In Egypt today the revolution faces the armed counter-revolution. There is no way out via any attempt to implement bourgeois democracy. The class enemy now uses the call for a new Constituent Assembly to divide and rule the masses. When the most basic democratic rights of freedom of expression in public and the right to strike are suppressed by force they can only be defended on the streets and in the workplaces as armed occupations and resistance. That is why we reject any further appeals to bourgeois democracy that are not immediately transformed into an armed workers democracy! The right to assembly, to strike, to speech, of the press, of land to the tillers, of food, jobs, health and education to the workers: these can only be won by a socialist revolution! To defeat the military dictatorship the masses must be united, armed, mobilised and insurgent. We are for soviets, workers’ and soldiers’ militias! We are for the revolutionary insurrection and for a Workers and Oppressed Government! We are for a Federation of Socialist Republics of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)!
The re-opening of the National Democratic Revolution
The revolution that began in Egypt in January 2011 posed a real threat to the ruling class for the first time since the military backed regime took power in 1952, when Nasser overthrew the monarchy. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) feared that if it directly confronted the popular revolution the ranks might split from the officer corps. Rather than risk a split, the SCAF was forced to remove Mubarak and try to contain the demands  of the masses by ‘revising’ the Constitution and holding new elections. That is, following the directives of the US/NATO/Zionist imperialist bloc, the revolution would be stalled and contained by a ‘democratic’ counter-revolution. To this end, the old Mubarak Constitution was amended by the SCAF as a basis for new elections. The old hated National Democratic Party (NDP) was banned. In its first dirty deal, the SCAF unbanned the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a democratic front to substitute for Mubarak. A number of new liberal and labor parties were formed to contest the election. This was a reactionary ploy to steal the revolution and prepare for the open counterrevolution, either with a fake parliamentary democracy or military/police repression. Revolutionaries called the bogus constitutional reforms a reactionary trap and gave no political or critical support to the referendums, nor any of the parties standing in new elections. Only the organized, armed workers could split the rank and file conscripts from the SCAF and open the road to socialist revolution.
Who holds the power? Morsi flanked by SCAF heads
Reactionary constitution and sham elections
The purpose of the ‘democratic’ counter-revolution was to buy time to allow the SCAF to prepare the ground for a more decisive suppression of the revolution. Its time would necessarily be limited. First, in a global crisis, it would not be possible for an elected regime to meet the demands of the masses. Egypt’s economy was collapsing and the requirement of international finance capitalism to restructure the economy to restore profits and growth could only be won at the expense of rival factions of the national bourgeoisie, and of course ultimately at the expense of the masses living standards and their very lives.
Native Egyptian capitalists and imperialism understand the logic of the revival of the National Democratic Revolution and in particular its tendency to go ‘permanent’. Capitalism (the pragmatic eye of the market) understands that the popular base of the revolutionary upsurge, the exploited ones, will not be assuaged until the social-economic needs are addressed or until they are violently suppressed and the class is crushed. Big capital understands inherently that the task of relieving chronic poverty, mass unemployment and to raise the workers to a ‘middle class’ standard of living objectively places the expropriation of big capital itself and the socialist revolution on the agenda. As if the market itself could read the mood of the masses, big capitalists and imperialism launched the capital strike of 2011-2013, as indicated above in the massive drop of portfolio investment.
Capital launched an investment strike in response to the outbreak of revolution. This only inflamed conditions and drove the revolution forward. As net investment dropped and Egypt’s net international reserves plummeted, the liabilities taken by the Egyptian Central Bank swelled, saddling the people with the debts of the failed system. The inverse relation of the ECB liability to the net international reserves indicators on the graph above reflects how the economy was held hostage by imperialism. The IMF was driving a hard bargain for loans and under pressure from the SCAF, which was reluctant to cut government expenditure on the army Morsi was opposed to the IMF pressure to cut state spending. This is why he was unable to deliver jobs for his base.
It is this underlying crisis of world capitalism that is responsible for the outbreak of class struggle in Egypt, Syria, throughout MENA and across the semi-colonial world; and like all historical processes, there are ebbs and flows and sudden upsurges. The Mubarak era administered over rising inequality, ushered in neo-liberal economic policies with the required cuts in social services. Privatizations and relaxation of price controls and food subsidies were demanded by the IMF. Real wages of workers fell for the last decade, which saw an increase in labor organization and struggle that presaged and gained full force driving the January 2011 revolution. Foreign investment shrank and then dried up as the world economy went into sharp decline and the masses took to the streets (see Three Phases of Egypt’s Economic Crisis chart above).
