The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Algeria and Sudan:
Lessons and a Warning

Apr 29, 2019

The following is reprinted from the Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter of April 15, 2019, put out by the French revolutionary group of the same name.

Over the last few weeks, in Algeria and Sudan, the population has mobilized massively and with determination, to the point of shaking long-established dictatorships.

In Algeria, the protests began in February and the population has managed to make Bouteflika resign. He had been in power for 20 years. The new government has promised to hold a presidential election on July 4. They hope to channel the population’s desire for change, and to have someone elected who will ensure the regime continues on.

The demonstrations that took place throughout the country on April 12 make it clear that the majority of the population will not be content with just a cosmetic change—and that they have no trust whatsoever in the men who, running the country with Bouteflika, repressed opposition systematically.

Their distrust is more than justified: not only is the clique of privileged people and wheeler-dealers at the head of the state still in place, but so is the whole repressive apparatus of the dictatorship, starting with the army. And even if the army has chosen not to repress the protests so far, its leaders have shown on many occasions in the past that they are ready to fire at the population.

In Sudan, over the past four months, demonstrations have been held against rising prices for basic necessities, such as sugar and bread, whose prices have tripled. Despite the repression, protests continued to grow. Finally, on April 11, the army decided to abandon the dictator who had been in power for 30 years and organized a coup to establish a “Transitional Military Council.”

Thousands of demonstrators continued to take to the streets, protesting against what they considered “a photocopy of the regime.” They defied the curfew established by the new authority and forced the newly-installed head of the military council to resign. The Sudanese demonstrators chanted proudly, “We’ve overthrown two presidents in two days.”

The workers and the poor who have mobilized so massively against the dictatorships in Algeria and Sudan have shown that, when they fight collectively and with determination, they represent a huge force.

But what is happening in Algeria and in Sudan also shows us that this force can only be effective if it is guided by a policy corresponding to the class interests of the exploited. To do this, the exploited need to have an organization that represents those interests and provides a perspective for the whole of society.

The bourgeoisie and the privileged classes at large have a political arsenal and repressive forces at their disposal to defend their domination. Those political and military agents have the means to invent all kinds of tricks to deceive the poor and lead them into dead ends.

And if those tricks don’t work, they’ll use repression. Right now the army is taking the lead in order to offer a solution to the ruling class. It does this in a more roundabout way in Algeria and a more brutal way in Sudan.

The main lesson in this for the exploited classes, and above all for the proletariat, is that they must have organizations that are equally capable of playing such a leading role. This begins by building a party that the workers and the poor can identify with, a party capable of setting a working-class policy against the political choices of the bourgeoisie.

The other lesson is that the privileged class never gives up without a fight. “Who has iron, has bread” said Blanqui, a French revolutionary of the 19th century, explaining why the oppressed need to take arms. What happened in Egypt in the years following 2011 is an illustration of what oppressors do to an unarmed people.

The struggle that the workers in Algeria and Sudan are waging today is also ours. We, the workers of France, will have to engage in a similar struggle to overthrow the political and economic power of the privileged class, to put an end to the stranglehold of capital over our lives.