Not the military, not the Muslim Brotherhood, not U.S. imperialism
The Egyptian masses must determine the next stage of the revolution
The mass demonstrations that forced the removal of President Mohamed Morsi on July 3 were a call to continue and deepen the Egyptian revolution. Millions of people took to the streets in opposition to Morsi’s rule in demonstrations even larger than those that ousted former dictator Hosni Mubarak. They were a measure of the detestation the Egyptian people had come to feel at the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood through Morsi and his Freedom and Justice Party. It was this that forced the Egyptian generals to act, once again removing a president.
Significantly, the women textile workers of Muhalla al-Kubra joined the massive June 30 demonstrations. Their strikes and protests of 2006-11 had inspired the solidarity of many youth who occupied Tahrir Square in the momentous days of Mubarak’s downfall, and had continued during the rule of the military council and the Muslim Brotherhood. The religious fantasies of the Brotherhood never had anything to say to their class, never began to grasp its everyday life and struggles.
Morsi had been narrowly elected in 2012, by a minority of eligible voters, against the unpopular Ahmed Shafik, the last Prime Minister of the hated Mubarak regime. Despite some people’s hopes or illusions, notably those Revolutionary Socialists who urged a vote for him, Morsi ruled as the narrow religious sectarian that he is, with anti-woman and anti-labor laws high on his agenda. Nothing was done to address the capitalist crisis at the root of Egypt’s massive unrest. In the end the youth of the Tamarod (“Rebel”) movement managed to gather 22 million signatures in a petition calling for Morsi’s removal–more than all the votes that were cast in his election.
The military announced its support of a plan that met some demands of the anti-Morsi demonstrators. Under a “road map” devised by civilian political and religious leaders, the Constitution is suspended, the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, became acting president, and new parliamentary and presidential elections will be scheduled under this interim government.
The generals now are playing to the sentiment felt by many in the opposition that “The army and the people are one hand.” This could not be farther from the truth.
The generals are only concerned with “stability”–the stability of class rule with the military hierarchy as a preeminent sector of the capitalist class. They fear the revolt getting out of control. They removed Morsi but kept the channels open to the fundamentalist Al-Nour party, second in size to the Brotherhood. The announcement of Morsi’s removal saw both liberal Mohamed ElBaradei and Salafist Galal Morra standing with the military men. Morra’s Al-Nour party, like other fundamentalists, had refused to participate in the 2011 revolution.
The Brotherhood itself can be kept on ice for future use. This is the way the generals view “democracy”–as a grab bag of political tendencies to be appropriated for use when needed, to be cast aside when they become dead weight as Morsi did. The “technocrats” who will be placed in positions of authority should have no illusions about this. More important, the masses should have no illusions. The army-anointed road map to new elections and a new constitution is designed to channel the masses’ revolutionary impulses into a direction safe for capitalism and the military’s power.
Outside Egypt, the defeat of these particular Islamist theocrats will give hope to similar struggles in Tunisia (where a new Tamarod movement has arisen), Turkey, Iran, and within the ranks of Syrian revolutionaries. The mass chant, “You lied to us in the name of religion!” resonates deeply. Neither religion, nor the military, nor any party can substitute for the self-organization of masses in motion. Only they can not only overthrow the old but deepen the revolution to social revolution that establishes the foundation for a new classless, non-sexist, non-sectarian truly human society. Until that becomes the banner of the masses, new “representatives”–whether the Brotherhood, the army, or a secular, civilian, liberal leader–will arise to short-circuit the revolutionary process.
–The Resident Editorial Board of News and Letters Committees, July 4, 2013