Increasing inflation, especially the 30% rise in food prices in 2009, and the overall immiseration of the masses as a consequence of the international crisis, finally reached a breaking point and Mubarak was driven from power. Despite the large number of industrial labor strikes during the rebellion the contradictions of the crisis could not be resolved, as the working class had not taken the leadership of the revolution. Inflation remained relatively high along with unemployment as the economy continued to decline. As business contracted and shops closed and profits declined, the Egyptian bourgeoisie was driven by internal conflicts over diminishing profits as well as the need to contain or break the working class struggles and uprisings.
As one striking Egyptian labor organizer stated: ”This is the time to act. We want an overthrow of this whole system, not just the removal of one person.” The specter of Marxism haunts the bourgeois press such as Time magazine and others who just twenty years ago celebrated “the end of history”! The spectre of workers revolution was raised, the only way any meaningful democratic reforms can be gained in Egypt or any other semi-colonial country under the yoke of imperialism (Permanent Revolution).
The economic collapse explains why the SCAF kept close control of the constitutional drafting and sham elections. As the most powerful bourgeois faction itself, owning close to 40% of the economy, the SCAF did not want its profits to suffer as the result of any of its rival’s gains. It allowed the Mubarak forces to put up candidates (Ahmed Shafik and the candidates for several post NDP parties). The SCAF though the feloul would win rather than the MB. The narrow victory of the MB forced the SCAF to impose changes to the Constitution to limit the powers of the Assembly and the President. The result was the next dirty deal between the SCAF and the MB behind the backs of the revolutionary masses, the members of the MB and the ranks of the army. But this deal was doomed from the start since the two parties representing rival factions of the bourgeois fought over the falling profits from the failing economy.
At no time could revolutionaries promote illusions in either bourgeois fraction, SCAF or MB, as ‘progressive’, and in the last analysis the MB was only in power so long as the SCAF needed it to be there. A main function of the MB civilian administration was to take the masses heat and blame for the deteriorating national economy and the attack on the workers living standards. And then the MB regime was made to take the brunt of international criticism from capitalist institutions even thought the SCAF faction was more opposed to make the concessions demanded by the bankers and the IMF. As soon as conditions changed and the revolutionary masses took their own initiative to bring down the MB regime, the SCAF was once more forced to head off the revolution by intervening to remove the regime from power, and striking the pose as neutral guardian of the revolution.
The ‘democratic’ counter-revolution blows apart
The collision of interests between the MB regime and SCAF finally became inescapable when the masses mobilised in their millions on June 30. The SCAF was ready to move under the pretext of advancing the revolution against the ‘Islamists’ and against ‘terror’ on July 3. At first they thought they could deal with the protests easily. The SCAF had initially calculated well once it had called for the masses to mandate the overthrow of the MB on July 10th and was met with a large demonstration in support. What happened next, however, threw the SCAF’s plans into confusion. The MB mass base of some 10 million fought back. In ignorance of the dirty deals with the SCAF they defended what they thought were fair elections from which they also benefited materially while the MB regime was in power. They therefore demonstrated and occupied the streets to demand the return of Morsi. The SCAF was unprepared for the level of resistance and at first considered allowing the ‘sit ins’ to remain in the hope they would fade away. When the liberals and democrats in the anti-Morsi crowd ‘sanctioned’ the SCAF to repress the MB as ‘terrorists’, the SCAF responded with its massacres.
The unexpected resistance of the MB membership represents in a confused form the revolution and the counter-revolution: between the workers fighting for the most elementary democratic rights and the military forced to suppress them to regain public order and protect the capitalist economy. The army thinks it can isolate the MB support from the rest of the working class. It is mistaken. First, organized workers are resisting the SCAF attacks on their living standards and the army is forced to break up the strikes; second, the conscripts in the army being used to suppress both MB and unions and are now questioning where their class interests lie. To contain its own conscripts the SCAF is now forced to indoctrinate them to maintain their loyalty to the officer corps.
