me. I thought we were talking about Lower Slobovia.

RED BLOB: I supported the overthrow of the dictator and the holding of elections.

DAVID BERGER: So did large portions of the ruling class. That criterion has no legs. And elections are often a way of derailing a revolution.

RED BLOB: I have no sympathy with the Muslim Brotherhood

DAVID BERGER: Let’s see if that’s true.

RED BLOB: but they won the elections that I supported

DAVID BERGER: Elections per se mean little or nothing to Marxists. Our criterion is class power, not a fetishism of bourgeois democracy.

RED BLOB: and the army has now arrested its leaders

DAVID BERGER: One section of the ruling class attacking another.

RED BLOB: and massacred its followers.

DAVID BERGER: We can all mourn the tragedy of people being killed while supporting the oppressing class.

RED BLOB: I object to the army take over

DAVID BERGER: Why, precisely, do you care so much which corrupt faction of the ruling class is supervising capitalism?

RED BLOB: and the massacre of Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

DAVID BERGER: No one in their right mind supports that.

RED BLOB: Thats my position. How you turn that into support for the ruling class and how you turn that into blood on my hands

DAVID BERGER: You are in support of a faction of the ruling class. In the name of “elections,” that’s what you’re doing.

RED BLOB: may explain why you cant make a connection with working class people and attract them to your organisations.

DAVID BERGER: I suggest that if you want to discuss Left Regroupment, there’s a thread or two for that. And you might want to post there rather than engaging in political cursing here.

(In the meantime, as far as I know, S.Artesian is not a member of any left group. I myself am a member of the Labor Outreach Committee of Occupy Wall Street, which works actively with “working class people.”)

RED BLOB: If you can turn me, a fairly mild mannered Left Social Democrat into bloodthirsty ruling class supporter well it probably explains alot.

DAVID BERGER: If you can stomach being a social democrat, that explains a lot.

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S.Artesian July 12, 2013 at 12:30 pm

RED BLOB: I supported the overthrow of the dictator and the holding of elections.

DAVID BERGER: So did large portions of the ruling class. That criterion has no legs. And elections are often a way of derailing a revolution.

DB nails it, and to the floor.

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Arthur July 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Ok so we understand that people like S. Artesian will not side with the people against a fascist military coup and will denounce holding elections instead as “derailing the revolution”.

It is helpful that they virulently denounce anybody that disagrees with them and make it clear that they have nothing in common with anyone even mildly progressive and that their whole approach guarantees they will never have any significant support.

Nevertheless they persist in waving red flags and claiming to be left, socialist, communist, anti-imperialist etc and naturally some people will be confused about this and oppose the genuine leftists because they assume we have something in common with these social fascist creeps.

Apart from clearly identifying them as enemies, what more should be done to minimize the damage they do by pretending to be on the left instead of openly calling themselves fascists?

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm

ARTHUR: Ok so we understand that people like S. Artesian will not side with the people against a fascist military coup and will denounce holding elections instead as “derailing the revolution”.

DAVID BERGER: (1) the coup is not fascist; (2) elections are often a derail of a revolution. (3) S.Artesian’s points here are mine. It is an act of political cowardice for you to engage him, not me.

ARTHUR: It is helpful that they virulently denounce anybody that disagrees with them and make it clear that they have nothing in common with anyone even mildly progressive and that their whole approach guarantees they will never have any significant support.

DAVID BERGER: Spoke like a true lying liberal.

ARTHUR: Nevertheless they persist in waving red flags and claiming to be left, socialist, communist, anti-imperialist etc

DAVID BERGER: Which we are, unlike yourself.

ARTHUR: and naturally some people will be confused about this and oppose the genuine leftists because they assume we have something in common with these social fascist creeps.

DAVID BERGER: You really need, with statements like this, to consider a career in standup comedy. And, by the way, social fascism is a category invented by stalinists to prevent a united front of working class forces. Are you sure you want to use it?

ARTHUR: Apart from clearly identifying them as enemies, what more should be done to minimize the damage they do by pretending to be on the left instead of openly calling themselves fascists?

DAVID BERGER: Cheap talk from an Internet console. I challenge you or anyone with your politics to come out in public with these views.

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Aaron Aarons July 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Apart from clearly identifying them as enemies, what more should be done to minimize the damage Arthur Dent and his co-thinkers, especially the anti-Soviet Maoists of the 1970’s who allied with fascists and other pro-U.S. scum around the world, do or have done by pretending to be on the left instead of openly calling themselves anti-revolutionary bourgeois liberals?

When, in particular, are people like Brian S. and Pham Binh going to stop treating them as comrades to be argued with rather than as anti-revolutionaries to be exposed?

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S.Artesian July 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Arthur the recidivist Maoist: “Ok so we understand that people like S. Artesian will not side with the people against a fascist military coup and will denounce holding elections instead as “derailing the revolution”.

SA: We understand the Arthur the recidivist Maoist makes things up to suit his ideology. We understand that AtrM likes to use the the term “the people” to avoid the term “class” that is so antithetical to his recidivist Maoism.

I oppose the coup, but I oppose on the basis of a class platform: 1. repeal of the legislation enabling the government to replace union leaders with MB appointees 2. workers’ organizations, including defense committees, strike committees to freely function without interference from the military, the MB, and/or any other part of the government. 3. immediate rejection of the IMF loan, and cancellation of all debt payments to all capitalist governments and their international organizations 4. immediate termination of military grants of equipment and money from the United States 5. Free, non-religious based, education for all children including college and university levels. 6. no discrimination between men and women regarding wages, education, access to healthcare, dress code requirements, etc.. 7. termination of trade agreements with Israel until such time as the blockade against Gaza is lifted, settlements in the captured territories are eliminated, and the right of return for Palestinians is enacted. Open all the borders, Egyptian and Israeli, surrounding Gaza. 8. the right of workers organizations to freely distribute information to the ranks of the military. 9. right of the military ranks to organize committees of representatives. 10. right of enlisted ranks to refuse orders unless such orders are approved by these committees.

I could go on, but you, meaning those who are not AtrM get the idea.

AtrM: “It is helpful that they virulently denounce anybody that disagrees with them and make it clear that they have nothing in common with anyone even mildly progressive and that their whole approach guarantees they will never have any significant support.”

SA:Glad to be of help. Actually I only virulently denounce those who pretend to be “marxist,” “fundamentalist” or otherwise, to camouflage their loyalty

and subservience to capitalism. That would be you, Arthur. I only virulently denounce those who use the term “social fascist” to obscure the fact they they are supporting the corporatist-capitalist organizations that are the real core to fascism. That too is you, Arthur.

AtrM: “Nevertheless they persist in waving red flags and claiming to be left, socialist, communist, anti-imperialist etc and naturally some people will be confused about this and oppose the genuine leftists because they assume we have something in common with these social fascist creeps.”

SA: I get it. Calling someone who disagrees with your self-proclaimed support of capitalist parties a “social fascist creep” is NOT a virulent denunciation. For the record, I don’t wave red flags, you’re no genuine leftist, and nobody thinks we have anything in common. You’re a shill for capitalism. Hope that’s not too virulent for your delicate soul.

This next is my favorite part– pay attention Red Blob– this from the guy you admire, while at the same time you wonder how I question your appreciation of Orwell, and his Homage to Catalonia:

AtrM: Apart from clearly identifying them as enemies, what more should be done to minimize the damage they do by pretending to be on the left instead of openly calling themselves fascists?

SA: From Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia: ” As usual, none of the arrested people had been charged. Meanwhile however the Valencia Communist Papers were flaming with the story of huge fascist plot….. The significant thing was that it was appearing only in the Valencia papers…
…In addition, I must say something about the general charge that the POUM was a secret fascist organization in the pay of Franco and Hitler.
This charge was repeated over and over in the Communist Press, especially from the beginning of 1937 onwards… according to Frente Rojo (the Valencia Communist Party) is not a political doctrine. Trotskyism is an official capitalism organization, a Fascist terrorist band occupied in crime and sabotage against the people….”
(Orwell continues) What was noticeable from the start was that no evidence was produced in support of this accusation: the thing was simply asserted with an air of authority. And the attack was made with the maximum personal libel and with complete irresponsibility as to any effects it might have upon the war. Compared with the job of libelling the POUM, many Communist writers appear to have considered the betrayal of military secrets unimportant. In February number of the Daily Worker, for instance, a writer (Winifred Bates) is allowed to state that the POUM had only half as many troops in its section of the front as it pretended. This was not true but presumably the write believed it to be true. She and the Daily Worker were perfectly willing, therefore to hand to the enemy one of the most important pieces of information that can be handed through the columns of a newspaper…….

…For a while the Communist Press of the whole world was flaming with this kind of thing (Daily Worker, 21 June, summarizing various Spanish Communist papers):
“SPANISH TROTSKYISTS PLOT WITH FRANCO
Following the arrest of a large number of leading Trotskyists in Barcelona and elsewhere…. there became known over the week-end details of one of the most ghastly pieces of espionage ever known in wartime and the ugliest revelation of Trotskyist treachery to date… Documents in the possession of the police, together with the full confession of no less than 200 persons under arrest, prove etc.etc…”

What these revelations ‘proved’ was that the POUM leaders were transmitting military secrets to General France by radio, were in touch with Berlin and were acting in collaboration with the secret Fascist organization in Madrid…

But the final upshot was this: six month after event, as I write, most of the POUM leaders are still in jail, but they have never been brought to trial, and the charges of communicating with Franco, etc. have never been formulated.”
_______
Now this is the tradition, smearing those opposed to endorsing capitalist government as fascists, into which AtrM comfortably locates himself. Since Orwell was a member of the POUM militia, and had to flee Spain surreptitiously to avoid arrest and execution, perhaps you might want to rethink your characterization of AtrM as a “marxist fundamentalist.”

