Once again, the Egyptian people have shown the world that the masses of people can alter the course of history. Once again, an Egyptian President has been forced to humble himself before the masses of people fed up with his rule. Tahrir Square is a worldwide beacon of people’s power.
The unfinished Egyptian revolution has moved into another stage with the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood government led by Mohammed Morsi. There is absolutely no denying that the tens of millions who have flooded into the streets since June 25 were the catalyzing force behind this change, showing tremendous dedication, resolve and confidence in the revolutionary process.
For now, the military has assumed power, acting as the arbiter of the class struggle by installing the head of the country’s top court as an interim president. The military has also suspended the constitution, promising elections after a short but undefined period. While much remains to be determined by the course of the struggle, there are a few issues that are central to this unfolding process.
The initial mass uprising took the form of a democratic movement to bring down the decrepit, brutal, Western-backed capitalist regime personified by Hosni Mubarak that engendered huge levels of poverty, misery and unemployment while propping itself up through repressive measures such as false imprisonment and torture. The Mubarak government, in defiance of the Arab street, collaborated in a criminal fashion with the Israeli occupation, playing a key role in the isolation of the Gaza Strip.
The Muslim Brotherhood government headed by Mohamed Morsi, thoroughly capitalist in its outlook, has taken virtually no measures to remedy the terrible economic situation for the vast majority of people. The government became caught in a vise. To get large-scale international loans from the International Monetary Fund, Egypt is being pressed to eliminate the subsidies on food and fuel that millions depend on.
To resolve the issues of poverty, unemployment and a stagnant economy without loans from the IMF, the Brotherhood government would have had to take measures which would have undermined its support from Western governments and most likely Gulf countries, not to mention their own wealthy backers.
Fearful of both the masses and its capitalist supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood presided over a downward spiral where concerns over poverty, crime and religious issues further opened up fissures between large sections of the population and the Morsi government. The Muslim Brotherhood government left in place almost the entire much-hated security apparatus of the Mubarak regime. Morsi recently joined the U.S./NATO-led campaign to overthrow the Syrian government.
These issues drove the Tamarod (Rebellion) movement, which has given voice to the concerns and demands of millions. Literally tens of millions have heeded its call to protest, coming out in even larger numbers than the original movement that brought down Mubarak.
The Egyptian revolution, like all revolutions, is going through a series of phases—and a critical but uncertain one looms ahead.
The Egyptian military is attempting to divert the revolutionary energy of the masses in a direction that would save the system, which ultimately could smother the revolutionary process. The military, deeply connected with the ruling strata of Egypt, aims to keep intact the basic structures established by the Egyptian ruling class since its turn towards the West in the 1970s. In close consultation with the U.S. government, the military is aiming to protect the security alliance with the United States and Israel, and to contain the demands of the movement within the bounds of some form of bourgeois constitutionalism. Washington, by stating it is not taking sides, is tacitly siding with the Egyptian military, trusting it to maintain the pillars of U.S.-Israeli-Egyptian cooperation.
The military has been very careful to present its maneuvers strictly as a response to the desires and aspirations of the Egyptian people. By meeting the demands of the Tamarod movement for the removal of Morsi, the military has for a time secured substantial support among revolutionary masses. The key question, however, is not representational. Whoever assumes the reins of power next will be expected to offer a way out of grinding poverty and unemployment, as well as measures dealing with other political grievances. If the demands of the movement cannot be met, the masses of people will once again be invited to take action.
As developments unfold, it remains to be seen whether the military will succeed in using the demonstrations to reinstate a Mubarak regime without the person of Mubarak, or whether the protest movement will use the military intervention to remove Morsi as a stepping stone in advancing the revolution toward realizing the social justice and independence aims of the revolution.
What is still lacking in Egypt is a coherent revolutionary voice. The Tamarod movement is made up of tens of thousands of youth from different ideological backgrounds, including socialists. The agendas of these various groupings often conflict with one another. With the increasingly urgent need for solutions to the vast social problems that have ignited the revolution, socialist ideas offer the clearest path to a resolution. Whether or not a revolutionary alternative can emerge at the head of the new movement is yet to be seen.
The implications of the current uprising in Egypt are extensive. The shockwaves of a second regime being forced from power has the ability to reignite the mass struggles of the Arab Spring. The ideological struggle within the Egyptian revolution will also go a long way toward determining the contours of the broader Arab struggle.
Internationally the Egyptian revolution, which rekindled hope around the world in the power of mass struggle, comes as millions have also gone into motion in Turkey and Brazil. Whether these events inspire similar protests worldwide is yet to be seen, but without any doubt the resistance to the policies of neo-liberal capitalism, several years after it fell into deep crisis, have shown that no matter the strength of the forces of reaction, there is an alternative: We can fight back!
What Egypt needs in order to solve the current social and economic crisis is a socialist government that represents the working classes of the country.
Victory to the Egyptian revolution!