Thus the counter-revolution in the revolution is now out in the open. Traitors to the revolution, the bourgeois democrats, perpetuated the illusion of the separation between the SCAF and the civilian administration by demobilizing the popular assemblies into the SCAF-led “transitional period”. The bourgeois democrats of Tamarod and the National Salvation Front who had previously peddled illusions in ‘western democracy’ to the masses were exposed as hypocrites and ‘fair weather democrats’ when they stood by as the SCAF committed slaughters and mass arrests of the base of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).
Today while simultaneously to trying the crush MB base, the SCAF acts against the Suez steel workers, arresting their leaders, against activists across Egypt who dare to take the gains of the revolution for granted, and at the same time its collaborators in the judiciary release Mubarak, albeit to house arrest, because they know they would ignite the powder keg if they really set him free.
Yet the masses are not blind! Today the masses are shaking off illusions in both the SCAF and bourgeois ‘democracy’; the revolution is not defeated, nor has the SCAF secured its dominance over the process. The army can try to suppress the MB ranks, break up striking workers, and discipline its own rank and file, yet it cannot sustain the illusions in it as the ‘hero of the revolution’. Their inability to allow the MB mass protests to continue and the broad based violation of democratic rights are signs of the SCAF’s weakness, not its strength. That this ‘secular’ army has to use Islamists to indoctrinate the conscripts to shoot down other Islamists is also a sign of weakness.
To split the conscripts from the officer corps however, requires the revolution and its vanguard workers to unite the main elements of the working class who have until now been separated by the SCAF’s manipulation of workers behind different political leaderships: Mubarak, liberal and MB. Now the SCAF has come out from behind the mask of sham democracy. When the masses take to the streets next time they will come for the generals and business leaders of the SCAF who no longer will have a “legitimate” front man to hide behind. When that happens the conscripts will have to choose which side they are on.
Thus this is a powerful crossroads for the revolution; either, the Bonapartist dictatorship and the bourgeois democrats who flock under its umbrella will stand exposed before the masses, driving the revolution forward via the agency of working class leadership, or, the counter-revolution will consolidate and attempt to put a lid on the simmering cauldron of discontent. But the basic contradictions can not be resolved via either repression or Western democracy. They will continue to feed the revolution as it advances against the counter-revolution.
The mass killings that resulted proved two things: first that the SCAF can no longer hide behind the ‘veil’ of bourgeois democracy; second, that the resistance of the MB masses, even if based on the illusion that the MB regime was ‘democratic’, proves that the revolution is still alive and kicking. This is exactly what we mean by the shift of the military from ‘democratic’ to open armed counter-revolution, as the ‘deepening of the class combat’ in Egypt.
Open military counter-revolution
The so-called coup of July 3rd does not represent a qualitative defeat in the development of the revolution. We had already written in January of 2013 that the SCAF/MB dirty deal was breaking apart. In Class War #3 pg. 8 we stated:
“In Egypt the popular revolution did not arm itself or take power. The military regime replaced Mubarak with Morsi of the MB as a ‘democratic’ facade, but this has already proven unstable. Morsi has assumed total power to rush a new constitution through that will guarantee a MB majority in a new parliament. The MB knows that its middle class support base will not survive mass resistance to the austerity measures that the IMF demands. It wants to create a constitutional front that allows an Islamist bloc backed by the military to restore a dictatorship. This has revived the revolution on the streets but the masses do not have the power to bring down the Government. Demands that Morsi retracts his assumption of total power or resign cannot be enforced as it could be in Libya by the armed militias. What is lacking in Egypt is any popular power based on industrial action or more importantly winning over the base of the army. Both of these essential conditions were never seriously fought for by the revolution of the streets. To realize them now requires a fight for a revolutionary constituent assembly to unite the masses and the base of the army to bring down Morsi and his middle class MB dictatorship.”