To Mr. Binh: this is your show, but the language used by AtrM, “Apart from clearly identifying them as enemies, what more should be done to minimize the damage they do by pretending to be on the left instead of openly calling themselves fascists?” is the language used to identify people for elimination, physical elimination, in fact is an invitation for such physical attacks.

You want to tolerate this guy? Says all that needs to be said about your “democracy.”

To you Arthur, I advise you to do yourself a favor and never say anything like that what you said in your post to my face.

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Arthur July 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm

“I could go on, but you, meaning those who are not AtrM get the idea. ”

Yes, I get the idea. Faced with a military coup to suppress democracy you will shout completely irrelevant and meaningless slogans in direct opposition to actual mobilization in support of democracy and against the coup, you will pose as an expert on the Russian revolution and you will cite as your precedent similar behaviour that helped the fascists win in Spain.

For an encore, you will claim to be threatened with physical elimination and strike a pathetic pose as a victim.

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S.Artesian July 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Right, class based demands are meaningless, but supporting the organizations of capitalists under the guise of democracy, that’s meaningful.

And actually it was the behavior of people just like you that helped the fascists in Spain. You can read about it in Homage to Catalonia.

Others so interested might want to look at any of the extensive, and intensive, works by the foremost historian of the struggle in Spain, Burnett Bolloten. I recommend The Grand Camouflage, particularly pages 308-311 where he documents how and why the Communists and the centrist Prieto Socialists allied to cause a crisis in the government and prevent Caballero from launching the long-planned military operation in Estremadura, which would have split Franco’s forces and broken their supply chain.

Said one of the Prieto Socialist Party Deputies “If Caballero should succeed in this offensive, no one will be able to throw him out.”

So much for democracyh.

Oh I’m no victim, but you are indeed gutless.

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Aaron Aarons July 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm

THE GRAND CAMOUFLAGE, published in 1961, was the first ‘draft’, so to speak, of Burnett Bolloten’s history of the Spanish revolution and civil war. It is available for free download, in many formats, at:
http://archive.org/details/grandcamouflage006789mbp

The next version of his work, The Spanish Revolution: The Left and the Struggle for Power during the Civil War, published in 1979, is much more thorough. It is not available as an ebook, but can be purchased fairly inexpensively in cloth, ISBN 0807812978, or paperback, ISBN 0807840777.

Finally, his posthumously-published expanded (1107-page) history, which covers much beyond the May, 1937 victory of the Stalinist-led counter-revolution, is called The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counterrevolution. (ISBN 08078190690 is very expensive in printed form but is available as a Kindle edition for $24.75. However, unless you are interested in the military, rather than the political, history of the Spanish events, the 1979 version is more than adequate, unless you really prefer an ebook to a printed one.

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Brian S. July 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm

There’s a nice memoir of Bolleten from Ronald Hilton here: http://wais.stanford.edu/Spain/spain_bbnhs.html

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Red Blob July 13, 2013 at 7:24 pm

I know we are talking Egypt but seeing that we have digressed into Spain we might as well mention Morocco http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/languages/med/med/morocco.htm

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Red Blob July 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

OK Dave and S.Artesiam you have made a good point with Spain. In Spain the army tried to overthrow a democratically elected government an the world wide left said, even though this government is not one we would choose we will defend it against the military.
Where as in Egypt the military has overthrown a democratically elected and the world wide left says not our business.
The revolution wasn’t the Muslim Brotherhood, the revolution was the peoples right to choose a government. The people choose and the military have staged a counter revolution. They are jailing the peoples representatives and they are shooting people down in the streets. I’m not asking you to join the Muslim brotherhood I’m asking you to come out in support of basic human rights , rights so basic that this whole conversation has taken on a surreal nature.

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S.Artesian July 12, 2013 at 9:51 pm

No, that’s not what the “worldwide left has said.” And it’s certainly not what I’m saying.

Look in Honduras, Zelaya was overthrown. Now Zelaya had his own connections and associations with para-military groups; his own history of suppressing protests of agricultural workers, but he wasn’t doing what certain monied interests wanted him to, so the Cobra squadron gets him out of bed and sends him packing.

So the people, yes the undifferentiated icon of the “people” begin to struggle for… what? The return of Zelaya? Sure thing. Despite the fact that it was the unions organizing the struggle, that it was workers providing the defense committees for demonstrations, everything was kept on the very fundamental “democratic” demand for the return of the elected executive. And of course the protests failed.

Haiti, several years before, went through the same thing. Aristide pisses off the US and gets shipped out. Now is the struggle to restore Aristide to power? And that guy is 50 times more democratic than the MB.

The point is “democratic struggles” to restore a Zelaya, Aristide, or the MB are doomed to failure. If the causes of the struggle are rooted in the economy, and I certainly think they are in Honduras, Haiti, Egypt, then only class demands, class programs that will bring to power a class capable of reorganizing the economy have even the slightest chance for success.

As said many times before, I oppose the coup. If I were in Egypt I would be agitating against the coup, against the military, against the capitalist institutions. I would not be demanding the restoration of the Morsi and the FJP to power. That’s the path of suicide.

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Aaron Aarons July 13, 2013 at 1:50 am

Aristide and his massive support base were and are, whatever their limitations, part of the left. The two coups against him were clearly right-wing, anti-worker, anti-peasant, pro-imperialist actions that involved the murder of thousands of mostly working-class people. Those coups should have been opposed by revolutionary leftists in alliance with Aristide’s supporters, including even supporting their demand for the return of Aristide while working to go beyond it.

The latest coup in Egypt, OTOH, was the result of a conflict between two elite sectors with no substantial difference in their stances vis-a-vis the working class. The coup and the ensuing repression should be opposed and denounced without giving even critical or conditional support to Morsi and the Brotherhood.

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S.Artesian July 13, 2013 at 8:59 am

Aaron,

The same can be said about Pinochet’s coup in Chile. So should the rallying cry have been “return the Unidad Popular to power”? The point was, the Unidad Popular could no longer maintain power. It had to give way.

Do you think “critical support” should have been given to the Unidad Popular in Chile? Before the coup? During the coup? After the coup?

Your point on the MB and the military is spot on– no substantial difference in regards to class– and to the revolution; the goal of both being to bring the revolution to an end.

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Aaron Aarons July 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I opposed the popular front in Chile at the time and have seen no reason to change that position in the 40 years since. And I don’t politically support Aristide and his reformist limitations either. But the situations are entirely different.

It’s hard to imagine what “return the Unidad Popular to power” might have meant in Chile in 1973, since the Unidad Popular had based whatever power it had on its accommodation with the Christian Democrats and the military command. In fact, it never had even a near-majority in the Chilean Congress, and Allende, since he had a plurality in the 1970 presidential election, but not a majority, was only given the Presidency by the Congress after committing to respect the institutionality of the armed forces.

The main slogan of the reformists who dominated the Unidad Popular in the months leading up to the coup was, “No to Civil War!” In other words, they told the working class not to prepare to resist the impending coup. Allende had, in fact, just a few months before the coup, signed a law passed by the rightist-dominated Congress that authorized the military to disarm civilians, which meant, in fact, seizing arms caches from the factories.

In the aftermath of the coup, what was necessary was not mainly agitational slogans but underground organization.

In Haiti in 2004, there was no Haitian military, since it had been dissolved by Aristide after the imperialists (Bill Clinton) had allowed him to return to Haiti in 1994 (i.e., only after the makers of the 1991 coup had had plenty of time to torture, rape and slaughter thousands of Aristide’s supporters). After the 2004 coup, made in conjunction with a contra-style invasion from the Dominican Republic, the U.S. and, after, its UN, occupied the country, kept Aristide from returning, and twisted electoral laws to prevent Aristide himself, and his closest supporters, from running in, and therefore inevitably winning, elections.

In that case, the return of Aristide, and recognition of the bourgeois-democratic rights of his supporters, was clearly against the interests of the imperialists and their local elite allies, who were working to establish a democratic façade for elite rule. The revolutionary left should, therefore, have supported such demands while, at the same time, making whatever necessary criticisms of Aristide and his associates.

It must also be recognized that, given Haiti’s poverty and lack of resources, a revolutionary government of the working class in Haiti in 2004 would have had a much harder time defending itself militarily and economically against U.S. imperialism than such a government would have had in Chile in 1973. The only chance that even a radical left-reformist government would have had in Haiti in 2004 and after would have depended on support from outside, probably from Venezuela.

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Brian S. July 12, 2013 at 6:21 pm

I’m appalled that the Moderators haven’t intervened here – this is not a political discussion – its petty bullying by Berger. For what its worth, I’m cutting any contacts with this Troll until he desists and apologises, and I would urge anyone who has regard for the standards of this site to do likewise.

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Aaron Aarons July 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Your willingness, Brian, to tolerate Arthur Dent and even treat him as some kind of comrade, while wanting to censor David Berger for occasional harsh formulations in his exposure of Mr. Dent, does not speak well for your own commitment to the socialist, pro-working-class side of the struggle.

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byork July 12, 2013 at 9:33 pm

I like to read such comments from Aaron Aarons in a loud and intense stereotypical German-English accent.

Try it! It’s fun (and works well).

On a more serious note, it’s instructive as to who at this site is advocating censorship and banning, and who is advocating on-going open debate… Then compare these opposing sides with respective views on the struggle for democracy more widely…

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Aaron Aarons July 13, 2013 at 1:26 am

While it’s true that I speak a bit of German, it’s partly a result of growing up in a family and community where the adults spoke Yiddish among themselves, especially when they didn’t want us kids to understand. So I probably speak German (nur ein bischen) with a combined Yiddish and American-English accent. But nobody who has ever heard me, either in person or over the air, would describe my English accent as loud, intense or German.

And, no, I have no desire to censor or suppress the web sites or other media of the Australian comrades of John McCain, but I don’t see why they should be given space on a left-wing, supposedly anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist web site, since they are clearly not only not part of, but hostile to, the left.

