Published in “Rizospastis”, organ of the Central Committee of the Greek Communist Party on 25/8/2013
Neither Scylla, nor Charybdis
The television screens have been overflowing, once again, with blood. With the blood of the hundreds of dead and thousands of injured people in Egypt, in the fierce clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood, which support the imprisoned President Morsi, and the army.
A large mass mobilization of millions of people and the collection of 22 million signatures (which were accompanied by their ID numbers and other details) against M. Morsi had previously taken place. This popular mobilization, which was organized by bourgeois and petty bourgeois political forces, under the “mantle” of maintaining “secularism”, was what brought the army onto the scene, which arrested the Egyptian President, and finally suppressed the expected reaction of the Muslim Brotherhood, abolishing any small elements of bourgeois democracy.
And this development was called a “revolution” by the Egyptian “Left” (which participates in the secular political rainbow), as the events of 2011 had been described, which had led to the overthrow of H. Mubarak (his party was together with PASOK in the “Socialist International”) and had elevated the representative of “Political Islam”, M. Morsi, to governmental power (he received 5.7 million votes in the 1st round and 13.2 million votes in the 2ndround).
The maelstrom of the confrontation
One could call it a maelstrom. And it became even more confused as it unfolded.
So, for example, we see that the USA, which for decades supported H. Mubarak, very happily also supported Morsi. Later, after the coup (“revolution”), even if they did not dare cut the money to the Egyptian army for the time being (1.3 billion dollars annually), they initially sent the well-known senator J. McCain in order to demand Morsi’s release, and when this was not accepted, they asked the military to make compromises with the Islamists. And as if all this was not enough, sending an even clearer message, the USA appointed Robert Ford, the last ambassador in Syria, as their new ambassador in Egypt, who had acquired the reputation as being a close “friend” of the Islamist movement there and in the countries he had served previously (Iraq, Algeria, Qatar, Turkey).
Meanwhile, the EU became “concerned about democracy”, and is threatening the military government with sanctions.
On the other hand, a number of “left-wingers” and “anti-imperialists” in our country and around the world (in contrast with the Egyptian “Left”) hurried to denounce the coup and the army, and in the name of the “restoration of democracy”, stood at the side of the Muslim Brotherhood. Bypassing the fact that in this short time when they were managing governmental power, the situation of the working class-popular strata in Egypt not only did not improve, but clearly deteriorated: Unemployment surpassed 32% and destitution has embraced 50% of the population, provoking a new wave of “strikes”, popular mobilizations, which within one year has reached 7,400. In addition, these “anti-imperialists” pretend they do not understand anything regarding the use the weapon of religion (“political” and armed Islam) by the bourgeois class (e.g. Turkey) and the imperialist powers (e.g. the developments in Syria) in order to promote their plans, which aim at the even greater exploitation of the workers.
And it is not only these “paradoxes”. Another characteristic is the stance of the neighbouring countries. Of course, Turkey, of T. Erdogan, whose party is closely linked with the Muslim Brotherhood, is also playing a leading role in the international condemnation of the coup, and in the “restoration of democracy”. Nevertheless, the stance of Iran is of interest. And this is because, as is well-known over the last two years, Iran, understanding that the US-Israeli noose around them may tighten, consistently supports the Assad regime in Syria , which is in turn fighting against forces that were supported by Turkey and Egypt (especially of President Morsi). Indeed Morsi, a short while before he was overthrown, was able to declare a holy war against the Syrian regime. One would expect that his overthrow would please the Iranian regime, but the reverse was true. Iran called the two sides to a compromise, detecting the danger that the “West” would benefit from the developments of the so-called “controlled chaos” and set its military foot firmly in Egypt and the region more generally.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, which participates actively in the imperialist intervention in Syria, seems to support the military coup in Egypt and to turn its back on the Muslim Brotherhood in this period.
Inside this vicious circle the following question arises: with what criterion should the workers judge the facts? Which side should they hope to win and which side to lose?
The forces which are in conflict
For us to answer this question, first of all, we must clarify what these political forces are. And here it is not enough for us either to invoke bourgeois democracy, which the bourgeois, when they need to, completely disregard. The external “packaging” of each force in the bourgeois two-pole system is not enough: “Theocracy” or “secularism” of the state. Nor is it sufficient for us to orient ourselves in relation to the position and maneuvers which the USA and other powers may carry out, powers which are involved in the crisis, each in their own way. We can take all this into account, but only through the prism of the class interests which each side of the conflict represents.
So, on the one hand we have the army, which in Egypt is not simply or chiefly the military support of the bourgeois state, as is the case in the whole capitalist world, but it is something else as well. Its leadership is a section of, “flesh and blood”, of the bourgeoisie of Egypt. The Egyptian army, which is US-trained, possesses a significant section of the means of production: factories, tourist infrastructure, businesses in the most various and profitable sectors of the economy. According to various estimates, it controls anything from 10% to 40% of Egypt’s GDP.
