Long time in the making! Long time suffering poverty, inequality, official murder-torture-imprisonment, despotism, fundamentalism, and governments lackeyed to US/Western powers.
I am no expert on Arabic/Middle East history or politics, other than knowing that US/Israel-led imperialism has had a grip on the entire area for decades, and before that there were other foreign oppressors. I know that in part of the Arab world – not currently involved in this uproar – the US-led “humanitarian” operation has cost upwards to two million Iraqi lives, millions of migrants fled and fleeing, tens of thousands tortured, and the destruction and thievery of much cultural wealth and history. European allies assist in this butchery. Something similar is occurring in Afghanistan, and extending into Pakistan.
Wikileaks’ dispersal of US Embassy cables from Tunisia, posted in the British Guardian, December 7, 2010 and January 28, 2011, how how duplicitous and corrupted all US governments are with the Ben Ali family government for the past two decades.
US ambassador to Tunisia, Robert F. Godec, wrote, on July 17, 2009, that the Ben Ali regime is: “sclerotic;” and that “Tunisia is a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems.”
On the other hand, Godec expressed the need to continue supporting this regime because, “The government is like-minded on Iran, is an ally in the fight against terrorism…the US Mission has, for the past three years, [responded] by offering greater cooperation…notably in the commercial and military assistance areas.”
The US government supports Egypt with $1.3 billion in military aid annually, second only to Israel.
Most shamefully, a number of Arabic governments aid and abet the US in its “war against terrorism”. Egypt, and Tunisia, where the courageous uproar began a month ago, are among them. In others — Yemen, Algeria, Lebanon — many thousands of people act supportively with the Tunisian people, and with their own similar demands.
Will this lead to revolution, to socialism, as a rejection of misery under capitalism? Marxist analysis of what it takes before a socialist revolution can break out and grow entails two aspects. First, objective conditions must be present: too much poverty, exploitation and oppression to ignore; plus sufficiently high level of technology (industrial or?), and acutely antagonistic productive relations.
The second condition is subjective, in which a significant number (majority or?) of the most productive and exploited of industrial workers (perhaps also or either a significant number of land proletariat and small peasants) are conscious enough of their position as exploited, and are angry enough to take up the call for revolt. Overthrowing oppressors — as is occurring now, or is in the process of occurring, in some Arabic nations — is a good indication that a huge percentage of folk (in many places the large majority) are ready subjectively. Many have been murdered, thousands more arrested, yet they persist, especially in Tunisia and Egypt.
(Iraq, also an Arabic nation, has not moved into supportive action. Most of its people are too brutalized by the US+ invasion and their accomplice national governments, supported by the Persian neighbor, Iran, to come into the streets. But I suggest that many have their hearts beside their Arabic brothers and sisters in uproar, and time may bring them to fore. But this will probably not occur shortly in Saudia Arabia where the US-backed multi-billionaire government leaders rule with a fascist fist.)
The objective material factors for Tunisia and Egypt are, in large part, present as well. Does the high level of production relations necessary exist? I do not know. Are the workers antagonistic enough with the bosses and do they know that (condition two)? I’d say yes to both.
I do not seek to become an oracle. I wish merely to shed us of illusions. It takes more that what is occurring now to win over not only the national oligarchies and their armies and police forces well-equipped with US-French-British armaments, but also the very Empire itself awaiting in nearby skies and waters for the signal to move in if all else fails. The people are not armed well enough.
Nevertheless, I am encouraged by a sense of pan-Arabic unity, a sense that they are all one brethren no matter the name of the State. I do not see, however, in many of these areas, that the people are well organized, that they have their own parties or unions that lead with sagaciousness, or that they lead at all. There is great spontaneity and determination. All to the good! But people never win over the oppressors unless they have organizations that formulate policy and direction.
In Tunisia, however, I see a positive development with the January 14th Front, forces involved in the revolt. The eight organizations and political parties forming it, several illegal and operating underground, gathered into a united front on the day that the dictator fled the country. They propose 14 points to move forward, to form a people’s government and change the economic foundations.
Among the key points are anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist demands, coupled with democratic and social demands to raise the people out of poverty and exploitation:
• Eliminate all temporary governments that have any relations with the Ben Ali government and party (the RCD).
• Dissolve the existing state apparatus and create an assembly of peoples’ organizations for a new constitutional foundation.
• Eliminate the secret service and the political police.
• Jobs, health care, civil and social rights for all.
• Solidarity with all forces for liberation, especially with Palestinians in opposition to Zionism.
Most of you who read this commentary are not in the Arabic region. To you I say: we are all brothers and sisters in our common struggle! Take up what arm you can and support these people today, and hope that, one day, we will all support one another to build a universe where we are all one free people living with essential needs!