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byork July 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Aaron Aarons, I can see you are very frustrated by the fact that the adminstrators of this site do regard it as a left-wing position to support aspirations for democracy, including parliamentary elections, in situations where people are either denied such, or are fighting a counter-revolution that overturnedthe same. Your view of what it means to be left-wing is under challenge. You don’t like that, and you want those with a different left-wing understanding to be excluded from the debates at this site. Coupled with your overt opposition to the democratic aspirations of oppressed people, this does point in the direction of a social-fascist outlook. No-one has called for you to be banned. The left believes in letting a thousand flowers bloom, and I’m grateful to the administrators who share this view and who have provided a unique place in cyberspace for its implementation.

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Brian S. July 13, 2013 at 5:37 pm

@BYork: That’s not my understanding of the view that was expressed. I may be mistaken, but I took it that the argument was that this site was not restricted to left views, and that it was useful for those of us who hold socialist views to engage with those who occupy a different place in the political spectrum. Anyway, that is certainly the basis on which I engage with you – I don’t for a moment consider you as on the left – although I do occasionally agree with you on particular questions, just as sometimes find myself in accord with my Tory next door neighbour.

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byork July 13, 2013 at 9:25 pm

BrianS, you would find it very hard to convince me that I do not hold socialist, left, views. So, let the thousand flowers bloom on…

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Brian S. July 13, 2013 at 7:23 am

Aaron: take off your partisan blinkers for a minute and look at the garbage that Berger (and his new sidekick) has started putting up here. Its not his “harsh formulations” or even his ego-inflated (and stalinist) claim that he is waging “class struggle” here that I object to but the petty, irrelevant, and bullying manner in which vacuous comments are spewed out.
You and I often express very sharp disagreementson this site, – quite naturally within the guidelines (I imagine neither of us even had to read them). And, as I have to regularly remind you, no one on this site has disagreed more fundamentally nor had sharper exchanges with Arthur & Co than I have (who first flagged up the implications of his endorsing an extremist MB figure or the implications of his Portuguese references?)
My reference to Berger’s vacuous bullying was not concerned primarily with his responses to Arthur but to his demonisation of Red Blob – whose positions, as far as I can see, are quite different and who consistently posts in a reasoned and comradely fashion.
Let’s sample a few of Berger’s choice passages :
* “Why not take up knitting.? At least at the end, you’ll have something to show for it.” (Ah yes, such a brilliant exercise of dialectical reasoning)
* RED BLOB: We are talking about Egypt. BERGER: Oh, excuse me. I thought we were talking about Lower Slobovia. (AND scintillating wit, doesn’t this guy just have it all?)
* “If you can stomach being a social democrat, that explains a lot.” (another great verbal blow struck for the class struggle !)
“Red Blob is right– the blob being your inchoate gibberish … the red being other peoples’ blood.” (this from the thug Artesian – but endorsed by Berger.)
Aaron, you say you want the “exposure of Mr. Dent” – but how do you propose to expose him? Do you really thinking shouting louder is more important than arguing more cogently? Or perhaps you want to follow Artesian’s descent into thuggery and endorse his threat of phyical violence: ” “I advise you to do yourself a favor and never say anything like that what you said in your post to my face.” (Of course, given Arthur’s geographic location, this is just more macho posing, but the language still pollutes the air.)

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S.Artesian July 13, 2013 at 8:51 am

Brian,

I don’t know where you’ve been and what you’ve encountered, but in my experience when you call someone an “enemy of the people” or a “social fascist” you are endorsing physical attacks. Perhaps you should look a little more closely at the history of those who have used such a tactic and the results that have followed.

I’ve witnessed once or twice such a process, and I have no intention of letting such invitations to physical violence go unchallenged. It’s simply a matter of self-defense. If the moderator(s) disagree with my assertion that I was simply, and am, simply exercising that self-defense, I invite hm/her/them to remove me from this forum.

I’ve been thrown out of better places, that’s for sure.

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Brian S. July 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Sophistry. I endorse your invitation.

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Aaron Aarons July 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm

While there may be reason, Brian, to criticize some of David Berger’s formulations in response to the person who chooses, for some reason, to call himself “Red Blob“, I hardly see any point in calling on the moderators to intervene when those same moderators leave the site wide open to trolling by anti-leftist, pro-imperialist, bourgeois “democrats”.

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Brian S. July 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm

@Aron. The issue of what are the political boundaries of the site has been discussed – as you are well aware. You may not agree with the decision, but it is an entirely separate matter from that of how people conduct themselves within those boundaries. The site has a clear Commenting Policy. If you feel that Arthur has violated that, then lodge a complaint. If you choose to cover for those who blatantly violate it, to the point of overt bullying, then all I can say is you disappoint me deeply. ((Why do you say ” the person who chooses, for some reason, to call himself “Red Blob” – you choose “for some reason” to call yourself Aaron Aarons; I “for some reason” Brian S; I don’t interrogate your choice or expect you to interrogate mine; why do you single him out for attention?)

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Aaron Aarons July 15, 2013 at 3:35 am

Most people, except for bureaucrats, who have met me in the last 37 years know me as Aaron Aarons. It is, essentially, my name, and it was on my drivers’ license for decades until the Gestapo (a.k.a. ‘Homeland Security’) imposed restrictive rules on such things.

OTOH, I sincerely doubt that the person who uses the handle “Red Blob” uses that as his name when he meets people, and calling oneself a “blob” of any kind does seem rather strange.

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Red Blob July 15, 2013 at 4:32 am

It’s called self deprecating humor.

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Brian S. July 15, 2013 at 4:38 am

“Red Blob” is obviously a play on words whose origins we don’t know. But if you hang out much in cyberspace you’ll know its far from being the most unorthodox of pseudonyms. Who are we to query someone else’s personal semantic choices ?

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Arthur July 13, 2013 at 10:59 am

Brian, I have tried to avoid reading stuff written by that particular Troll since I realized that he did not even bother to read the threads he was posturing in (when he repeatedly insisted that an article on breaking the US army by a US army officer in an army journal was “apologetics for Stalinism”).

I must say I’m rather chuffed that Red Blob comments resulted in him being subject to the “full treatment” by both the Trolls and their new sock puppet. While interactions between me and Red Blob here have been of a similar nature to the disagreements between you and me, my previous encounters with him have been much more hostile as well as obviously being politically opposed (which is why he considers me a “Marxist fundamentalist”). It was pleasant to find that we have something in common in valuing actual argument rather than pure posturing and that this was sufficient for him to be identified as having the same views as me and therefore a target for social fascist bullying.

The other regular Troll does actually read the threads and does present a political argument as well as aiming to attract attention to himself by Trollish attacks, so I do read his comments and will occasionally respond (rather rarely since they are so “off” and clearly designed to annoy rather than convince people that there is usually no need to explain how the political argument illustrates the nature of pseudoleftism).

Unfortunately your argument with him below in this sub-thread illustrates how feeding Trolls just helps them divert attention from the actual topic, which in this thread is the Egyptian military coup (and therefore also the disgraceful role of both genuine and fake leftists in facilitating it).

I think it is appropriate to bring out in discussions how the practical support that pseudoleftists give to enemies of democracy while posturing as “against everybody” is not just a result of mistaken analysis but reflects their actual hostility to everything the genuine left stands for.

But attempting to persuade them to argue in a civilized manner is pointless. They really are exactly what they appear to be.

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Red Blob July 13, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Just to clarify what I mean by ‘Marxist fundamentalist’. There are a range of People who claim to be Marxists. There are people who stick pretty strictly to the ideas that Marx as expressed in Das Capital. Then there are people who have revised Marxism to the point where they see themselves as being in the Marxist tradition of critical social inquiry but give little heed to the ideas of Marx.
Maybe we can dispense with my idea of Marxist fundamentalist and just say Marxists and Revisionists however what I was trying to get at was the difference between Marxists and people who have tried to synthase Marxism and more recent trends in society like feminism and environmentalism.
As has been noted I just did make it up off the top of my head and if people don’t think it useful it can go back there.
Just as an example of Marxists revising theory the Cliff group dropped the idea of labor aristocracy. Just thought that Marx was wrong. (no wonder those guys went nowhere)

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S.Artesian July 13, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Marx never had a theory of a “labor aristocracy.” Really, before you decide who’s a revisionist, and who isn’t, you should have a bit of a grasp of what Marx’s critique of capital truly is.

Moreover, how one can identify the views, positions, programs, actions of Maoism as those that “stick pretty closely to the ideas that Marx expressed in Das Capital,” means the person making such an evaluation has either never read Capital, or has no understanding of what he/she did read.

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Red Blob July 14, 2013 at 12:47 am

Hi S.Artesian,
I am somewhat surprised that you dispute that Marx had a theory of the aristocracy of labor. Heres an article that argues that he did
http://www.rcgfrfi.easynet.co.uk/marxism/articles/la-1.htm
As to Maoists, Ive met a few and they strike me as people very keen to try and associate their ideas with the ideas found in Das Capital. Your judgement may be that they have strayed from that path but I only relate what I have seen.

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S.Artesian July 14, 2013 at 8:02 am

To say that trade unions are an “aristocratic minority” is not a theory of a labor aristocracy. Marx never develops the notion of this “aristocratic minority” beyond his comments specifically referring to trade unions.

A theory of a LABOR aristocracy would involve, as Marx’s demonstrates in his theory of capitalist accumulation, an explanation of its origin, an account of the forces driving its development, an analysis of the conflicting forces contained in the social formation “labor aristocracy,” and the limits to such a formation.

That’s a theory. And stating that those elements distinguish a theory from a “remark” is not sophistry. It is the very process of critique Marx uses.

Can you specify exactly what ideas the Maoists tried to associate with the ideas found in Capital (if you’re going to use the German “Das” you might want to also use the German “Kapital”)?