In fact we think there is a general misunderstanding on the left that the Morsi/MB civilian administration represented a parliamentary democracy with features of the usual western type.  In fact it was an errand boy whipsawed between the demands of the imperialists and the self interest of the army fraction of the bourgeoisie. While it behaved in power as if it believed its own hype to the effect that it was the peoples’ choice, it solved none of their problems. And this was not ineptitude but the result of the inter-imperialist conflict driven by the world crisis of capitalism over the prize of semi-colonial Egypt. Soon after we wrote the lines above popular resistance to the Morsi regime began to mushroom and take organizational form around the January/February 2011 demands. Where a revolutionary constituent assembly would have been an appropriate response to the dark later days of December 2012 and January 2013 the advance of the masses delegitimizing the MB as a pillar of the regime in July 2013 represents a renewal of the revolutionary offensive.
The renewal of the revolutionary offensive had the potential to bring down the bourgeois regime itself. The SCAF had to intervene urgently to meet the main demands of the millions on the street to bring down the Morsi regime and in so doing hide its dirty deal with the MB and continue to appear as the hero of the revolution. This is not a ‘fundamental change’ but a succeeding episode in the power struggle that began with the overthrow of Mubarak who was also removed by the SCAF.
This renewal necessitated the naked display of the real power in the state and the SCAF employed it against the masses once again. The end of the sham of the ‘democratic’ counter-revolution means that Egyptian workers now face a vicious military counter-revolution – a military dictatorship. Despite the SCAF’s promise of a new democratic government and despite the illusions in the military among elements of the masses who are anti-MB or anti-Islamist the can be no avoiding facing the fact that the SCAF is now suppressing the MB popular masses by slaughtering protesters. Nor can the anti-MB protesters fail to notice that the SCAF has declared itself against organized labor by arresting striking workers and suppressing strike action. The anti-MB workers must recognize that to defend the striking workers right to strike they must also defend the democratic rights of expression and assembly of the MB ranks against the attacks of SCAF regime.
That is, the SCAF must use force to suppress the revolution wherever the masses fight for their most basic rights such as the right of assembly and expression on the streets and the right to strike. The statement of the minority leadership of the Independent Trades Unions (Ramadan) takes a position against both MB leadership and the SCAF. Now that the sham democracy is revealed as a diversion to buy time, the showdown between the masses – or workers, street traders, agricultural workers, middle class etc – and the SCAF representing the dominant fraction of the Egyptian bourgeoisie, has begun. The systematic attacks, arrests and the mass killings make this fact absolutely clear.
The revolutionary program for the Arab Revolution
The revolutionary program has one purpose and that is to raise demands that unite, mobilise and arm the working masses against all factions of the bourgeoisie and its imperialist allies, so that the revolutionary masses will be victorious in defeating the ruling class, seize power and form a Workers Government!
As we have stated in our previous articles the revived Arab Revolution is a struggle to complete the national-democratic revolution which can be summed up as: bourgeois democracy, land reform and national independence. What is also clear in our program is that in semi-colonies bourgeois democracy must be rapidly transformed into workers democracy to win and defend even the most elementary bourgeois democratic rights. Therefore, as Trotskyists, we know that a ‘national democratic’ revolution is impossible in the age of imperialism unless it is transformed into a socialist revolution. The process of completing the national democratic as the socialist revolution is called the permanent revolution.
We can illustrate this by showing that in the semi-colonies the national bourgeoisie are not allies in the permanent revolution since they are little more than the agents of the imperialists. As soon as the national revolution threatens imperialists’ interests the national bourgeoisie will turn on the revolutionary masses. Precisely when that point arises depends on the existing conditions, which we can specify in the case of Egypt since 2011 as follows:
In the global imperialist crisis grounded in overproduction of capital, semi-colonies like Egypt (and the other MENA countries) are plundered for super-profits to restore profits in the imperialist countries. This means the weaker bourgeois fractions (like the MB) and the working masses are forced to pay to solve the capitalists’ crisis. The most elementary needs of the masses, for food, water, power, shelter, etc., must be attacked. As soon as the masses resist these attacks they threaten the interests of imperialism. No bourgeois regime can contain such resistance behind a democratic facade for more than a brief period. That is why the typical regime in a semi-colony is a military or theocratic dictatorship. And that is why the response of the working class must be the organisation of an armed struggle to overthrow the whole national bourgeoisie and imperialism.
