Egypt: in place of an analysis

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The relationship between revolution and counter-revolution remains finely balanced. SCAF’s capacity to make meaningful decisions will be tightly constrained. Dozens if not hundreds of workplaces have ousted senior managers who were appointed under the Mubarak regime. Let alone the protests involving tens of millions of people, there are more strikes taking place weekly in Egypt right now than there are yearly in Britain. The army’s instincts are as neo-liberal as the Brotherhood’s – unlike the Brotherhood, its senior personnel still own important chunks of the economy as their own private wealth. But they face a turbulent people who will not accept privatisation, the loss of state subsidies of food, etc and have fought – and won.

On the other hand, the army has acquired in the last few weeks a degree of popular legitimacy which it had lost. Part of the mobilisations has been by felul – they are the group who have most to gain from the coup. Even just in London you could see the reappearance of the Gucci crusaders, the Armani mafia, and I don’t doubt for a second that the same dynamics can be traced in the differing responses of different areas of Cairo to the news of the coup.

In the next round of protests, the revolutionary left (ie the youth groups, Rebel, RS, etc) will be unable and unwilling to repeat the trick that it pulled off in 2011-2 – of using younger MB cadres as an ally to weaken the dictatorship.

I don’t think comrades here talking blithely of a “second revolution” grasp the risk that what we have just seen is in fact the start of the counter-revolution. Under 5 decades of military rule in Egypt, there was never a public, visible left in that country. Such lefts as there were, suffered, jail and torture on a mass scale. The army’s instincts have not changed one bit.

This may help to explain the tetchiness with which the best comrades in Egypt are responding to advice from activists here: they grasp far better than we do what is at stake for them personally.

We owe them our love and solidarity, they, right now, are the ones who carry our dreams.

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