I’ve met many Maoists and I’ve never heard one relate Maoism to abstract labor, value, use value/exchange value, relative and equivalent forms of value, surplus value, money as the means of exchange, store of value, etc. overproduction, accumulation, nor even wage-labor as the social relation that defines and IS capital.

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Red Blob July 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

Sorry S.Artesian but the article says “Did Marx have a theory of the labour aristocracy?

Yes he did, …..”
Im happy to go with the idea that you know better about this stuff. There I agree with you Marx had no theory of Labor aristocracy.
As to Maoists being a bit Das Capital centric well I’m just relating my experience. I had a mate who was a Maoist and also was awarded a doctorate. I read his thesis and to me it was just a rewrite of Capital but an attempt to use modern statistics and relate the ideas to the modern world.
If you go to the sites that Arthur has been active on such as Strange times and Last superpower I think that you will get a strong impression that Arthur and Bill Kerr take political economy seriously and if I may say so have a strong Marxist fundamentalist approach.

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S.Artesian July 14, 2013 at 10:07 am

I don’t doubt that some people who ascribe to Maoism also “agree” with Marx’s Capital. What I’m looking for is the connection between the critique of capital as a social relation of production that Marx develops and the actual content of Maoism.

I think it’s quite clear from Marx’s exposition that the law of value is nothing other than the manifestation of that social relation, that organization of classes. Economics is for Marx nothing but concentrated history, history being determined by the conflict between labor and the conditions of labor.

We can go, and indeed Marx’s work would seem to compel us to go from the category of surplus value to the class struggle between wage-labor and capital, between wage-laborers and capitalists.

But I don’t see how that Marx’s work compels us to go to “new democracy” etc. etc.

As one example, what I want to know is how do we get from Capital to say the “bloc of four classes”?

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S.Artesian July 14, 2013 at 11:19 am

Am I reading that right? The Last Superpower was created by “left-wingers” who support the US invasion of Iraq? US Imperialism should be supported?

Are those the views of “fundamental Marxists” Arthur and Bill Kerr, or do they use the sites to argue against those view?

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Red Blob July 14, 2013 at 7:25 pm

S.Artesian You are correct the Last Superpower site and the Strange Times site are both sites created and supported by in their own words left wingers who support the invasion of Iraq. Regular contributors are Arthur, PatrickM Bill Kerr and byork all of whom support the invasion and have a long history of seeing themselves as Marxists.
I also did contribute at those sites in that I argue against the invasion.

Aaron Aarons July 15, 2013 at 3:19 am

Actually, their grouplet got its start by coalescing around support for the earlier imperialist war against Iraq in 1991.

Aaron Aarons July 15, 2013 at 3:55 am

There are many millions of “pseudoleftists” in the world whose opposition to capitalism includes opposition to bourgeois-democratic parties and governments, and to ‘democratic’ imperialism, but supposedly the half dozen or so folks of the pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist, anti-environmentalist Last Superpower group are the ‘genuine left’.

Of course, there are millions of people in the world who take the same positions on most issues as Arthur Dent’s and Patrick Muldowney’s ‘Last Superpower’ grouplet take, but very few of those people have any need or desire to call themselves ‘leftists’.

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patrickm July 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I see John McCain once again leads and Obama dithers
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/169657#.Ud5cg5wuNdg

McCain calls the counter-revolutionary coup in Egypt (obviously planned for some time, launched with the very threat, consummated with the arrest of the elected president and sustained by killing supporters) a coup.

McCain does this with the full understanding of how that recognition then requires the US government to act. The financial contribution to the Egyptian authorities has to be stopped if Obama sees a coup and right now he can’t see one.

Everyone who took part in OWS ought to be able to recognize what is now spreading across Egypt. Obama will probably work out it’s a coup after the death toll for what is now OCCUPY EGYPT passes the 1,000 mark.

Spokespeople for the MB are still speaking up on the MSM. They only get shown in the west of course because the old MSM methods like TV have been silenced by the military coup leaders. But all this material and analysis is out and ‘on the net’ anyway and they can’t stop this like they used to.

But Egyptians will now cop what happened to the Syrian bloggers, many of who paid with their lives, as this problem gets addressed by the counter revolution.

The tens of arrests have now moved into the hundreds and they will become thousands because that’s the way that very sick society of police state Egypt (and virtually the whole region) is set up to function. This brutal police state acts in a brutal police state manner.

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Aaron Aarons July 13, 2013 at 2:35 am

The Muslim Brotherhood government received many billions of dollars from Qatar, and the new government has already been promised many billions by the Saudis, Kuwaitis, and (I think) the Emirates. So nobody cares all that much about the 1.5 billion they might get from the U.S..

John McCain, BTW, was Chairman of the U.S.-government-funded International Republican Institute before, during and after the February, 2004 coup in Haiti in which the I.R.I. played a significant role. I have seen no evidence that John McCain spoke out against that coup. But, in that case, there was no doubt about which side the U.S. ruling class was on, since it was U.S. Marines who kidnapped President Aristide and flew him to Central Africa.

Isn’t it interesting, that the fake-left “Last Superpower” gang can’t seem to find anything to attack the murderous imperialist chieftain, Barack Obama, for other than for being insufficiently imperialist, in Syria and now in Egypt!

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byork July 12, 2013 at 7:11 pm

This report by an American journalist in Egypt throws light on the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood protestors. One of his Egyptian ‘secularist’ friends pleaded with him not to go to the MB protest camp at Nasser City as they’ hate foreigners’, etc. etc. He none the less decided to find out for himself.

Excerpt: “When I told my Egyptian friend Ahmad Kamal that I wanted to go to the Muslim Brotherhood protest camp in Nasser City, a pallid look gripped him. “Don’t go there!” he pleaded. “They are fanatics who hate foreigners. Americans like you are in danger there.” After an hour of fruitless conversation over endless glasses of sweet tea, I rose, shook Ahmad’s hand, and headed straight to the lair where he believed I would be devoured”.

Full article: http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/muslim-brotherhoods-legitimate-grievances?utm_source=World+Affairs+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3134187aa1-Totten_Sotloff_7_11_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f83b38c5c7-3134187aa1-246992597

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Jim Monaghan July 13, 2013 at 7:05 am
Arthur July 13, 2013 at 10:23 am

Thanks for link to interview with activist. I usually prefer to wait for written documents but the video interview gave a remarkably clear picture of the analysis and outlook of at least one section of the Egyptian revolutionary democratic left. Links from there to the earlier 3 part interview were also useful background.

Despite the really grotesque strategic rather than merely tactical errors that are being made that have helped consolidate the military regime with a catastrophic setback to the revolution, I was greatly reassured to see that the interviewee is at least some sort of kindred spirit, making leftist errors, rather than the “Bleach” reaction I had to the interview with Gigi. No great revolution has proceeded other than by learning from catastrophic errors and resulting defeats.

As the basic slogan now is “down with military rule” (and the brotherhood is shifting emphasis to that rather than support for Morsi) it seems likely that people like him will again find themselves on the right side of the barricades in opposition to the pseudoleft, Nasserists, liberals and outright remnants of the regime that have been taking advantage of their hopeless strategy of taking the Morsi government rather than the regime as their primary enemy (or “twin” enemy).

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Brian S. July 13, 2013 at 11:22 am

Again, thanks very much for the link, Jim. An excellent interview: El-Hamalawy has always been one of the most sobre and balanced thinkers on the far left. Anyone interested in the current Egyptian situation should read this and take what it has to say into account. Hopefully the promised second part will appear soon.
Very distrurbing to hear this description of the free trade union federation, which shows just how much the coup has disoriented the movement:
“I should also refer to the disgraceful position of the Independent Federation of Trade Unions in Egypt, which had played a very positive political role and economic role on so many occasions before. But, the Federation leadership, which is influenced by Nasserism, has decided to compromise with the military, and they decided that they will be suspending strikes as well as pushing the workers in order to ‘produce more’ ”

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Arthur July 13, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Yes, I was also struck by the reference to the “Independent” unions. I haven’t been following that issue well enough to know, but my impression is that the battle between “official” and “independent” unions was in fact a battle between brotherhood (replacing the remnants previously in control of the “official” unions) and the Nasserists (perhaps allied with some of the “left” remnants like Taggamu) in “unofficial” unions.

Economist illusions result in enthusing over any and all strike action but there’s nothing unprecedented about strikes etc being mobilized to help counter-revolutionary forces. This becomes blindingly obvious when the “leaders” immediately reverse direction after a successful coup. The general strategy of the opposition has been to maximize chaos with the aim of making people desperate for “law and order” and preservation of their livelihoods. This has apparantly included deliberate disruption of fuel and other essential supplies, withdrawal of police to unleash crime and insecurity and of course a wave of strikes

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Aaron Aarons July 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Hossam El-Hamalawy, in the interview linked to Jim Monaghan supports the position of genuine leftists who oppose both the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, and not the position of the anti-revolutionary bourgeois “democrats” (i.e., electoral majoritarians) who call for the restoration to office of Morsi and the MB.

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Brian S. July 13, 2013 at 3:13 pm

@Aaron. I don’t fetishize electoral majorities; but I also don’t ignore them. How do you propose to move towards an Egypt that is governed by the people’s needs and wishes? Through electoral minorities?

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Aaron Aarons July 14, 2013 at 9:18 am

@Brian S. First off, I’m not interested in the needs and, even less, the wishes of a classless ‘people’. I’m interested in the needs of those oppressed by capitalism (along with so-called ‘feudal remnants’ like the oppression of women), and the wishes of those who want to fight against, and eventually eliminate, capitalism. And I don’t differentiate between people who happen to be Egyptian, or located in Egypt, and the billions of others who may be affected by, or affect, the struggle in Egypt. In other words, Egypt is not separate from the global resistance to capitalist devastation of the planet and its peoples.

