Archive for the Discussion & Debate Category

“Take Tahrir to the factories!” – Egypt’s Junta and the Permanent Revolution

Posted in Discussion & Debate on 13/02/2011 by cp2ndlife

Commentary, Hossam el-Hamalawy, Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt

Since yesterday, and actually earlier, middle class activists have been urging Egyptians to suspend the protests and return to work, in the name of patriotism, singing some of the most ridiculous lullabies about “let’s build new Egypt,” “Let’s work harder than even before,” etc… In case you didn’t know, actually Egyptians are among the hardest working people in the globe already..

Those activists want us to trust Mubarak’s generals with the transition to democracy–the same junta that has provided the backbone of his dictatorship over the past 30 years. And while I believe the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who receive $1.3 billion annually from the US, will eventually engineer the transition to a “civilian” government, I have no doubt it will be a government that will guarantee the continuation of a system that will never touch the army’s privileges, keep the armed forces as the institution that will have the final say in politics (like for example Turkey), guarantee Egypt will continue to follow the US foreign policy whether it’s the undesired peace with Apartheid State of Israel, safe passage for the US navy in the Suez Canal, the continuation of the Gaza siege and exports of natural gas to Israel at subsidized rates. The “civilian” government is not about cabinet members who do not wear military uniforms. A civilian government means a government that fully represents the Egyptian people’s demands and desires without any intervention from the brass. And I see this hard to be accomplished or allowed by the junta.

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A call from Egyptian socialists

Posted in Discussion & Debate on 07/02/2011 by cp2ndlife

Revolutionary socialists in Egypt issued this statement about the Egyptian uprising and the tasks that the movement faces as the struggle continues in the coming weeks.

From Socialist Worker (US)

Glory to the martyrs! Victory to the revolution!

What is happening today is the largest popular revolution in the history of our country and of the entire Arab world. The sacrifice of our martyrs has built our revolution and we have broken through all the barriers of fear. We will not back down until the criminal “leaders” and their criminal system is destroyed.

Mubarak’s departure is the first step, not the last step of the revolution

The handover of power to a dictatorship under Omar Suleiman, Ahmed Shafiq and other cronies of Mubarak is the continuation of the same system. Omar Suleiman is a friend of Israel and America, spends most of his time between Washington and Tel Aviv, and is a servant who is faithful to their interests. Ahmed Shafik is a close friend of Mubarak and his colleague in the tyranny, oppression and plunder imposed on the Egyptian people.

The country’s wealth belongs to the people and must return to it

Over the past three decades, this tyrannical regime corrupted the country’s largest estates to a small handful of business leaders and foreign companies. One hundred families own more than 90 percent of the country’s wealth. They monopolize the wealth of the Egyptian people through policies of privatization, looting of power and the alliance with capital. They have turned the majority of the Egyptian people to the poor, landless and unemployed.

Factories wrecked and sold dirt cheap must go back to the people

We want the nationalization of companies, land and property looted by this bunch. As long as our resources remain in their hands we will not be able to completely get rid of this system. Economic slavery is the other face of political tyranny. We will not be able to cope with unemployment and achieve a fair minimum wage for a decent living without restoring the wealth of the people from this gang.

We will not be guard dogs of America and Israel

This system does not stand alone. As a dictator, Mubarak was a servant and client directly acting for the sake of the interests of America and Israel. Egypt acted as a colony of America, participated directly in the siege of the Palestinian people, made the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace free zones for warships and fighter jets that destroyed and killed the Iraqi people, and sold gas to Israel dirt cheap while stifling the Egyptian people by soaring prices. Revolution must restore Egypt’s independence, dignity and leadership in the region.

The revolution is a popular revolution

This is not a revolution of the elite, political parties or religious groups. Egypt’s youth, students, workers and the poor are the owners of this revolution. In recent days, a lot of elites, parties and so-called symbols have begun trying to ride the wave of revolution and hijack it from their rightful owners. The only symbols are the martyrs of our revolution and our young people who have been steadfast in the field. We will not allow them to take control of our revolution and claim that they represent us. We will choose to represent ourselves and represent the martyrs who were killed, their blood paying the price for the salvation of the system.

