The Spark

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

Egyptian Army and Muslim Brotherhood:
Both Enemies of Working Class and Poor

Aug 19, 2013

In mid-August, the Egyptian military declared martial law and unleashed severe repression. Within a few days, the military killed more than a thousand people and wounded several times more. Much of this violence and repression seems to have been concentrated against the supporters of Mohammed Morsi, who the military had removed as president only six weeks before. But behind this repression is an effort to impose order over the rest of the Egyptian population, especially the working class and poor.

For the past two and a half years, the Egyptian military has posed as the supposed friend and ally of the Egyptian population. After all, the military had deposed two hated dictators, first General Hosni Mubarak, who had imposed his dictatorship over the country for 30 years, and then Morsi, a religious fundamentalist and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who had tried to create his own dictatorship after succeeding Mubarak.

The reality, though, is that the military had never ceased being the main power and force of repression behind the rule of both these dictators. It has been the army that throughout these years has broken strikes, imprisoned, tortured and massacred working people and the poor. Only at the point that this repression failed to stop a rising mobilization of the working class and poor, did the military agree to remove first Mubarak, and then Morsi. In doing so, the military was attempting to defuse and disorient these mobilizations, therefore allowing it to reimpose order over the population.

But with the removal of Morsi, the Egyptian military has clashed with the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the oldest Islamic fundamentalist groups in the Middle East. For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood received financial support from various government intelligence services, as well as wealthy people in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East. The Muslim Brotherhood used this money to build up its own network and apparatuses around mosques, charities and schools. While posing as an opponent of the various regimes, it fomented the most reactionary ideas, and therefore stood as a bulwark against trade unionists, communists, even nationalist oppositionists.

In fact, the clash between the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood is between two virulent enemies of the Egyptian working population and poor that are in competition with each other for power. Both may claim the support of protesters and demonstrators. But the ones they both really represent are the Egyptian bourgeoisie and, behind them, U.S. imperialism and the other big imperialist powers, who are out to exploit and oppress the Egyptian masses for their own gain.

The only way forward for the working masses would be to fight for their own independent interests. Certainly, they have already shown that they are capable of confronting terrible dictatorships and organizing massive mobilizations. Different parts of the working class also have a history of organizing strikes despite terrible repression. But what the Egyptian working class lacks is its own independent party, a revolutionary, communist party, one that allows it to oppose not only the religious demagogues and the military officers, but the capitalists who stand behind them.