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February 2011
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Arm the revolution

Mubarak’s thugs have attacked demonstrators in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. Al jazeera is reporting that 500 were wounded. Australians for Palestine is reporting that the thugs fired on the crowd and that one person was dead, with many injured. Later reports say there are 3 dead with over 600 wounded.

 The army did and is doing nothing.

The Israeli press has begun calling the thugs security forces out of uniform. They may also be released prisoners. The implication is that Mubarak can’t get support from working Egyptians.

Kav Hutz says they are shooting at the demonstrators. Molotov cocktails are being thrown. 

 The counter-revolution has begun. Mubarak’s strategy seems clear – it is to use more and more violence to suppress the revolution and stay in power, to create chaos and in the name of ‘peace’ order the Army to behead the rebellion and drown Tahrir Square in blood.

In later reports this morning it appears the freedom fighters have been able to drive the Mubarak thugs away. This is an important psychological and physical victory for the protesters. 

But Mubarak may draw the lesson that he needs to escalate the attacks.  For that he needs the loyalty of all the soldiers. While his generals might be on the side of stability, his conscript army isn’t necessarily.

The dictator cannot trust the Army just yet. The conscripts are unwilling to fire on their own families and people from their own social classes. The revolution has forced the generals to recognise its claims as legitimate.

However the failure of the Army to stop Mubarak’s thugs indicates that the top brass have not abandoned Mubarak yet.  According to Al jazeera:

The Egyptian army has called for protesters rallying for a ninth day against President Hosni Mubarak’s regime to go home and “return to normal life.”

They may also be thinking of  a third way in which an Army figure replaces the dictator to restore calm, the calm of the oppressors and exploiters. Not defending demonstrators may indicate such a possibility is on their minds.

Clearly Obama’s call for an ‘orderly transition’ has emboldened Mubarak. His announcement that he would not seek re-election in September has seen the Army leadership fall in behind the dictator. No doubt soon Obama will make some pronouncement which effectively endorses the September plan, even if not openly.

The aim of US imperialism, of the Egyptian ruling class and of the generals is the dictatorship without the dictator. ‘Orderly transition’ in September gives them this opportunity, so they will all support it.

The US could support the freedom fighters by announcing it will stop funding the dictatorship. It won’t, because he is ‘their son of a bitch’. 

The task for the revolution now must be to win rank and file soldiers to its side, to get them to join the revolution, with their arms. Another task must be to mobilise the people in their millions to defend the revolution from the tyrant’s shock troops.

This includes mass demonstrations, neighbourhood defence committees and a deepening of the general strike. 

Strikes then raise the question of how to feed everyone, and that poses the question of running the factories and other workplaces democratically and setting up networks to coordinate production.

As Mubarak prepares to drown the revolution in blood the revolution must arm itself physically, politically and economically and send the dictator and his henchmen to that special place in hell reserved for tyrants.



Comment from Ross
Time February 3, 2011 at 5:36 am

Mubarak has brought 3 plane loads of crowd control dispersants from Israel.He has contrived this violence with his goons (secret police) seen orchestrating events with radio communications.

Next we will see him use the latest Israeli crowd dispersants being used in a situation of his own contrivance.

Obama must put more pressure on Mubarak to free up the internet, instead of just mouthing outrage.

Comment from Walter
Time February 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Two things. First, Ross – that stupid statement of yours needs referencing. Mubarak, with the most powerful army in the region, doesn’t need or want Israeli materials like this. Please tell me where you came to this information?

Second. John, I was speaking to a frequent traveller to Egypt who raised a few intersting issues. One is that we don’t know how many pro-Mubarak supporters there are in a country of 80 million. We have a seen a relatively small number demonstrate, but the great mass, and especially the large Egyptian middle class, remain an unknown quantity at present.

