Feb 7, 2011
Popular mobilizations have made dictatorships tremble, dictatorships which once seemed set in stone. In the North African country of Tunisia, the people sent the dictator Ben Ali packing.
The popular movement was strong enough so the imperialist powers – who once protected, financed and armed Ben Ali – shipped him off to Saudi Arabia, giving him a luxurious villa, not to mention letting him keep the ton and a half of gold that his family stole from the Tunisian state treasury.
With Egypt’s Mubarak, it was not so simple. Given the strategic role played by the Egyptian regime in the Middle East, the big imperialist powers are still hesitating.
The ruling classes of the imperialist countries and their political and military leaders know that the movement might deepen. And they fear it. The poor masses, once mobilized, might not be satisfied with only a change in leaders. They might fight for their own demands, for jobs and for bread to begin with.
The leaders of the imperialist countries – the U.S., France and Great Britain – know very well that their domination has turned this region into a powder keg. The poverty of most people is so great, the inequality between the exploited classes and the privileged classes is so ugly – the whole region could go up in a flash.
In Tunisia, as in Egypt, the leaders of the imperialist world are feverishly searching for a way to put the brakes on the movement of the masses before the masses become conscious of their own power – before the masses could become conscious that behind the dictator Ben Ali or Mubarak, there is a whole state apparatus with its army and that behind the state are the local privileged classes and the imperialist bourgeoisie.
Do the masses in Tunisia and Egypt have enough energy to push further, to rip off the chains that bind them?
It’s impossible right now to know. But what we do know is that the working class of these two countries needs to participate as massively as possible in this movement for liberty and democratic rights. And the working class needs its own objectives, and its own class demands. It is the only way for them to impose their right to live.
Even in order to make the state accept democratic rights and liberty, the exploited masses have to remain mobilized, suspicious of all those contending right now to put themselves in power, to take over running the country.
The exploited masses in this movement need to be suspicious of the army, which in Egypt pretends to act like a mediator between the regime and the movement. The demonstrators have a thousand and one reasons to fraternize with the rank and file soldiers, who are the sons of the ordinary people. But, to bring the soldiers over to their side, the exploited masses need to oppose the generals, the military hierarchy – which have been the pillars of Mubarak’s regime.
The exploited classes must become conscious of their own class interests – which are separate and opposed to those who speak of “national unity” and “democracy” in order to take over the movement.
In Tunisia and Egypt, the industrial proletariat, which is in the heart of capitalist production there, just like here, can lead the whole movement of the oppressed.