Imperialism and the historical context of the developing 2011 Egyptian Bourgeois Democratic Revolution
The 1952 Bourgeois Democratic Revolution was launched by the Free Officers Movement of the armed forces against the corrupt and repressive monarchy of King Farouk, under whom Egypt had become the most important lever of control and domination of the Middle East by Western imperialism in general and US imperialism in particular, as well as Zionism. The success of that revolution ended the century and a half of Mohammad Ali Dynasty rule and resulted in the establishment of a republic in 1953. Leader of that revolution, Gamal Abdel Nasser, attempted to steer it towards a non-capitalist and independent path of development; independence from the imperialist and Zionist expansion, domination, and control; transformation of property and class relation and redistribution of wealth for the benefit of the masses of impoverished people; agrarian reforms for benefit of landless and poor peasants; and leadership and unity of the Arab nations. He was also one of the founders of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), along with Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Ahmed Sukarno of Indonesia, and Jawaharlal Nehru of India. Under his leadership, Egypt had developed great international prestige and respect as well as a truly independent foreign policy. However after his death in 1970, his successors reversed all his major policies, objectives, and accomplishments; stopped the further development of Revolution; and put it in the reverse gear. This reversal was greatly enhanced under President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981. The objective and subjective needs for the 2011 Egyptian Bourgeois Democratic Revolution have arisen as a result of these reversals of the 1952 Revolution, which was launched from above. The 2011 Revolution has been initiated by the great masses of Egyptian people. As such, it is more genuine and has greater potential for social and politico-economic progress. However, it is hampered by the absence of a masses-oriented vanguard political party and leadership. The imperialists, Zionists, and feudal-capitalist-military dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak are exploiting, manipulating, and taking full advantage of this great and debilitating deficiency of the current Revolution. It remains to be seen if and how the revolutionary masses will overcome this deficiency. A masses-based revolution is a historical necessity, not only in Egypt but throughout the world, during the current all round structural and global economic, political, cultural, and environmental crisis, with variable degrees of urgency in different countries and regions of the world. Due to particular politico-economic and historical reasons, this urgency is greater in the Middle East than most other regions and countries. Such revolutions may be postponed by brute force, tricks, deceptions, and manipulations, but not for long, as only the genuine revolutions, oriented towards non-capitalist development, can honestly and sincerely address the underlying causes of immense problems-generated by the existing politico-economic systems-and initiate effective measures to resolve them. Mere changes in the government and replacing old faces with the new ones would, at best, produce cosmetic changes, and these will be unable and unwilling to address or resolve these problems. Longer such revolutions are delayed, the more suffering and misery are prolonged for ever increasing numbers of people, which will result in even greater social explosions.
As imperialism has been at the roots of problems that are now exploding so forcefully in Egypt and throughout the Middle East, and that are likely to explode in other parts of the world too, for similar reasons, relevant discussion of imperialism has been included in this paper.
Brief historical context
Egypt has a long modern history of subjection to colonialism by the Ottoman and British Empires and mass struggles against them. Even though, formal independence was wrested from the British by countrywide uprisings and demonstrations, under the leadership of Wafd Party, in 1922, they continued to dominate and occupy Egypt until the 1952 Egyptian Bourgeois Democratic Revolution was launched successfully by the Free Officers Movement of the armed forces that abolished monarchy and replaced it with a republic. The 1922 National Liberation Revolution had succeeded in establishing Egypt as a sovereign state but this sovereignty was partial and formal and the reign of puppet monarchal dynasty was continued under King Fuad. It had begun in April 1919 in reaction to the arrest and exile of the popular revolutionary leader Saad Zaghlul Pasha to Malta. According to official figures, 800 Egyptians were killed and 1,600 wounded from April to July, 1919, by the British, during those demonstrations and uprisings, the regional, class, professional, and religious composition of which was similar to the current uprisings in 2011. King Fuad was succeeded by his son King Farouk at the age of sixteen, who distinguished himself by amassing great amounts of wealth and property, lavish life style, debaucheries, incompetence, and subservience to Western imperialism. Introduction of the parliamentary system, under the tutelage of the king, did little to change the feudal nature of the Egyptian state or the class and property relations in the society. Mass poverty, unemployment, repression, and corruption continued unabated. Therefore, the 1922 National Liberation Revolution cannot really be considered a bourgeois democratic revolution, which, as stated above, only occurred in 1952. In contrast to Egypt, the 1947 Indian National Liberation Revolution and Algerian National Liberation Revolution of 1962 were also simultaneously bourgeois democratic revolutions. These resulted in real sovereignty, end of foreign occupations and colonialism, progress towards transformation of class and property relations, and independent foreign policy. The Iraqi Bourgeois Democratic Revolution of 1958-inspired by that of the Egyptian of 1952 and lead by the nationalist army officers, under the leadership of Abdel Karim Qasim-was similar to the latter in overthrowing the Hashemite Monarchy and establishing a republic, as well as in many other important aspects of national and foreign policy. The Iranian Bourgeois Democratic Revolution of 1950s-which had similar objectives and goals-was thwarted in 1953 by US government and CIA orchestrated overthrow of the democratically elected government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq and restoration of the Monarchy of Reza Shah Pehlavi, who unleashed a reign of brutal repression, torture, and persecution of all the democratic organizations and individuals, that lasted until the 1979 Islamic Bourgeois Democratic Revolution. During those 26 years, he put Iran completely in the service of US and Western imperialism. It was only after the 1979 Revolution that Iran established independent national and international policies and programs.
After the success of 1952 revolution, Egypt was subjected to various types of economic, political, and military discriminatory pressures by Western imperialism and Zionism. In the Suez Canal Crisis, the Tripartite Aggression was launched against it by the armed forces of Britain, France, and Israel on 29 October, 1956, after it nationalized the Suez Canal on 26 July, 1956. As a result of the heroic resistance of Egyptian armed forces and military threats of USSR, the invaders were forced to withdraw their forces shortly afterwards and to recognize the sovereignty of Egypt over its Suez Canal territory.
