Above Photo: Egyptian protesters hang a giant banner in the colors of Egypt’s national flag on barbed wires in front of anti-riot soldiers at the entrance to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. Two years after Egypt’s revolution began, the country’s schism was on display Friday as the mainly liberal and secular opposition held rallies saying the goals of the pro-democracy uprising have not been met and denouncing Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
On Friday February 5th, the Italian left-wing journal Il Manifestopublished a report on a meeting of Egyptian independent trade unionists posthumously credited to one of its contributors in Cairo. Giulio Regeni was a 28-year-old Italian student of the University of Cambridge writing his doctoral thesis in Egypt. His body had been found on a roadside two days earlier, covered head-to-toe in bruises, knife wounds and cigarette burns. His finger and toenails had been yanked out – clear signs that he was tortured before his death.
It is no coincidence that Regeni disappeared on the evening of January 25th, the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. An official of the Egyptian government initially made the disgraceful suggestion that he died in a road traffic accident. A witness later told Italian police that they had seen him being stopped by plain-clothes security officers not far from his Cairo home. Now the Egyptian police claim that they have recovered Regeni’s rucksack from the apartment of a member of the gang who murdered him after stealing his money and belongings. Conveniently, the entire gang was killed in a shootout with police before they could be brought to trial. What is more, this version of events fails to explain the torture marks all over Regeni’s body. In reality, there can be no doubt that Giulio Regeni was brutally murdered for political reasons, with the Egyptian state now attempting to cover up its responsibility for this horrific act.
The murder of an Italian student at the hands of the state directed the world’s attention to events in Egypt once again. Many international acts of solidarity and protest were expressed last month condemning the Egyptian government for Regeni’s death (including from the Italian section of the IMT, Sinistra Classe Rivoluzione). But this incident is only the most notorious among innumerable recent cases of repression, brutality and murder linked to the same authorities.
This year has seen many reports coming out of Egypt about a large-scale crackdown on political organisation and free speech being carried out by state security forces. Leading up to the revolution’s anniversary, amid calls from clerics, labour leaders and television for people not to take to the streets, thousands of homes in Cairo were searched and at least four cultural centres, including an art gallery and a publishing house in downtown Cairo, were raided or closed down. Dozens of arrests were reported, including of three leaders of the revolution who used their Facebook accounts to call for people to return to squares on January 25th. About half of the 6 April movement, one of the main groups originally associated with the 2011 revolution, among many other revolutionary figures, have now been imprisoned. The government has even approved the draft of a law criminalising “terrorist symbols”, which include the 6 April’s clenched fist.
As Marxists, we wholly condemn the massive and inhumane atrocities committed by the Egyptian state in the cause of political repression. Yet we must be careful not to be blinded by what is apparent on the surface. It is necessary to trace these actions back to their root; to analyse the dynamics at play behind this use of brute force. We must ask: what is the motive behind the government’s actions? What happened to the Egyptian revolution, which aimed to liberate the masses from exploitative, repressive regimes? What is the balance of forces in Egyptian society at present?
Whitewashing the revolution
There was no public marking of the revolution this January 25th. Instead there was a farcical government-organised demonstration of just three hundred people in what was the nerve-centre of the revolution, Tahrir Square, in support of the police now carrying out measures against the revolution across Egypt! President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the military leader who initially co-opted the huge revolutionary movement of 2013 by carrying through its defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood, is now attempting to whitewash the memory of the revolution from history. Around Tahrir Square he is achieving this in the literal sense, as graffiti of revolutionary artwork, slogans and tributes to martyrs of the revolution has disappeared, painted over by the government.
These attempts to banish from national acknowledgement what was, by the sheer number of those who participated, the most popular revolution in human history, is a reflection of the true nature of Sisi’s regime. This self-styled strongman who promised to honour the will of the revolutionary masses in fact stands at the head of the same ruling class as Hosni Mubarak, the hated dictator they fought so hard to depose. The lenient treatment of Mubarak by the national justice system, which in 2014 overturned his life sentence for conspiracy to kill peaceful protesters during the revolution on a technicality, to the disgust of millions of Egyptians, demonstrates as much.
Having carried out two revolutions, a whole series of uprisings which led to the overthrow of five heads of state or prime ministers, the masses are tired and confused. Sisi initially posed as the leader of the revolution. He was supported in playing this role by leaders of the revolution who lined up behind him and gave him revolutionary authority. This caused enormous confusion and disorientation amongst wide layers of the masses. These are the sources of the ebb and temporary inaction of the masses.
