The Egyptian revolution has won a great victory. Hosni Mubarak, the dictator for the last 30 years, has resigned.
The High Council of the Armed Forces has taken power promising a transition t0 democracy. Emergency rule will be repealed soon. The Parliament will be dissolved. There will be new elections but the timetable is unclear.
But one word of caution. The head of the Council is Defence Minister Mohamed Tantawi, a man who opposed reform.
The military could steal the victory, but given the magnificent mobilisations against Mubarak, and the taste of power millions of Egyptians have felt, the fear for the military, even if they were tempted to solidify their own power and that of their ruling class clique, would be that they reignite the revolution even more ferociously if they do retain power.
To avoid Mubarakism without Mubarak the masses will need to keep their revolution going.
The armed forces reflect the class divisions in society. The generals backed Mubarak – for 30 years! – but faced with the revolution could not guarantee the support of lower level officers and certainly not of the conscripts, most of whom supported the masses.
This is a great political victory. The lessons from it are immense.
The millions of demonstrators and strikers who made the country ungovernable have overthrown a brutal dictatorship. The seemingly solid can melt into air almost overnight.
It is a lesson that won’t be lost on the masses around the globe, nor their dictatorships. From Iran to Zimbabwe, from Jordan to Saudi Arabia, from Algeria to Jordan, let the ruling classes tremble.
Mass resistance, including by workers as workers, can win. The strikes that broke out in the last week were the final nail in the coffin for Mubarak’s dictatorship. They reinforced and lifted further the resolve of the demonstrators, and in turn accelerated the split in the Army and made the ruling elite realise they could not continue to rule in the old ways.
The anger which erupted after Mubarak’s Thursday speech telling Egyptians he would stay was the other nail. A day later and with millions on the streets, with strikes spreading, he resigned.
This revolution is both political and economic. The democratic demands are on the way to being won, although the masses will need to continue to pressure the armed forces to deliver bourgeois democracy quickly.
The revolution was never just about freedom. It was about food as well.
Nearly half the population lives below or just above the poverty line. Mubarak’s neoliberal agenda created a low wage economy and entrenched mass poverty.
The economic drivers of the revolution mean that in the long term the demands for better wages and work, for justice and jobs, for freedom and food will and must continue.