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Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Canadian view of Egypt

North Africa and the Middle East: Support the revolts and prepare for revolution

A statement from the General Secretary of Revolutionary Initiative (Canada)
February 14, 2011.


When the young Tunisian produce merchat Mohamed Bouazizi set himself
ablaze after having his livelihood taken from him by Tunisian
authorities, he sparked a rebellion amongst a stratum of youth,
students, the urban unemployed, and petty-bourgeois, first in Tunisia
and then all across the Arab world. But Bouazizi was himself merely a
rallying point, the final trickle of indignation sufficient to allow
the fears of Tunisians to be overcome by their yearning for
liberation. The Tunisian revolt, followed by the flight of Ben Ali on
January 14, 2011, emboldened the Arab masses to emulate Tunisia’s
example, igniting all of North Africa and the Middle East in

The domestic and international situations that have conditioned these
revolts are the depressed economic conditions in most of the Arab
world, subordinated as it is to the geopolitical interests and
economic dictates of imperialist globalization, which includes the
defense of Zionist aggression and expansionism. The protests and
rebellions throughout the Middle East – from Tunisia, to Algeria, to
Egypt, to Jordan, to Yemen, to Gaza, and beyond – have been triggered
by decades of pro-imperialist, feudal, dictatorial, pro-Israel, and
bankrupt antipeople policies. As the Arab revolts unfolded, the news
outlet al-Jazeera began to release the leaked “Palestine Papers”,
thousands of diplomatic documents from the past decade of the
Israel-Palestine conflict. A brief glance at only a few of the
thousands of documents reveal unequivocally how treachourous and
pro-Israeli is the Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and the
entire Palestinian Authority. These documents have offered the Arab
masses and the whole world yet another opportunity to observe how U.S.
imperialism, Israel, and comprador ruling classes like Mahmoud Abbas
and Co., conspire against the interests of the masses in the
geopolitical and economic interests of imperialism.

The sentiments driving the Arab rebellions are shared by hundreds of
millions the world over who are just as equally frustrated by the
economic policies of imperialist globalization and the corrupt and
fascistic regimes necessary to maintain these policies. The
significance of these revolts should be neither underestimated, nor

First of all, the broad-based urban masses that have revolted all
across the Middle East in the opening months of 2011 reveal the
profound insurrectionary power of the masses. The Arab revolts have
revealed that once a people have overcome their fear, their enthusiasm
for revolution is inexhaustible – so long as the way forward remains
clear. If the Egyptian masses refused to be bullied and assaulted,
repelling every attack and outmaneuvering every attempt by the ruling
class and imperialism to retain Mubarak, it is because the immediate
way forward was perfectly clear to them: Mubarak had to go. And in
time, in the face of the irrepressible will of the Egyptian masses
masses, he did.

If the popular classes in the Arab world, as in Egypt, succeed in
carving out for themselves greater bourgeois-democratic liberties to
prepare for future revolts and revolutionary movements, then they will
have forced very important concessions from the domestic ruling
classes. But to thoroughly break with the pro-imperialist, pro-Israel
policies of semi-colonial regimes of the Arab countries, revolutionary
and popular organizations united by a clear program for
anti-imperialist new democracy and socialism will be required. These
revolts are merely the opening chapters of the protracted
revolutionary struggles to follow.

In an interview with news program ‘Political Capital’ on
February 4, 2011 [before Mubarak's departure], Zbigniew Brzezinski,
one of U.S. imperialism’s shrewdest geopolitical analysts, responded
to the question of what Egypt would look like in a year from now (if
the U.S. has its way):

“It will look like…Turkey…. But haste makes waste… Mubarak, who was
not a bad guy, who has not been a bad president for most of the years,
has been there too long… The fact of the matter is that in the region,
the attitude of the government and of the elites, towards the United
States and towards the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, is more
favourable than the attidude of the masses.”

