Egypt Revolt at the center of wide social chaos
Since the early Second Postwar, our current kept watching over the events pertaining to Mediterranean Sea, its coast countries and mainly Europe and Middle East (concerning Mediterranean Sea in a geopolitical sense).
As all ancient and recent geopolitical schemes designate this area as crucial, also the governments and the military staff of the major imperialist countries give the same importance to it. In that area there is the highest concentration of capital per sq km inhabited in the world (the inhabited area includes the old industrial - financial metropolis as well as the new oil wells), and this situation has directly to do with the growth of the revolutionary conditions. The stable presence of the US Sixth Marine Division is a proof of that.
The "national" maps of North-Africa and Near East have been so unsettled by the heavy colonial intervention, and the ex-colonialists is so massively present (oil or non oil), that every shock of the status quo has remarkable global effects, from the last Postwar on. (see Il terremotato Medio Oriente- in Italian only). It's not only a matter of interests between allied, concurrent or plainly hostile imperialist countries: it's more about local reflections of a global structure of the capitalist world. We couldn't explain otherwise the objective concentration of social revolts in the points of biggest accumulation, namely beyond this area, in China also. We believe that the urban revolts raised in France have been the harbinger of the following ones, because different social movements have the same unitary foundation (see La banlieue è il mondo – in Italian and French only). The United States represent an exception even if they are a powerful centre of accumulation, but only because their dominant position gives them the control over the world resources. If global tendency remained the same as we are observing nowadays, in the United States as well urban revolts will raise.
Let's have a look at the map below about the social situation in this early 2011:
In red are the countries where urban riots erupted against the police, parasitic and corrupted states; in pink are the countries in which regimes have been promising social and economic reforms as a preventive way, because of their fear; in purple, European countries where riots recently exploded against the lack of expectations, especially for the young generations.
Such a concentration of situations where we can find social invariance ridicules the mass media's inclination to consider every episode as isolated (even if the countries with a "similar" internal situation are frequently compared, being considered as characterized by lack of democracy, inefficiency, corruption, etc.) We are actually analyzing a seismic wave whose underground energy is the same for all different phenomena on the surface: here a wall collapses, there a chasm opens, elsewhere a landslide falls.
Within this outlook, Egypt has sufficient potential to disrupt the structure of inter-imperialist relationship and has a decisive impact on this great revolt, which for now has no outcome. Egypt is a country with almost 85 millions of inhabitants (some say 100 millions), who live crowded in a narrow belt with desert all around. This area is 40.000 square kilometers on the total of one million, so the real population density is 2.000 inhabitants per square kilometer, six times the highest of europe (Netherland). The capital, Cairo, has 15 millions of inhabitants (20 millions according to other information). Now, 40% of the population lives with less than two dollars a day. But there was a significant working class in the industrial sector by the early decades of 19th century. Today about 7 millions of people are working in the industrial sector producing 37% of gross domestic product even if they represent only 18% of total employment. On the eve of the first major demonstration in Tahir square, an all-out strike was declared, a fact which can only occur if among the indistinct crowd the working class represents a decisive force. The trickle of industrial strikes manifesting at the same time of the major demonstrations shows the missing "welding" but also the common movement, which became liable to be led by the strongest class.
This is enough to describe, within the pax americana, the destabilizing potential of this country, based on how the working class acted in the recent past, for example, in 1977 and 2008, when similar riots burst out, clearly supported by strikes in the factories. Wether it is conscious or not, the egyptian proletariat is able to throw up the entire balance of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Egypt is in fact one of the cornerstones which support the politics of imperialist stabilization, as Israel is rightly telling (Israel used to support Mubarak in his standing surety for the that balance). Hence it is clearer that behind the suggestion of soft transitions there was a global meeting of interests, which were to avoid the proletariat, not very active for the moment, to move with its disruptive strength.
If we adopt the point of view of revolution, the real movement which abolishes the present state of things, beyond what the protagonists say about themselves and what they are living now, a general movement is clearly detactable, being in a hard search of weak points of the global system to undermine the social order. The map points this out and some bourgeois are realizing it; as the army does, which in the 18 days of revolt avoided making any false moves which could potentially be lethal for what remained of the regime.