Inter-imperialist rivalry and proxy wars
We have laid out the essentials of the permanent revolution in the semi-colonies, and in particular the MENA countries, of which Egypt is the most important in terms of its size and economic development. But this analysis is insufficient as a theoretical guide to our program unless it takes into account the impact of the concrete conditions of the growing rivalry between the two main imperialist blocs, that led by the US and that led by China, on the Arab Revolution. It is the intensifying rivalry between the two blocs to win control over raw materials and labor that forces them to back different national bourgeois fractions to contain the mass resistance. As we have seen the global crisis imposes the destruction of the masses living conditions and growing mass resistance to paying for the crisis has produced armed uprisings that overthrew some dictators, while other dictators such as Assad and the SCAF survive only because they are backed by one or other imperialist power bloc.
We have yet to see any of the self-proclaimed revolutionary currents develop a theoretical analysis of how rivalry between the US-led and China-led blocs is behind the counter-revolution within the wider Arab Revolution. For example, while we are largely in agreement with the FLTI’s position on the Arab Revolution what is missing is their refusal to recognize China as an imperialist power competing together with Russia against the US/NATO/Zionist interests in MENA. Nor does the RCIT with whom we are in agreement on China, and have considerable agreement in the Arab Revolution, recognize the extent to which the revolutions in MENA are also proxy wars between the US and China.
In Libya the US-led bloc prevailed in removing Gaddafi who maneuvered between rival imperialisms before aligning with the China-led bloc. But the US was not able to disarm the popular revolution and cannot yet transform its ‘democratic counter revolution’ into a military dictatorship. In Syria the revolution against Assad, who is backed by the China bloc, is held back by the US/NATO/Israel bloc’s fear of arming the revolution and ending up with a Libyan outcome. In Egypt, the MB sought financial aid from China to deal with the collapsing economy with little success. The SCAF also has gone to China and Russia in recent years to buy its weaponry paying for it with the profits from its business interests. China and Russia however, have little influence over Egypt. Thus the US was able to rely on its historic partnership with the SCAF to collaborate in the return to a military dictatorship when the ‘democratic’ counter-revolution failed to contain the masses upsurge. As we wrote in our earlier analysis of the impact of the inter-imperialist rivalry on the Arab revolution, the armed struggle of the workers and oppressed in Libya and Syria show the way to the Egyptian masses. Not until the Egyptian vanguard breaks from the sham bourgeois democracy manipulated by the SCAF and opens up an armed struggle against the state can the revolution survive and succeed in overthrowing the national bourgeoisie and the bloody intervention of both imperialist blocs.
Only when the vanguard of the workers understands that the global crisis of capitalism is the product of the growing contradiction between labour and capital, between the forces and relations of production, will it realize that inter-imperialist rivalry must ruthlessly drive down living standards so that capitalism can survive. Only when the vanguard agrees unconditionally to overthrowing the semi-colonies’ national bourgeois lackeys will the worker masses become convinced that to live they must destroy capitalism. Only then can we organize an international working class revolutionary movement that will get rid of capitalism and build a socialist society!
The revolutionary party
We argue that to have a program that is capable of guiding the Arab masses towards the socialist revolution an international Marxist party must be built. There can be no revolutionary program of material consequence without a revolutionary party. For us, this has to be a Bolshevik party that develops and applies Marxist theory in practice as the revolutionary program. The Party then, organized on the basis of democratic centralism, becomes the vehicle of the Marxist method. The Marxist method is dialectics. This is the method that understands the contradictory unity of capitalist society and the role of the party in actively applying that method in developing theory and program. On the basis of that theory and program, the Marxist party intervenes to resolve the contradictory unity of capitalism in the interests of the proletariat. Without a Marxist party and dialectical method then, there can be no living Marxism and no international proletarian revolution that succeeds in building a new socialist society.
Events in Egypt prove that we are correct. Without such a party and program the masses’ spontaneous uprisings are diverted, contained and repressed by political currents that defend bourgeois ideology. These are not only the obvious ruling class institutions such as the military, who hide behind the façade of democracy, or reformist liberal or labor parties that champion bourgeois democracy, but Menshevik political parties that in the name of Marxism defend bourgeois democracy against mass workers’ democracy because they fundamentally oppose working class revolution. Further to the left, as we argue, are the anarchists who are non-Marxist Mensheviks, and Trotskyist centrists. All these tendencies act to prevent the working class from breaking from the bourgeoisie and its class program. Why is this?