The worst thing that could happen politically in Egypt would be the stabilization of neoliberal capitalist rule under a government that can pretend, through elections, to be ‘legitimate’, like the ANC-fronted capitalist dictatorship in South Africa. I don’t know whether or not global capitalism can be stopped in time from creating an irreversible ecological disaster, but I don’t see it being stopped by elections, unless those elections are preceded by the overthrow of capitalist rule by any means necessary.

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Brian S. July 15, 2013 at 4:31 am

As I’ve said before, Aaron, I agree with you over both the limitations and dangers of “bourgeois democracy” but I don’t see any way forward to human emancipation that doesn’t pass through liberal democracy (and probably incorporate some of its ostensible values and institutions). Every other route that has been tried has proved worse than the problem (stalinism, nationalist authoritarian regimes). Democracies at least allow some space (variable from particular case to case) for the organisation of the popular classes (my use of the term “people” is always to contrast these social layers to the elites or dominant classes) and for them to win some gains, material or institutional.
The left approach to democratic institutions needs to be based on “aufhebung” not “smashing”.

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Arthur July 15, 2013 at 8:21 am

Lifting and smashing, trancending and obsoleting are closely related. The left approach should be “revolutionay democracy” in sharp contrast to “liberal democracy” which is brilliantly exemplified by the Egyptian liberals wholeheartedly siding with the complete suppression of democracy in the military coup.

These issues are deep, fundamental and central to all other questions. No genuine left can be established that does not fight on the side of democracy against its enemies, including the pseudoleft apologists for military coups in Egypt and mass murdering fascist regimes in Syria and Iraq. Democracy is not something to be liberal about, but to fight for, including against liberals.

Clarity on this is essential. But there is no simple formula that can resolve how revolutionary democrats should act. For example it is notorious that Leninist revolutionary democrats suppressed the first elected Constituent Assembly in Russia and never established the minimum standards of freedom of expression and competitive elections that are now generally expected. Its too easy to avoid really thinking about these issues with glib references to “Stalinism” and it actually makes it easier for the hard core social fascists in the pseudoleft to get away with pretending that their virulent opposition to even limited bourgeois and liberal democracy is somehow “Leninist”.

It would be useful if you started a separate thread on the broad topic, in which these issues could be explored in greater depth. I won’t attempt here an explanation of why I think the only alternative to Bolshevik dictatorship in Russia was a far worse whiteguard dictatorship or why I think they never resolved those problems in Russia or China and were eventually defeated, as it would be too much of a diversion from the topic of this thread.

But one key point is highly relevant to our disagreement in this thread. Revolutionary democrats will unite with whoever it is necessary to unite with and fight whoever it is necessary to fight. This includes uniting with islamists like the present Muslim Brotherhood and fighting secular liberals and Nasserists and their pseudoleft accomplices whose basic hostility to democracy helps suppress it and restore the old regime.

Fighting such people includes forcibly repressing them. El Baradei, Hamdeen Sabahi AND their accomplices belong in prison together with Al Sisi. Being “liberal” about this gets more people killed.

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Pham Binh July 15, 2013 at 9:00 am

I’m working on a few things along those lines.

All of this makes me glad RS is completely marginal. If they had a mass following, they’d get a lot of people killed with their political stupidity.

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Brian S. July 15, 2013 at 9:53 am

I don’t see how the RS influence – whether slender as at present or hypothetically mass – would add anything to people getting killed in Egypt.

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Pham Binh July 15, 2013 at 10:50 am

Refusing to defend the Brotherhood from murderous state attacks, for starters.

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Brian S. July 15, 2013 at 4:05 pm

The RS 9 July statement was a condemnation of the killings – the problem was it wasn’t focused and muddled up a perfectly principled denunciation of the army with unqualified political attacks on the MB. As I said at the time – tilting inthe wrong direction.
But even if the RS had a word perfect line it wouldn’t have had any impact on people getting killed.
We need to keep these legitimate criticisms of the RS in perspective. Its a young and inexperienced organisation, which has grown up in an oppressive politcal culture, and has both had to operate in circumstances and now is caught up in turbulent and complex events of a sort that we can only dream about.
Sure its made serious mistakes but its also the only organisation on the left to resist what must be the immense pressure coming frm the mass movement and maintain a principled oppostion to the army and avoid entanglement with the liberal-led fronts.
Serious socialist organisations don’t spring fully formed from the head of some revolutionary Zeus: they are born in mass struggles, sometimes get out of their depths, and often make mistakes. Hopefully they learn from them and develop.
By all means we should criticise the RS vigorously- but we should also solidarise with them. They are our comrades, warts and all. Without them I see no tangible perspective for an independent class struggle left in Egypt.

Arthur July 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm

See my comment re “kindred spirit” making catastrophic leftist errors on El Hamalawy interview:

http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=9130#comment-57083

But that was based on his interview being focused on opposition to the military coup and solidarity against repression of the Muslim Brotherhood (including reference to the existing “left” trends being “parsed” or presumably reorganized based on opposing perspectives on these central questions).

Its impossible to judge from an interview where an individual in a different culture is headed but it seemed plausible to me that now the struggle is basically about “down with military rule” he and others with a similar outlook would have to learn from their catastrophic errors end up on the right side of the barricades again.

So I do understand Brian’s point about “young and inexperienced organization” and would not write off all its members.

But that should not obscure the simple fact that the organizations position statement is not merely “tilted” in the wrong direction but plainly showed they were on the same counter-revolutionary side of the barricades as other secular liberals and “leftists” as described in:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/world/middleeast/egypt-morsi.html?pagewanted=all

Such organizations may be your comrades, warts and all, but they are certainly not mine. The sooner they disintegrate, along with the rest of the pseudoleft in Egypt and elsewhere, the less damage they will do and the sooner any individuals wthin them who do have some revolutionary democratic spirit can help build a genuine left that has no problem with “immense pressure” towards fascism.

S.Artesian July 15, 2013 at 9:50 am

Certainly true. “Revolutionary democrats” will even unite with Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, Savimbi, Pol Pot, Botha to fight those hostile to “democracy”

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Brian S. July 15, 2013 at 10:18 am

Botha? What are you talking about?

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S.Artesian July 15, 2013 at 10:39 am

Hi Brian,

PW Botha: Defense minister, Union of South Africa 1966-1980, Prime Minister 1978-1984, state president 1984-1989. Personal friend of Savimbi.

And of course organizer of the apartheid govts. military assault against Angola, with US assistance, and in support of UNITA.

Pham must have missed this, or be napping, as he’s taken down my other references to the cruise-missile leftism, apartheid allying, “revolutionary democracy” being advocated here.

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Pham Binh July 15, 2013 at 10:50 am

One-liners about Pol Pot and/or Maoism add nothing to the discussion here. Sorry. Ditto for people trying to re-litigate the 2003 or 1991 Iraq wars as well.

S.Artesian July 15, 2013 at 11:38 am

“One liners”? Person calls himself a “revolutionary democrat,” is described by others as a “fundamental Marxist,” and that person calls others “fascists” “social fascists creeps,” “enemies of the revolution” etc etc.

And when the real content of that “revolutionary democrat, fundamental Marxist” person’s positions are exposed– support for the US invasion Iraq; support for Pol Pot; support for the UNITA, US, Apartheid South Africa assaults in Angola– that “adds nothing to the discussion”??

Priceless. Hilarious. Pathetic.

Right, “re-litigating” the Iraq was is so yesterday. Of course it is. The war’s over, isn’t it? Sure it is.

And supporting that war, that has nothing to do with the “revolutionary democracy” that’s being advocated throughout the Mideast by our host at the end of the universe.

Pathetic. You’re a joke… a bad joke.

Pham Binh July 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm

You didn’t “expose” anyone re: Pol Pot and Botha because no one in this thread has said anything about either of them but you.

You’re just making things up and seeing what sticks. Not useful, helpful, nor productive in any way, shape, or form.

Brian S. July 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Yes Artesian, I’m well aware who PW Botha was: my question was what on earth has a reference to him go to do with this discussion.

S.Artesian July 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm

It has to do with Arthur’s claim that “revolutionary democrats” will ally with anyone and fight against anyone in the struggle for “revolutionary democracy.”

I think the history of those arguing that, who’ve they have allied and against whom has every bit of relevance and significance.

Aaron Aarons July 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

The overwhelming majority of people who consider themselves to be socialists or generic anti-capitalist leftists of any kind consider would associate the phrase “revolutionary democracy” with the Paris Commune of 1871, the Russian Soviets of 1905 and 1917, or many of the local insurrectionary movements that have temporarily taken power in, e.g., towns and villages of Mexico at various times over the years. Only on a few way-too-tolerant web sites would supposed socialists treat anybody who applies that phrase to the works of George W. Bush or to anything connected to the Muslim Brotherhood as anything other than a right-wing troll.

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Jim Monaghan July 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Latest statement, I think, from Revolutionary Socialists. They appear to be taking their distance from both bourgeois camps.
http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article29202

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Pham Binh July 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm

First RS waffled right towards supporting the counter-revolutionary coup, now they waffle left since the coup’s bloody and reactionary consequences (foreseen by many in this thread) have become undeniable. It’s embarrassing to see self-described Marxists exhibit this level of confusion so persistently.

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Arthur July 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Actually it ts worse than that. Statement is primarily “taking their distance” from the people being shot – by pretending that:

1. Their defence of their offices against armed thugs trying to burn them down and kill those guarding them was an attack on the revolution, in some way comparable to the military shooting unarmed protestors.

2. The brotherhood’s attempt at conciliation with the military to allow institutionalization of elections was comparable to and even worse than actually working with the thugs, remnants and security forces to impose military dictatorship.

The whole thrust of the statement is in that direction. Naturally for anyone pretending to be “revolutionary socialist” it HAS to include some waffle against the military.

BTW this is nothing new. The various successors of the Egyptian Communist Party after it was crushed by the Nasserists (and the Soviets) have notoriously been part of the regime and treated as “remnants” even by people who still have illusions about these “Revolutionary Socialists”.

