Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A lesser evil is still evil

A year ago, waves of uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa swept away western-backed tyrants one after the other - first Tunisia’s Ben Ali, then Egypt’s Mubarak. Occupiers from London to Wall Street were proud to “Walk like an Egyptian”. These revolts had echoes in other countries because they shared the same detonators of the explosion: authoritarianism, inegalitarian development, high unemployment, poverty, endemic corruption and nepotism, a suffocated political life, repression, human rights abuses, a frustrated educated youth without horizons and parasitic bourgeoisies who continue their protected robbery, exploitation and self-enrichment. It put to rest the lie the racist stereotype and contemptuous cliché that Arabs and Muslims are not fit for democracy. The Arab Spring debunked these myths.

From the beginning of the Egyptian protests, the powers that be have launched a counter-revolution to contain the struggle in a process of meaningless, piecemeal political reforms, aimed at deflecting people from a revolutionary path. The political elites has been of dismissing and appointing ministers in cabinet and committee reshuffles, conducting referendums parliamentary and now presidential elections. None of which represents any substantial, real democracy. Some people say that democratic change will come from above. But as long as the masses do not exercise pressure from beneath, struggle to radically change the status quo will be unfulfilled and the interests of the profiteering cast will be maintained.

Egyptians find themselves with a choice between ‘two evils’. These are: Ahmed Shafiq, who representing the interests of the previous regime guarantees ‘security’ and ‘stability’ ; and Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood who we are expected to believe will  ‘save’ us from the ‘old regime’ through a cultural and religious renaissance - all the while consolidating the financial and capitalist hegemony which depends on the rampant exploitation of Egypt’s people and their resources.

Most voters (75 per cent) have chosen neither Shafiq nor Morsi in the first round of elections. There is another choice - the immediate and uncompromising rejection of the status quo: of exploitation and class division, of militarized power and police repression. Egyptians must protest against the narrow perspective that says democracy is merely choosing the lesser of ‘two evils'.

The struggle in the workplace and factories, in the schools and universities and popular committees in the neighbourhoods must continue, an ongoing revolution, a revolution that will only be realized by the strength, community and persistence of the people. It is time to renew the struggle for a true liberation and meaningful democratic change, and to build a strong mass-movement against authoritarianism and any form of oppression and injustice.

The World Socialist Movement and the blog Socialist Banner are striving to build a platform for debate and an exchange of ideas regarding the challenges that face the people of Africa, from Cairo to Capetown.

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