Egypt is the most populous Arab country in the Middle East, with a population of 80 millions. Its geopolitical, cultural, and military importance is also the greatest in that region. Egypt is central to the political economy and balance of forces of the Middle East. Western imperialism knows that very well and that is why its current leader, the US imperialism, has so deeply and extensively penetrated the political, military, intelligence, educational, cultural, and other institutions and power structures of Egyptian society. Middle East contains the greatest resources of energy, the lifeblood of contemporary Western Civilization. It is also the biggest market for the merchants of death, the arms exporters, as well as an important market for other goods. The rate of profits from the US Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in the Middle East was 15.6 percent during 2003, highest among other countries and regions of the world. In Canada, Europe, Africa, and Asia and Pacific these rates were 9, 8.5, 15, and 12.1 percent, respectively (1). Politico-economic control and domination of Egypt plays the central role in control and domination of the entire resource rich Middle East by imperialism. That control and domination have been continuous throughout the 20th Century, except during the period of Nasser's leadership of the 1952 Revolution until shortly after his death in 1970.
Western and US imperialisms have plundered and stolen countless trillions of dollars of resources from the Middle East for numerous decades. In 1970, the average price paid for a barrel of oil to the Middle East was 86.3 cents or about 2 cents per gallon of gasoline, which was then marketed in the US for 36 cents per gallon and in Europe for a dollar or more per gallon. The formation of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) during 1960 in Iraq was a giant step forward towards drastic reductions in the plunder and theft of the resources of the member countries. It was the result of the increasing successes of national liberation movements, particularly those of Egypt and Iraq. OPEC was able to increase the price to $8.32 a barrel on January 1, 1974 The oil revenues of OPEC countries increased from $2.5 billion in 1960 to $100 billion in 1975 (2,3) and $200 billion in 1982, when the price of oil reached $35 per barrel. Due to the existence of USSR and other socialist countries at that time, the international balance of forces was such that the US did not dare to intervene militarily to prevent these giant economic gains of the Middle Eastern countries. However, as described below, it designed non-military plans to recycle the new wealth of oil rich Middle Eastern countries to itself.
During 2004, John Perkins, a top American expert in the economic, industrial, and political penetration and exploitation of the Third World, after feeling guilty for decades about his participation in such sinister plans and schemes of various imperialist interests, finally wrote his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (4), in which he exposed very important details of his own role in such schemes in various countries, like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama etc., as well as the general nature of sinister imperialist objectives, underlying such schemes and projects. There were numerous hit men and hit women of imperialism, and still are, like him, who were, and are, active in numerous countries all over the world. He cited statistics that show the deterioration and worsening of the national economies and living standards of majority of populations of the Third World nations, as well as severe damages to their ecology and environments, after the implementation of huge developmental projects, from which the US transnational corporations and banks made fabulous profits, leaving the countries involved trapped in huge debts and multiplied impoverishment of ever increasing proportions of the populations. For example, the US oil and engineering companies, banks, and other corporations, as well as international financial institutions, started “developing” Ecuador's petroleum industry, hydroelectric power plants, and other sectors, starting in 1970. Since then, the official poverty level there grew from 50 to 70 percent, under- or unemployment increased from 15 to 70 percent, and public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion. During the same period, the share of national resources allocated to the poorest segments of the population declined from 20 to 6 percent. Now, nearly 50 percent of Ecuador's national budget goes to pay off its debt. Ecuador is not an exception in this regard. Nearly, every country, in which US transnational corporations (TNCs) and banks have unleashed such “development”, has suffered the same consequences (5). All the governments, organizations, and movements, which have sought to improve the living conditions of ordinary people in their countries, have been subjected to subversion and destruction by US imperialism, because, if more resources are spent in a country for satisfying the needs of its people and improving the living standards, less will be available for the imperialist plunder and transfer to the imperialist center. In the words of a US National Security Council document, they pose a challenge by threatening to meet “an increasingly popular demand for immediate improvement in the low living standards of the masses” (6). To prevent such “threats” of the improvement of the living standards and satisfaction of the basic needs of the masses, US sponsored and promoted “National Security States” and military governments, throughout the world. It succeeded exceptionally well in Latin America, where, with its crucial participation and intervention, between 1960 and 1969, eighteen regimes were overthrown and replaced by the military dictatorships (7). These military regimes attacked and decimated the trade unions as well as other democratic organizations and movements for social justice. They opened up their economies, natural resources, institutions, and mass media, widely, for the penetration of imperialist capital, culture, and domination. In reality, these so-called “National Security States” were not that at all. These were anything but that. They sold out the security, integrity, dignity, and freedom of their nations to the US imperialism and its corporate, business, and media interests. US sponsored military overthrow of the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile during 1973, resulted in a reign of terror by one of the most brutal and repressive dictatorships, of Augusto Pinochet that lasted for decades. Brazil, an enormously rich country in natural resources, has been trapped even deeper into the imperialist debt and debt-servicing schemes than Ecuador. The involvement of CIA and US government in the overthrow of Brazil's democratically elected progressive President, Joao Goulart, and its replacement with a client military dictatorship, in 1964, is well known now (8,9, 10). Within hours of the military coup, the US Agency for International Development (AID) extended a large loan to the military junta, followed by the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, which increased their loans dramatically (11). Hence began the Brazilian debacle (called “miracle” in the 1960s and 1970s). By 1969, foreign corporations controlled about half of the Brazilian industry, with those of US in the lead, which also controlled a majority of assets in the motor vehicle and pharmaceutical industries. Even though the Brazilian government and legislature at that time were silent about such enormous take over of Brazilian economy by the US corporate, financial, news media, and other institutions, in the US itself, a 1975 US Senate report described the situation in Brazil, as “denationalization” and “decision dependence”, posing the threat of loss of sovereignty and vulnerability to private foreign economic power, a vulnerability “likely to be much greater when utilized in tandem with US foreign policy” (12). One is left wordless about such a theater of the absurd, in which, a report of the Senate of the main imperialist country exposes its overwhelming political and economic domination of a Third World country, while the government, legislature, and all the institutions of higher education and research in that country itself remain silent and ignorant about their domination and penetration! The Brazilian example is also relevant to Egypt, as it is also trapped in large foreign debt and is dependant upon US aid and investments. Its ruling circles are also similarly silent on the control and domination of their political economy and foreign policy by US imperialism. However, the Egyptian masses are now anything but silent. They are most heroically challenging the status quo of complicity, injustice, domination, and official state terrorism.
