Egyptian Revolution – avoiding formulaic thinking
“This was not a coup. On the contrary, it was imposed on the military by the masses.” Alan Woods writing on Egypt. (where I stopped reading)
Clearly, what took place was a coup. The military deposed Morsi to cut across the mass movement /and/ to preserve the neo-liberal project in Egypt and /not/ in service to the masses. The situation in Egypt is complex and ripe with the possibility to advance the organization and consciousness of workers and their allies
Was it a coup? IMO, yes. The military has been behind the scenes in support of the MB. The military acted to get rid of Morsi and the MB – not because they were acting as a revolutionary agent of change or any such nonsense — but out of fear of the revolutionary /potential/ of the mass movement. The army is no friend of democracy or social change. The mass mobilization of millions taught the Egyptian people their /potential/ power in a very real way.
Every revolution is a first edition. I think it’s crucial to not fall into what might be called “shake and bake” bolshevism. Rote repetition of slogans and formulas from 1917 won’t get the job done.
What is necessary in Egypt, and elsewhere, is the hard, long-term, work of building mass organizations of workers and the construction of a revolutionary organization with real and deep roots in the class. This sort of thing can’t be sucked out of our thumbs- as JP Cannon said, “A political organisation capable of handling such colossal tasks cannot arise spontaneously or haphazardly; it has to be continuously, consistently and consciously built. It is not only foolish but fatal to take a lackadaisical attitude toward party-building or its problems.” The small socialist organizations in Egypt are learning these lessons on the ground and are sure to make mistakes. Hopefully, they are able to /learn/ from these mistakes
I would also point out what a friend said which is so true- the main activity of the Bolsheviks was not selling newspapers; it was organizing workers.
The state is the expression of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms. The armed forces and police exist to enforce the rule of one class over another. The police are a reactionary force that is directly charged with protecting the interests of the capitalists. (as Trotsky said, “The fact that the police was originally recruited in large numbers from among social-democratic workers is absolutely meaningless. Consciousness is determined by environment even in this instance. The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker”
But what about the ranks of the military? The military is different from police in the sense that the working class roots of rank and file soldiers are more clear. It’s possible and necessary for a revolutionary movement to do specific work aimed at the ranks. In any revolutionary situation it will be necessary to split the military and bring at least a large portion over to the side of the people.
I think the IMT/Woods position is dangerous because it feeds illusions in an institution of the bourgeois state. To repeat, the /coup/ was not at the behest of the mass movement but designed to cut across the movement- to stop it in its tracks.
What I’m getting at is that we have to analyze the concrete situation and not engage in wishful o delusional thinking.