On the other hand, we have the Muslim Brotherhood. An organization, which began in the 1920s, not without the contribution of foreign secret services, with the aim of striking against the communist and labour movement. These contacts never stopped and a number of their political officials, despite their shallow “anti-Americanism”, have studied in the “metropolises’ of the West (President Morsi, for example, studied and worked in California, USA). The organization is very closely connected to a section of the bourgeois class and capital from abroad. For example, it is well-known that the number 2 in the Muslim Brotherhood’s hierarchy today, Khairat El-Shater, is one of the biggest businessmen in the country, with capital in other countries of the region as well. Hassan Malek, also a businessman, who started in the 1980s along with the abovementioned El-Shater, and founded and is president of the “EgyptianBusiness Development Association”, which 400 businesses are members of, associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Today, a section of the Egyptian bourgeoisie, which seeks the re-division of the means of production, the promotion of the capitalist restructurings, that had started under Mubarak, but at a faster rate and of course at the expense of the army, has rallied around the Muslim Brotherhood.
Let us examine a telegraph sent in 2008 by the then US ambassador in Cairo, Margaret Scobey, to the State Department of her country and was published on Wikileaks on 14th of December 2011: “We see the military’s role in the economy as a force that generally stifles free market reform by increasing direct government involvement in the markets”.
So, the USA saw in the face of the Muslim brotherhood on the one hand that force which expresses the need for quick capitalist restructurings in the economy, facilitating the activity of the monopolies in the Egyptian economy. And on the other hand, a bourgeois political force, using the weapon of religion, that will safeguard their interests, by forming a Sunni arc, in the confrontation with Shiite Iran, which is in an alliance with the rising powers of the capitalist world, China and Russia.
Of course the forces that compete with the USA in the region have their own goals as well regarding the promotion of their own monopolies in the conflict over the control of the markets, the natural resources and the transport routes.
A conflict alien to the interests of the people
The question that arises is for which reason should the working people support the one or the other side of this intra-bourgeois intra-capitalist conflict?
In fact the working people have no interests in the prevalence of the one or the other side. The hopes that the army may express a more “progressive” more “patriotic” section of the bourgeois class in Egypt, as the Egyptian “left” considers, which supports the coup calling it
a “revolution”, are also groundless.
This distinction of the bourgeois class which is based on older analyses of the international communist movement has been rendered obsolete by
reality itself that demonstrates that capital has no “fatherland”. The one or the other section may trade upon the patriotic sentiments of the people in order to mislead the workers, building the appropriate political alliances that will ensure its power but the only principle recognized by the capitalists is the profitability of their capital.
The positions of these forces that assess that the other part of the bourgeois class that supports the “Muslim brotherhood” will restore and expand “democracy” against “militarism” presenting Erdogan in Turkey as a model are also totally groundless. There is nothing in the “democracy” of Turkey that the working people should be jealous of as was clearly demonstrated in the effort to repress the recent people’s anti-government demonstrations in that country as well as in the anti-people measures which are imposed for the increase of capital’s profitability and the participation in the imperialist plans.
So when they ask us who is better, the army or the Islamists we answer: “both are worse! We do not choose between Scylla and Charybdis”.
Whats is the need that arises?
As a conclusion, the crisis in the bourgeois political system of Egypt reveals the sharpening of the contradictions between the sections of the bourgeois class for the management of the power trapping the people’s anger and discontent. It is related to the competition between imperialist centres for the acquisition of the natural resources of the wider region and the energy transport routes.
It has been proven that the struggles of the people’s forces against unemployment, poverty, destitution, state repression, corruption, against the plundering of the wealth of their countries by the foreign and domestic monopolies when restricted merely to the change of the anti-people governments, to bourgeois democratic rights cannot not have the expected result in favour of the people. The expectations of the people were rapidly dispelled by the political forces that became dominant through the so-called “Arab Spring”. Thus, these forces, such as SYRIZA in Greece, that saluted the “Arab Spring” and fostered expectations concerning it (“the Arab Spring opens the gate of democracy in our neighbour countries” Declaration of SYRIZA-USF). It has been proven that the people’s interests cannot be satisfied either by the government of the “Muslim brotherhood” which imposed an anti-worker policy of supporting the monopolies or by the section of the bourgeois class which is now supporting the military coup.
The developments demonstrate that the mass popular struggles are not sufficient in order for the people to impose their power and interests, that they must aim at the overthrow of the monopolies’ power in order to initiate developments in favour of the people.
The working class, the poor popular strata must not shed their blood in vain, for the intra-capitalist conflicts,. They should not restrict themselves to ousting the one or the other government, they should not be entrapped in allegedly transitional solutions that prepare the next anti-people government. They should form their own proposal for power, their own “flag” for the socialization of the means of production, the central planning of economy, the working class power! Because socialism is necessary and timely for Egypt as well and this arises both from the maturation of the material preconditions as well as from the impasses of the capitalist mode of production, despite the current negative political correlation of forces! The change of this correlation of forces requires that the people challenge and come into conflict with the bourgeois power and all its variations. Only in this way can the wheel of history move forwards.
Member of the CC of the KKE
Responsible for the International Relations Section of the CC of the KKE