Application of SAMA and other models in the Third World: the great disaster in Iraq
As mentioned earlier, during the 1970s, when OPEC succeeded in multiplying the oil prices, the US government, corporations, and international banks joined forces to design and implement plots for recycling the fabulous new wealth of hundreds of billions of dollars from the oil rich OPEC countries, to the US. Perkins was assigned the task of coordinating and implementing these plots, through his international consulting firm, MAIN, a major player in such operations. In Saudi Arabia, the US achieved phenomenal success in recycling huge sums of petrodollars to the US, by pushing and implementing huge infrastructure, construction, industrial, military, and other projects. Many of these projects needed long-term maintenance, management, and service, thus making Saudi Arabia dependant on US corporations like Bechtel, MAIN, Brown and Root, Halliburton, Stone and Webster, and many others, for decades. This whole Saudi Arabian affair came to be known as the Saudi Arabian Money Laundering Affair (SAMA), among its US plotters. Not only tens of billions of dollars were recycled to the US from Saudi Arabia through SAMA, but it was made dependent on the US transnational corporations, for a long time, if not permanently. Hence, US was able to transform the negative consequences of the oil price hikes by the OPEC into positive ones, which contributed significantly in further strengthening its imperialism (13). Here is a glaring example of how a resource rich Third World nation can contribute towards making a First World imperialist country even stronger!
As a result of the spectacular success of SAMA in Saudi Arabia, the US attempted to make it a model for all the cash- and resource-rich countries, mostly located in the Middle East. In rest of the Middle East, the results were mixed. It succeeded in some cases but not in others. Such plots were blocked in Iran after the revolution in 1979. Similarly, Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, refused to be drawn into them. That is one of the major reasons for its subjection to the massive military invasion and genocide. Iraq's proven oil reserves are estimated to be 112 billion barrels, second only to those of Saudi Arabia. However, estimates of the untapped oil reserves in Iraq are even greater, 200 billion barrels. If these are added to the proven reserves, Iraqi reserves would be the greatest in the world, surpassing those of even Saudi Arabia. Iraq also has other valuable mineral, agricultural, water and other resources. Now, Iraq's oil wealth and American Tax payers' money is being recycled to the US oil, military-industrial, construction, engineering, security, and other corporations. As demonic as the history of US imperialism is, this is one of the worst and most shameless robbery and plunder of the resources of another country and the mass murder of its people. The lies they have been telling the world, about the reasons for the invasion, would put any mental retard to shame. Every Arab child knows the real reasons for the invasion and can see right through the mentally retarded lies. So do most of the other people of this world. And yet, in this “most developed” country, there are “highly educated” experts of all kinds, who reproduce these lies in a way that would put any parrot to shame. Rahman made an in-depth analysis of the invasion of Iraq, in his paper, “War” on Iraq in perspective: the developing US imperialism and demonocracy, which is also relevant to the wars on Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as to the Egyptian and Middle Eastern uprisings. Following is a link to that article:
Afghanistan, one of the least technologically and industrially developed countries in the world, was also devastated by the US military assault and the use of various high tech weapons of technologically and scientifically the most advanced nation of the world, under the pretext of “war on terrorism”. Afghans had nothing to do with the events of 9/11. There was no evidence or proof of Osama Bin Laden and his group's involvement in them either. The real agenda and motives for that attack consisted of attempts to secure and control the vast oil, natural gas, and other resources of Central Asia and Caspian Sea. US had been planning the construction of a pipeline through Afghanistan for these for many years prior to the military invasion of Afghanistan.
In spite of all its massive forces, incomparable superior weaponry, and collaboration of numerous puppets- in Afghanistan, armed forces of fifty NATO and other countries are participating in the US imperialist war-the “Sole Superpower” has been unable to defeat the poorly armed Iraqis and Afghans, who are putting up one of the most heroic and valiant resistance to imperialism and colonialism, under the most adverse international conditions, in history.
Iraqis and Afghans are showing the Third World, like the Vietnamese did before them, that they do not have to be so subservient and timid to imperialism, that it is better to die than to be enslaved by imperialism, and that imperialism can be defeated, no matter how powerful it might have become. If the massive military forces of the most powerful country and its numerous imperialist allies and clients can get bogged down in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan-for seven years in the former and ten years in the latter-just imagine what would happen if the Third World united to confront imperialism and flared up numerous Iraqs and Afghanistans around the globe. In that scenario, the imperialist superpower will be paralyzed and neutralized. To start a desperate nuclear war in such a situation will not only be genocidal but will also be suicidal for the superpower itself. The key point here is that the Iraqis, Afghans, and Vietnamese have proven to the world that imperialist great powers and superpowers are not invincible, and that they can be confronted and defeated. Iran and Venezuela have also taken the path to an independent development that would be free from the imperialist domination. Their leaderships have, therefore, been targeted by imperialism for subversion and overthrow, and replacement by its lackeys. Many other countries in Latin America have also gone through important progressive political transformations and are not as subservient to imperialism as before. However, most are still under the economic domination of imperialist corporations and their capital and are pursuing contradictory policies in this regard. The Third World's peoples do not have to live in fear, capitulation, intimidation, subservience, and Third-Worldism, shackled to the chains of imperialism. They can find ways to live in freedom from imperialist domination and exploitation, in dignity and in consistency with their human nature. If the Third World acts weak, unprincipled, corruptible, disunited, and divided-as it is currently-it would guarantee its weakness and imperialism's strength. If it starts acting as strong, principled, incorruptible, and united, it would guarantee its strength and imperialism's weakness.
