Tunisia Rocked, Egypt Rolled
BY JAAN LAAMAN
Revolution. Scenes of untold thousands in the streets, day after day. Protesters resisting cops and government goons. Larger marches and bigger rallies, these are all scenes the world has just observed from Tunis, Cairo, Alexandria.
Then the fall of one strong man ruler, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia.
The following month, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is gone, and the beat of struggle and revolution goes on.
The media has been full of information and images of the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. The government leaders in the U.S. and Europe have been trying to put their best face forward, their best spin, on the loss of two of their, shall we say, loyal client regimes, or puppet governments, or long and strongly backed dictators. French colonialism-imperialism was more directly backing Ben Ali in Tunisia, while U.S. imperialism was the big backer and military aid provider for Mubarak in Egypt.
U.S. imperialism has a sordid decades upon decades long record of backing dictatorial and even fascist regimes with money, arms and political support. From the Duvaliers in Haiti, Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan, Diem in South Vietnam, Somoza in Nicaragua, Suharto in Indonesia, Pinochet in Chile, the Shah in Iran, Mobutu in Zaire, etc. (if readers aren’t too familiar with some of these U.S. backed dictators, doing a little study on them is worth your time; People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, is one easily available book that has information on a lot of this).
No one really knows what is to come in Egypt or Tunisia. Neither country had a major single revolutionary force and leadership that can now begin building a new revolutionary future and state. Certainly revolutionaries and activists around the world hope the people and progressive forces in Egypt and Tunisia can put together and maintain a truly revolutionary democratic system that benefits their workers, farmers, youth and nation.
In Egypt, just days after Mubarak was forced out (these words are being written in mid-February), the military committee that took over suspended the Constitution and Parliament and promised referendums and elections in 6 months if possible. It is being reported that the main forces and voices that brought this popular uprising together, are somewhat satisfied with this plan and time schedule.
Now it is essential that popular and revolutionary forces in Egypt get to work organizing their people and constructing the plans and structures for a new government and system.
The “April 6th Youth Movement” and four other youth groups were the initial and main voices/forces that organized the first protests in Tahrir square. These youth voices and groups continue to be the force around which this uprising has coalesced. Mohamed ElBaradei, the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is a main voice in the “National Association for Change.”
This broad front also has leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in it. The Muslim Brotherhood itself, is a large force throughout Egypt. There is also a liberal protest group, “Enough: The Egyptian Movement for Change,” that is active. There are many other groups and movements, including socialist and revolutionary formations, but the Egyptian uprising that forces out Mubarak and his government, was not led by any one group, other than youth and youth groups in general.
Each nation, with its own history and culture is unique. Every revolution is likewise unique, dependent on conditions, time and place. What is common and in fact often occurring, is the reality of popular uprising and revolution. It is not just something that happens in Egypt or Tunisia or South Africa or Nicaragua or Vietnam or Cuba. It’s not just something that happened in the past.
Revolution, popular rising of a people who have said: “We are tired, that’s enough—I’d rather fight on my feet than live on my knees.” This is true change, fundamental change that removes the small power elite, the ruling class from power, and turns that power over to the majority, the working class, the farmers, the common people.
This kind of revolutionary change is possible and often necessary. It is not just something that happens somewhere else. It can happen anywhere—it can happen here in the heart of the empire, of U.S. imperialism—of the racist, classist, war mongering, war profiteering, Earth polluting, prison packing United States of America.
Youth of America, working people of America, people of conscience, do not be afraid, cynical or distracted. Tahrir square is waiting to happen in Times Square, The Loop in Chicago or South Central in LA and everywhere in between. A very popular song being heard all over Tahrir square and Cairo right now, goes like this:
First they ignore you
Then they laugh at you
Then they fight you
Then you win
Like a lot of people used to say here in the U.S., ‘All Power to the People.’