A people’s army is the army that protects the revolution

Everyone asks: “Is the army with the people or against them?” The army is not a single block. The interests of soldiers and junior officers are the same as the interests of the masses. But the senior officers are Mubarak’s men, chosen carefully to protect his regime of corruption, wealth and tyranny. It is an integral part of the system.

This army is no longer the people’s army. This army is not the one which defeated the Zionist enemy in October 1973. This army is closely associated with America and Israel. Its role is to protect Israel, not the people. Yes, we want to win the soldiers for the revolution. But we must not be fooled by slogans that “the army is on our side.” The army will either suppress the demonstrations directly, or restructure the police to play this role.

Form revolutionary councils urgently

This revolution has surpassed our greatest expectations. Nobody expected to see these numbers. Nobody expected that Egyptians would be this brave in the face of the police. Nobody can say that we did not force the dictator to retreat. Nobody can say that a transformation did not happen in Tahrir Square.

What we need right now is to push for the socio-economic demands as part of our demands, so that the person sitting in his home knows that we are fighting for their rights. We need to organize ourselves into popular committees, which elect higher councils democratically, and from below. These councils must form a higher council, which includes delegates of all the tendencies. We must elect a higher council of people who represent us, and in whom we trust. We call for the formation of popular councils in Tahrir Square, and in all the cities of Egypt.

A call to Egyptian workers to join the ranks of the revolution

The demonstrations and protests have played a key role in igniting and continuing our revolution. Now we need the workers. They can seal the fate of the regime. Not only by participating in the demonstrations, but by organizing a general strike in all the vital industries and large corporations.

The regime can afford to wait out the sit-ins and demonstrations for days and weeks, but it cannot last beyond a few hours if workers use strikes as a weapon. Strike on the railways, on public transport, the airports and large industrial companies! Egyptian workers, on behalf of the rebellious youth and on behalf of the blood of our martyrs, join the ranks of the revolution, use your power and victory will be ours!

Glory to the martyrs!
Down with the system!
All power to the people!
Victory to the revolution!