Tell it like it is, Zbigniew: Imperialism, its Zionist allies, and
their Arab clients, fear the masses more than anything else. Any
democracy controlled by the masses would be completely antagonistic to
the “democracy” aspired to by imperialism and all its running dogs.
The praise and admiration expressed by Obama on February 11, 2011
after Mubarak stepped down was a thorourghly hollow and disingenuous
attempt to shore up some good will from the Arab masses, while
assuring the world that the task of the revolution was complete, even
though the Army took control. As Obama told the world:

The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker
to the state and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible
in the eyes of the Egyptian people. That means protecting the rights
of Egypt’s citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the
constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible and
laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free … Above
all this transition must bring all of Egypt’s voices to the table for
the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the Egyptian
people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this

Yet, the essential confrontations and the most essential ruptures, in
Egypt and all across the Middle East, have yet to occur. None of the
Arab comprador ruling classes have yet been broken. Everywherem the
pseudo-“opposition” forces are maneuvering to reconfigure their
regimes to make them sufficiently palatable to the masses, while in
essence they remain just as reactionary, comprador, pro-imperialist as
they were before the revolts. The imperialists have come to accept
that some of these figureheads have to go and they can now be found
singing the tunes of “change”, lest these mass rebellions develop into
far more menacing developments.

The imperialists’ belated withdrawal of support from their quisling
Mubarak is not a sign of support to democracy, but a last-ditch effort
to come to terms with his downfall, save face in the eyes of the
Egyptian masses, and pacify their resistance. The imperialists and all
their running dogs in Egypt recognize the dangers in allowing the
masses to experiment with their own versions of democracy. From the
perspective of the imperialists, the rebellious experiences that the
masses have accumulated in the last few weeks pose serious dangers to
the future reconstitution of their control.

Meanwhile, Canadian imperialism has been singing an duplicitous tune
for the past few weeks: cautioning the Tunisian and Egyptian masses
against violence, later ensuring its support for “democratic
transitions”, and finally, warning of the “radical elements” that will
take over if Mubarak is toppled too early. On February 6, Canada’s
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon stated that “We expect that
any government that will emerge will uphold Egypt’s commitment to…past
peace accords and agreements, including with Israel.” And on Friday,
February 11, after Mubarak’s departure, Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper – Israel’s most shameless defender in the whole world –
begrudgingly remarked that the Egyptian people were not “going to put
the toothpaste back in the tube on this one.”

In the West, the corporate press has been consistently invoking the
spectre of Islam to scare the masses in the imperialist countries from
supporting the Egyptian people. We were told to fear the “power
vacuum” that would result from a “disordely” exit of Mubarak,
especially with the Muslim Brotherhood set to emerge stronger from the
rebellion. But the imperialists have little to fear in the Muslim
Brotherhood. On February 6, Mubarak struck a deal with all
“opposition” forces, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to implement
reforms that would eventually bring them into the regime. The
conspicous absence from the Muslim Brotherhood in the early days of
the protests speaks volumes about their political orientation.

As the exiled Egyptian political economist Samir Amin has written:

In case of ‘success’ and ‘elections’, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) will
become the major parliamentary force. The US welcomes this and has
qualified the MB as ‘moderate’, that is, docile and accepting the
submission to the US strategy, leaving Israel free to continue its
occupation of Palestine. The MB is also fully in favour of the ongoing
‘market’ system, totally externally dependent. They are also, in fact,
partners in the ‘compradore’ ruling class. They took a position
against the working-class strikes and the peasants’ struggles to keep
their ownership of land.

The US plan for Egypt is very similar to the Pakistani model, a
combination of ‘political Islam’ and army intelligence. The MB could
compensate their alignment on such a policy by precisely being ‘not
moderate’ in their behaviour towards the Copts. Can such a system be
delivered a certificate of ‘democracy’?

The movement is that of urban youth, particularly holders of diplomas
with no jobs, and supported by segments of the educated middle classes
and democrats. The new regime could perhaps make some concessions –
enlarge the recruitment in the state apparatus, for example – but
hardly more.