PS I gather there was a split in April 6 movement. Does anyone have a link to statements from those from April 6 who opposed collaboration with the NSF et al? (Even arabic for automatic traslation).

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Brian S. July 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm

As now seems par for the course, a totally confused statement from RS – moreover one that is tilting in exactly the wrong direction: the key task at the moment is to be warning of the dangers of military rule, providing a clear critique of popular illusions in the military, and solidarising with the Islamist victims of the army. Instead they continue to concentrate their fire on the MB (how can you denounce Morsi’s symbolic capitulations to Tantawi while avoiding the NSF’s far more tangible capitulations to Sisi, and maintain a straight face?) I had to do a double-check of the date – 9 July and they are still treating the MB as the main danger and not the military? Interesting to contrast this with El-Hamalawy’s account. I wonder if he is still in the same current of the RS?

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Pham Binh July 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm

What else would expect from the “left” wing of the National Salvation Front, which is nothing more than an opportunist alliance with the counter-revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood? Only the Brotherhood taken a consistently pro-democracy anti-coup stand in this crisis.

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Arthur July 14, 2013 at 2:47 am

Agreed! (Though I assume there must be some smaller groups that also take a consistently pro-democracy anti-coup stand and would love to see some links to them.

Here’s some more details of the conscious collaboration of the opposition with the deep state in organizing the coup.

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424127887324425204578601700051224658-lMyQjAxMTAzMDEwMzExNDMyWj.html?mod=wsj_valettop_email

Its description of the use of thugs to attack the Brotherhood offices with complicity from the police in the period leading up to the coup highlights the hypocrisy of the “Revolutionary Socialists” statement claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood violently attacked them. It suggests that they went far beyond merely being willing dupes who united with Tamarod behind the one demand that all the remnants and deep state could easily join and mobilize around “Morsi Out”. That could just be an exceptionally stupid but not untypical “left” strategic mistake. But they apparantly went further and actually joined the fascist goon squads, are complaining that their own violence was resisted and thus confirming that will have to be forcibly repressed along with the other thugs.

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Brian S. July 14, 2013 at 9:25 am

@Arthur. Oh dear: Someone else I’m going to have to terminate relations with: I’m going to end up with very limited company on this site.
I WILL NOT engage with someone who employs this kind of tortuous and sophistical logic to draw an absurd conclusion and then call for violence against people who I regard as comrades (despite the confusion of their political line).

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Arthur July 14, 2013 at 10:25 am

Here is what they said in response to the shooting of more than 1000 and killing of 100 opponents of the military coup by the army:

“WE CANNOT forgive the crimes of the Muslim Brotherhood, which shot down and killed protesters in Mokattam just days before the fall of Morsi—justifying the killing with the call to protect the headquarters and offices of its supreme guide.”

Here is wikipedia’s account:

“On the morning of 1 July, anti-Morsi protesters ransacked the national headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. Protesters threw objects at windows and looted the building, making off with office equipment and documents. The Health and Population Ministry confirmed the deaths of eight people killed in clashes around the headquarters in Mokattam.[15] On 3 July, gunmen opened fire on a pro-Morsi rally, killing 16-18 people and wounding 200 others.[16][17][18][19] During the same time as the anti-government protests were ongoing, there were also other smaller pro-Morsi protests.”

Here are the first two footnotes:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23125387

Note that this was the opening round of the military coup, with the Interior Ministry publicly anouncing that it would not protect the brotherhood offices and thus inviting the armed attack on it which these “Revolutionary Socialists” endorsed.

http://dawn.com/news/1022322/gun-attack-on-cairo-pro-morsi-rally-kills-16-ministry

This isn’t “confusion”. It is direct endorsement of launching armed assaults on political opponent. There have been no Muslim Brotherhood mobs trying to loot and burn the offices of their opponents. The “crime” according to the RS, echoing the regime was resisting that armed attack.

If you don’t believe these “comrades” of yours should end up in prison along with the other violent thugs, what precisely do you think should be done to dissuade them from endorsing the looting and burining the offices of political organizations they don’t agree with, followed by attacking their rallies with automatic firearms as part of a coup effort (killing 16-18 before the army got more professional about it and killed another 100)?

Polite argument?

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David Berger (RED DAVE) July 14, 2013 at 10:42 am

You don’t get it, and you never will. What we are seeing in Egypt is a conflict between two factions of the ruling class: the military and the Muslim Brotherhood. What you are doing is supporting one branch, the Muslim Brotherhood, against another, the military. You are pointing out the error of supporting the military while committing the same error.

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S.Artesian July 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Polite argument:

The article in the Wall Street Journal that you cite Arthur, makes clearin its implications, that the shooting into the pro-Morsi demonstrations (and I presume the sacking of the MB headquarters) is the work of what the article refers to as the “deep state” in Egypt. The article is titled ” In Egypt ‘Deep State’ Rises Again.”

The article describes the “Deep State’ as “an assortment of long-standing political and bureaucratic forces that wield tremendous influence.”

Your own estimation of the RS is that it is an insignificant force (can’t remember the exact words you used), so that let’s it out of being part of the Deep State. Mistaken, foolish, wrong in offering any support for the coup? Absolutely.

The article goes on to describe the symbiosis of the Mubarak-factions and the so-called reformists– ElBaradei et al:

“The two sides needed each other…. Mubarak figures brought deep pockets and influence over the powerful state bureaucracy.
Some of these figure ‘are the ones who continue the methods of the deep state,’ said Ms. Mahdi. ‘They are the ones who know who are the election thugs, how to hire them.” (end)

Those are not “comrades” of “ours” — Red Dave or anyone else. Those are a faction of the existing capitalist regime. And I doubt very much whether the RS has any access to automatic weapon– or if they do, they would be stupid enough to bring them to such a demonstration.

Now perhaps to continue a polite argument– in the months afterMorsi awarded himself extraordinary authority over the “constitutional process” in November, let’s ask ourselves– were those demonstrating against the government of the FJP, against the policies of the MB, deserving of arrest and jailing? Were they “fascist goons”? Had the revolution been hi-jacked, in December, January, February, by the very people who participated in it from its earliest days (students and young people, since much of the protests after November took place in and around universities)? Should those demonstrations been suppressed by the government?

Of course not, or at least not in my opinion. I wouldn’t dare speak for Arthur who might hold another opinion, who might regard suppression of all such demonstrations just part of the “cleansing” so necessary to the MB… but that’s just speculation.

But for those who don’t think such demonstrators were fascist goons, and such demonstrations were the work of fascists conspirators, why does the fall of Morsi, and the suppression of the FJP make the least bit of difference, to what the way forward must be?

Are those who cheered the military bound to be “disappointed” and rue their temporary elation? Absolutely. The exact same way as they did after the fall of Mubarak. The exact same way as many felt disappointed and rue their joy at the election of the FJP to power.

Which is why putting the question in terms of “democracy” and “constitutional processes” is such a dead-end zero sum going nowhere method.

What are the sources of the struggle? What does it take to resolve the conflict that is driving these various events? Does democracy have to have a social, economic, class content to be relevant to the resolution?

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Aaron Aarons July 14, 2013 at 4:25 pm

So, Brian S., Arthur Dent’s support for several imperialist wars and for violent counter-revolution in Portugal in 1975 weren’t enough reasons to “terminate relations with” him?

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Brian S. July 15, 2013 at 4:45 am

They haven’t stopped you, have they?

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Brian S. July 14, 2013 at 9:16 am

Now don’t exaggerate: the RS have never been connected to the NSF, and it did try at one point to build a left pole against a military takeover. The roots of this error are not illusions in the bourgeois opposition, but illusions in the state of the mass movement.
Its hardly surprising that the MB would take a stand against the coup, is it?

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Arthur July 14, 2013 at 9:38 am

As far as I can make out the RS are completely insignificant in Egypt and therefore incapable of being any sort of wing of the opposition NSF or building any sort of “pole” for or against anything.

But their stand was unequivocably in support of the military coup, preteding that it was “the height of democracy, a revolution of millions of people to directly topple a ruler”. That is not “llusions in the state of the mass movement” but simply lying about it. They know perfectly well that the masses did not “directly topple a ruler” and the same statement admits and tries to play down the role of the remnants and the military.

http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article29124

Of course it is hardly surprising that the MB would take a stand against the coup.

But you WERE surprised at the stand taken by this group;

“I had to do a double-check of the date – 9 July and they are still treating the MB as the main danger and not the military?”

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Pham Binh July 14, 2013 at 10:44 am

According to the Wiki pages for both NSF and RS they are part of NSF. Source for that claim is this: http://dailynewsegypt.com/2012/12/03/national-rescue-front-condemns-referendum/

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Arthur July 14, 2013 at 11:04 am

You may be right, however that link, which is also the source for both wikipedia references actually only confirms they signed a statement calling a rally with 18 other groups.

Whether or not they are formally in the NSF it is clear that they supported the same coup that the NSF supported and equally clear that they are insignificant in Egypt and the attention paid to them by similar insignificant groups in the west is purely a result of “fraternal” relations rather than any impact of their activities on news of events in Egypt.

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Brian S. July 14, 2013 at 11:36 am

The Egyptian Press is not always diligent with its fact checking:
“However, our rejection of Morsi’s policies will never lead us to agree with the sleight of hand now being accomplished with the formation of the National Salvation Front, which has seen Hamdeen Sabahi standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Amr Moussa, and Mohamed elBaradei alongside Sayyed el-Badawi, who did not hesitate to meet the American Ambassador in Cairo. In spite of all this, the meetings of the Front are continuing as if nothing had happened.
“We call for the formation of a revolutionary front, free of the remnants of the old regime, to continue the struggle to complete the aims of the revolution to win bread, freedom and social justice.”
http://internationalsocialists.org/wordpress/2012/12/statement-of-the-revolutionary-socialists-egypt-you-shall-not-pass-your-constitution/
A similar stand was taken by several other groups including Aboul Futouh’s Strong Egypt Party.
The RS supported the 30 January demonstrations but continued to call for an independent front of revolutionary forces.