the self-emancipation of the working-class

Posted in Discussion & Debate on 09/07/2010 by cp2ndlife

CPSL GROUP chat discussion 7-7-2010
[3:18] Ernesto Perez: This talk is total crap and also counterrevolutionary, even full of false facts. Those “Socialist alternative” magazines are full of neo-liberal crap. “One-party dictatorship”? Is this some joke? What other party they want then next to communist-party? Im not surprised if they want some nazy-party. Also term ‘dictatorship’ in Marxism context means rather ‘proletariate-dictatorship’, But anyway, it cant be anarchism, because anarchism reverts to capitalism sooner or later anyway – because independent economy and communes those compete with each other in profit manner is just exactly the central point of capitalism, all companies wants to be “communes” and dont want to get no sent for people-workers, that means for state. Socialism is not individual business, socialism needs state, workers state.
[3:21] Czarny Zsun: You clearly haven’t read any of the points made in the article. Read the actual article, then we’ll debate it. For now i’ll let you return to your stalinoid apolexy.
[3:21] Smoke Wijaya: Ernesto, I take it your refer to the article Czarny linked to…which i haven’t read yet.
[3:22] Smoke Wijaya: But to think that anarchism goes together with a capitalist logic around profit and competiton around owenrship of resources, is ridicolous. Or maybe only conluded by knowing of anarcho-capitalist/ american libertarian bullshit.
[3:23] Smoke Wijaya: and yes, we can discuss what Marx meant with “dictatorship of the proletariate” …. paris commune style or bolshevik style.
[3:23] Czarny Zsun: Anyway, the central thesis of the article I linked is basically – socialism can only be won through the self-emancipation of the working-class
[3:25] Czarny Zsun: When marx theorised the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, he most certainly did not mean a one-party dictatorship, stalinist style.
[3:25] Czarny Zsun: In none of the stalinist states do workers hold genuine state power – if anything, China and Vietnam are upheld as examples of the excesses of capitalist exploitation today
[3:34] Ernesto Perez: Of course workers did hold genuine state power. Who then else? In those states there wasnt other classes, all were only workers, also party general secretary was worker. In some kind way there is need to organize state, big commune. Without organization structures whole commune-state collapses in hours.
[3:34] Smoke Wijaya: Who is talking about no organization?
[3:35] Smoke Wijaya: I for one am talking or thnking ” no state”. Certainly not ” no organization” . That indeed would be silly and nihilistic.
[3:35] Czarny Zsun: I think it’s a grave insult to the millions of working-class militants who fought for a better world to associate their struggle with the interests of bereaucratic parasites.
[3:36] Czarny Zsun: In none of the stalinist states, except russia, did workers’ revolutions take place
[3:37] Czarny Zsun: Socialism cannot be imposed from outside or above through armed brutality and bereaucratic menouvering – it needs to be the self-conscious rule of the masses of ordinary people
[3:39] Czarny Zsun: for that reason, i think any serious socialist today would unambiguously stand on the side of the workers who fought against capitalist barbarity in Hungary, Poland and China
[3:39] Czarny Zsun: Which side are you on? The Hungarian workers who formed mass democratic workers’ councils in 1956, or the barbarism of the stalinist machine?
[3:40] Czarny Zsun: I know which side I’m bloody on and it’s about time the CPSL took a hard stance against the nefarious set of politics known as stalinism – this is a question of fundamental political principle
[3:41] Ernesto Perez: So, you like ‘organization’ but dont like ‘state’….is this also joke? Organization structures just means ‘state’,. Or if you dont just like work ‘state’, then no problem, you can just call it also some tree or chair. And organization dont fall down from heaven, just as.
[3:45] Czarny Zsun: To be clear, I’m for the overthrow of the capitalist state through a revolutionary workers’ movement. I am for the replacement of the capitalist state with a workers’ state in which workers’ control every aspect of society through the creativity of mass democracy rooted in every workplace, every hospital, every school, every call center, every factory.
[3:46] Ernesto Perez: in Hungary was counterrevolution
[3:46] Czarny Zsun: None of the stalinist states are workers’ states – they were not born through the self-emancipation of workers, neither are they controlled by ordinary working people
[3:46] Smoke Wijaya: There is a huge difference between federalised participatory and horizontal organisations & an authoritative hierarchical state-structure, where “representatives” of the working people condutc the decisionmaing.
[3:49] Ernesto Perez: You like workers control state. Very good. All like it. But next question is – who is worker. Some corrupted buerocrate or some nazy can also say – Im worker. And how you negotiate that he actually is not worker – you dont have any proves.