Large-scale repression of revolutionary youth
This however has left the youth and the advanced layers of the revolution exposed to attacks. After having been at the leadership of the movement many young revolutionaries have not registered the ebb in the movement and the reasons behind it. Furthermore, many of them have taken the mistaken position of defending the Muslim Brotherhood, ie. the reactionary bourgeois force which was overthrown by second revolution in 2013. This has isolated them further and often given the counter-revolution an excuse to crack down.
Arrests, forced detentions and more extreme brutalities have spread far beyond the stamping out of the Brotherhood since Sisi took power. In particular, the appointment of Major General Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar as Minister of the Interior directly by the hand of Sisi in March last year has seen a huge jump in the numbers taken in by security forces. Abdel-Gaffar has been involved in state security forces since the 1990s and was chosen as one of the directors of their rebrand – the National Security Agency – after the 2011 revolution, when the state was rightly seen as the enemy of the people. The charge of “Muslim Brotherhood supporter” is regularly used as a public cover by this body to arbitrarily detain anyone even suspected of political activity.
Amal Shawaf, spokesperson for 6 April movement, suggests that the repression facing Egyptian youth “is worse than anything we saw before”:
“During Mubarak’s era, the worst that could happen is [you would get arrested and] tortured for a few days while [they carried out their investigation] over national security,” Shawaf said. “Now [the government] kidnaps, hands out crazy sentences and fabricates charges.”
But the abomination of unjust arrests and detainments is only the beginning of a horror story. Many dreadful cases of life, and sometimes death, in Egyptian prisons and detention centres are now coming to light. Two months ago, outlets worldwide reported the case of Ismail Khalil, an electronics salesman who turned up in an Alexandrian police station four months after he had disappeared in Cairo. His brother Nour describes the moment he recovered Ismail, whom he did not recognise at first:
“He was handcuffed and standing among a group of prisoners. His hair and beard were long. The skin around his eyes was white and discoloured because of the blindfold he wore for all 122 days.” Tens of people are reported to go missing in similar ways every week.
“We are not protesting now because there is no use in doing so…More people will die and get put in jail,” explains Amal Sharaf.
“I have nothing to say: no hopes, no dreams, no fears, no warnings, no insights, nothing, absolutely nothing,” young activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah wrote in The Guardian last month from his prison cell. This despairing statement reflects the sentiment of his fellow imprisoned comrades who helped to lead the revolution, with hopes that they could be directly involved in the birth a better world, at least for themselves, their families and their nation. Having given so much in the struggle to achieve this aim; having fearlessly taken to the streets, carried out weeks of strike action and faced a barrage of violent opposition from the Egyptian state machine; having seen their families, friends and comrades die for the cause; having already achieved the overthrow of two regimes, many youth in Egypt feel as though they have nothing left to give. For the enormous power of revolutionary millions to be handed over to a callous military general who belonged to these previous regimes, and who is now carrying out the same repression as before and worse, is a sickening blow to the stomachs of those primarily involved in the revolution. It is understandable that a certain demoralisation has temporarily set in.
However, it would be wrong to judge the situation by this mood alone. As dissatisfaction with Sisi is rising again, the real balance of forces between the revolution and the counter-revolution is becoming more apparent. Opposition against repression has now reached such levels that it is becoming a topic of public debate.
After overwhelming public pressure, including the popular chat show host Amr Adib describing the actions of state security as “a crime that cannot be forgiven” live on air, the National Council belatedly announced that it was investigating 101 reported disappearances, which it has now increased to 130. Of course this concession designed to alleviate public suspicion and outrage will barely scratch the surface of the matter, but nevertheless it is a sign that the counter-revolution feels too weak to crush the revolution fully.
An ebb among the wider working class
Amongst the labour movement, too, we have witnessed an ebb. In 2013, the year of the Egyptian revolution’s second wave, there were over 40,000 separate instances of industrial action. By comparison 2,274 instances were reported from 2014 by independent sources. Still, it is estimated that 250,000 workers took strike actionin February 2014 alone. No such mass walkouts occurred last year, when the total number of instances halved to 1,117. While the right to strike was written into the Egyptian constitution in 2014, it was done so with the caveat that the need for “warding off harm” to the country would allow the government to pass laws curtailing this right as they saw fit, based on a tenet of Islamic sharia. By May 2015, the Supreme Administrative Court had effectively criminalised industrial action by condemning striking public sector workers to an early retirement. This ruling only added to the anti-protest law that had already existed since November 2013, which requires any public gathering larger than ten people to obtain a permit from the state.
