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John Passant

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January 2011



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

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Strike to bring Mubarak down

Watching CNN live and seeing thousands demonstrating in just one small part of Cairo is inspiring. Knowing that is is happening all across the city and the country is exhilarating.

Clearly the dictator Hosni Mubarak won’t resign. The immediate task of the revolution is to drive him out.

The tyrant will try to weather the storms of the massive demonstrations against him, demonstrations which have united every sector of society except the army generals and US imperialism against the new Pharaoh.

A general strike can drive Mubarak out. Tunisia shows this is possible.

On the Thursday night before he fled Ben Ali, the Tunisian tyrant, just like Mubarak has now done, offered concessions but promised to remain in power. 

On Friday the normally compliant Tunisian union confederation, the UGTT, called a two hour general strike and workers joined the demonstrations. Ben Ali fled.

A general strike in Egypt offers the best chance to overthrow Mubarak and to get rid of his cronies.

A general strike then raises the question of how to feed the population and provide other essentials. Only by taking control of the workplaces and running them democratically can workers solve that problem.

The left in Egypt needs now to make the arguments for a general strike and for workers to seize their workplaces and run them democratically.

The problems of capitalism in Egypt – of poverty, of unemployment, of corruption, of the role of imperialism and its suppression of dissent through local agents like Mubarak to protect its own interests, cannot be reformed away.

Only by sweeping away capitalism can Egyptian workers win jobs and justice, freedom and food.

They certainly objectively have that power. 

The Egyptian working class is massive. About half the population are workers or dependent on workers. There are huge textile and other factories with tens of thousands of workers.

Over the last 3 years workers have been organising in independent unions and striking for better conditions, pay and jobs. These have been training exercises for the revolution.

Poverty is endemic. 25 percent of the population live on less than a euro a day. Officially unemployment is over 9 percent but that disguises a real figure likely to be much higher.

76 percent of those unemployed are in the 15-25 age bracket, with 92 percent of the unemployed having graduate degrees.

It is a volatile mix – unemployed graduates, the poor, and a poorly paid but powerfully positioned working class.

Their anger has exploded and no amount of posturing by liberals or even islamists is likely to convince them to limit their struggles for jobs, freedom and food.

The army generals have so far supported Mubarak. A shift in their support under pressure from the people could see the dictator fall, but in all likelihood that would just be a change at the top with perhaps a general in charge, much like Nasser in 1952.

The modern day equivalent would be Tunisia now – the dictatorship without the dictator.

This would side track the revolution. Like the rest of Egyptian society, the army is built along class lines.

Egypt has the tenth largest army in the world, with close to half a million under arms and another half a million reservists. It is a conscript force.

The task for the revolution must be to win over their conscripted brothers in the armed forces. After all their families are in the streets, and they come from the same poverty stricken and repressed society and suffer the same dreadful conditions as the demonstrators.  

With them and their arms on the side of the revolution, with workers taking over and running their workplaces, Mubarak would flee or be tried by the forces of the revolution.

The possibility of  a new world opens up.

Strike to bring Mubarak down. Win the conscripts over. Arm the revolution. Take over the workplaces and run them democratically. This is the way forward for the Egyptian revolution.

Readers may also like to read my earlier article today on which parts of this are based called Egypt: the revolution has begun.



Comment from John Passant
Time January 30, 2011 at 12:21 am

There are reports that ‎1700 public workers in Suez have gone on an indefinite strike seeking Mubarak’s resignation. Calls by leftist groups for larger strikes on Sunday (which is a work day in Egypt). Protesters are not going to observe curfew.

Pingback from En Passant » Egypt: the revolution has begun
Time January 30, 2011 at 1:08 am

[…] An updated version of this article can be found at Strike to bring Mubarak down. […]

Comment from Wendy
Time January 30, 2011 at 9:35 am

You watch CNN? I wouldn’t believe anything you see on Americam news, especially about Egypt.

Comment from eli cash
Time January 30, 2011 at 10:23 am

Why not draw out what is happening from ground, rather than read it through the veil of “socialist revolution”? There is nothing socialist about what is happening. Alex Callinicos even noted that that the word ‘multitude’ was appropriate! At the moment you have the army occupying various positions; the police have disappeared and the people are looking after their communities; the government is trying to find an administrative solution to a zero-sum political problem. There is a split between what the people are doing and what the law is – that is an opening. I really think it is inappropriate to talk about ‘socialist revolution’.

Comment from John
Time January 30, 2011 at 11:36 am

I talk about the potentiality eli. Perhaps you should read what I wrote.

Comment from John
Time January 30, 2011 at 11:38 am

They are broadcasting the demonstrations. unlikely they can lie about them. Even if they do lie in their analysis my eyes tell me the truth.

Although I did flick to fox news which had an analyst blaming Iran. FFS, if that is the level of understanding the American ruling class has of what is going on they are in deep shit.

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time January 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I think that is probably more like the level of understanding they want the US masses to have.

Comment from arjay
Time January 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Webster Tarpley and others are saying that the USA is behind the overthrow of Mubarak.Mubarak’s indulgences have become public liability.So no doubt the USA will have some suitable puppets at the ready.

Are the Egyptian people clued up enough to find their own true canditate? Perhaps this is the real reason they shut down the net.

Comment from juanR
Time January 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Hi John, perhaps we should be reading/listening/viewing the international media: Spanish, French, German, Italian, English, Russian, Chinese, etc, we do live in a global village after all. Even if one doesn’t understand the language you’ll be amazed what you can infer from the images of their reports. Personally I found foreign radio stations (Spanish in my case) very good source of up to date info.
And, don’t let me forget, since the Aussies are out of Qatar, let the revolution continue and flourish all the way to Doha.