The social energy goes dissipated without a revolutionary current able to guide it. The turmoiling system is better described in physical thermodynamics terms than through a political subversion analogy. Hence the most likely outcome: the reforms will ensure the ongoing survival of the system, a renewal of the thermostat which stabilizes it. Until the following explosion. Indeed the economic growth, accompanied by the increasing gap between the salaries, incomes and profits, cannot have firm foundations of development, especially if we consider that the demographic trend has a devastating impact on such a limited habitable territory. However, it would be a mistake to claim that these physical limits are a prerogative of Egypt only: the whole capitalistic world suffers from it, although it mustn't handle the siege of barren deserts, demographic increase and particularly greedy satrapies. The phenomenon has a single cause: lack of accumulation, which means overproduction, tendency of the rate of profit to fall, dead labor supremacy (machines, plants, financial capital) over the living labor (labor force in act).
The defenses of the bourgeoisie
Tanks, rifle-shots, mass arrests and torture are good traditional deterrents which Egypt employed also before the revolt. But these are not, in general, the only defensive weapons of the bourgeoisie. Espionage, wiretapping and misinformation are complementary instruments. Before the riots in Egypt, the main topic of discussion, especially on the internet, was if a total censorship on the Web could be carried out. Some believed it was sufficient to pull the plug. We were skeptical since all the industrial and financial transitions usually take place via computer, telephone, mobile, internet. Therefore, also the administration and a lot of other services would be blocked by a total blackout. Obviously, it is necessary to remove the mystical aura that pervades the network when it comes to direct democracy, active participation for freedom and justice, all categories without empirical meaning. It is true that hackers know how to stay one step ahead of the devil, but, governments, after each attack, learn a few new tricks. More over we must not forget that the best hackers work on their own, with the view of working for the "security" of governments, banks, factories, etc. Each weapon can be pointed in opposite directions. Internet is a tool which predicts future society's characteristics, but at the same time, precisely for this reason, it becomes an essential battleground for each anti-proletarian bourgeoisie.
However, Egypt has shown that the total electronic block is possible. For the first time in the world, in an important country the national internet structures, landlines and mobiles were turned off. Furthermore, trains and buses were also blocked. An amazing self-organized general strike. In fact, also we assumed took place: the whole Economy was frozen. Someone has summed up the funds available to the new government run by the military: including also the future period of recovery at least 10% of GDP would have gone up in smoke. The terror of Egyptian bourgeoisie towards the revolt produced a great result, with positive practical effects from the point of view of the knowledge gained by the rebels: without the creation of alternative networks such as those of the military, it will never be possible to freeze communications for several days without devastating the economy. It takes little to imagine the amplified effect of a proletarian general strike launched simultaneously with the block of the government communications. It would be a disaster. So the eyes of the world's bourgeoisies are certainly focused on this experiment. Every revolutionary is also very much interested. Nevertheless, it seems that Egyptians were able to communicate all the same, so that during the eighteen days of mobilization, the participation has been growing.
Who is behind the Egyptian rebels ?
Mossad, the national intelligence agency of Israel, shows its concern about the US activities in support of the rebels. Israel trusted more Mubarak than the Americans, regarding the stability of its southern borders. It is likely that young representatives from the Egyptian protest movement were already contacted by CIA a couple of years ago. At least one of them was found and arrested by the Egyptian intelligence. If this was true, the whole story of the mobilization against tyranny and hunger would be a fairy tale. The uprising would have hidden puppeteers pulling the strings of the masses. There would also be a leader ready to show up just at the right moment.
We believe that Mossad's "revelations" may be true. If we were in the shoes of the Americans we would do exactly the same. To revitalize a compromised stability nothing works better than gattopardo-like "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change". Then, Mubarak's successors would be waiting for the favorable moment to appear to the people as the solution of problems. And obviously dollars help. Even the Muslim Brotherhood joined the program of peaceful transition, and at the moment there is not a charismatic leader chosen by the masses in revolt.
Apart from some romantic vein, this does not surprise us at all. Lenin and Parvus' operation who set in motion all their energies to get the famous armored train was strongly supported by the German foreign affairs minister through General Ludendorff. Now, Germany was an enemy of Russia and Lenin was accused of having agreements with the enemy during war-time (a call for an indictment of shooting). But the Germans' purpose was to close a very long front in order to try winning the war on the other fronts, while the Bolsheviks' purpose was to take the destiny of the revolution and defeat all the bourgeoisies. There was no revolution in Egypt, it is obvious. But if there had been one and the decisive factor had been an armored American train, an Egyptian Lenin would certainly not have lost it. As things are now, only American have settled the train and the "people" will be carried away on prearranged tracks.