All the same, for the last 60 years any workers’ demonstration or strike has legally required the permission of the state-serving bureaucrats at the head of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) to go ahead, which has only ever been given twice. It is not as though Egyptian workers and youth have needed the permission of any bankrupt trade union leaders or lawmakers to take action in their own interests before now.
The repression of the labour movement that has taken place during Sisi’s regime has largely been limited to a legalistic form, which didn’t stop mass strikes from taking place previously between 2011 and 2013. In addition to the upholding of a longstanding intolerance of strikes and the new anti-protest laws, since 2013 the state has gone on the offensive against independent trade unions. Historically, the sole legal collective body of the Egyptian labour movement was the ETUF, whose leadership had since the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser acted on behalf of the state to keep the workers in check. Early last year it began court proceedings to ban all trade unions in Egypt not affiliated to it from activity.
From the 2011 revolution, the rise of genuine worker-led trade unionism became an inevitability. Out of this thousands of new bodies sprang up and the ruling class conceded the right to create new trade unions after the fact. However, many of these new small, independent unions have actually diverted the forces best equipped to lead the Egyptian working class in a revolutionary situation away from the bulk of the mass movement. And when the current regime came to clear up the vanguard of the revolution, these unions became an easy target.
It was after attending a meeting of these independent unions that Giulio Regeni was arrested. He reported the meeting to be “a beacon of independent Egyptian trade unionism”. However, although it may have raised good ideas and proposals for action, it stood aloof from the Egyptian labour movement as a whole. In reality “the groundwork for a national campaign on issues of labour and trade union freedom” could not be laid without involving the four million Egyptian workers in the legal ETUF, and the many millions more who look towards it for leadership. A national campaign on issues of labour and trade union freedom would necessarily have to win over these layers who remain within the structures of what is the largest trade union body in the country by many times over. In fact, the groundwork had been laid for such a campaign to gain the ear of the working class both inside and outside the ETUF by two monumental revolutionary waves in the last four years. On many occasions the ranks of these movements in fact did manage to wrest control over official unions out of the hands of the state and the ruling class. Nevertheless, in the absence of a unified national leadership and with the most radical and far-sighted elements having split off and isolated themselves from the mass of workers, none of these rebellions crystallised into real independent mass unions. After momentum was lost, in the most cases the process went into reverse.
At the same time, implicit in the transformation of the trade union movement was the destruction of the entire capitalist state apparatus and the institution of workers’ democracy in Egypt. Unfortunately, then as now, those involved in leading struggles for autonomous workers’ representation didn’t make the political link between this demand and the taking of state power.
Since then, while some leading independent trade unionists opportunistically took positions in the government which Sisi had installed, others, by making a principle of autonomy in conditions of legal repression have built up barriers between themselves and vast layers of the working class which are ultimately vital to their struggle. Even more urgently, in case of Giulio Regeni, without protection from the wider labour movement 40 of those who attended the meeting he reported on were tracked down and rounded up by state security forces. Regeni is likely only the most prominent of many examples of death-by-torture connected with the event.
Signs of an upturn
Years of revolutionary movements, tiredness and relative demoralisation is clearly giving room for the counter-revolution to step up repression. But the struggle is not over. The repression which we have seen, has not been against the wider working class or the masses. It has been aimed at those layers which stood isolated. In particular amongst the advanced layers of the youth and the working class who had for one reason or another moved ahead of the class. This shows that the regime is using the temporary ebb to strike at the most advanced layers, while it feels too weak to crush the mass of the movement.
In spite of their general decline, the industrial struggles continue in their thousands. The figures for industrial action in 2015 were far above any year for many decades before 2011. And in 2016, there are already signs pointing to another upswing.
On February 12th, thousands of doctors of the public service union Egyptian Medical Syndicate, an affiliate of the ETUF, demonstrated against an attack by security forces on two medics in a Cairo hospital in January. The doctors offered free care to all members of the public as part of their campaign, and threatened a partial strike if their demands were not met. The union will shut down any hospital where such an incident takes place again. Their demands were met with militant support at the demonstration, with chants of “strike” and anti-police slogans taking prominence. A similar incident had sparked a lawyers strike in November. Meanwhile, state-owned petroleum companies have seen workers striking early this year.