Another oil rich OPEC country, Libya, which, until recently, was in the forefront against imperialism, has been bullied into paying billions of dollars to the relatives of victims of the terrorist bombing of a Pan Am plane that had crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland, on 21 December, 1988, without any real evidence for its involvement in those! It also seems to have been frightened into accepting the above-mentioned SAMA model of money laundering, by allowing the US corporations to embark on huge “development” projects, through which, they are likely to reap tens of billions of dollars, as well as create long term dependency, just like they did in Saudi Arabia.
SAMA is the preferred US model for recycling huge amounts of money from the cash- and resource-rich countries. For countries that are resource-rich but cash-poor, like the above-cited case of Ecuador, US applies a different model. That model involves entrapping these countries in huge debts for large infrastructure, engineering, military, construction, energy development, mining, agricultural and other projects, in which the giant US corporations are inevitably involved, making fabulous profits, leaving the countries in huge debts, with ensuing impoverishment, misery, unemployment, and perpetual dependence, as well as inflicting irreparable damages to their environments and cultures. Even resource-rich and not-so-cash-poor countries, like Brazil and Argentina, have been trapped effectively in this diabolical model. Who needs such “development” except the most hopelessly masochistic? Obviously, there is no dearth of those in this world! Egypt has been one of them, since the betrayal of its 1952 Revolution. It is now trapped into $34 billion debt as well as $1.5 billion annual “aid” by the US. After decades of such aid and development, about half of its population is suffering extreme poverty and the unemployment is skyrocketing.
In the US, news media, academics, politicians, and government officials are repeatedly bombarding the public with $1.5 billion “aid” to Egypt and claiming the right to intervene in its internal affairs, on that basis. These ultimate and unmatchable hypocrites, liars, conmen, and conwomen of all history are doing that without batting an eye, with appearances and pretensions of self-righteousness, benevolence, and objectivity, with straight faces. To begin with, $1.3 billion of that “aid” is for strengthening the repressive military and police apparatus of the repressive state. It is also a subsidy to the merchants of death of imperialism, who reap huge profits from such sales, on expense of the American taxpayers. It does nothing for the American or Egyptian people. To the contrary, it causes damages to both peoples. Such “aid”, coming out of the national budget, takes away resources that are badly needed to address the immense social and economic problems that the American society is facing. On the other hand, strengthening the repressive police and military apparatus of Egyptian state makes it much harder for the people to struggle for their rights and against the dictatorship that enforces its system of injustice and deprivation of the countless millions by brute force. Moreover, this “aid” also must be placed in the wider historical and regional context. This amounts to a tiny fraction of the plunder and loot of Middle Eastern resources that have gone on for decades, and for which countless millions of Middle Eastern people have been subjected to some of worst dictatorships, kingdoms, sheikhdoms, and tyrants of modern history, all installed and/or supported by imperialism. The ongoing great robbery, plunder, and genocide of Iraq's people and its resources are literally imperialist-fascist in nature, in which the military forces of advanced technocratic-imperialist countries have invaded a resource-rich Third World country to subjugate it people and establish the control and domination of its giant energy corporations over its fabulous resources and political economy. US energy and military-industrial corporations have already made record profits in the aftermaths of the invasion. To achieve their goals through their imperialist government, they have literally destroyed the whole social, political, economic, cultural, legal, and constitutional fabric of Iraqi society and slaughtered more than 1.5 million Iraqis; forced millions to flee to other countries, as refugees; subjected the population to depleted uranium that will continue to destroy the public health and cause birth defects for generations; and, more than any other damages, has, at least temporarily, destroyed the pride, dignity, honor, and unity of a proud and prosperous nation, turning great numbers into paupers and destitutes. How can any human being with any authentic conscience, heart, soul, and intellect-especially in the Middle East-overlook and forget that? And yet, Hosni Mubarak and his government have been cooperating with and supporting that imperialist onslaught, slaughter, and plunder. That is the worst of their innumerable great sins and crimes against Arabs, Middle East, and Egypt. Of course, he is being praised for that in all the imperialist centers. But, Egyptians and Middle Easterners must not see all this through the imperialist lenses. They must see it through their own eyes for what it really is and hold him and his government accountable for that. That must be a top priority of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Clarity on such issues and problems is most important, if the Revolution aims to achieve real changes in the status quo, instead of cosmetic ones. It would be a great historical setback if the great revolutionary fires, ignited in the souls and minds of the Egyptian and other Middle Eastern masses, are put out without achieving the concrete objectives and goals of the revolution, which have to be identified and listed precisely, with total clarity, and pursued until victory. That can only happen if the revolution is once again given the contents of national liberation, anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, anti-Zionism, and socialist orientation, like it was after the 1952 Revolution, under that great son of Egypt, Most Honorable President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Egyptian revolutionaries do not have to look anywhere else for guidance. Their own relatively recent history contains it. Without such contents, the 2011 revolutionary energies and sacrifices would be wasted and Egyptians and other Middle Easterners would have to wait for another revolutionary moment and explosion to achieve these historically essential contents.
So far, the masses of people have been united around the demand of removing Mubarak and his government from power. This demand, of course is essential, but, it is not enough. He is reported to have looted billions of dollars from the poverty stricken nation of Egypt. Some estimates are as high as $70 billion! Whatever, the exact figure, he has accumulated enormous amount of wealth through various types of corruption, just like King Farouk did before the 1952 Revolution. He must be put on trial for that and also for his other crimes against the Egyptian people, including the slaughter of hundreds of them during this crisis, and all the loot must be recovered from him and used for addressing the problems of poverty, hunger, and unemployment. These demands must also be part of the demands for structural changes in the political economy and institutions. Again, Egyptians do not have to look elsewhere for guidance in this regard. They can find it readily in the program that was designed and implemented after the 1952 Revolution, under Nasser. Some of the most important components of that program were:
1. Freedom from imperialist and Zionist domination.
2. Moves towards development of an independent foreign policy.
3. Moves towards economic and political independence.
4. Moves towards the development of Arab unity.
5. Development and nationalization of major industries and services.
6. Redistribution of wealth, income, and property with the goal of satisfying the basic needs of people.
7. Agrarian reforms for redistribution of land for the landless and other peasants.
8. Moves towards the non-capitalist and socialist roads of development. As Islam is a powerful force in the lives of most Egyptians, the non-capitalist and socialist reorganization of society and its resources must be coordinated with the Islamic teachings of justice and equality.
