If they come for Muslim Brotherhood in the morning….

key link between the Egyptian ruling class and American imperialism
Key link between Egyptian ruling class and American imperialism

A lot of comrades in Egypt and elsewhere are saying that the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi is a victory both for the revolution and the counter-revolution writes Phil Hearse.

Of course the Muslim Brotherhood regime – a brutal, vicious, anti-working class government – could not have been brought down without the mass mobilisation of millions. The anti-Morsi mobilisation showed the Brotherhood is not the majority! But what counts is yes, how a regime is brought down, but also what is it replaced by. What does the new government represent in class terms and from the viewpoint of democracy?

In fact the army finished off the Muslim Brotherhood government to prevent the popular masses doing it themselves. That could have set off an uncontrollable dynamic.

Nobody should doubt the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in Egypt, far from being an ally of the people or the guarantor of their power, is the opposite. Since the overthrow of Mubarak the Scarf have intensified repression, military trials and torture against the left, liberals and the secular opposition. It is the guarantor of the power of capital and reaction – and of course the key link between the Egyptian ruling class and American imperialism.

For a period of over a year the army and the rest of the military have been prepared to allow the Muslim Brotherhood to be in government, especially as it had no intention of touching the prerogatives and power of capital. Now it is prepared to dump the Brotherhood and install a pro-capitalist government of ‘experts’ , including doubtless business people, the political right and religious figures.

Even if this is in a certain sense the fruit of the mass mobilisation, the left should avoid all temptation of schadenfreude at the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership. Seeing them bundled into armoured cars by special forces in ski masks does not speak of the popular will but of the vicious repression of an authoritarian police regime. If they come for the Brotherhood in the morning, they will come for the leftists, liberals, trade unions, women’s organisations – any form of popular organisation and mobilisation – in the evening. Anyone in Egypt who extols the repressive role of the state apparatus is making the same mistake that was made in Algeria at the time of the brutally murderous repression of the Islamist FIS.

The Wall Street journal said today in an editorial “Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, who took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy.” Don’t you just love that bit about how General Pinochet “midwifed a transition to democracy” by installing a military dictatorship, killing 30,000 people and torturing thousands more! But that’s just what international capital want – not necessarily a massacre of course, but a firm hand, order and normality for business.

Illusions about the army are clearly widespread among the anti-Morsi forces, but of course not among the socialists and many people who calls themselves ‘revolutionaries’. In Egypt, despite all the differences, you have the  fundamentally same problem as in Brazil and Turkey. It’s all about what political forces exist and what leadership resources there are, to chart an alternative for the mass movement when it’s faced with repression or demobilisation. A force to articulate a series of clear demands/objectives that you can have mass unity around.

Actually in Turkey and Brazil the left/socialist forces are stronger than in Egypt, (although in Egypt of course the revolutionary process has been much more prolonged and is deeper). But the Turkish and Brazilian left forces lack coherence, unity and mass support. In Brazil it’s even more complicated because the key government party (the PT-Workers Party) is the the dessicated remnant of a previously mass, class struggle based party. Historically we can see that huge mass movements and mobilisations in different parts of the world are occurring when the left and workers movement has not recovered from the weakening effects of several decades of defeats. The process of rebuilding the left is long and difficult and will go through many stages of regroupment, refoundation and political clarification.

This first appeared on Phil’s site Crisis and Revolt



  1. The cross-class protests of the opposition have deflected popular consciousness against the Muslim Brotherhood-F&JP, providing an opportunity for the army to seize control of events.
    But in reality, it’s the SCAF, representing the caste privileges of army officers, that is the biggest obstacle to democracy and socialism in Egypt.

    The Brotherhood tried to compromise with SCAF, who saw MB’s leadership as too susceptible to radical pressure from its mass-base.
    This is not a “carnation revolution” by rank and file officers.
    It’s the actions of the senior officers with links to the US State Dept.

    Rather than developing popular mass consciousness, it has short-circuited it.
    They may have made a serious mistake, as the opposition is too divided to provide the basis for a stable regime.
    Liberal Oppositionists like el-Baradei have discredited themselves and shown their democracy is skin-deep.
    – a “democracy” prepared to come to power via a military coup.

    A working-class, socialist opposition must stand for consistent democracy.
    Even if this means demanding Morsi is freed and the elections are respected.
    Its perfectly possible to challenge the politics of the Freedom and Justice Party from the left.
    But the actions of the military have made martyrs of them and are threatening to lead to civil war.
    This won’t lead in a progressive solution unless the axis of events is shifted left by the conscious intervention of socialists.

  2. I agree, this coup could be analogized to the attempted coup against Kerensky by Kornilov that the Bolsheviks helped defeat. Had Kornilov succeeded, an argument could have been made that this was a victory for the insurgent movement against the detested Provisional Government.

    • This is a ridiculous analogy. Nobody on the left in Petrograd in 1917 had the slightest illusions that Kornilov was in any way supporting the mass workers’ opposition to the Provisional Government. He was clearly aiming to attack and crush the Soviets, not only or even primarily the Provisional Government headed by Kerensky.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.