Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egypt And Tunisia: This Is How You Make A Revolution

The workers, youth, and the poor of Tunisia and Egypt are doing what average people everywhere else dream of doing: they are pushing back against corrupt and oppressive governments. And they are winning.
The tried and true tactics pioneered by progressive movements through the last two centuries are being used again with devastating effectiveness: mass protests, solidarity among working people, and the general strike. These weapons are the reason why our own corrupt and increasingly oppressive corporate government in Washington fear the progressive Left far more than the reactionary Right. It is because only the Left encourages solidarity amongst workers, all workers, while the extreme Right only makes " revolution" with support from factions in the Establishment.
The Fascists in Italy took over Rome in 1922 after a farcical march. Mussolini and his thugs would have been wiped out in five minutes if one company of Italian soldiers had stood up to them. But the officer corps, the industrialists, and the aristocracy of Italy tacitly approved of Mussolini's coup: they knew Il Duce was going to crack down hard on unions, striking workers, and socialists. They were absolutely delighted with the Blackshirt " revolution".
The Nazis took longer to get into power but once again a Right- wing populist party was granted power with the blessings of conservative politicians, capitalists, and the German officer class. Once in power, the " socialist " trappings of Hitler and his cronies were speedily discarded- Hitler even going so far as to murder his former associates in the Sturmabteilung ( a.k.a. the SA, or " Brownshirts"), partly to eliminate a potential threat to his leadership, but also very much because the SA contained genuine revolutionary elements with roots in working class organizations. Even this small amount of working class solidarity made big business nervous.
Now we come to the modern day and the Tea Party ( I can already hear the howls of outrage: " What! You dare compare the Tea Party to the Nazis?!?!" Hey, if it walks like a fascist, quacks like a fascist, and shows up at political rallies with a rifle slung over its shoulder, your goddam right I'm going to associate it with fascists). Let's be blunt- the Tea Party would have never gotten past a few crackpots meeting in someone's basement if it wasn't for support from the highest levels of the Establishment. FOX News pundits, billionaires, and the Republican Party all threw their support behind this " movement". There is nothing spontaneous or genuine about it, except its white hot anger against what Teabaggers perceive as the Other. The Tea Party, for now, exists at the pleasure of its backers.
This is exactly why a Right- Wing movement cannot be considered revolutionary. To establish a revolution, you have to overturn the class in power and make a wholly new and better way for people to live and think. Our own American Revolution did that, much to the later chagrin of many of its instigators. The idea of every citizen having political liberty and a say in the way the country was run was a startling concept in the 18th century. Similarly the idea that economic liberty, in the form of the democratization of the workplace, remains a bold idea even today. The only truly revolutionary movements of the 21st century that promise that are Progressive ones. And the only Progressive movements that have the vision, organization, and discipline to carry through that promise are Socialist ones.
So, to return to our brave friends in Egypt and Tunisia, the revolutions they are carrying out are not supported by any faction of their ruling classes. It appears these revolts were spontaneous and genuine uprisings of working people, the poor, and students. They are deploying the classic weapons of the street- fighting Left: the protest, the strike, and solidarity. I can never imagine the Tea Party, or a similar Reactionary populist movement doing the same. Instead of reaching for a sign, their first instinct is to reach for a gun. The crazies who do the violence on the behalf of their masters in the Establishment are easily controlled by law enforcement. The Tea Party is nothing more than a madly barking dog- sometimes it bites the hand that feeds it but a quick slap on its nose brings it to heel again.


Anonymous said...

When watching Fox news coverage on the Egypt situation, all they tend to focus on is that the Muslim Brotherhood has joined the cause. They also strongly imply (including the "straight-news" anchors) that the group represents a form of terrorism in Egypt.

comrade x said...

I have no doubt the Muslim Brotherhood has joined the cause, and they have every right to do so. But they took a helluva beating from Mubarak's secret police and military back in the 1990s. Not much of them left now.