Whatever progress was made in these under Nasser, his successors have reversed it. Without such a concrete program for politico-economic and social transformations, the 2011 uprising will achieve very little. Egyptian bourgeoisie and its imperialist godfathers are panicking precisely because of the possibility of such evolution of the Revolution, and are trying their utmost to prevent it. To counter their powerful efforts in this regard effectively, the leaders and masses of the uprising must formulate such a program immediately, develop a consensus, and fight for it until victory.
The current Egyptian mass uprisings and the new developments in the working class strikes and solidarity have the potential of restoring and advancing the gains of the 1952 Revolution. All the major problems of political economy and society are rooted in the betrayal and reversal of that revolution. With that betrayal, the problems that Nasser had identified and attempted to resolve through concrete programs, plans, and actions, were restored and some were made even much worse. Clarity on this matter is of utmost importance for the development of these uprisings and strikes into a new revolution that would be the restoration, continuation, and development of the 1952 Revolution and its program, goals, and objectives. Empty noise about Western style capitalist democracy will accomplish little more than cosmetic changes and replacement of some old faces with new ones, representing the same bourgeoisie, plutocracy, and oligarchy. The importance of specifying and clarifying the nature and contents of proposed democracy, in concrete terms, can hardly be overemphasized. The merely formal Western style capitalist democracy will continue the status quo, with a new face.
President Nasser was one of those rare human beings in whom courage; intellect; spirit; knowledge; insight; power; and passions for justice, truth, goodness, and freedom-in terms of subjective as well as objective realities-were in harmony and expressed themselves as such. He meant and did what he said. Those were the qualities that stirred the souls and minds of Egyptian and Arab masses. Zionists and imperialists ruined that great son and icon of Egypt, that great leader of Arabs and the Third World. As mentioned above, Nasser was one of the founders of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). However, soon after his death, his successors steered Egypt into the lap of imperialism again. Indonesia and, later, India also did the same. The fourth founding member, Yugoslavia, has been forcefully fragmented. At present, membership in NAM is at all time high, but they have made a mockery of it, as most are serving the interests of Western, and particularly, US imperialism. In the same year of 1967 that Nasser suffered the great debacle of humiliating defeat, US imperialists murdered another great son of the Third World in Bolivia, Ernesto Che Guevara, who had similar qualities as Nasser. Both of them understood the fundamental importance of imperialism in world affairs and the need to struggle and fight against it for achieving any real democracy, freedom, and justice. They were most passionate about that and expressed that in every speech they made. Nasser and Che Guevara represented the best and highest forms of human nature. They and their teachings, actions, courage, and sacrifices must never be forgotten. Neither must the forces of justice and injustice, good and evil, liberation and domination, socialism and imperialism, which they were struggling for and against. These forces remain the same and conflict between them continues unabated. However, there are no more Nassers or Che Guevaras. Will the new developing Egyptian revolution produce a new Nasser? This crucial historical moment needs him most urgently.
Egyptian Revolution can learn some important lessons from what is happening in Pakistan. There are a lot of similarities, as well as some differences, between Egyptian and Pakistani situations. Both have been dominated by imperialism and its local puppets for decades. Imperialism has strategic geopolitical and economic interests in the two countries and regions where they are located. Both are mired in deep politico-economic crises; problems of extreme and widespread poverty, unemployment, unequal distribution of wealth, property, and land; and corruption. If anything, these problems are much worse in Pakistan. After the latest military dictator, Parvez Musharraf, was replaced by an even greater civilian “democratic” puppet, Asif Ali Zardari, these problems have been greatly aggravated, in spite of huge amounts of military and economic “aid” by the US and other Western imperialist countries. This “aid” or the existence of numerous political parties, a parliamentary system, and formal capitalist-feudal “democracy”, have made no difference for the overwhelming majority of people and the “aid” has mostly ended up in the coffers of military and civilian elites, as well as made it more difficult for the people to struggle against the system and culture of injustice and inequality, as, like in Egypt, it has strengthened the military and police state there. Zardari was also pressured by his imperialist masters to launch a war on part of the Pakistani population in the northwest areas, in which tens of thousands have been slaughtered, millions made refugees, and large scale destruction of property and resources was inflicted on people by the mercenary Pakistani military forces. All this was done under the new civilian “democratic” government. No previous military dictatorship had stooped to that level of slavery to the US and Western imperialism, and slaughtered and repressed so many of its own people in its service. Zardari and his wife, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, also looted billions of dollars from the poor nation of Pakistan, during the time when she was the Prime Minister and Zardari a member of her cabinet.
A most important similarity between Pakistan and Egypt consists of the fact that the US government, military, and intelligence services have infiltrated all the major and influential institutions, including the militaries, in both nations. They have turned the Pakistani military into their proxy and mercenary force against its own people. It remains to be seen whether they would be able to do the same in Egypt too.
The next strategically important social explosion and revolution is very likely to occur in Pakistan, as many of the causes, problems, and solutions are similar to those of the Egyptian revolution. In fact, in Pakistan, the initial phases of the revolutionary armed struggle is already happening in the northwestern region and spreading to the southern provinces as well. However, social explosions of Egyptian type have still not occurred there, even though there have been large scale protests for the restoration of Supreme Court Chief Justice, who was arrogantly and stupidly fired by Musharraf and eventually restored to his position because of such vast public support and anger.