Comment from arjay
Time January 30, 2011 at 5:59 pm

According to Aljazeera Mubarak is preparing to flee Egypt.He wanted to go to Saudi Arabia, but they declined but Tel Aviv seem to want him.If this is true ,Israel cares not about the relationship it has with Middle Eastern countries.

Obama should take Mubarak,since they created him and backed him.

Comment from Walter
Time January 30, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Arjay, Israel and Egypt have a peace agreement, why wouldn’t he go there if he is welcome? What, he should go to a country where he may be killed?

And as for the US ‘creating’ Murbarak, how is this so? Did they assassinate Saddat and make him leader? There is no evidence of whay you say. The bloke was a commander in the Egytian air force and fought against the US backed Israel – so how’s that make him a puppet?

Seems like every country you don’t like is run by puppets!

Comment from arjay
Time January 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Do you want to know the absolute truth Walter?Obama is a puppet and so is Juila Gillard or any propective leader from either of the major parties.They are puppets to corporatism.Would you care to debate this issue?

Comment from Walter
Time January 30, 2011 at 7:18 pm

My pleasure!! ‘Corporatism’ does not control political parties, it may control the market and aspects of society, but that’s like saying you, Mr Arjay, are a puppet because you live in Australia – a corporate society – and I presume you work and pay tax to that same corporate society; you purchase consumer goods which uphold the structures of the corporation; you use a computer produced by giant corporations … perhaps you drive a car produced by an evil corporate, or at least powered by the likes of BP or Shell. Need I go on .. what makes you not a puppet but Ms Gillard is one? What actions exlude you from keeping the corporate state alive and well?

And if, Mr Arjay, your response is along the lines of how you oppose or work against it, that again supports my view. Didn’t Gough Whitlam, a hero of the ALP, work to wind back some of the corporate ownership by borrowing money to ‘buy back the farm’? Isn’t Obama taking on the corporate health industry and others and reducing the dominance of corporate America?

So even when these leaders take measures to reduce the influence of corporations, you don’t support them?

You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You cannot enjoy the fruits of corporate life – cable TV, cars, cheap clothing made in 3rd world countries, a secure state, free trade and so on, and then present a purer than pure argument that the eveil state must be opposed.

Most revolutions have been started by middle class, comfortable hypocrites calling for a fair deal for workers while enjoying a lifestyle underpinned by corpotations. Uncle Ho was an exception and a great leader, but if you see where Ho lived and worked, he at least eschewed the comforts of the middle class.

So don’t tell me how corporatism makes Gillard and Obama et al ‘puppets’ but somehow the magic wand of creature comforts has bypassed your home and made your IT systemns, your car, your clothing and food all absolved of corporatism.

Over to you Arjay….

Comment from arjay
Time January 30, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Walter who creates the money to equal the increases in your productivity?It is the private banks who create it as debt.Our Govts borrow our productivity into existance vis debt, when in fact it should be created as tax credit via Govt banks or the RBA.The RBA should be the lender for first resort .Get this Walter.The private banks create our extra productivity of $4000 per working person + inflation of another $4000 as debt.

It is like you stealing from you neighbour and loaning this money back to him at interest.Do you now realise why we are in so much debt? It is theft by stealth.I bet you never realised that banks create money from nothing.

China has 4 very large Govt banks + 8 minor ones.They produce infrastucture debt free while our Govts borrow for infrastucture and keep us in perpetual debt slavery.

80% of new currency in China is created by Govt banks.China can grow with vast inefficiencies at 10-12% while the West languishes in debt and low growth and quite efficient economies.

Has the penny dropped yet Walter?

Pingback from En Passant » Arab democracy threatens Israel and the US
Time January 30, 2011 at 8:43 pm

[…] might also like to look at Strike to bring Mubarak down and Egypt: the revolution has […]

Comment from juanR
Time January 30, 2011 at 10:26 pm

arjay,please, don’t give Walter a tribune to peddle his conservative views. Things are happening in the Arab world now lets move on to Europe. Tens of thousands of women have demonstrated in Milan against Berlusconi’s attempts to turn Italy into a giant brothel. Is this Europe’s cry for freedom and dignity?

Comment from John
Time January 31, 2011 at 6:24 am

Juan, I actually like having Walter comment. He challenges my thinking. He is frustrating, but hsi comments force me to refine my arguments and understand better those who do oppose my ideas. And he is not always conservative (and I think that description needs more care in its use, especially from me). His position on the aboriginal genocide is excellent.

Comment from Walter
Time January 31, 2011 at 2:30 pm

John, thanks for the vote. I am a left winger but having been thru mid east have strong views about that situation. Only conservative about affairs of national security, when we are under threat.

Re Arjay – you wrote this: “Obama is a puppet and so is Juila Gillard or any propective leader from either of the major parties.They are puppets to corporatism.”

For the life of me, I don’t understand your reply blog. Banks, shmanks. They don’t make us all puppets, unless you keep your money under the bed. I hate them too, but I don’t blame Julia or Barrack for the system they inherited.

Comment from juanR
Time January 31, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Point taken John. But, please Walter, “Only conservative about affairs of national security, when we are under threat.” “We” are under threat! From whom? Where does that leave those countries “liberated” by the USA and forced to “democratize”?

Comment from Walter
Time January 31, 2011 at 7:58 pm

JuanR, fair call. But we need strong national security because of the likes of the Madrid & London bombings, those men found guilt here of plotting to blow up the MCG, the possibility of another 9/11 and so on.

I like the hightened airport security and the checks on passenger movements. It’s not a loss of liberty – I just want my plane to take off and land in one piece.

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