[3:51] Czarny Zsun: Well unlike autonomists, some people actually give a shit about democracy Smoke -organs of mass democracatic workers’ control have organically emerged out of every revolutionary movement to date, in the form of workers’ councils consisting of delegates directly elected from the shop floor. These delegates are accountable to the workers that elected them at all times and are paid no more than an average worker’s wage. Democracy is hierarchical and centralised because people need to be held to account by the mass of ordinary people. Democracy means you cannot exercise your individual liberty to screw over everyone else, you are bound to the majority
[3:52] Czarny Zsun: Ernesto – anyone who works for a wage under capitalism is a worker.
[3:54] Czarny Zsun: workers’ power is possible not because workers are the most oppressed or most numerous, but because their collective existence under capitalism naturally pushes them towards modes of mass democratic organisation.
[3:55] Smoke Wijaya: Czarny, I am not sure, but I do care about democratic decisionmaking…I rather have it by consensus though. But true, I couldn’t care less for an instituionalised structure of representative ” democracy” .
[3:56] Czarny Zsun: I think consensus decision-making is profoundly and utterly anti-democratic
[3:57] Smoke Wijaya: the way towards a decision by ” consensus” surely can be Czarny, bit it is ridicolous to claim decisions by consensus are necesarily so.
[3:57] Czarny Zsun: Why the hell should the decisions of the majority of people be subordinated to the sensibilities of a handful of right-wing fuckwits in a meeting-room? Consensus essentially hands veto power to reactionary minorities
[3:57] Smoke Wijaya: you are calling me a right-wing fuckwit?
[3:57] Smoke Wijaya: wtf
[3:57] Czarny Zsun: no no no
[3:58] Czarny Zsun: I’m talking about consensus decision making
[3:59] Czarny Zsun: If you ever had to sit through a campaign meeting you’d know why consensus is totally destructive – according to consensus, one right-winger sitting in the room can hold the power to alter the entire outcome to their liking
[3:59] Smoke Wijaya: and I am talking decisions by consensus being preferable within the context of horizontal organisations of workplaces, communities, factories, hospitals, schools etc….
[4:00] Czarny Zsun: In what way would it be preferable?
[4:00] Smoke Wijaya: Czarny, I did say that I prefer consensus, not that nothing can be done if there is no consensus.
[4:00] Smoke Wijaya: Czarny, I prefer that everyone agrees instead of a majority.
[4:00] Smoke Wijaya: seems clear to me.
[4:00] Czarny Zsun: Why the hell should the majority of workers subordinate their demands to scabs and right-wing workers?
[4:00] Smoke Wijaya: But this cannot be imposed…
[4:00] Smoke Wijaya: huh?
[4:01] Smoke Wijaya: Czarny, you are making a caricature of me and what i said…
[4:02] Smoke Wijaya: I did not argue for the inability to abolish capitalism because the capitalist minority disagrees…that is fkn ridicolous. Maybe you think this way since you still see primacy of political parliamentary power, over that of spontanious workers organisation.
[4:02] Czarny Zsun: but it ultimately is a form of imposition – every decision is an imposition. The only difference between democracy, ie. the imposition of the majority upon the minority, and consensus is that the latter empowers minorities with the ability to impose their will on the majority.
[4:03] Smoke Wijaya: and again Czarny, I did not say consensus is the only way collective decisions can and should be made…
[4:06] Ernesto Perez: democracy in socialism – its also interesting topic. In socialism, most corrupted buerocrates dont have label “I am corruptant”. People arent stupid, they can very well masquerade itself. In capitalism democracy means not “people wish”, but instead who is rich to get more popularity. In socialism people are the same, they are just the same people, also with two legs. Wages are also interesting topic – if you eliminate wages system in socialism, then you know what happens? Then happens mass sabotage. Because people are still the same, with two legs.
[4:07] Smoke Wijaya: and I certainly did not argue for sensitivity for capitalist interest/demands by the workers’ organisations towards/during/after the revolt/uprising/revolution and taking of means of production…jesus.
[4:07] Czarny Zsun: but you can’t have it both ways – consensus is a totally anti-democratic form of organisation. You don’t even have to look at it in the context of revolutionary movements. No campaign or union operates on the basis of consensus because every debate boils down to which side you’re on. Every workers’ council in history has been a centralised organisation
[4:08] Smoke Wijaya: oh…you see majority vote necesarily based in democratic centralism…..
[4:10] Czarny Zsun: What?
[4:12] Smoke Wijaya: well, you talk about centralised organisation.
[4:12] Smoke Wijaya: from majority vote.
[4:12] Smoke Wijaya: from decision by majority vote*
