Convulsions in Egypt signal new era of world revolution

July 8th, 2013

Published on World Socialist Web Site WSWS, by David North and Alex Lantier, July 5, 2013.

This week’s convulsive events in Egypt, culminating in the military coup that ousted President Mohamed Mursi, have immense significance for the working class all over the world.

The most striking feature of these events is the sheer scale of the outpouring of social opposition to Mursi’s Islamist regime. The crowds flooding city centers numbered not in the tens or hundreds of thousands, but in the millions. Across the whole of the country, tens of millions participated.  

“Together with the thoroughness of the historical action, the size of the mass whose action it is will therefore increase,” wrote Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1844 on the eve of the first great revolutionary struggles of the European working class (in 1848-49). The new “historical action” that is drawing tens of millions into struggle is the emerging international working class revolution against globally-integrated capitalism.

Recent years have seen mass strikes and protests worldwide—in European countries devastated by austerity such as Greece, Portugal and Spain; in industrial regions of Asia such as China and Bangladesh; in the Middle East, including mass working class protests in Israel; and more recently in Turkey and Brazil. The successive waves of mass struggles in Egypt are the most intense expression of an international process … //

… Mass opposition to the junta, spearheaded by the working class, mounted throughout 2011 and into 2012. But the bankruptcy of the bourgeois opposition and its pseudo-left appendages enabled the right-wing Muslim Brotherhood to take the initiative and capture state power. The misnamed Revolutionary Socialists hailed the Brotherhood’s triumph in the June 2012 elections as a victory for the revolution.

Only one year later, a mass nationwide movement, going far beyond Tahrir Square, emerged in opposition to the Brotherhood and President Mursi, whose regime was no less dictatorial than that of the junta. In the absence of a revolutionary working class party, however, the military and the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties, in a series of frantic negotiations, agreed on the ouster of Mursi and the formation of a new junta, fronted by a coalition of bourgeois figures. This was a pre-emptive strike against the emergence of a revolutionary movement of the working class.

Feeling itself too weak to launch a direct assault on the masses in revolt, the army is working behind the façade of a coalition to prepare a war of attrition against the working class. While it prepares for mass repression, it will seek to wear down opposition in the working class to social austerity policies and the Egyptian army’s collaboration with US imperialism. It is not difficult to predict that masses of Egyptian workers and urban and rural poor are headed for a new confrontation with this ramshackle regime.

The lessons of these critical experiences must be drawn not only in Egypt, but throughout the world. In the struggle to develop a genuine revolutionary leadership in the working class, basing itself on the historical lessons of the 20th century and the opening years of the 21st century, certain basic conceptions of Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution must be stressed:

* There is no country in the world, least of all the oppressed ex-colonial countries, where any section of the capitalist class or its political representatives has a progressive role to play.
* The fundamental revolutionary force in all countries is the working class, which alone can fight without compromise to implement and defend a democratic program. The fight for democracy merges with the revolutionary struggle for socialism and workers’ power.

* The struggle in any country must be guided by an international strategy. For the Egyptian workers, revolution can be victorious only to the extent that it draws the working class of the entire Middle East, including the Israeli proletariat, into a common struggle against regional ruling elites and their puppet masters in the United States and Europe.

Imperialism will stop at nothing to impose its will on the masses of the Middle East. The bloody wars launched in Libya and Syria in the aftermath of the outbreak of revolution in Egypt are a warning. The alternatives are either socialist revolution or a new carve-up of the Middle East by the imperialist powers and the enslavement of the working class.

The implementation of a socialist strategy is inconceivable without the formation in the Middle East and internationally of new Marxist working class parties based on the Trotskyist perspective of Permanent Revolution.

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