The other point he made was that regardless of what happens, the Egyptian economy is stuffed. They rely on the 11 million tourists a year as a major economic driver, and it will be the working class – the ordinary men & women employed in hotels, transport, tourism and hospitality who may well be unemployed from now on.

So while getting rid of Mubarak may be welcome in many respects, these sort of violent upheavals tend to hurt the workers and poorest people the most.

Take away $1 bill in US aid, take away tourism, take away the massive gas sales to Israel and you will have one very poor economic backwater wracked with poverty, unemployment and massive divisions.

Comment from Ross
Time February 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm

You have to be kidding Walter.Mubarak has stolen $40 billion from his own people.$2 billion pa is a piddling amount.This is $25 pa per person. If the IMF and Bank of International settlements did not keep them in so much debt,then they would not be so poor.The average worker makes $2- $ 6 per day.They were better off 40 yrs ago with less technology.

Where is this large middle class? Give us some numbers.

Nothing of what I’ve informed you about the banking system has been comprehended Walter.Do you not see the fundamental flaws in this global corporatism? It is the reason why countries like Egypt are so poor.They stole half you super Walter.Haven’t you worked it out how yet? They’re coming for the other half if you don’t wake up soon Walter.

Comment from Calligula
Time February 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Hey Ross –
Walt likes to come over as a bit of an eletist.
To keep up with the Jones’s, Aussie eletists gnash teeth and pretend their super, etc., is just fine.

As for Walt’s Egyptian middle class – well, there’s the ‘Alexandria Backgammon ‘n Bridge Club’, patron, Omar Sharif, (18 members).
(Seriously, Omar’s still alive and kicking and put in a good word for the demonstrators.)

Your – 40 Years ago, lesser technology.
This, Ross, is my field of expertise.
Many new and emerging technologies are supplanting traditional boring/ dangerous/ unhealthy jobs in manufacturing/ industry.
Governments, including ours, are dead set hostile against the concept for some inexplicable reason.

On the other side of the coin – if our governments don’t extract their collective digits, populate the halls of power with some more au fait individuals and come on board with the new industry/interesting occupations concepts – then what is happening in Egypt will be happening here in less than five years.
It’s the “Opiate of Capitalism” the false dream that hard work or striking it lucky leads to wealth and satisfaction in life.

Walt might still believe that guff but far too many have had the veil torn from their eyes.
John would have a reasonable network to pass around the new catchcry –
“Cripes, Bruce; if the Gyppos are revolting – then why aren’t we?”

Comment from Walter
Time February 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Ross & Calligula:

Ross – I was refering to your daft claim about Mubrak being supplied by Israel (“Mubarak has brought 3 plane loads of crowd control dispersants from Israel”)

A refernce please, or did you just make this up?

Calligula, it’s spelt ‘elitist” and thanks, but my Super is just fine and will keep me comfortable in retirement as I have few needs outside of food and shelter.. Y

Now boys, some facts.

Egypt’s middle class is one of the most interesting population groups in a country of 80 million. Less than 15% of Egyptians live below the poverty line, a much lower rate than most Arab countries. Their GDP is almost $500 billion, so there’s money there. Lots of it.

The middle class – these are the Egyptians who embrace the modern world, and they are numerous and visible, educated as well as informed. They are the tour guides and travel administrators, technology workers, government employees, shopkeepers, artists, journalists and engineers, doctors and bankers. They are not hard to spot, with their cell phones and new cars, at McDonalds or in the new glittering malls. They can be found at the upscale coffee shops discussing politics or economics, and at the hot night spots talking fashion and the latest movies. They are ones who demand the latest western movies, TV sitcoms and rockmusic, and they understand western cultures far better then many westerners understand them.

The Egyptian middle class represents the largest such segment to be found in any of the region’s Islamic countries.

Comment from John
Time February 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Your figures are wrong Walter. An Egyptian audit body said those below the poverty line had grown to 23%. There may be wealth in Egypt but most of it goes to Mubarak – his $40 billion floated in newspaper reports – and those around him, and his repressive state apparatus. It is a very unequal society. You of course pick out a small group who have benefited from neoliberal reforms imposed on the Egyptian people.

