One year after the outbreak of the Egyptian Revolution, millions of workers and students took to the streets throughout Egypt to protest the dictatorship of the U.S.-backed military junta, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and demand the ouster of its head, General Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.
According to the Guardian, “A year on, the situation is worse economically, political space is more constrained than ever and social justice is framed in even more exclusionary terms.”
While the revolution’s ouster of long-time dictator President Hosni Mubarak was a great victory for the Egyptian working class, it left untouched the capitalist social foundation that was ultimately the source for all its grievances: dictatorship, high unemployment, wide-spread poverty, etc.
Despite the SCAF’s attempt to promote the demonstrations as a celebration of the anniversary, they were nothing of the sort. As one protestor told The Telegraph, “We are not here to celebrate. We are here to bring down military rule.” Another protestor voiced similar sentiments, saying, “I am not here to celebrate. I am here for a second revolution.”
The so-called “democratic transition” to be organized under the SCAF has been a sham. There is nothing democratic about elections held under martial law, in which strikes are banned and every demonstration is met with bloody repression by security forces.
Under these conditions, the recent parliamentary elections have seen the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) take almost half the seats, while the ultra-conservative Salafis won about a quarter. There is still no date set for presidential elections.
Any transition of power to the country’s religious right would be neither democratic nor progressive. These forces were initially hostile to the protests which erupted last Jan. 25 and played virtually no role in the largely secular revolution which followed.
The Islamists’ electoral success is not so much a demonstration of their popularity as it is of the political bankruptcy of the country’s liberal and “left” groups, including the April 6 Youth Movement, Mohamed ElBaradei and the Revolutionary Socialists (who are neither revolutionary nor socialist). All these forces promoted, in one way or another, the illusion the Egyptian military was the neutral protector of the revolution.
As this author noted at the onset of the revolution, “any real democracy requires both justice and social equality,” and, “on the most basic level, justice calls for a settling of accounts with the former regime… and the military and security groups that administered decades of torture and repression to maintain the Mubarak regime.”
The confrontation being prepared bares this out. On the one side are the workers and youth seeking greater social equality and genuine democracy, while on the other is the entrenched military and security apparatus, as well as its political supporters on the right and “left,” who are seeking to limit the revolution to a program of minimum reform.
This author greeted the revolution one year ago by remarking, “Theirs is the honor of having fired the opening shot in a new era of social upheaval.” While last year certainly was one characterized above all by social upheaval, it will pale in comparison to what is in store for 2012.
The revolution a year ago was an initial test of strength. It inspired workers and youth around the globe. Now conscious of its strength and confident of its real allies in the international working class, the Egyptian workers will return to the stage for the second act. They must set as their goal state power independent of, and in opposition to, the Egyptian bourgeois on the basis of a socialist program.