Of course things could change if the working-class and peasants’
movement moves in. But this does not seem to be on the agenda.

Indeed, the role of the working-class and the peasantry, at the
forefront of the masses, will decide the future course of the
rebellions throughout the Middle East. The popular revolts in the Arab
world have thoroughly shaken up oppressive regimes, driving ruling
cliques into an utter panic. But nowhere as of yet have these
rebellions done away with the comprador, pro-imperialist ruling
classes that stand behind these regimes. Everywhere popular power is
flowering, but nowhere has it overturned social relations and
consolidated itself.

The tasks of complete social liberation from imperialism are the tasks
of anti-imperialist, new democratic and socialist revolutions, which
have as their immediate and long-term goals: (1) The seizure of power
from and dispossession of all pro-imperialist forces (compradors,
clients, bureucrat capitalists, feudal forces – all the powers that
make up these bankrupt social formations); and (2) the maintenance of
this power in the face of imperialist aggression and onwards to the
transition to socialism. Anything less than this will maintain the
position of the most parasitic strata of ruling classes, which by
virtue of their class standing have nothing to offer the masses but
new forms of capitulation to imperialism and Israel’s regional

All those forces of the Canadian “left” that have rushed to stamp the
developments in the Middle East as “Revolution” are at best
delusional, if not opportunistic and deceptive. Some of these forces
indeed believe that revolutions can be made in such spontaneous ways,
underestimating the monumental tasks necessary to defeat imperialism
and the social formations that support imperialism in the
semi-colonial countries. A tried-and-tested revolutionary leadership,
a disciplined people’s army, and a revolutionary united front with a
revolutionary proletarian-peasant alliance at its centre – all these
are necessary prerequisites for driving forward and consolidating
popular revolution in countries similar to those of North Africa and
the Middle East. All those forces that are quick to celebrate the
‘Revolution’ when mere cosmetic changes have been made delude
themselves more than the masses. The people who continue to fight in
the streets of Tunis, Cairo, San’a, Algiers, Gaza, and all throughout
the Middle East know full well that they are far from vanquishing
their enemies, let alone beating back the crushing economic measures
that are their immediate concern. To proclaim as revolutionary the
current developments is not only pre-mature, but it also serves only
to legitimize the comprador regimes that remain in the wake of the Ben
Alis and Mubaraks.

The movements of the people in the Arab world are indeed historic. We
salute the masses for their victories and for showing us all the way
in popular rebellion. But the masses in the Middle East know better
than those outside their countries that there is much to be done in
their countries to break from imperialist-imposed neoliberal
globalization, and to completely cut links with Israel and throw their
full support to the Palestinian cause. But as Lenin remarked when
referring to the enthusiasm for the bourgeois democratic movements
developing in the colonial countries of his own day, let us in the
imperialist countries not dress up these movements in “communist

For our part, as revolutionaries in Canada we must continue to expose
and oppose the pretensions and designs of Canadian imperialism by
building up the anti-imperialist movement in Canada, and more
importantly, uniting a proletarian revolutionary leadership to lead
the masses in the revolutionary struggle here. This task, like the
anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggles in the Arab world, will
not sweep away all reactionaries in one fine night. But as we build
the revolutionary movement in the imperialist countries, and as the
oppressed countries struggle to wrest themselves from the clutches of
imperialism, further aggravating the crisis of imperialism on a world
scale and in Canada, the developing revolutionary situations will
continue to mature in the imperialist centres. Let’s resolve ourselves
for the tasks ahead!

Advance the revolutions of the Arab masses,
Confront and defeat imperialism in the Middle East, including Israeli
expansionism, and
Build the revolutionary movements in the imperialist centres!

“The future is bright, but the road is tortuous” – Mao Tse-Tung

General Secretary,
Revolutionary Initiative (Canada)
February 14, 2011.

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