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.