The rise in industrial action is already having an effect. The court dealing with the case to ban independent trade unions postponed its verdict last week for a second time in light of the increased levels of industrial action that have been seen in Egypt at the start of this year. Tarek Mostafa Ku’aib, leader of an independent civil servants’ union, compared the Egyptian working class to “a dormant volcano”. The fear for the Egyptian government is that now any official clampdown on workers could cause this volcano to erupt once more.
Exhaustion of the masses
More than anything, the decline in the number of strikes last year and the general absence of public demonstrations are symptoms of the exhaustion and disorientation of the Egyptian masses.
The coming to power of the current regime led to a splintering of the mass revolutionary movement. Much of the energy which had been poured into overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood dissipated into shock and confusion at the return of a military bureaucratic regime to power. Many of the most radical youth who continued to fight were often caught up in movements to defend the Brotherhood, while the most radical workers fought principally for the rights of independent trade unions. As a consequence, both of these elements separated themselves more and more from the Egyptian masses, who had been left disorientated by the lack of an alternative posed to take the revolution forward.
On the other hand, with the masses exhausted and disorientated, what is the need for the extraordinary measures of far-reaching and brutal political repression of being carried out by Sisi’s regime, particularly around the anniversary of a revolution without which it would not be in power? “Stability” has been a by-word of his public speeches as president. Last year bourgeois publications were crowing about the miraculous recovery of the Egyptian economy. But are these the actions of a stable regime achieving economic success?
Instability and weakness
In reality, the rule of Sisi, his cronies and the class which underpins them is wracked with instability. The contradictions which led to the revolutionary period of the last five years are still there in abundance. They are insoluble within the limits of the capitalist system for which Sisi stands as a staunch defender.
The Egyptian economy, which experienced a small increase in growth in 2014-15, was said by bourgeois economists to have “recovered” from its worst economic crisis since the 1930s in 2013. In fact, in real terms the basis for a stable economy has continued to be eroded throughout the last three years. More than half of the national foreign currency reserves were used up to try and escape from the crisis. In 2014 they were as low as $16.7bn, and a year later after a huge push for foreign investment had only recovered to $18.5bn, half the January 2011 total. By last October they had been depleted further to $15.9bn. This shortage of foreign cash comes at the same time as Egypt’s trade deficit increases year-on-year, reaching a record $40.4bn for the year 2014 (the last record was $39.8bn in 2012, compared with a previous high of $28.4bn in 2011) and continuing to break monthly records in 2015. Also in 2014, industrial production fell by 8.5%. Public debt, meanwhile, increased from 80% to 90% of GDP between 2012 and 2014.
Sisi sought to rectify these problems by hosting an economic conference with the Gulf states (which Egypt relies heavily on) for investment in March last year. He managed to secure $150bn of investment for new projects, half of the $300bn he said would be needed to provide “real hope for the 90 million [Egyptians]”. $8bn will have gone towards building a new 37km water channel that runs parallel to the original Suez Canal. Opened to much fanfare last August, the new shipping route was supposed to increase revenue from the canal to $13.23bn by 2023, up from $5bn in 2014. The decline in world trade in the course of 2015 however, actually decreased its annual revenue, even with the new channel open for four months of the year, suggesting that the investment is set to backfire.
This failure is a sign of things to come for the Egyptian economy, which will feel the reverberations of a new world financial crisis in the coming months. The ongoing global oil crisis will mean a reeling back of investment in Egypt from the Gulf region. Already this year, Saudi Arabia refused a request from Egyptian officials to buy dollar-denominated bonds or deposit dollars to supplement Egypt’s drained foreign reserves. Within weeks of this refusal, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a list of agreements and memorandums with the Egyptian government in Cairo worth $15bn. But if investment in the Egyptian economy is to continue, investors much be assured of a significant return. With Egypt struggling in a world economy that is at best stagnant, such a guarantee can only be placed onto the backs of the Egyptian working class. That is what these “agreements and memorandums” with China represent.