In the last analysis Trotsky shows that the so-called Marxists who abandon Marxist theory and program are petty bourgeois in social composition and class interests. They do not have the being/experience to understand dialectics and so resort to the formal logic of empiricism or impressionism. Instead of a grasp on reality as full bodied (succulent) and complex, this method is cut and dried. Events are separated instead of seen as part of their real living history of social relations. Empiricism takes surface impressions detached from deeper causes, failing to make all the causal links to the deeper causes. As a result surface impressions are substituted for deeper origins and operations which are reduced to a cut and dried schema.
Menshevism, Anarchism and Centrism
We can illustrate how all non-Bolshevik tendencies end up in the same bourgeois camp by examining their role in the Arab Revolution. The dominant tendency in the Western left is social imperialism. This denies there is any revolutionary agency in the Arab masses and instead substitutes so-called progressive fractions of the national bourgeoisie as capable of a bourgeois revolution. In other words the deeper global causes that drive the semi-colonial revolutions are cut and dried as an evolutionary schema which must follow the course of national democratic revolutions. But as we have pointed out, no fraction of the national bourgeoisie is progressive, since all are acting as agents of imperialism to suppress the revolution. To meet the critique of social imperialism, the Mensheviks give it a Marxist gloss. Instead of substituting the “progressive” bourgeoisie for the working class, they substitute the working class. In the absence of any “progressive” bourgeoisie, the working class must perform the tasks of the bourgeoisie in the national democratic revolution. Invariably this subordinates the semi-colonial working class to Menshevik/Stalinist, and as we shall see, petty bourgeois empirio-centrist “Trotskyism”, that ends up supporting popular front regimes like the ANC.
The Cliffite tendency, represented by the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt, also reduces the spontaneous subjectivity of the working class to an evolutionary schema of the bourgeois popular front. The logic of this is to fight for bourgeois democracy in its most radical form, the Constituent Assembly. This is why we regard the Cliffites as left Menshevik reformists who adopt a stageist schema of history. In Egypt the RS has always subordinated working class ‘self-organization’ to mobilizing for bourgeois elections. Instead of exposing the rotten deals between the SCAF and MB in 2011/12, it gave critical support to the MB. As popular opposition to the MB grew, the RS supported its overthrow by the SCAF – presumably now, the progressive wing of the national bourgeoisie! Even now, facing the open military dictatorship, the RS is limiting its demands to the Constituent Assembly, rather than a direct confrontation to split the army. This proves yet again that siding with ANY fraction, and now the SCAF fraction, is counter-revolutionary! As we have shown, since the Bolshevik Revolution this Menshevik position of a necessary bourgeois stage to prepare for the socialist revolution has been exposed as counter-revolutionary and has to be fought by the permanent revolution!
And yet, it does not follow that rejection of Menshevism (i.e. petty bourgeois Marxism) always leads to Bolshevism. Invariably this follows from the rejection of the Bolshevik party and the Marxist method of fusing theory and practice. First, anarchism claims to represent the independent working class, yet its theories reject Marxist class analysis and theory of the party. Like Menshevism, it replaces the ‘objective’ revolutionary agency of the working class with the subjective agency of petty bourgeois intellectuals. Rejecting the Bolshevik party, anarchists have no vehicle to intervene actively in the class struggle to test theory and practice. So in revolutionary situations anarchism always capitulates to the bourgeois popular front. The historic betrayal of Stalinism and the destruction of the Soviet Union increased the appeal of anarchism to contemporary youth. Yet it takes its place alongside Menshevism as a strong reformist political current inside the working class, and within the petty bourgeois youth of the Egyptian revolution, offering a reformist alternative to Menshevism.
Second, revolutionaries exposed to imperialist pressures and petty bourgeois interests often take ‘centrist’ positions, subscribing to a Marxist program but reverting to reformist politics in practice. Centrists vacillate between Bolshevism and Menshevism for the reasons that Trotsky explained. Trotskyists that are based in the petty bourgeoisie are isolated from the proletariat and from the dialectics of class struggle. They also reject the proletarian basis of democratic centrism of the working class, drawing on its experience in the day to day class struggle. Without such democratic centralism, the dialectical method is replaced by bourgeois empiricism and impressionism. Since Trotsky’s time, Trotskyist centrism has become even more remote from working class struggles and cannot, despite its claims, apply the dialectical method. This has clear consequences in the Arab Revolution, and in particular the Egyptian Revolution.
