The Spark

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

Egypt:
After the Violent Repression of Demonstrations

Nov 28, 2011

After trying to violently repress demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria and other Egyptian cities, the generals running Egypt have been trying to calm the seething anger.

On November 22nd, Marshal Tantawi, head of the ruling “Supreme Council,” issued numerous announcements, trying to appease the demonstrators – and behind them, the population.

Since Mubarak was forced to give up power nine months ago, the population has barely seen a change. Power is still in the hands of the army’s general staff, headed by Tantawi – the old head of Mubarak’s personal body guard and his Minister of Defense. The “democratic transition” promised in February in reality left the army in power, just as it had been for several decades.

In Egypt, the army is a power that defends its own interests, with investments in industry and state services. But above all, in this country where a great part of the population lives in deep misery, where imperialism and a grasping bourgeoisie pillage riches, the army protects the interests of “investors” who want to continue pocketing the profits produced by tens of millions of workers and poor peasants.

In order for all these profiteers to exercise power, they need a dictatorship whose army guarantees the stability that the bourgeoisie demands.

Last February, by cutting Mubarak loose on the advice of their imperialist friends, the army chiefs were able to avoid being too connected to the hated regime, and even succeeded in appearing as the guarantor of the rights of the population. But this mask has progressively been torn apart by the persistence and worsening of misery, by the crying injustices, by the poverty of millions of people in the cities and countryside – and by the violence carried out by the army itself.

Discontent is breaking out now, directly targeting the army. Still, it’s hard to know the extent and the real force of the opposition, or how much the working masses recognize themselves in the demonstrations occurring in Tahrir square.

It is certain that the general staff has not been able to set up a new power which would allow it to overcome all the discontent. But it is equally clear that the popular opposition hasn’t succeeded in giving itself objectives other than that of “Tantawi get out!” – which seems to be unanimous, as was the case before with “Mubarak get out.”

Now, facing the army in power – this state apparatus which seeks to maintain the prerogatives of the owning classes – the workers, the peasants and all the poor masses of Egypt can impose their vital demands only by establishing a power which truly represents the oppressed: which allows them to exercise true control over the wealth of the country and over the entire economy.

Perhaps through the current struggles, in the working class in particular, this perspective can open up.