Unemployment is officially just under 10 percent. 90% of that is young people.

According to one report, and I am quoting from memory here, between 40 and 50% of the population live on the equivalent of 1 euro a day or less.

There are 28 million workers in Egypt – those who sell their labour to survive. It is these people who have the capacity to destroy Mubarak and win freedom.

Comment from Calligula
Time February 3, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Sorry Walter –
In my excitement I forgot Elitist spelling. Out the back and cut me throat, what!

As for the rest if what you portray is correct as far as Egypt’s prosperity I’ll have to reframe my timescale for insurrection in Oz. back to next month.

You cannot tell me that such a prosperous middle class would want to throw down their premier for some specious and ill-founded basis.
Hey – wozissname, Omar Sharif agrees.
Isn’t HE middle class?
Failing that everyone must just want a bit of a stir. Eh?

Come on mate – it has big time hit the fan in that part of the world.
Someone somehow decided it was a good idea to overthrow the oppressor – Mabarak (misspelt?) is the target and if all those people agree there must be a fair reason.

I reckon the same will happen here and unless anyone can tell me why not I’m going to ask John if I can join the union.

Comment from Walter
Time February 3, 2011 at 7:38 pm

John, I’ll happily concede to your figures given recent financial events. Mine are probably relevant to before the GFC, but the point I made is that Egypt (and Jordan) are unique in that there is a thriving and populus middle class and we have no idea where they stand as this potential revolution unfolds.

Comment from Calligula
Time February 3, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Not so very long ago when I was a brat I was told that Australia was a classless society.
Until about 1980 showing class meant biting the heads off live chooks – doing more exciting things with young women and generally having a good time.

Then came the new age; the age of greed.
Now about the most fun left is to read Walt picking me up for a typo.
I could, of course, nag him for spelling ‘Populous’ incorrectly but what is the point.
Equally no point exists wasting time researching and drafting a reply if there is no merit in doing so.

I’m confident that in Walt’s world I’m the sort of peasant he’d give the sack.
He believes in a stratified society.
He believes in accrued wealth.
He expects his standards to be maintained for him by appointees of the establishment.
He expects that those appointees would guard his accrued wealth with their lives.

Meanwhile he doesn’t understand that the maintenance of his principles is creating an underclass here as well as elsewhere in the world having neither understanding nor time for his principles.
Best way to put that is when the cack hits the fan they’ll cut his throat and mine without a second’s reflection.
I think about that and so should Walt.

While on that subject I wouldn’t mind betting that if Mr. Passant dredged his soul he’d have to admit that his professed ideals sometimes conflict with the reality of his life ‘out in the street’ in this increasingly stratified society.

So now that we’re talking incitement to armed insurrection over there in Egypt – which of you guys have fired a rifle at a target lately?

Maybe I’m wrong but it strikes me that Walt is the sort of bloke who wants someone younger to use main force to protect his property while John wants the revolution and all the resultant blood, gristle and brain to be smeared somewhere else – on some foreign wall.
Trouble is, that is happening yet again, as I write, in nations that have enjoyed relative peace for decades.

What disturbs me immensely is that there is no answer to that at all and no way I’m able to offer even a half-baked solution since I don’t have a time machine able to take a team back and scotch the Aswan dam nor do I have the funds to pay for the Egyptian premier’s ‘retirement’.

So really it’s not about Egypt or dissent or revolution at all; what we speak about.
It’s all about ego.
Why not admit it?

Comment from John
Time February 4, 2011 at 4:05 am

How can it be about ego? If I was an egotist I would have joined the ALP and had a glittering career as a hack somewhere. It is perfectly legitimate for international socialists to comment on events around the globe. Since capitalism is an international system it is our duty to draw out the lessons from great struggles, like that in Egypt right now, and a possible way forward there and here.

