Arab Revolution

Five years ago, without any organisation, programme, plan or preparation the Arab masses, in the words of Marx, stormed heaven.  They brought down in a matter of weeks, what had seemingly not moved an inch in decades of petitioning by NGO’s and academic do-gooders. The colossal state-apparatus, employing hundreds of thousands of spies, police officers and army personnel, could only watch as the masses took over the streets.

From a Marxist point of view, the Bolshevik Revolution was the greatest single event in world history. Why? Because here, for the first time, if we exclude the heroic but tragic episode of the Paris Commune, the masses overthrew the old regime and began the great task of the socialist transformation of society.

Tomorrow, Saturday, 17 December, marks the first anniversary of the Arab revolution. On this day, one year ago, Mohammad Bouazizi, a young Tunisian fruit vendor, driven by desperation, poverty, and anger, set himself on fire in the city of Sidi Bouzid. The revolutionary wildfire that began after his death — first in southern Tunisia, then the entire country, then erupting across the entire Arab-speaking world—marked a turning point in human history.

Incredible scenes in Tel Aviv. On Saturday, August 7, over 300,000 took to the streets of a city with a population of less than half a million. Other demonstrations also took place on Saturday, with 30,000 gathering in Jerusalem, and thousands gathering in other cities across the country. The total figure of demonstrators is difficult to estimate, but it could be anything between 400,000 and half a million, in a country of 7.7 million inhabitants. Amongst the familiar demands for “social justice”, a number of banners could be seen bearing the slogan, “Resign, Egypt is here.” Tellingly, resign was written in Arabic.

In his Preface to our new book, “Revolution until victory! – The Arab revolution: A Marxist Analysis”, [available from Wellred Books at the discounted price of £7.99] Alan Woods highlights the Marxist method of analysis which allowed us to predict several years in advance the coming Egyptian revolution, and the growing instability of all the despotic regimes in North Africa and the Middle East. Compare this to the complete lack of understanding of what was about to happen on the part of so many bourgeois “experts”.

The revolutionary wave sweeping through the Middle East has acquired a new dimension with the eruption of the Palestinian masses along Israel's borders last weekend. Every 15 May, Palestinians commemorate the Nakba (catastrophe) of the declaration of independence of the state of Israel on 15 May 1948. In recent years, protests have been marked by clashes between Israeli security forces and stone-throwing Palestinian youths, but yesterday was the first time the commemorations took on a more widespread and militant character. 

Alan Woods, Political Editor of the In Defence of Marxism website and a leading cadre of the International Marxist Tendency, and Muayad Ahmed a leading cadre of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq & Editor of the ‘Alsheoiya Al-Omalya’ (Worker Communism) monthly paper, speaking on the way forward for the Revolution in the Arab world at a recent meeting in London.

The world has been shaken by the Arab Revolution. From the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf, revolution is on the agenda. And once again Egypt has been at the heart of this process, as it has always played a leading role in the region, due to its size, population and economic weight.

There is no future without the past. An empirical, mechanistic and a pragmatic approach to the revolution sweeping across the region from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea would end up in a flawed analysis and a disastrous fate for the mass upheaval.

The recent revolutions in Algeria and Sudan show that none of the contradictions facing workers, youth and the poor, that led to the wave of Arab revolutions starting in 2011, have been resolved. We republish this manifesto (written by the IMT during the first wave of those movements), explaining the tasks of the Arab Revolution, which are every bit as pressing and relevant today.

The wave of revolution that started in Tunisia is now also reaching Iraq, where the Kurdish areas had already flared up last week. But the protests are not limited to these areas. On Friday an anti-government rally named the Day of Rage, was organised in Baghdad and other cities with thousands taking part.

After the Tunisian people overthrew Ben Ali we were told by so-called expert analysts that the revolution would not spread to Egypt. After it did just that these experts weren’t so sure any more about what could happen next. Already there had been powerful movements in Jordan and the Yemen, as well as big protests in Algeria and other countries. Now Libya and Bahrain are joining the queue, as is Iraq, while the Yemen is flaring up again.

The marvellous revolutionary movement of the Tunisian workers and youth is an inspiration and an example to the whole world. For more than one week Tunisia has been living through a revolution of epic dimensions. The mass uprising in Tunisia has ended in the overthrow of the hated dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.

The recent Arab summit (May 22-23) ended with Tunisian President Zain al-Abidin bin announcing that the Arab leaders had adopted a 13-point programme that is to be applied to their countries. Its aim is to promote "political reform". The same plan will be presented to the G8 summit next month, no doubt for their approval.

The Arab leaders say they are determined to pursue and intensify the process of political, economic, social and educational reforms. Why have they suddenly discovered the need for such reforms? We can only understand this if we start from what is happening among the Arab masses. There is a growing radicalisation, which is the product of several factors. The

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