The historical basis of Trotskyist centrism is ‘Pabloism’. This is the liquidation of the Bolshevik party into petty bourgeois Stalinism and petty bourgeois parties in the popular front. It is the disease of post-Trotsky Trotskyism that kills dialectics and substitutes bourgeois empiricism. In the Egyptian revolution, right-wing centrists are only distinguished from Mensheviks/Stalinists by the use of “Trotskyist” rhetoric. The Canadian Pabloite John Riddell illustrates this:
Since 2011, Egypt’s limited democratic institutions have been subject to repeated heavy-handed intervention by the military wing of the bourgeoisie, including dissolution of an elected parliament. Nonetheless, election of a government in a process not subject to direct military control erected a safeguard of the democratic rights of working people. And when constitutional rule was swept away, there was no longer any institutional barrier to unrestrained and murderous military repression.
Yes, one day working people will replace bourgeois parliamentarism with a superior form of democracy. But under today’s circumstances, socialists are not indifferent to the form of capitalist rule. We strive to defend and to expand the democratic elements won within the capitalist order. Capitalist parliamentarism offers more favourable conditions for workers’ struggle than unrestricted capitalist tyranny (our emphasis)
Here we have a clear statement that at this time the workers must demand a bourgeois parliament to force the SCAF to suspend the state of emergency! The army will supposedly agree to restore bourgeois democracy which will create the conditions for the working class to prepare itself for a “superior form of democracy”. How will they do this? They must fight for a new bourgeois constitution, or at least contest the new constitution promised by the army! We say this is Pabloite stageism, which echoes the historic Menshevik/Stalinist theory that workers cannot make a revolution unless having first exhausted the limits of bourgeois democracy. Here the rich, full-bodied dialectical process of revolution vs. counter-revolution is replaced by a cut and dried schema. Bourgeois democracy today: socialism tomorrow. We say that the SCAF has proved that it will not allow any real bourgeois freedoms and is in the process of attacking the most advanced working class fighters. In this situation revolutionaries call for armed defence, the splitting of the army and the seizure of power!
We must not retreat to pathetic appeals to bourgeois democracy to breathe life into the masses. On the contrary, it strangles the masses! It diverts the struggle from building councils and militias to building parties to canvass votes in a RCA. Those revolutionaries who deviate towards the Pabloite RCA at a time when the working class is fighting for its life provide aid to the class enemy. Those like the RCIT and the FT suffer such a lapse under pressure into empirio-centrism, getting sucked into the orbit of Pabloism with the call for an RCA as a necessary step to mobilizing the working class.
We raised the RCA in early 2012 when the workers were demobilized and trapped in the rotten electoral deal between the SCAF and MB. Thus it was necessary to raise an RCA against the reactionary SCAF/MB constitution. But today workers are mobilized in their millions, under attack, but not defeated by the military dictatorship. The forces of revolution facing counter-revolution are not limited to Egypt or MENA but operate globally. The rhythm of the revolution cannot be gauged in one country. So for the RCIT to say that Egypt is experiencing a counter-revolutionary defeat or a “fundamental change of period” that requires building support for an RCA is no more than Pabloite stageism dressed up as ‘revolutionary’ Trotskyism. The main task in Egypt, MENA and globally, is to follow the lead of Libya and Syria, to organize and arm the vanguard, to rally the MB ranks, the workers on strike, to build workers councils and militias everywhere and launch an unlimited political general strike to split the army and end the state of emergency. The military must attack the workers to impose capitalist order, so the showdown between the revolution and counter-revolution is not in parliament, but in the streets, workplaces and neighborhoods.
The dual contradictions of the masses
We must ask the RCIT and others, like Workers Power, what contradictions they see among the masses in the wake of the overthrow of the Morsi Civilian regime? To fail to see class struggle within the mass struggles of those against as well as those for the Morsi regime, is to play on the turf of and adapt to two alien milieus, the one that sees the anti-Morsi mobilizations of many millions as a plot between the liberals and the western imperialists, with no account kept of the privations the masses suffered or recognition of their anger at the regime’s repressions; the other that sees only reactionary “political Islam” among the pro-Morsi masses, taking no account of many hundreds of thousands who did and still would vote for Morsi to reject military rule. We pointed out that the masses had split on this question and the superior democracy of the streets did seem like it would settle with the Morsi administration. But the SCAF intervened and stole the initiative from the anti-Morsi masses and manipulated their rejection of political Islamism, which in fact was not the state power or its command.