I am not in favour of gristle, blood etc… I am in favour of democracy. But the struggle for democracy has been a struggle against capital, which often responds though its state with blood. Mubarak is but the latest example. If workers began to take over their workplaces and run them democratically the question of Mubarak’s murderers would disappear or at least be subdued in the long run.
In the short term? Well, when bastards are shooting to kill you, you respond. Given my radical democratic views that response can only be a mass one involving the conscript army s a real player and offering them liberation too.

In October 1917 the transfer of power to the workers’ councils in Russia was fairly bloodless in the main city, St Petersburg, because it had mass working class and soldier support and the revolution there was at its most mature.

When the working class in Australia moves, the bourgeoisie and their state will disappear, possibly without much bloodshed.

Comment from Ross
Time February 4, 2011 at 5:38 am

Walter;You willl find the article about israel supplying crowd dispersants on in an article written by Gordon Duff.

The middle class in Egypt is not large.They earn between 50- 120 thousand Epds or 8- 20 thousand Aust $.Hardly middle class by our standards.

You need to read works by Gerald Celente and Webster Griffin Tarpley.It is the Global Reserve banks of the world who have caused the GFC,The USA Federal Reserve a private group of banks in the last 2 yrs have created cyber money of $20 trillion and loaned it out to banks and other institutions around the planet.So they have depreciated the US people’s money to bail out their mates.Even Westpac and some other of our banks got loans from the US Fed.

The owners of the Fed have serious interests in Wall St,so they bailed them out by getting the US Govt to go into debt .The US people paid for the depreciation of their own wealth.Very little of the bailout monery went into the real economy,hence we see the continued destruction of our economies.

The fake economy ie derivatives,hedege funds,credit default swaps etc is said to be worth $150 trillion.No one knows how their super money/investments are tied up in this monumental scam.This is why they continue to print more money ie so they can bail out their own investments.

So walter according to Gerald celete and others the really big collapse is iminent.No amout of quantitive easing ie (counterfeiting) will solve this problem.

Egypt is just some of the fallout as a result of greed by our kleptocracy,who will now push for war as social tensions increase.

Comment from Calligula
Time February 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I’d like to make it clear when I mentioned Ego that I meant ALL our egos.
Was not having a hissy fit at anyone.
When suggesting Walter’s Attitudes, leastways as I interpret them, when extrapolated, lead to divisiveness in society – I do that to illustrate a root cause of class struggle – it also gives Walter a chance to refute what I’ve written if he so wishes.

Same applies, John, when I nominate anyone else.

So when I say superb Ross; a great precis’ of the Kleptocracy there – I mean that I’ve read your letter more thoroughly than just picking up on that single catch word.
May I submit that your information and angle on the situation presents a scenario that is unfortunately all too likely.

John – Glittering career as a hack? International Socialists legitimately commenting about global events are fine but what is now the Labor Party don’t like such comments – nor do their pals in HM’s Opposition and the US State Dept..

But let’s risk their ire and mention gristle and blood.
Reason it appeared the Russian revolution began relatively bloodlessly was because of the several million rotting Russian corpses decorating the European plain.
The Mosin Nagant rifles those corpses once carried had been carefully rounded up by the belligerents for cleaning, refurbishment, reissue and later use.
These things take time.
About the same time it took for the more bloody part of that revolution to start rolling.

You mention Petersburg – a garrison city being central to the revolution.
May I venture that what motivated the mutiny at Etaples also prompted the inevitable Russian revolution – or at least cause and effect were internationally intertwined.
Which if you read down to the last two lines mentions Egyptian soldiers as being a bit Bolshie and brings us full circle.

Pingback from En Passant » Statement from the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt
Time February 6, 2011 at 9:11 pm

[…] Readers might also like to look at my earlier piece Arm the revolution. […]