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When the ilk of left-leaders like CPM supremo Prakash Karat became vociferous about the working class movement (read left movement) behind Egyptian Upsurge   ( The  Anandabazar- 5 Feb & The Hindu – 6 Feb 2011), he perhaps intends to warm up the domestic dispirited activists in the face of forthcoming election. But the left-camp (camp-members aspiring for radical change) becomes apprehensive of dwelling on the same left-discourse modeled by the erstwhile post-Lenin Soviet Union. It appears to be an endeavour to revive the same vocabulary and its inherent process in verbatim to repeat another failed experiment. However, to some extent he was right, when he mentioned the loosening grip of American Imperialism in Arab World due to popular uprising. But the nationalist fervours behind these uprisings are lost sight of and thus leaving ample space to make same mistake of ignoring and underestimating the role of bourgeoisie in the uprising.

We have the reasons to be apprehensive because it’s the same old regime that Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser created, based on military power with the support of secular elites imbibed with western model of development & progress, after a coup d’etet  against the monarchy and displacing civilian officers in the military and British influence and siding with the Soviet camp. Sadat brought Egypt back into western camp. After Sadat’s assassination, Hosni Mubarak inherited the same statist regime sans Nasser’s socialist outlook and earned the patronage of America-Israel axis power by being a party to the Camp David accord to prop-up Anglo-Saxon hegemony & Zionism.

 In the nineteenth century, the elites of the Muslim world accommodated western ideology of political liberty, ideology of socio-economic change within their ideals of ethico-religious ideology. In Ottoman Empire, these elites used the political control against indigenous despotism and tried to impose the concept of national freedom and development from above with themselves being torch-bearer as well as dominant force. In Egypt, the country of the ancient civilization in Africa and of ancient civilized south Arabia, they never had much credibility owing to manipulation and authoritarianism, transforming them into instrument of domination for the ruling social strata. The rural masses, who were enclosed within the old structure, found them difficult to understand, and as their poverty persisted or even worsened with industrialization, they saw little advantage in them or suspected them of being tools of domination by the elites. The modernizing efforts at the behest of the elites were contrary to the western libertarian process which was the culmination of a social upheaval causing structural change from within, and as such the mass of people of Arab world including that of Egypt remained always subjugated under foreign domination. Later period of Nasser’s socialist regime did not have much difference to the masses. The new elites who formed the new privileged class that was as disagreeable as their predecessor in the eyes of the disadvantaged were brought to power. The change of guard was always in keeping with the vicissitude of the balance of power within imperialistic hegemony. Masses were always mobilized for the ideas of political control and socialism by appealing to deep-rooted feelings of belonging to the Muslim community and so Islam was always the mobilizing core within the ambit of modernization envisioned by the new elites.
Though the present Egyptian uprising has overshadowed all its past popular movement, it has actually been triggered by the recent Tunisian popular movement. In this general uprising, 80% of Tunis in many areas including in the capital were out in the street for 45 days and did not give up under repression. Thousands of people in Tunisia were assassinated, arrested and tortured, but the Ben Ali regime, the western powers best friend, never allowed these facts to be known. Both in Tunisia & in Egypt, people revolted for democracy & human rights. The policy of economic liberalization, withdrawing the role of state from economic welfare, patronizing the private profiteers in the name of free competition, and the growth model that increases inequality all throughout the social hierarchy and breeds corruption and nepotism caused a huge socio-economic crisis. The Tunisia’s ‘success story’ based on the dislocation of some light industries from Europe, tourism and mass migration to Libya & Europe have already reached to its point of saturation and started reversing. This liberal economic policy of dictatorial regime in both the countries produced the social unrest and the uprising. The global economic slowdown of capitalism led the neo-liberal market forces in the disadvantaged Muslim countries like Egypt to exhaust its capacity to allure the middle classes. The distressed rural masses were further marginalized due to the neo-liberal drive. Genocide in Palestine, extermination and starving to death of the citizens of Gaza strip especially women & children due to Israeli Blockade, killing – mutilating & arresting the elected Hamas leaders,  languishing of thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jail – all these have already
 agitated the minds of middle class especially the educated youths. Israeli military offensive code-named ‘Operation summer Rain’ caused havoc to the life of Palestinians. From a different perspective of strategic interest and to maintain anti-Syrian and pro-Western Government, the propaganda blitzkrieg compelled the Syrian army to pull out. The overenthusiastic Israeli aggression in Lebanon to bring the entire Levant (all countries bordering the E. Mediterranean sea between Greece & Egypt) and Fertile Crescent region under the direct control and scanning of America & Israel got the drubbing in the hands of popular resistance and Hezbollah fighters. In the Lebanese election, the guerilla organization Hezbollah has emerged as a powerful political formation and a mainstream political party. In all these, the regime in Egypt, the centre of gravity of Arab World and a major militarily strategic threat to Israeli domination, remained mere spectator under the Camp David accord signed by Hosni Mubarak, a stooge of American Imperialism. The disgruntled Muslim psyche due to repression and aggression in Muslim countries and the disillusioned educated middle class about the efficacy of neo-liberal policy already set the ground for revolt against regime headed by Mubarak, and after a failed attempt in 2003 due to repressive measures, the Lebanese popular resistance and the recent story of Tunisian uprising triggered the spontaneous mass revolt in Egypt. The zeal that was generated in the event can be gauged by the way Mr. Robert Fisk of Independent magazine captured the mood of the people in Tehri square. He wrote, “It was a victory parade – without the victory. They came in their hundred of thousands, joyful, singing, praying, a great packed mass of Egypt, suburb by suburb, village by village, waiting patiently to pass through the ‘people’s security’ checkpoints, draped in the Egyptian flag of red, white and black, its governess eagle a bright gold in the sunlight. Were there millions? Perhaps across the country there certainly were. It was, we all agreed, the largest political demonstration in the history of its least-loved dictator. Its only flaw was that by dusk – and who knew what the night would bring – Hosni Mubarak was still calling himself ‘President of Egypt’.” Horace Campbell commented “…..the people of Egypt and Tunisia have made their mark on the world stage and they have shifted the balance of power back to ordinary people. They have re-established the essence of popular democratic participation and elevated the issues of the politics of inclusion. This shift is bringing back the sense of power to the exploited all over the world. Oppressed people all over the world now take courage from the new sense of purpose of the demonstrators. This confidence and freedom from fear have been so inspiring that there are already popular uprising and protest in Jordan, Yemen and Sudan. Not far behind are citizens in Algeria, Cameroon and Libya, who are slowly stirring and demanding political and social change.” The meticulous effort of the western imperialist to widen the Shia - Sunni divide is being countered through rising Arab Nationalism.