Everything fits, and this applies also to all the countries showed on the map above, especially to Iran, whose population has been in the streets in repeated attempts to revolt. This does not detract from the profound significance of the wave of protests that has been shaking the world for some years now. In Algeria and Tunisia, riots are going on, news agencies announce more deaths, injuries and arrests. Riots are still reported in Mauritania, Yemen, Bahrain, Sudan, Libya. There are no mysterious infiltrators of powerful imperialist services that can "create" and unleash what is happening. Revolutions march by themselves and they always used those who believed to be using them.
There were not "political" signs in the squares of Egypt crowded of "people", and Islam was only in the background. The claims were basic: bread, milk, sugar, means of transport, but above all: off with the corrupt dictator. There weren't the ubiquitous appeals in support of Palestine, a fixed mark of every Arab protest. The riots in the Middle East and North Africa are shocking that part of planet without high-sounding proclamations. Behind the scenes, not only the Americans are active, but also the Palestinian fighters rally, trying to ease the pressure on their living trades. Hamas sent some of its armed groups in the northern Sinai to test the consistency of the border Egyptian military patrol. Bedouin tribes allied with the Palestinians attacked some border towns, looting shops with weapons in their hands and fighting with the soldiers of Cairo. Some clashes between Egyptian soldiers and armed groups of Hamas took place in the southern Sinai near El Arish and Rafah. Perhaps, Hamas will try to take advantage of the situation to regain the control of the border between Gaza and Egypt, where the trade of legal and illegal goods, once very intense, was by then too efficiently countered by Egypt and Israel. According to Jerusalem, the Muslim Brotherhood would be very active to reopen the links in the zone, starting with a strengthened relationship with Damascus. Also the lootings of archaeological sites and museums show how the situation may precipitate and, therefore, how precarious is the multi-decennial balance based on supports, agreements and covenants arisen for the only needs of imperialist countries and of their accommodating customers in the area.
It's natural, for example, that the balance guaranteed by the Treaty of 1979 between Egypt and Israel is at least questioned. In the most sensitive point of the deployment on the ground, the border with Gaza, the Multinational Force of the Observers (mostly American and Canadians) is on red alert and then it is going to be evacuated. Perhaps, Washington uses this moment of transition to put under pressure Israel after its negative stance on the issue of settlements. To repel the small attack of Hamas against their troops, the Egyptian army, without warning Israel, crossed the channel with a disproportionate number of tanks, violating the Treaty from 1979 which provided a demilitarized Sinai.
On the domestic front, the "side effects" of the insurgency resulted in an organizational refinement of some logistic or at least informative network nodes. The "April 6th Net", considered a youth network without too much political weight has strongly contributed to the logistic of the demonstrations. But the most interesting thing is that the date "April 6", from which this movement takes its name, is that of a very hard general strike started two years ago from the textile, metallurgical and cement factories, the same ones that set fire to the dust in 1977. Same in the cities, especially Mahalla, but also Heluan, where the steel industry is concentrated. Mahalla is an industrial city with half a million inhabitants. Heluan is a former suburb of Cairo which became a municipality. It has 700,000 residents, largely proletarians. They are paradigm-cities of Egypt, with financial-industrial capitalism that lives like a vampire on the proletariat. It's interesting to note that, despite everything, the Egyptian gap between the incomes (Gini index) is equal to that of England and Switzerland. This means that a strong working class, even with low wages, raises the average income and reduces the extreme effect that is well present in those countries where there are miserable starving multitudes, and ultra-narrow minority of wealthy parasites (often in comparison to the extended misery). A social rationalization could raise that potential, that is to lead to the proletarianization of a part of under-proletarian mass (in the advanced capitalist countries now it is the other).
Further, in the first videos, heterogeneous crowds appeared, with women who uttered the traditional tongue-modulated battle cry, and children (usually on the shoulders of their father with a flag or an "annulled" portrait of Mubarak ). In the films of the central demonstrations, with violent clashes with supporters of regime, only men appeared. In the final oceanic demonstrations women and children were present in a large number again. In the photos we can observe also groups of Mullahs of Al-Azhar (identified by their "uniform", a dark robe), the thousand-year university-mosque from which the Islamic orthodoxy radiates. That could mean an overlap of the Muslim orthodoxy to the extremism of Brotherhood with cushioning purposes, but at the same time that the official Islam is removing its support to the dissipative regimes that starve the population.
