North African workers and youth put revolution back on world agenda PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 01 May 2011 07:54

North African workers and youth put revolution back on world agenda

The revolutionary uprising by Egyptian workers and youth toppled president Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011, less than a month after the Tunisian revolution forced president Ben Ali to flee the country on January 14. Since January, mass movements are shaking the dictatorial regimes in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Algeria, Morocco, Djibouti, Lebanon... A wave of revolt has spread across North Africa and the Middle East touching, in one way or the other, every single Arab regime, striking fear into the hearts of ruling elites from China to Zimbabwe and inspiring mass movements in Africa south of the Sahara – notably in Burkina Faso, Swaziland, Cameroon, Gabon – as well as protests all over the world, including in the ‘belly-of-the-beast’ the United States of America.

The North African revolutions mark a historical turning point – the first gush of wind ahead of a storm, unleashing the process of world revolution from its long captivity in the chains of defeat, demoralisation and reaction. Regardless of the immediate outcomes of the struggle between revolution and counter-revolution (which at the time of writing has gained some ground in e.g. Libya and Egypt) in these countries, and the inevitable backlash in the absence of working class-led revolutionary parties taking up the battle for state power, the world will not be the same again.

The corporate media has tried its best to portray the unfolding turmoil around the Mediterranean as yearnings simply for democratic rights. But the calls for an end to repression, torture, and the dictatorial regimes themselves, are a profound outcry against the mass unemployment, exploitation, poverty and oppression of capitalism in the wake of the intensified class contradictions as the global crisis of this system continues.

The organised workers’ stepping to the fore was decisive for the revolutionary break-throughs in Tunisia and Egypt. This shows that it is the working masses who alone hold the power to overthrow dictators. When organised and with all fear overcome, no amount of bloody repression can stop them. The United Nations-backed bombing of Libya by Western regimes – which backed Gadaffi as well as Ben Ali and Mubarak until a few weeks earlier and continue to support the region’s remaining despots such as the Saudi monarchy – is not being carried out to aid the revolution. The revolutions have struck terror into the hearts of imperialism threatening their puppets and therefore their interests. The no fly zone is in reality intended to prevent the revolution from taking off in a radical anti-imperialist t anti-capitalist direction.

The only way forward for a genuine change in Libya is the independent, democratic self-organisation of workers and poor people across tribal and regional divisions. While the movement must arm itself in the face of the regime’s use of weapons, the most important weapon to defeat Gadaffi is not heavy artillery or an air force but a revolutionary programme that could unite the movement in the East and West through a class appeal and thus break through Gadaffi’s remaining support base. Such a programme should call for real democratic rights, an end to corruption, privilege and tribal, regional and racist divisions, the safeguarding and upgrading of the social gains made since the discovery of oil, opposition to any form of re-colonisation and for a democratically controlled, publicly owned economy planned to use the country’s resources for the future.

The leadership of the Libyan struggle, which has fallen into the hands of largely middle class pro-imperialist elements and ex-Gadaffi officials, has in its fear of the masses allowed Gadaffi to retain and regain some support. The NATO powers have intervened in Libya because it is the world’s 12th largest oil producer. Having only recently rehabilitated Gaddafi and been allowed to invest significantly, they have ditched Gadaffi and are makijg strenuous efforts to win the support of the leadership of the rebels to protect those same interests. Their aim is Libya as another ‘client state’ in the mould of e.g. Saudi Arabia. The hasty call for regognitionof the rebel leadership in the East as a transitional government proves this. Accepting support from imperialism will derail the revolution, not assist it.

The successful overthrow of the despots in Egypt and Tunisia constitute not the end, but the starting point of a revolutionary process that will rock the world in the new period of capitalist crisis and social turmoil that is opening up. The task of socialists is to create independent working class organisations and revolutionary parties that can take the struggle forward at every turn, replace not only corrupt dictators but their state machineries (still largely intact in Egypt as well as Tunisia) and the dictatorship of the market – capitalism itself. In a socialist society based on workers democracy the choice will not be between different oppressors every five years as under capitalism, but over how to democratically plan the use of the collectively owned wealth, without privileges for elected reps, who must be subject to immediate recall. > More on page 8-9

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 May 2011 09:51

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