Reality and history as seen, presented, and lived in the US
History is repeating itself in Egypt, not as a farce but as a necessity to rectify the reversals of its forward march towards freedom, democracy, and socialism. All the innumerable imperialist think tanks and intelligence networks are unable to grasp this great underlying force of history and are again conspiring in every imaginable way to stop and reroute it in the backward road to imperialism that would put to waste the great sacrifices and energies of the revolutionary Egyptian and Middle Eastern masses in this great historical revolutionary moment, in order to maintain the status quo in its closest proximity. They are unable to comprehend that no military or economic power can stop the forward march of history for long. It may create the illusions and delusions of having stopped it, but these are inevitably going to be shattered and evaporated, with devastating effects, sooner or later. History is just and rational, but its justice and rationality develop in its own time frame, rectifying all the great injustices, irrationalities, betrayals, arrogance, and follies of humans, rooted in the class-divided social systems, through the human forces of historical change. What is happening in Egypt and Middle East is the beginning of a great process of such historical rectification, a great historical revolutionary moment, and must be seen and understood as such. As usual, the macro-history is being ignored almost totally by all the pundits and experts-serving the interests of imperialism-who are trained and conditioned in micro-history, as well as in the use of methods and concepts of operationalism and positivism, to fragment and distort it, in order to manage and control it. For a long time, they have gotten away with all this because they have been based in a reality dominated by the overwhelming capitalist-technocratic powers of the imperialist system and its various institutions. However, a new historical era is dawning upon this world, in which the deeply entrenched centers, structures, and institutions of injustice, inequality, and domination would be torn apart to pieces. The pseudo and anti-historical “rationality” of the imperialist system and its innumerable pundits, academics, technocrats, and news media is now coming apart at its seams and revealing itself for what it is and is being challenged effectively by the real historical rationality, on the world stage. They are now surrounded by the latter but are totally absorbed by the former, encased in it, and unable to see the latter, even though it is all around them and engulfing them. Their pretensions of objectivity and scientism are appearing to be the most stubborn and reified forms of solipsism. All the imperialist centers, especially the US, are in for the greatest upheavals and tragedies in history. Unless the masses in these centers put their politico-economic apparatuses on the right tracks and in the right gears, these centers, intoxicated with and addicted to their military and economic powers-developed on the basis of centuries of injustice, inequality, deceptions, genocides, domination, and plunders-will continue rushing headlong towards the abyss, taking all the mankind and most other forms of life with them. The political somnambulism of the working class and masses in the godfather of all imperialisms-the US-does not give one any reasons for optimism in this regard at this time. However, the only hope is that the historical rationality and necessity will also assert themselves here and make possible what seems to be impossible at the moment.
The current Egyptian and Middle Eastern uprisings are being presented to the public in shallow and superficial ways, mostly on the basis of appearances. The essence of these phenomena is being omitted almost completely. This is primarily because the Marxist modes and categories of analyses and comprehension have gone out of fashion in the current global intellectual environment. However, these modes and categories are essential for the identification and understanding of the essence and real nature of these phenomena. Among other things, the Middle East Crisis is exposing the utter intellectual bankruptcy and impotence of bourgeois academics and “intellectuals”, and reaffirming the truth and power of Marxist categories, dialectical laws of social development, and stages of revolutionary transformations of societies during the capitalist epoch. This is perhaps the most important objective theoretical conclusion that can be drawn from these phenomena and that can also have the most important practical effects, if incorporated into the subjectivity of the masses and their leaderships. The masses in the Middle East and Third World cannot look to the West anymore as a model of democracy and prosperity. All the illusions and disinformation in this connection have been shattered by the historical politico-economic evolution. Both the capitalist democracies and economies are in shambles in the West, particularly in the US, which is engulfed in the swamp of a prolonged and all-round structural economic, political, cultural, and social crisis. The more it tries to extricate itself from it, the deeper it sinks. With close to $14 trillion national debt; more than 50 million of its citizens without health insurance; 20 percent unemployment; 43 million so poor that they cannot even feed themselves and have to depend on food stamps to survive; 22 percent poverty and hunger in the children; 3 million suffering the horrors of homelessness; the greatest inequality of wealth and income in the industrialized world (according to a recent publication, relative inequality in the US is greater than in Egypt); and systematic state violations of domestic and international laws and its own constitution; application of draconian laws and practices, like the Patriot Act; prolonged incarcerations without judicial trials; international tortures and kidnappings; putting around half a million of its citizens and residents on the “No Fly List”, without even informing them that they are on it; widespread espionage and violations of the privacy of its own citizens; systematic firing of people from their jobs because of minor political dissent; widespread racist discrimination and injustice against the minorities, etc. etc., US is in no position to advise or assist other nations in the solution of their economic, social, or political problems, or to preach them about democracy, freedom, lawfulness, and human rights. One would have to be robotically insensitive, callous, shameless, or a psychopath, or both, to do that. As is obvious, there is no dearth of such beings in the US. In fact, it is a requirement for success throughout the various institutions of this society that deal with the international as well as domestic affairs. Jean Paul Sartre, the great French existentialist philosopher, was struck by the “blank faces and empty eyes” of the people he saw during his visit to the US. It has gotten much worse during the decades after his visit. Now, innumerable of these blank faces and empty eyes are polluting the whole world with garbage, excreted from their mouths, with speeds close to that of the light, without any pauses for reflection on what they are saying, producing similar effects on their audiences. And they are admired and paid highly for these unmatchable abilities! The TV and radio broadcasters are a particularly pathetic lot in this regard, as they have to fit in maximum amount of words in minimum time, between the commercials. Their mouths, voices, and faces acquire truly robotic characteristics. One wonders how it affects their families and friends, as it must also become part of their nature. Of course, all this is, ultimately, the result of particularly extremist anti-human nature political economy of US imperialism that has created such a culture, mass psychology, and behavior. One of the most bizarre spectacles one sees often on TV and in real life is that of the behavior of immigrants from some other countries and cultures-particularly from India and Pakistan-who imitate the speech, voices, and expressions of the imperialist culture so perfectly that if one did not see their faces, one would think that they are White Americans in the US or White British in the UK! They even try to make their faces blank, and eyes empty, but do not succeed completely. Some physical features are so stubborn that they will not disappear, no matter what one does. One is reminded of Franz Fanon's “Black Faces, White Masks”. Only, in this case, it is the brown faces, white masks. Being from South Asia myself and having lived in the West for more than half my life, I am left speechless at such miraculous transformations and abilities of many of my fellow South Asians, and sometime I wonder why I lack such miraculous powers and pray to Allah to forgive any sins I might have committed and grant me also such miracles. But then I find myself loving my untechnocratised and unrobotized speech, voice, intonations, and accent that give holistic expression to my real thoughts and feelings, and pray again, asking Allah to leave me as I am. I am truly grateful that in His Infinite Wisdom, He has left me as I am and ignored my folly.