The future outcome, although demonstrations and strikes are still ongoing, is evident: in Iran, in 1979, the urban masses weakened in a continuous demonstration but, without a guide, were brutally repressed. The little democratic bourgeoisie couldn't take advantage of the falling of Shah because of its total insipience. A bunch of dark priests since they were the only force already in place. Leaning on the peasantry, like Bonapart, they had their Brumaire 18th.
Today the bourgeois world trembles in fear of an international civil war in the overheating areas of the world. Egypt is too important to allow mass demonstrations to affect imperialistic plans. Certainly Washington and Jerusalem, though taken by surprise, have already plans a, b, c, which means everything needed. Europe, even if non-existent, has in this case the same interests, like Frattini is repeating parrot-fashion. From this the international unity AGAINST Egyptians and all the rebels who are now in the streets in defiance of bullets. The games seem to be made, but the proletariat has not expressed itself yet, at least not with the intensity of '77 in Egypt. The alternative bourgeoisie of Baradei is too coward and anyhow not organized and much less armed. As usually the army becomes the referee, the only force able to contain the Islamists. Using the symbol of the "tyrant" to cement the masses is quite normal, even if we are out of time: after Louis the 14th came the Terror; here the only expressed hope is the very mystifying democracy of today, while the most likely hypothesis is still other tyrants.
Political and social implications
The time of simple jacqueries is over. When millions of people move in a modern urban context, a proletarian feature presents itself forcefully on the scene. In Egypt it was so evident, even if the proletarian protest was n't able to influence the whole movement and it was significantly forced to show itself in separate and parallel actions. This is normal. We noted in the past on our press how the latest national bourgeoisie revolutions (Congo, Algeria, Angola, Mozambique), despite the economic and demographic data were then typical of "agrarian question", had a urban feature and were guided by proletarian methods rather than farmers' ones (general strikes etc...). In 1979 the revolt against the Shah in Iran had a very proletarian mark and together with some Iranian exiled we produced a pamphlet against the petit-bourgeois conception who called for a revolution along several stages (first parliamentarian democracy and then socialism). We must keep in mind that in 1979 Iran saw the growing of historical memories of the small, short-lived Soviet Republic of Persia in 1920 and that many spontaneous proletarian organizations were called "soviets".
So this is the context of the 18-days revolt. On the morning of the 13th day of unrest, a mass of rioters (Al-Jazeera estimated one million) gathered for the second time, both to Cairo and to Alexandria, mainly in response to the attacks of pro-government which caused death and injured people (martyrs' Sunday), but also in response to the contemporary perspective of a "committee of national unity" that should represent the alternative to the government. In the capital the hated police sneaked away, probably following the orders of the army, which had not yet officially sided with the people, as it did in the following days. The square had responded well to this typical power vacuum. In many cities it had set fire to the symbols of the State, namely: government offices, headquarters of Mubarak party and all the police stations, from where at least 20,000 weapons with ammunition were drawn (Limes, The Economist). A detail which raises some questions. For example, Suez and Porto Said, about half a million inhabitants each and far from the places of the central government, had been completely captured by the rebels, who had established their headquarters in the devastated government buildings, according to local news office. The police had been evacuated. Was this to not increase the tension, as the official version said, or because of the military power relations? And with which consequences?
On the day of the final push, the "Friday of challenge", 20 millions of people all over the Egypt manifested, while the proletarian strikes reached their peak, making it clear that, whatever the outcome of riots was, the meaning of revolts transcended the political boundaries of the "nations". It was not just a "domino effect" but an accumulation of tension within the general phenomenon of revolutionary tectonic. The social-political effect of a wave that has involved Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain, Sudan, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritania, Syria, Saudi Arabia, even Peru, and perhaps other countries less liable to media's observations, is not that of an earthquake, as the newspapers have written, but is the one of the energy that pile up before an earthquake. Strange conspiracy theories are circulating on the Web about manouvrers of the riots. One of them is "the calendar" theory, named like this because on the internet "flashmob of anger" had been proclaimed in prearranged days of the past weeks and also for the next ones (since now). As a matter of fact, we are wondering: what kind of power is hiding behind the calendar? As if there was not enough explosive social matter in this world.
18th of February 2011