[4:13] Czarny Zsun: Of course. What’s wrong with that? I means every decision made is directly accountable to the majority
[4:14] Czarny Zsun: Any other form of organisation is at worst elitist and conspiratorial at best unaccountable and undemocratic
[4:14] Czarny Zsun: *or at best
[4:15] Czarny Zsun: You don’t hear workers talking about consensus for a simple reason – their struggles by necessity are democratic, and as such, need to be centralised
[4:15] Czarny Zsun: Strikes are incredibly centralised operations
[4:16] Smoke Wijaya: Not always, no they aren’t.
[4:16] Czarny Zsun: Explain?
[4:17] Smoke Wijaya: There are enough examples of strikes and walkouts and struggles that happened spontanious from the workfloor, instead by order from the high levels of centralised unions.
[4:17] Smoke Wijaya: instead of by*
[4:19] Czarny Zsun: I’m not talking about top-down bereaucratically-organised strikes – even spontaneous, “wild cat” strikes are by their very nature centralised. In every strike, workers delegate roles and elect strike committees to oversee activity on a district-wide or coutry-wide level
[4:21] Smoke Wijaya: delegating roles and representatives through bottom up workers-organisations, which are thus directly recallable, is something pretty different from a cenralised organisation, which always implies top down decisionmaking and -imposing, due to the idea of democratic centralism, where the party has to speak with one voice.
[4:23] Czarny Zsun: Isn’t this what I’ve been arguing the whole time? Bottom-up organisations are not horizontal – they’re bottom-up. Every workers’ council is ‘hierarchical’ and centralised – it’s only through thorough centralisation that recallable delegates can be held accountable to workers
[4:24] Czarny Zsun: Workers decide to take strike action collectively and they democratically vote to end their strike as one. Picket lines need to be staffed on a rotational basis – this all requires centralised organisation.
[4:24] Smoke Wijaya: We are probably closer in views than initially thought.
[4:25] Czarny Zsun: Yeah i think so too
[4:25] Smoke Wijaya: they require organisation…
[4:26] Smoke Wijaya: I don’t see how getting a central federalised node for cooperation/information around say propaganda means the organisational structure is ‘centralised’.
[4:26] Smoke Wijaya: say for example*
[4:32] Czarny Zsun: but you just said federal structures require central nodes
[4:32] Czarny Zsun: but in every struggle, a loosely-organised central informational hub isn’t enough. Workers’ democracy requires decisions to be binding and elected delegates to be absolutely accountable.
[4:33] Czarny Zsun: Let’s not beat about the bush here – this requires centralism.
[4:39] Czarny Zsun: really, i think the anarchist left should drop its fetishisation of spontanety and consensus – centralism is not a swear word.
[4:42] Smoke Wijaya: That someting is happening now in the Netherlands against the coming cuts, in solidairyt woth european workers and Greece, is because of spontanious organisation of individuals and organisation, where the actions are decided on through open actionmeetings, almost all of it by consensus, and if that is not the case, by majority vote. This only meant that IS/SWP backed out…
[4:44] Smoke Wijaya: …and centralism to me implies democratic centralism, and thus the loop of impsoing of democratically taken decisions onto the whole ‘ body’ of organisation/party/union.
[4:45] Smoke Wijaya: or action/demonsrtation and such
[4:45] Czarny Zsun: well democratic centralism is a particular form of party organisation – we can leave that for a seperate debate
[4:46] Czarny Zsun: How would you differentiate between the two? You cannot use both forms of decision making in the same collective – one is democratic, the other entirely not.
[4:46] Czarny Zsun: and to what extent is there organised working-class involvement in these anti-cut committees?
[4:48] Smoke Wijaya: radical union organizers of the big national unions have joined in (not the higher levels of course), class struggle anarchist organisations joined in, several (libertarian) socialist organisations joined in and every single one of us is working class.
[4:48] Smoke Wijaya: and it is not a committee, it is an initiative.
[4:49] Czarny Zsun: On what basis have the IS pulled out?
[4:49] Smoke Wijaya: because of the silly ass reason we didn’t want to pacify and control the actions beforehand by disallowing certain behaviours, basically they wanted us to think in the logic of oppression.
[4:51] Czarny Zsun: What behaviours?
[4:53] Smoke Wijaya: They find it too dan gerous to march towards the dutch central bank for instance…
[4:53] Smoke Wijaya: too dangerous*
[4:53] Czarny Zsun: Dangerous, or sectarian?
[4:53] Smoke Wijaya: They of course simnpy want to control the actions, and put on their own logo. They can’t, so they back out.
[4:54] Smoke Wijaya: yeah, of course, sectarian..hehe…I am sure they will state so in there central committe emeeting.
[4:54] Smoke Wijaya: stated so*
[4:54] Smoke Wijaya: anyways….