The specific events and facts of the uprising and brutality and dishonesty of the Egyptian regime have been reported excellently by the field reporters of the news media. There is no need to go into the details of that here. In about two weeks, more than 300 Egyptians have been murdered by the regime and its thugs and numerous others, including journalists, have been imprisoned, attacked, and tortured. Reporting on the Egyptian Crisis is in diametrical contrast to the previous record, for example in the wars against Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, in which the news media have, by and large, acted as an arm of the US and Coalition militaries, and have lost all credibility throughout the world, especially in the Middle east and Muslim countries. Perhaps, it is an effort to gain back some of that credibility. Whatever the reason, it is a welcome change. However, the entrenched pundits and analysts of the field reports in the media headquarters continue to tailor, dilute, and frame them in a way that overwhelmingly supports and reproduces the demonic official pretensions and lies of the US being, and having been, the most powerful, honest, and effective guardian and promoter of democracy, freedom, human rights, and justice in Egypt, Middle East, and throughout the world! Nothing can be farther from the historical facts and truth. Such collaboration erodes the very foundations of facts of the field reports, as well as of truth and history. Everyone in the US and West is expressing shock and disgust at the killings of a few hundred people and other brutalities of the Egyptian and other regimes, without placing them in the past and contemporary historical contexts. As terrible as these are, these are miniscule as compared to the mass murders of Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis by the US and NATO forces, amounting to 3 million dead and countless wounded, widowed, and orphaned. On the orders of their imperialist masters, the Pakistani government and military have been waging war against their own people for years, in which tens of thousands have been killed and millions forced to flee their homes and lands, which have been demonically destroyed-all this with the weapons supplied by the imperialists. Just a few days ago, NATO air strikes killed 64 civilians, most of them women and children, in Afghanistan. Drone attacks, helicopter gunships, and bombings by airplanes are being unleashed daily by the US, NATO, and Pakistani military on the tribal populations of Pakistan. And yet, no one asks the various professors and other academics and experts-including those with origins in the Middle East and employed by universities and other establishments in the US-why they do not utter a word about these atrocities in their TV appearances and articles, when condemning the brutalities of Middle Eastern regimes in the current crisis, not to mention their total omission of the historical role of imperialism in the latter. Such intellectual and historical dishonesty and prostitution by the news media, experts, and academics is far worse than the oldest profession in the history of mankind. They also continue to censor the analyses and views of authors who attempt to dig deeper into the nature, causes, potential solutions, and integrated history of the crisis, and continue to give totally one-sided exposure to the omissive, distortionist, and complicit utterings of the loyal servants, beneficiaries, apologists, and advocates of imperialism, who have developed an astonishingly uniform and effective culture of singing the various versions of lullabys to keep the population in a permanent state of somnambulism. Listening to and looking at their self-confident and self-righteous voices and faces, and mouths moving at the speeds that would be hard to match by any computers or machines, have the effects of reinforcing one's beliefs in the basic goodness of the system and society, as well as oneself-unless one has already developed some critical thinking and feeling processes, which very few have-and of producing soothing relief and piece of mind, as one does not have to exert any effort or stress oneself by investigating and thinking on one's own. The experts know best and they have spoken. Now, we can all go back to watching football, baseball, basketball, wrestling, golf, soap operas, sitcoms, movies, pornography, and of course, the Almighty Commercials-The Real Things. How grateful one is to these highly educated experts and celebrities for clarifying complex issues and problems for us! The worst part of this culture and mass psychology of somnambulism is that people have developed a real need for and demand such reinforcements and lullabys. They are addicted to them and anything different automatically provokes a negative reaction. Perhaps the greatest proofs of the accuracy of Pavlov's theory of conditioned responses can be found in the present day US of A. Until recently, it has been a win-win situation for the system, media, experts, populace in general, and even great numbers of the victims of such political somnambulism. However, due to the current all round structural crisis of the system and society, the number of victims and sufferings have grown to such levels that they are already turning it into a lose-lose situation for tens of millions of people, and that are likely to multiply further in the short-, intermediate-, and long-terms. Tens of millions of victims are now utterly confused and flabbergasted and trying to figure out what actually hit them.
