Egypt's left after the massacre

Submitted by Matthew on 28 August, 2013 - 10:44

Hannah Elsisi of the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists and the ISN writes: “This notion of ‘but Morsi is better than Shafiq and then we can deal with him later’, which some of the left put forward in last year’s elections, is in my opinion the mistake many of us made that paved the way for today’s ‘let the army get rid of them, then we will deal with the army’.

“This transitional thinking is what keeps compromising the revolution and causes the revolutionary movement to stutter.

“We need to be confident and coherent and rid ourselves of the amnesia, divisive and disingenuous polarisations, and transitional circles that have blighted us hitherto in order to learn from mistakes and move forward”.

Elsisi is right. Ahmed Maher, a leader of the April 6 movement which played a prominent role in 2011, has said that after the massacres of Brotherhood supporters and sympathisers on 14 and 16 August it will take a generation to win back the momentum of 25 January 2011, when the mass street protests began that would soon topple Mubarak.

The Revolutionary Socialists, as always, keep an upbeat tone in their propaganda, but they are reduced to action on a small scale. RS leader Gigi Ibrahim draws comparisons with where they were before the Arab spring started.

When the army chiefs removed MB president Morsi on 3 July, many on the Egyptian left denied that this was, in fact, a coup. Some even went on to support the massacres on 14 and 16 August.

Those included the Nasserite Tagammu Party, and also a more credible Nasserite group, the Karama party, now part of the United Nasserite Party.

Even more disturbingly, the two million strong independent trade union federation EFITU, by a vote of two-thirds of its Executive, backed the 26 July demonstration called by Al-Sisi.

Even the Revolutionary Socialists and the April 6th movement denied that 3 July was a coup, although they opposed the August massacres of the Brotherhood supporters.

The Revolutionary Socialists, like their mentors in the SWP, tend to avoid accounting for their past mistakes by putting a positive gloss on every situation.

“The people who called on the military to protect them on 30 June and subsequently, can defend themselves, without waiting for a hesitating army or police.” (Statement from the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt, 6 July 2013). “Al Sisi did on 3 July 2013 what Hussein Tantawi did before him on 11 February 2011 — he acquiesced to the will of the rebelling populace, not out of any patriotism or revolutionary fervour, but out of fear of the revolution.” (Egypt: Four days that shook the world by Sameh Naguib, of the RS).

Journalists who said that a military coup had taken place were subjected to accusations that they were acting as supporters and accomplices of the Brotherhood. This was part of a simplistic and ludicrous narrative, propagated energetically by Nasserite forces, but also repeated by others on the left, that Morsi’s government was the agency of... “Zionism and the West”.

The mobilisation around the Tamarod movement had grown dramatically from mid April to 30 June. Tamarod was set up by a small group which included former Revolutionary Socialist Hassan Shahine and another four activists. They were also inspired by Kefaya, the “Enough — Movement For Change” in 2004 to oppose the election of Mubarak for his fifth term of office.

The Tamarod made a number of democratic demands and demanded the resignation of Morsi by 30 June. It said nothing about what would replace Morsi.

The idea of petitioning to get more signatures than Morsi had votes, that is more than 13 million, appeared at first ludicrously optimistic.

But there was huge popular opposition to the Brotherhood.

The liberal bourgeois groups in the National Salvation Front came in on the campaign; so did the rapidly resurgent Nasserite movement, the April 6th movement, and the Revolutionary Socialists. Every office of the independent trade-union support group CTUWS became a petition-organising point. EFITU also threw itself behind the petition.

Some say that the Brotherhood’s only crime was its adoption of neo-liberal economic policies. But there was more. The Brotherhood was an authoritarian, frequently brutal, reactionary religious force.

A host of media individuals and artists found themselves charged with insulting Islam or the President. Brotherhood thugs worked with the military to beat up and kill protesters. The Islamists even established impromptu torture chambers.

A video was circulating showing Morsi supporters throwing to their deaths teenage kids who had been identified as opponents of the Brotherhood.

The harassment of women increased dramatically. On the days after 30 June Human Rights Watch would report an epidemic of sexual violence. 91 women, primarily those involved in protests, were raped in the area around Tahrir Square.

General Adel Affi of Morsi’s Shura Council claimed that: “Women contribute 100 percent in their rape because they put themselves in such circumstances.”

The Copts have been subjected to periodic attack for decades. But the Brotherhood actively promoted attacks on Copts by claiming that the anti-Morsi alliance was led and engineered by Copts.

The Brotherhood continued the persecution of trade unions, arresting strikers and putting down strikes.

The RS had not foreseen this. In their 14 August statement they said that: “The Revolutionary Socialists did not defend the regime of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood for a single day”. But they did vote for it to come to power, saying that the MB as a foot-dragging part of “the revolution” while Morsi’s opponent in the presidential run-off, Shafiq, represented the counter-revolution.

Even now some such as Counterfire call for a new alliance with the Brotherhood in Egypt. The RS seem to reject this: “These masses will not accept reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood”.

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