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Arthur July 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm

As you have yourself noted, they not only supported the 30 January demonstrations but also the related coup. After the massacre, as recently as “9 July and they are still treating the MB as the main danger and not the military”.

This is not at all similar to the stand of Aboul Futouh’s Strong Opposition which was democratically opposed to the Morsi government but has NOT supported the anti-democratic coup.

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Arthur July 14, 2013 at 1:07 pm

(sigh) “Aboul Futouh’s Strong Opposition” –> Aboul Futouh’s Strong Egypt party

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Arthur July 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm

PS “30 January” ==> “30 June” for my comment – and Brian’s (I assume)”

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Aaron Aarons July 14, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Pham Binh writes, “Only the Brotherhood taken a consistently pro-democracy anti-coup stand in this crisis.”

So the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to impose its neoliberal capitalist rule and reactionary social policies through elections, as do the Tea Party and similar groups in the U.S., and many explicitly right-wing parties in Europe. Does that mean they’re not deadly enemies of the workers, women, and other oppressed groups?

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Pham Binh July 14, 2013 at 4:20 pm

No it does not mean that at all. Obviously.

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Brian S. July 14, 2013 at 9:45 am

I note this recent important article in the Wall Street Journal:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324425204578601700051224658.html
I’m normally sceptical about these sort of exclusive “scoops”, but this one seems fairly watertight, at least as far as the main allegations are concerned. Their two key informants – Rabab al-Mahdi and Ahmed Samih – seem legit and could have had access to the info in question.
Rabab al-Mahdi is an interesting figure: a long standing activist who became an advisor to Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh during his presidential campaign. I’m not sure whoshe has been connected with more recently. She has been a very consistent opponent of the military (and keen to avoid a polarisation between Islamist and secularist camps). I get the feeling that there has been a recent “falling of the scales from her eyes” – so it will be worth looking out for anything she has to say in future.
Meanwhile Aboul Fotouh and Strong Egypt continue to look like the most clear-headed and principled force in the opposition camp.

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Arthur July 14, 2013 at 11:21 am

Brian, that is the same WSJ article I linked to (except that your link triggers a paywall from here). Here’s what it says about attacks on the Brotherhood offices is that your “confused comrades” endorse:

====
As agitation against the Muslim Brotherhood grew, the Brotherhood formally asked the Minister of Interior for protection of their offices nationwide. Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim, Minister of Interior, publicly declined.

Gen. Ibrahim faced pressure from powerful figures in the former Mubarak camp. On June 24, Ahmed Shafiq—the last prime minister appointed by Mr. Mubarak and Mr. Morsi’s closest rival for president—said in a television interview that he warned the general to not show support for the Brotherhood.

“I told him…the coming days will not be on your side if you do, and these days will be very soon,” Mr. Shafiq said on TV. “They will see black days,” he said, referring to the Brotherhood.

Days later, Mr. Shafiq’s warning materialized. Armed young men began ransacking Muslim Brotherhood offices nationwide.

In Zagazig, an hour north of Cairo, armed men showed up outside a Muslim Brotherhood office the night of June 27, according to neighbors and residents of the building housing the office. As they approached, the electricity went out, according to eyewitnesses not affiliated with the Brotherhood. Gunshots rang out, these witnesses said. Seven Muslim Brotherhood defenders were shot, one fatally.

The province’s deputy governor, a Muslim Brotherhood member appointed by Mr. Morsi, called the police chief and ordered him to intervene to prevent violence, according to local Brotherhood leader Yasser Hag. Mr. Hag said the police chief said he couldn’t help, citing the need to protect 7,000 antigovernment protesters elsewhere.

The police declined to comment. In an interview, Mr. Shehata, the former Mubarak party lawmaker in the area, said police couldn’t respond because they were stretched thin protecting protesters. He said the youths were random mobs and would be arrested if caught.

Another building resident, Mohammed Nasser Ammar, who said he opposes the Muslim Brotherhood, said that as the youths laid siege through the night, he and his neighbors phoned the police many times. “Each time they would say that they are coming, but then they don’t show up,” he said. Other residents gave similar accounts.

Nationwide that evening and in the next few days, dozens of Brotherhood offices were hit.

Mr. Ammar noted the similarities to Mubarak-era political tactics on behalf of then-ruling-party candidates. “The thugs that used to come out then, and the events happening during that time, was pretty much the same to this time,” he said.
======
You said of one of the sources of that article:

“I get the feeling that there has been a recent “falling of the scales from her eyes” – so it will be worth looking out for anything she has to say in future.”

Isn’t it about time for the scales to fall from YOUR eyes about your “confused comrades”?

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Jim Monaghan July 14, 2013 at 7:22 am

2 articles from the British Socialist Resistance. They would be close to Solidarity in the USA and would be friendly to Socialist Action.
http://socialistresistance.org/5349/if-they-come-for-muslim-brotherhood-in-the-morning
and http://socialistresistance.org/5345/the-coup-in-egypt

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Arthur July 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Looks like Salafi support for the coup may be crumbling. Ex-members of Al Nour have joined with other Salafi parties, Al Watan and Building and Development as well as non-salafi FJP and Al Wassat in a session of the upper house Shura Council at anti-coup rally in Rabaa Al-Adaweya square. Statement to other parliaments by Egypt’s legislature says:

===

We affirm that Egypt’s constitution is still valid, and that the Military Council (MC) cannot suspend a constitution endorsed by the Egyptian people in a free and fair referendum. We call on all the world’s parliaments to support the Egyptian people who lost their constitutional institutions as the MC staged a de facto coup d’état against their nascent democracy.

We reaffirm that the Shura Council is still valid, and that it cannot be dissolved by a military coup.

We further affirm that all actions and processes that followed the military coup, such as the constitutional declaration, are null and void. In fact, they are rebuilding a dictatorship. In addition, other repressive measures, such as gagging mouths and arbitrary arrests and detentions, show how dangerous the consequences of such a coup will be.

We also reaffirm our adherence to peaceful activities and call on the Egyptian people of all denominations to get around the single goal of ending military rule and repealing all illegal measures that resulted from the coup, like the removal of the elected President, suspending the Constitution, and disbanding the Shura Council.

We call upon all Egyptians to participate in peaceful protests, demonstrations, sit-ins, and all other events, so popular will can triumph and prevail.

What the Minister of Defense Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi committed is a de facto coup against democratic legitimacy, a blatant attack against the achievements of January 25, 2011 Revolution, and an attempt to reinstate the corrupt tyrannical pre-revolution regime.

We call on the Egyptian army and all faithful and patriotic citizens to beware of the imminent danger threatening our country because of the ruinous illegitimate military coup.

We offer our heartfelt consolation and sympathy to the families of those who were killed and injured in the massacres committed outside the Republican Guard Officers’ Club, in Al-Nahda Square, in Alexandria, and in other locations across Egypt.

We affirm that we will bring to justice all those responsible for such massacres locally and internationally. We will remain in continuous session in Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square; and we will make all necessary decisions and recommendations, to end the military coup, reinstate the legitimate elected President, and restore democratic civilian rule.

Egyptian Shura Council (Upper Chamber of Parliament)
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http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=31136
http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=31135

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Aaron Aarons July 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Arthur Dent is apparently incapable of defending the democratic rights of right-wing victims of right-wing repression without solidarizing with them politically.

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Arthur July 14, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Here’s the statement on the coup from moderate islamist Al Wassat party. Eloquent contrast with the pseudoleft:

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‎Al Wasat Party rejects the Constitutional Declaration in form and substance.

The Constitutional Declaration blows away the Egyptian people’s will, legalizes the null and void procedures, and gives a ground to the fabrication of the will of the citizens.

All of the processes and procedures included in the in the Constitutional Declaration will be executed under a full military control, appointed-not-elected committees, and chosen-by-name individuals for guaranteed loyalty.

Al Wasat Party
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
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http://www.alwasatparty.com/defult_inner.php?id=1301&namefrm=11#.UeLvdt3TxWM

BTW their web site offers translations in 71 languages from Afrikaans to Yiddish, but not including english.

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Arthur July 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm

This article is essential reading on the positive enthusiasm of Egyptian liberals and “leftists” for fascism and military dictatorship. Its not just a trend, but dominant. We can see the same crap in western pseudoleftists, including in this thread. 1930s language about jackals and hyenas seems less and less odd:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/world/middleeast/egypt-morsi.html?pagewanted=all

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Arthur July 17, 2013 at 7:27 am

This blog has some useful analysis:

http://baheyya.blogspot.com.au/

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Jim Monaghan July 22, 2013 at 6:46 am
Pham Binh July 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

“Unlike the majority of the opposition groups, the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists have had a clear position ‘Against the MBs, Against the folool (remnants of the Mubarak regime), Against SCAF’, as a slogan reasserted in our marches, statements and articles.”

Such a position is entirely unclear when SCAF and folool launch a coup against the MB. Hossam el-Hamalawy objects to RS being labelled as pro-coup and pro-military but that is the only possible interpretation of their position when they describe Morsi’s removal by SCAF as “the height of democracy” and say that the greatest danger facing the revolution is a return to power by Morsi and MB rather than SCAF forever playing kingmaker among the country’s political factions.

Against, against, against doesn’t tell anyone what you’re for when the forces you oppose get into conflicts with one another. The resulting confusion about what RS is for is RS’s fault and no one else’s.

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S.Artesian July 22, 2013 at 9:54 am

Well, maybe it would become more clear, Pham, if you read, or quoted, rather than cherry-picked or interpreted the RS statements.

Like maybe this section from the first link you provide where you imply that the RS is praising the SCAF’s action as the “height of democracy” rather than the mass actions against Morsi:
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“The significance of this surpasses any participation by old regime remnants, or the apparent support of the army and police. Mass demonstrations of millions are exceedingly rare events in human history, and their effect on the consciousness and confidence of the populace in themselves, and in their power to change the course of history, transcend the limitations of the slogans raised and the political alternatives put forward.