On February 23rd Sisi gave a disastrous speech on public television in which he called each Egyptian to donate one pound ($0.13) a day to solve the country’s debt crisis. As if conditions for ordinary Egyptians are not already bad enough. The poverty rate in Egypt has increased to 26.3% over the last four years. Youth unemployment has now jumped to 42% from 34% in 2011. Before Sisi came to power, food prices rose 65% between January 2010 and September 2013, which played a role in the uprising at the end of June that year. Since then, the situation has not improved. Petroleum subsidies had been cut by the government in July 2014 in an attempt to decrease the national deficit, and the 78% increase in the price of petrol has had a knock-on effect. The price of basic foods rose by almost 10% between 2014 and 2015, with meat and fish rising by more than 20%. In just two months, between August and September 2015, the price of vegetables rose by 26%. As inflation has been pushed up, workers’ wages, meanwhile, remain pitifully low. Although in March 2014 public sector workers finally won the minimum wage they had had written into law in 2010, inflation averaging almost 10% in the intervening period meant that in real terms almost all of the gains had been lost. At this stage the new minimum wage of 1200 LE ($150) per month can buy you less than the old 700 LE rate in 2010. Given these living and working conditions, alongside increasingly extreme political repression, the slogan “bread, freedom, dignity” from the 2011 revolution rings truer than ever for the majority of Egyptians.
It is no wonder that in October the Egyptian people showed total indifference to the first parliamentary elections held since the 2013 revolution. Sisi’s “transition to democracy” garnered a pathetic 2.27% turnout in the first two days of the election. This astonishingly low turnout was in spite of authorities threatening those who didn’t show up to vote with 500 LE ($67) fines and giving workers half a day off to vote. A picture went viral of 10,000 people spending the half-day watching their favourite football team Al-Ahly train in Cairo, rather than going along with the regime’s farcical imitation of a democratic process. “It’s not going to matter. It’s just for show, to show that we are a democracy, and we have elections,” said 25-year-old lab worker Ahmed Mostafa, summing up the response to these elections of most Egyptians.
After keeping voting open for several days, government sources claimed a turnout of 16% for the first round of the elections. This figure was later mysteriously bumped up to 26.6%, and at the end of the second round, the total turnout given was 29.83%. However, a report issued by the independent Parliamentary Elections Observatory in November documents that voters were being bribed up to 150 LE ($19) for their participation, with at least 6% of newly-elected MPs directly involved. This version of “democracy” offers nothing for millions of Egyptians who have played their part in a qualitatively higher form of democracy over the last five years, and whose livelihoods are only being further marginalised by the oppressive and exploitative system that these elections seek to mask.
The lack of participation in elections among all sections of society reveals the paucity of the current regime’s social base. In the event of further class struggle, who do Sisi and his clique at the top have defend them against another revolutionary situation?
Regime under threat
The social and economic conditions which matured into the last Egyptian revolution, far from having stabilised, if anything are now even worse, and will continue to deteriorate with the advent of a new global crisis. Nor has the balance of forces in Egyptian society in any significant way changed in favour of a repressive regime attempting to rescue Egyptian capitalism. The regime is, as it always has been, ultimately at the mercy of millions of Egyptians who have twice proved themselves capable of overthrowing it. The workers and youth realise that they were the ones to overthrow the Morsi regime, and that they are capable of doing the same to Sisi. This is something of which the ruling class is acutely aware. They know that the next existential threat to their power is only a matter of time. This is why they are using repression in anticipation of the event. However, the fact that they constantly have to restrain themselves also reveals their weakness and fear of the wider movement.
In early February, Al-Ahly supporters from the Ahlawy Ultras invaded their team’s training complex on the anniversary of the Port Said massacre, when 72 Al-Ahly fans were murdered at the hands of opposition fans and police. The Ultras blamed the state for inciting the massacre and shouted anti-government slogans into the television cameras present. Al-Ahlawyia are one of the two biggest groups of ultra-fans in Egypt, and are famous for the prominent role that they played in the Egyptian revolution with their experience of handling state security forces.
A clearly shaken President Sisi offered a televised phone interview on the privately broadcast chat show Al-Qahera Al-Youm that same evening in which he felt compelled to defend his regime. He admitted that the role of the Ultras is “a problem still unsolved.” He also denied that he was “upset with the youth” and conceded, “It’s us [the government] who are not able to properly communicate with them.”
He even made a proposal to the Ultras: “I call on the Ultras to select 10 of their members whom they trust to be part of a committee to look into all the details concerning this case [the massacre] and determine what more can be done.” This suggestion amounts to an independent investigation of the office which Sisi would hold only six months after the Port Said massacre!
These conciliatory noises, although empty in themselves, reflect the underlying weakness of Sisi’s position. When he attempts to address concerns about the Ultras who were on the frontlines fighting his security forces and the indignant youth who led their people to Tahrir Square, the unsolved problem he really alludes to is the problem of the Egyptian Revolution. During the interview he even pleaded with the audience to see the difference between the periods before and after his regime took power.