Changing balance of forces: The emerging multipolar world
The global US imperialism has been rooted in the economic and military domination and exploitation of rest of the world, and has been accompanied by its political multimacy, with numerous contradictory and self-contradictory faces, for dealing with different countries and situations. So far, on the basis of its enormous military, economic, and political powers, and collaboration of the ruling circles of its client states, it has been able to trample over real freedom, democracy, peoples' most important needs and rights, truth, justice, and goodness, everywhere on the planet, with few exceptions. Due to overwhelming and one-sided dominance of material powers over the intellectual and spiritual powers that has been multiplying throughout the history of Western Civilization, and especially during the past few centuries, in which Renaissance, Enlightenment, and capitalism converged and combined to produce a material reality-and mass psychology and culture determined by it-which has been so powerful that it has been able to impose any irrationality, injustice, evil, and falsehood with impunity, and any challenges to these have been automatically dismissed as unrealistic and irrational. With a few exceptions, like Vietnam, US imperialism has been able to impose its imperialist world order in much of the Third World, as well as in the First World. The Second World, consisting of the former socialist countries, under the leadership of USSR and China, successfully resisted and repelled the encroachments of US imperialism for decades. However, the betrayal of socialism in these countries has not only made the doors wide open to US imperialism but has turned some of the more developed of them into imperialist countries themselves. The Second World, in its original form and essence, has now disappeared. To be sure, new competing blocks are being formed currently, but these are being formed within imperialism, on the basis of inter-imperialist contradictions and conflicts, which have, so far, not developed into military conflicts. But, these are much more dangerous than during the Cold War period, in which there were conflicts and contradictions between capitalist and socialist countries. Both world wars were the result of inter-imperialist conflicts and rivalries. All these colossal transformations have created a historically unprecedented conglomeration of imperialist countries on the world stage. Inter-imperialist balance of forces is in a state of rapid flux. US has been, economically and militarily, the most powerful imperialist country through much of the 20th Century. However, currently, it is gripped by an all round structural crisis that, in its essence, is much worse than that of the Great Depression. It is losing economic competition with some of its rivals, like China, , which is rapidly and successfully expanding its economic sphere throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa, replacing the US in many countries as their foremost trading partner, as well as investing heavily in their industries and raw materials. Russia is also following a similar pattern, though less successfully. US is now by far the biggest debtor country in the world, with total national debt approaching $14 trillion, a great part of which is owed to foreign creditors, like China and Japan. At the current pace of its economic development, China will surpass the US in its economic weight, in the near future. It has already overtaken Japan in the second position. It is also catching up militarily with the US, although it still has a long way to go in this regard. Russia inherited the military might developed during the Soviet era, in which a rough military parity was established with the US lead imperialist camp. It also continues to invest heavily in the modernization and innovation of military and highly advanced weapon systems. Even though, US imperialists have been intoxicated with being the “Sole Superpower” in the post-Soviet era, and acting as such, it is, in fact, a dangerous and self-damaging illusion. In spite of all the noisy and boastful propaganda, unrestrained arrogant chest-thumping, and demonic waste of huge resources, the “Sole Superpower” has been unable to defeat even the most primitively equipped and resource poor resistance forces in Afghanistan, in spite of gathering the military forces of fifty other imperialist and client countries there, under the NATO command, for ten long years. It is neither a unipolar nor bipolar world now, it is multipolar. Russia still continues to have a rough military parity with the US and NATO. China is rapidly emerging a new rival in this connection. The resistance in the Third World is also starting to reassert itself, after a very difficult submissive period, in the aftermath of the betrayals by its former allies that were socialist and supportive of national liberations and anti-imperialism yesterday but are themselves imperialist today. This constitutes another pole of challenge to imperialism. If and when the European Union and Japan decide to liberate themselves from the domination of US imperialism, they will rapidly become new powerful poles. The seeming advantages of US imperialism in having around 900 military bases around the world and its abilities to deploy forces in distant areas are now turning into their opposites, huge disadvantages and drains on the already collapsing economy. In an article published in The Times of London during 2008, Joseph Stiglitz, former Chief Economist at the World Bank and a Nobel Laureate, and Linda Bilmes, a lecturer at Harvard University, estimated that the war on Iraq will eventually cost the American taxpayers $3 trillion (14). The direct costs of war in Iraq are estimated to be $802 billion and in Afghanistan $455 billion through 2011. In 2010 alone, $105 billion were spent on the war in Afghanistan, which will increase to $119 billion in 2011, more than double of what will be spent on war on Iraq. Web link: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933935.html#ixzz1DdWSN0rT
Imperialism is, and has been for a long time, the greatest problem mankind has ever faced. It is complex and has a multidimensional nature, including among others, economic, political, military, cultural, and mass psychological dimensions. The former three have been studied extensively by Marxist and other intellectuals. However, the latter two have, by and large, remained in the dark. The historically developed economic essence of US imperialism remains the same, which consists of domination and exploitation of the natural and human resources of rest of the world, for its capitalist class, and bribery and pacification its own working class and population, as well as of the politico-economically powerful and important leaders and elites of other countries, from such fabulous profits and fruits of exploitation that are transferred to the imperialist center. In the “Free” and “Democratic” society of the US, even the word “imperialism” is a taboo, even in the institutions of so-called “higher learning”. In such an environment, all political analyses that violate this taboo, are automatically banished from all public discourse. Only in a few small publications and web sites, one finds any mention of it. It is obvious that unless innumerable problems and events, being incessantly generated by US imperialism, are seen, understood, and related to their basis and root causes, these cannot be even diagnosed and understood correctly, much less solved. The basic principle is the same in this regard as in medicine. Unless the root causes of illnesses are identified accurately, these cannot be treated. This simplest of truths appears to be beyond the grasp of the hordes of “intellectuals” and “experts” of imperialism.
Objectively, the basic politico-economic goals and objectives of the current Egyptian and other Middle Eastern uprisings-solutions of the problems of unemployment, poverty, and hunger; independence from the domination of imperialism and Zionism; provision of healthcare, education, and other essential services for the whole population etc.-can only be achieved by moving towards a socialist politico-economic system that would drastically reorganize the state and government institutions and resources; redistribute the property, wealth, and income; renationalize the privatized major industries and services; and restart the agrarian reforms. Nothing could be clearer than that. What is uncertain is whether the revolutionary masses will grasp these elementary objective truths in time, develop the necessary consensus, organize to implement the course of action necessary to reach there, and choose the proper leadership to lead them in the ongoing revolution.
The explosion of feelings and passions of Egyptian and other Middle Eastern masses in the current uprisings needs to be supported and embedded in the explosion of rational analyses; accurate identification of the problems, their causes, and solutions; and formulation of appropriate plans and actions, on that basis. Most of the objective factors as well as some of the subjective factors for the development and success of the Egyptian Revolution are there in this revolutionary situation. However, some of subjective factors are still missing, most importantly the lack of a political party that would genuinely represent the interests of the working class, peasantry, students, the unemployed, and poor; that would know the precise steps and stages of the revolutionary developments, to advance these interests accordingly and effectively; and whose leadership would have the slogan of “Victory or Death”, and would mean it too.
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13. Perkins, J., op. cit., pp. 82-92.
14. Stiglitz, J. and Bilmes, L. The three trillion dollar war. The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have grown to staggering proportions. The Times, February 23, 2008, London.
Dr. Fazal Rahman is an interdisciplinary researcher and writer. He has worked as a scientist and administrator of R & D programs in several countries, like Brazil, Lebanon, Pakistan, Zambia, US etc. He can be reached at [email protected] Article completed on February 11, 2011.