You must ask yourself whether Egypt in fact had different rulers in 2012 than it has now. If so,
the repressions of 2012 would have been the work of different social interests. Was the character of these repressions, which for a time drove the masses from the streets, resulting in our call for a Revolutionary Constituent Assembly, somehow different for the victimized striking workers BECAUSE these had the seal of the Muslim Brotherhood civilian administration upon them? If you say “yes,” as suggested by the logic of your statement that the character of the period has “changed fundamentally,” we’ll let you make another guess, because it does us no good for you to offer a political prescription for Egypt that is a placebo at best.
We are not interested at all in the rights of the Muslim Brotherhood as “the largest party.” We are interested in defense of the persons and the democratic rights of its varieties of supporters and its rank-and-file members, who for a catalog of reasons, some confused, are nevertheless combating the one, uninterrupted post-1952 state. We want to reunite the masses in defense of these fighters, resolving the dual set of the masses’ contradictions in political and military combat with this state.
We pointed out how all summer political Islamism has been taking a beating, with most of the masses in the countries joining in revolt rejecting its general assumptions. Not for them the preachings that culture and community trump considerations of class and render them irrelevant. Many who wanted to believe this in Egypt observed a social peace at great personal cost. This activity as social peace salesmen is the great value of the Muslim Brotherhood and like formations in MENA for imperialists old and new. Yet for the membership base and other supporters the particular class contradictions of present day Egypt are inescapable. The backward village of the devout that some wish to see “catch up” politically with the city masses via a Constituent Assembly, may not miss the electricity it never had, but it had to notice that the jobs that Morsi was supposed to deliver never materialized, while food prices grew alarmingly. To cater to the backward village in this programmatic way instead of prioritizing the crystallization of the vanguard that rejects the MB and the SCAF, is to validate the rotten electoral setup of the second SCAF/MB Constitution that overweighed the votes of villagers versus those of the urban, far more proletarian masses.
Down with the State of Emergency! Down with the military dictatorship! Down with the curfew! Unionize the workers in all the military owned enterprises. Build a general strike movement!
Organize workers councils! Organize workers militia to defend all strikes and protest manifestations of the masses against the state! Centralize nationally the armed neighborhood committees let workers’ democracy flourish!
Open the road to the woman worker; defend her in the streets, in the workplace, and against the state’s forced virginity tests and other abuses!Organize the conscripts and enlisted ranks to split the military and link with the workers movement! Abolish the national security forces! Down with the police! Defenders of imperialist property! For the workers movement to defend all manifestation of the masses against repression by the state!
Defend religious freedom including for atheists! All clergy must pay taxes! Stop the religious indoctrination of conscripts! No to state religion!
Nationalize all basic industry and imperialist assets, banks and financial institutions place them under workers’ control and without compensation to big capital!
For a workers plan to restructure the economy to provide jobs for all! For 30 hours work for 40 hours pay! For a sliding scale of wages and hours! For a sliding scale of prices set by nationally coordinated workers’ price committees!
For a workers’ government and a revolutionary foreign policy!
For a revolutionary workers party and international based on the historic conquests, program and method of Trotsky’s 1938 Transitional Program!
Liaison Committee of Communists
Integrating the RWG (Zim), CWG (A/NZ), CWG (USA)
August 30,, 2013
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 “Egyptian Revolution of 2011”, Wikipedia,
“Grievances of Egyptian protesters were focused on legal and political issues including police brutality, state of emergency laws, lack of free elections and freedom of speech, corruption, and economic issues including high unemployment, food price inflation and low wages. The primary demands from protesters were the end of the Hosni Mubarak regime, the end of emergency law, freedom, justice, a responsive non-military government and a say in the management of Egypt’s resources. Strikes by labour unions added to the pressure on government officials.”
 The Permanent Revolution & Results and Prospects, Leon Trotsky,