Mohamed Nabil, a 32-year-old shop owner, has an answer for him: “Since he took power he has been talking and nothing has changed.” Nabil was discussing Sisi’s 23rd February televised speech.
In a long rambling address, Sisi struggled to string sentences together, aggressively wagging his finger and issuing threats in a deranged manner.
“Don’t listen to anyone except me. I am speaking in all seriousness. I don’t lie or go around in circles and I don’t have any interest except my country.”
“People are about to explode again and he (Sisi) feels that his throne is shaky,” Mohamed Nabil explains.
The speech was later lampooned all over Egyptian social media, and Sisi’s suggestion that he would sell himself for his country if he could was taken up by one eBay seller, who advertised a “slightly-used Field Marshal, Philosopher with a military background in good shape” for $100,000. That the President of Egypt, a supposed strongman, is widely viewed as a national joke does not bode well for the future of his regime.
Whatever popularity Sisi’s regime could claim (for taking the power that lay vacant at the head of the movement which got rid of the Brotherhood) is quickly evaporating. Increasingly, as Mubarak did before him, he requires the heavy hand of state repression to overcome his lack of legitimacy in the eyes of the masses. However, as horrific as many of the repressive acts being committed by the state are, they know that they cannot strike at the heart of the mass movement which preceded Sisi. They are confined to singling out individuals in secret and pinning Brotherhood charges on them, or issuing obscure legal challenges through the national trade union bureaucracy – and they are already finding it difficult to carry out these attacks. The regime is well aware that dealing with a movement of hundreds of thousands or millions in open struggle is a different prospect altogether, and one in which the odds are stacked against their survival.
Advance in consciousness and lessons for the near future
But while their untenable conditions of life remain, the Egyptian masses themselves have changed. Sisi can try, but the memory of the revolution will be strong in this generation of Egyptians for the foreseeable future. “I see in the eyes of younger generations the idea and dream of a revolution is still there,” Esraa Abdel-Fattah, one of the founders of the 6 April movement, said in an interview from her prison cell on the fifth anniversary of the revolution. The masses recognise that none of the aims of the revolution have been achieved. But they were not inspired to take up these struggles and put their lives on the line for nothing. They will get to their feet and struggle for their freedom once again, only next time with the invaluable experience of two revolutions behind them.
Given how unstable the basis of Sisi’s power is, there could be a sudden change in the situation much sooner than anyone would imagine. An explosive movement could grip Egypt again before anyone is ready for it. It is the urgent task of the generation that would lead this movement to prepare themselves accordingly, by studying revolutionary theory and extracting vital lessons from the Egyptian Revolution.
There are many lessons to be drawn from the revolutionary movements which arose with incredible spontaneity in Egypt over the last five years. Mahienour El-Massry, another jailed activist, admitted in an open letter she wrote to mark the 25th January anniversary: “We made mistakes sometimes, we were defeated sometimes…We were arrogant sometimes and hopeless at other times.” Now those who led the revolution have experienced the consequences of allowing the terms of “democracy” to be dictated to them by a ruling class they have several times been in a position to overthrow. They have seen the barbaric civil war unleashed when a reactionary Islamist regime is accepted as the lesser evil within this class. They are now suffering under the terror of a regime they gave the chance to take power. These mistakes have been paid for with the blood of thousands, but could be critical to shaping a future struggle for power.
The key to the success or failure of the revolution always was, and will be in the coming years, preparing for it a leadership independent of the ruling class. Such a leadership must be ready to win the masses with demands for a higher form of democracy – a democracy of workers and soldiers accountable not corrupt parliamentarians and military generals; an economic democracy in which the majority of the ninety million Egyptians, not international finance capital, has a stake in the planning of production and distribution. For this leadership to come about there must first be recognition of the fundamental role that capitalism has played in all of the regimes against which the Egyptian masses have struggled. If the last five years have shown anything, it is that compromise with any wing of the capitalist class is a dead end that has cost the lives of many brave revolutionaries.
As is often quoted, Frederick Engels described the future of mankind as a choice of “socialism or barbarism”. Barbaric act after barbaric act is being carried out on behalf of the regime in Egypt. To be rid of them, Egyptian masses must be led to their historic task of socialist revolution.
Truth and justice for Giulio Regeni and victims of torture by the Egyptian state!
No to state repression of workers and youth!
Down with the murderous regime of el-Sisi!
Long live the Egyptian Revolution!