Though the common masses participating in the Egyptian revolt have a sense of belonging to the Muslim community, the revolt is secular-democratic and anti-imperialist & nationalist in nature. Along with the petit-bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie, a section of comprador class and the national army are taking side with the masses. In this scenario - the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBardei, has already emerged as the consensus presidential candidate of the masses and ostensibly has the backing of Iran and ipso facto that of emerging new axis of China-Russia, the second  in command in Mubarak’s Govt. Omar Suleiman is being projected by the US administration with the backing of Egyptian army to replace Mubarak as an interim truce, the third but not the least formidable force is the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ who has its reach to the rural masses through Muslim clerics and the landed gentry. Though all these forces are not basically averse to neo-liberal economic regime, but to replace Mubarak and its dictatorial policy, there must be some quid pro quo and for that matter a middle road will be traced to back out from the policy of appeasement towards Zionism. If under popular pressure, Camp David accord is abrogated and an election is held to restore parliamentary democracy, it will be a great step forward with immense ramification in the Arab World vis-à-vis for the revival of working class movement world-wide. The socialist forces should take a lesson from all these spontaneous people’s initiatives which are to go a long way for the working class to emerge as the front-runner, participate actively in support of anti-globalisation and nationalist movement and to draft a new socialist program from the experience of these new events unfolding in different part of the world. Then only, the western campaign about moribund ideology of socialism will get a thrashing and the socialist forces world-wide will re-emerge with new vigour, when the global capitalism is in deep crisis and under duress from people’s quarters.

I take the privilege to introduce “THE ARUNODOY, the oldest vernacular tabloid that has been published from Assam’s southernmost town of Silchar since 1950” to the members of  Swabhiman NGO and the readers of Swabhiman Blog as well as facebook friends. The present editor Mr. Chandan Sengupta took the charge in 1992 from its founder editor Sunil DuttaRoy. Though this newspaper is not an organ of any outfit or party, it acts as the mouthpiece of the oppressed, gives voice to the voiceless people, analyses the events and reports that normally do not find prominent place or produced as a half-baked truth in the mainstream media. It upholds democratic values and diversity in opinion.
The Editorial Board-member directed me to give a write-up on Egyptian uprising for the current issue of ARUNODOY and following his direction and considering the space limit and immidiacy, when I sat down to write the essay, I thought it easier to write it in English, as the information and the statement from major sources related with this episode are available in English. So I decided to write it in English anyway and post it in the Swabhiman Blog, and to translate this in Bengali with some updates, if possible, for Arunodoy later.  --- Arup Baisya                            


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