Egypt: what the left is saying

Submitted by Matthew on 2 February, 2011 - 12:01

Socialist Worker’s coverage of the Egyptian uprising is useful because their comrade, Judith Orr, is on the ground and thus able to paint a vivid and often moving picture of the burgeoning movement.

It also contains some extremely important factual nuggets, like the report from Monday 31 January that “three factories are now on indefinite strike until Mubarak falls. One is a steel mill that produces 70 percent of Egypt’s steel... Also news that workers in two Cairo factories, one textile company another a printing press, have dismissed their bosses.”

However, Orr’s reporting lacks any programmatic comment or even real political analysis. She is not at all focused on workers’ struggles or socialists’ ideas and role in the movement. It is more like an extended “Isn’t it wonderful?” — which it is, but that isn’t enough to say! She reports: “Many believe ElBaradei is the person who can unite the opposition and force Mubarak out”, without comment. “…everyone is united on one thing: Mubarak must go.”

And there is no mention of the Muslim Brotherhood, let alone the idea that they pose a threat to the Egyptian working class.

The Socialist Party, in contrast, trots out plenty of its stalest clichés, climaxing with:

“A socialist programme of nationalisation of all the big corporations and banks under democratic workers’ control would lay the basis for planning the use of Egypt’s resources to meet the needs of all those who are denied a decent life under Mubarak’s corrupt and cruel regime.”

Workers’ Power, predictably, goes one better by producing an extremely detailed, 14 point (yes!) programme for the revolution — despite not having any particular links, as far as you can tell, with comrades in Egypt.

Both the SP and WP refer to the Muslim Brotherhood as a bourgeois force, but there is no sense from either that it poses a reactionary alternative which could “confiscate” the current revolutionary wave and turn it into counter-revolution by crushing the workers even more comprehensively than Mubarak’s regime. WP comes closer to acknowledging this, but in the student movement their activists have been arguing that Egyptian socialists should make a “united front” with the Muslim Brothers.

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