Yes, the liberal bourgeois elite wanted to use this mass impetus to overthrow the rule of the Islamist elite, in order to themselves reach power with the endorsement and support of the military establishment. And it is true that the feloul [remnants of the old regime] wanted to return to the political scene by way of this new revolutionary tide. But there is a special logic to popular revolutions that will not submit to the illusions or schemes of the liberals or feloul, even if sections of the masses were temporarily affected by the slogans and promises of that elite, just as they were affected before by the slogans and promises of the Islamist elite.

Yes, there is the influence of the huge media and propaganda campaigns, undertaken by sections of the ruling class opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, about how the army and police are standing with the people, about their neutrality and patriotism–even their “revolutionary nature”! But this influence is momentary and superficial, and cannot erase the memory and direct experience of the people of the counterrevolutionary character and opposition to the masses, whether it be the institutions of the military or the security services.

The true reason for this temporary influence is the betrayal of the liberal opposition, as represented by the National Salvation Front, of the goals of the Egyptian revolution and the blood of the martyrs, in order to shorten their path to power. The true reason is the absence of a united revolutionary political alternative capable of exposing the Front and winning the masses to a concrete revolutionary program; a project that can surpass both the liberal and Islamist elite and proceed forward to deepen the Egyptian revolution, sweeping away all of the institutions of the old regime, including the military and security institutions, which are the heart of the counterrevolution.

The masses have not revolted anew out of a desire for military rule or love for the feloul liberal alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood. They have revolted anew because Morsi and the Brotherhood betrayed the revolution. The Brotherhood did not implement even one of the demands of the revolution for social justice, freedom, human dignity or retribution for the martyrs of the revolution, whether they fell at the hands of Mubarak and al-Adly, or the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), or the Brotherhood and the Interior Ministry during the period of Brotherhood rule.

In fact, Brotherhood rule deepened the same policies pursued by the Mubarak regime–of impoverishment and corruption, and the desperate defense of big business in the service of American and Zionist interests.

Rather than purging the state apparatus of corruption and of those who smeared their hands with the blood of the martyrs, whether in the Interior Ministry or the military apparatus or secret police, the Brotherhood held to its bargains with them, hoping for the participation in the state administration alongside the feloul and Mubarak’s men.

Thus, Brotherhood rule became merely an extension on all levels of the Mubarak regime against which the Egyptian people had revolted.”
___________

Or maybe if you quoted the demands and proposals from the second article you link to…. assuming, of course, your intention is to really make things more clear, rather than less clear in a service to your demands for the restoration to power of “reactionary democrats.”

Just wondering…….

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Pham Binh July 22, 2013 at 10:41 am

Funny you accuse me of selective quotation. The full sentence that you did not include in your attempt to correct me was, “What has happened in Egypt is the height of democracy, a revolution of millions of people to directly topple a ruler. As for the military displacement of Morsi, this was nothing but a foregone conclusion once the military institution saw that the masses had already settled the issue in the streets and squares of Egypt.

“El-Sisi did on July 3, 2013, what Tantawi did before him on February 11, 2011; he acquiesced to the will of the rebelling populace, not out of any patriotism or revolutionary fervor, but out of fear of the revolution.”

So RS is saying the military removing an elected president is just as much a revolutionary, democratic act as removing an autocrat who ruled with an iron first for some 30 years.

RS’s statements have been all over the place. They support the coup and then say they are against SCAF; they demand the election of a constituent assembly to write a “civil, democratic” constitution even though when those elections happened, Islamists won 75% of the vote and so therefore a “civil, democratic” constitution can only be enacted against the will of the voting majority, i.e. anti-democratically.

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S.Artesian July 22, 2013 at 11:51 am

Fine you added the sentence, and the article makes it clear that it does NOT consider the SCAF coup revolutionary, but the actions of those in the streets against the “reactionary democrats” of the MB were revolutionary, were the height of democracy.

The military, as the article makes clear, acted “as a foregone conclusion” after the masses had settled the issue in the streets. Now maybe there’s a hidden code in there somewhere… but the words do not say what you claim they say.

You call the constitution “democratic” because it was approved in an election by 3/4 of the electorate. You might as well be telling me that the US Constitution is democratic because it was approved by all the states. Pay no attention to those uncomfortable provisions about slavery and 3/5 of a person and all that.

The MB is, as you described, a “reactionary democratic” organization. The constitution is not a democratic constitution– despite the numbers who voted for it.

It’s a reactionary constitution designed to maintain the “sovereignty”– that is to say power of a coalition of reactionary forces–some more democratic, some less democratic– the MB, the military, rightists of religious and secular nature AGAINST the prospects for revolution– hence the military is indemnified against civilian control, military “justice” (sic!) is in practice the supreme law of the land despite the pious sounding phrases about Islamic law and sharia’h

As for statements being all over the place…. of course they are. What do you expect with an emerging movement that is feeling its way through this struggle? If the statements were entirely uniform and homogenous you’d be claiming they were simply ultra-revolutionary posturing, and cant.

Your hostility to anything less reactionary than your “reactionary democrats” is readily apparent to even the most casual observer.

But let’s look at what should have been done to keep this government of “reactionary democrats” in power: first and foremost, the demonstrations in the street would have had to been suppressed. And how would the MB have done that– statutorily by invoking those elements of the democratic constitution that limit the right to demonstration, the right to assembly, the right to free speech. All rights in the constitution may be exercised only to the extent that they do not threaten the state:

“These rights and freedoms shall be exercised insofar as they do not contradict the principles set out in the Chapter on State and Society in this constitution.”

“The state and society shall commit to preserving the true nature of the Egyptian family,”

“The state shall protect ethics and morals and public order”

And practically, how would this have been accomplished? Through the police and the military.

So the question that you Pham need to answer is: In hindsight do you think you should have supported, the suppression of the demonstrations by the Morsi government through use of the police and military forces?

Clearly, “democracy” would have to have been suppressed for “reactionary democracy” to survive. And that is the real lack of viability of “democracy.”

Those of us who, unlike yourself, hope for a bit more than a government of reactionary democrats, think there are alternatives.

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Pham Binh July 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm

There’s no reason the demonstrations against Morsi and MB would have to have been suppressed by force. They were not even engaged in civil disobedience much less playing at insurrection. The fact that SCAF and the police force encouraged and joined the demonstrations indicates how they were used to give political cover for a counter-revolutionary coup and proves that Morsi and MB could not have suppressed the demonstrations by force even if they were so inclined.

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S.Artesian July 22, 2013 at 12:23 pm

That’s a hell of an answer. OK, now let’s assume the demonstrations continue, the military sits on its hands, and the demonstrators– let’s even assume demonstrators egged on by the military– engage in such civil disobedience– now what?

This isn’t that much of a stretch. I’m asking you to find a practical way for your reactionary democrats to stay in power without suppressing the democracy.

And regarding the constitution– would you have supported that constitution as being democratic prior to the vote and Morsi’s signing of it? Do you think that the content of the constitution is “democratic” or is it simply the vote, regardless of the content, that makes you now regard it as a document of human emancipation?

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Pham Binh July 22, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Sit-ins are generally not a threat to bourgeois rule or rule by particular parties. Certainly Occupy Wall Street was never in a position to remove Bloomberg.

I think the constitution was worth defending from a coup just as the American constitution and government were both steps forward compared to monarchical rule from afar even though they left a lot to be desired.

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S.Artesian July 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Didn’t stop Bloomberg from putting the police on it, did it? Didn’t stop Bloomberg from coordinating his attempts at repression with other governments in other cities did it?

You’re wiggling Pham and there is no wiggle room, which is the point.

If Morsi and the MB did not move against the demonstrators it’s only because a) they underestimated the power, and the power of those backing, the demonstrations b)they misread the opportunistic nature of those elements of the old regime that were building an alliance against the MB and c) they, the MB, were uncertain of the support of the military should the govt attempt to use it.

Now some might think that the MB is so committed to democratic process that that commitment stayed its hand in acting, but that simply doesn’t square with the reactionary nature of the MB.

As for the constitution– you didn’t answer the question: Was it a democratic constitution prior to the vote. Did you support adoption of that constitution in 2012?

My view that the constitution is/was, in Egypt as in the US, but a piece of paper and designed to effect a compromise between factions and elements and sectors of the ruling classes.

At a certain point, all pieces of paper used to keep the bourgeoisie in power, to keep capital in circulation, get devalued.

As long as those ruling classes in some way shape or form maintain power, their constitution is not worth defending, no matter how many voted for it.

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Pham Binh July 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Point being Bloomberg was not in danger of being overthrown by OWS any more than Morsi was in danger of being removed by angry rallies. Bloomberg chose to evict OWS, he was not forced to.

S.Artesian July 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm

“Point being Bloomberg was not in danger of being overthrown by OWS any more than Morsi was in danger of being removed by angry rallies. Bloomberg chose to evict OWS, he was not forced to.”

What are you talking about? Demonstrations, many of them violent, had been going on continually in Egypt, with clashes between the MB/FJP and the”opposition” starting right after the new year and continuing through April and into May.

You don’t think Morsi felt threatened? That’s why he utilized the police in Port Said, Alexandria, Cairo, Aswan? Because he DIDN’T feel threatened? That’s why he stood by the side of the military after the report was leaked describing the military’s involvement in torture? Because he didn’t feel threatened by the demonstrations and didn’t want to shore up support with the military?

Makes no sense. The MB/FJP did utilize repression in those months. Did arrest demonstrators. Did utilize something akin to “preventive detention” against certain militants.

But despite all that you conclude Morsi was not threatened by the June/July demonstrations and simply did not utilize massive repression against them because he didn’t feel threatened?

That’s nonsensical.

D

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