Wed May 4, 2011 8:46 pm

Arab bourgeois 'revolution' or proletarian revolutionary expropriation

by Lil Joe

Introductory Note. Clarification and Additions

This revised note is to clarify the comments I am making in response to the racialist slogans by imperialist politicians and the capitalist owned print and electronic media propaganda. The U.S and British imperialist politicians, together with lackey ideologist and propagandists in the mass media masquerading as journalists and 'the news', 24/7, are trying to describe the working classes uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt as an "Arab revolution', an 'Arab spring', and 'pro-democracy young people' against individuals, so-called dictators.

In the article below by Tariq Ali, it is clear that Ali is a bourgeois racialist using this ideological racial slogan by characterising of the class struggle in Tunisia and Egypt as being in 'the Arab world', and that the rebels are 'pro-democracy' bourgeois revolts against individual 'dictators', rather than part of the general uprising throughout the nations bordering the Meditarennean Basin and the international solidarity of workers in class battles against the capitalist classes and the States everywhere on Earth.

The racialist bourgeois nationalist rhetoric regarding what's occuring in Tunisia and Egypt as a reactionary 'Pan-Arabist' so-called 'pro-democracy' 'Arab revolution', against a demonized individual 'head of state' is a red herring. In Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and in Egypt Hosni Mubarak were not the problem, these individuals were the faces of the government that managed the State, the State in both cases as elsewhere represents the interests of the most powerful, economically dominate classes. In these cases, the capitalist class.

Individuals do not hold power as individuals; this was the real point made by George Orwell in the futurist novel, Niineteen Eighty Four. In this novel, Winston Smith is a member in good standing of the Ingsoc Outer Party cadre, who worked in the government's propaganda sector - the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue, in Newspeak). O'Brien was a member of the Inner Party, its collective leadership cadre. After having been subjected to State torture, Winston was permitted to ask O'Brian, whom had supervised the torture, concerning Big Brother:

Winston: 'Does Big Brother exist?'

O'Brian: 'Of course he exists. The Party exists. Big Brother is the embodiment of the Party.'

Winston: 'Does he exist in the same way as I exist?'

'You do not exist,' said O'Brien.

Once again the sense of helplessness assailed him. He knew, or he could imagine, the arguments which proved his own nonexistence; but they were nonsense, they were only a play on words. Did not the statement, 'You do not exist', contain a logical absurdity? But what use was it to say so? His mind shrivelled as he thought of the unanswerable, mad arguments with which O'Brien would demolish him.

'I think I exist,' he said wearily. 'I am conscious of my own identity. I was born and I shall die. I have arms and legs. I occupy a particular point in space. No other solid object can occupy the same point simultaneously. In that sense, does Big Brother exist?'

'It is of no importance. He exists.'

'Will Big Brother ever die?'

'Of course not. How could he die? Next question.'

'Does the Brotherhood exist?'

'That, Winston, you will never know. If we choose to set you free when we have finished with you, and if you live to be ninety years old, still you will never learn whether the answer to that question is Yes or No. As long as you live it will be an unsolved riddle in your mind.'

Winston lay silent.

The State is a social power. Big Brother is not an empirical individual man. There was no actual existential individual man who is referred to as Big Brother. Anyone who has actually read Orwell's novel, or even saw the motion picture version of it, in which Richard Burton performed as O'Brian, knows that it is only as a propaganda ploy that this 'individual, is invented by the propaganda departnemt of the State to be an individual who dominates Civil Society and the State. Ideologically, 'Big Brother is the embodiment of the Party.'

In Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell has O'Brian intimate that 'Big Brother' was the collective Inner Party. The Inner Party as an organization invented the image of an omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent Big Brother as a face on the wall or telescreen, and a slogan, and not an actual individual who personally saw everything, knew everthing and spied on everyone and who individually dominated society. That Big Brother will never die is that it is the State that this image of government is personified that will live on, independner of which ever individual mortal happens to be the face of this government.

Yet, in the United States, capitalist owned print and media propaganda, the American 'Ministry of Truth', is where disinformation is formulated as 'news' and 'journalism' that echo the rhetoric of demogogic politicians. The fear and hatred of 'Big Brother' is externalized and imposed on foreign 'dictators', and the government of the American State is presented as the embodiment of Winston Smith who is fighting overseas 'Big Brothers', to 'liberate' the citizens of other countries from a 'dictator' or 'despot' characterised as an O'Brain torturing and killing 'his own people'!

By transferring concepts of political evil onto demonised individuals - news and media propaganda 'reports', hand in hand with imperialist politicians who govern the American State, are able to circumvent actual class analysis of the State, both at home and abroad by ad hominem attacks on foreign individuals, who are thereby discussed separate and apart from the economic basis of States, its class character. These ad hominems are red herrings and thus the actual 'news' of the actual revolts by workers and unions, general strikes and accompanying class demands against capitalists and the State are ignored.

No individual has the power [ability] single handedly to subjugate an entire kingdom or republic or govern an entire nation of millions. Rather, the governments manage the bureaucratic military State. This State - institutions of special bodies of armed men and women - army, police, &c. are instruments of class domination, on behalf of the property owning appropriating classes, which are on the basis of class wealth the most powerful, politically dominate class. Classes rule, parties govern, individuals participate in governments &/or military forces by chain of command.

The 'news' media is assumed by the gullible to be presenting the facts of world events. In reality, critical thinkers have realised that these 'news reports' are not telling viewers what's going on, but more importantly what to think about what's going on.

That this is so just consider the current US media orgies 'reporting' the announcement of the assassination of Osoma bin Laden. U.S. politicians and the cheer-leading 'news media' have Americans ejaculating, laughing as they are screaming and cheering: "U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!"

Never was a patriot yet, but was a fool. – John Dryden

A patriot is a fool in every age. – Alexander Pope.

The same people who are shouting praise for Obama 'keeping his campaign promise' of killing Osama bin Ladin are the same who were denouncing him for selling out and not keeping his campaign pledges to organized labor and the poor e.g. card check defense of union organizers and single payer health care insurance.

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.– Samuel Johnson

In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary, patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first. – Ambrose Bierce

Patriotism is as fierce as a fever, pitiless as the grave, blind as a stone, and irrational as a headless hen. – Ambrose Bierce

By doing this, the ruling classes in the US are able to manipulate the feelings of the gullible and externalise hatred.

Prior to invading countries US politicians along with the print and electronic media engage in all out 24/7 blitz of 'news' demonising the government leader of the nation to be attacked, as 'another Hitler' and so on, manipulating the image of a "Big Brother" so-called 'dictator' who is 'oppressing' or 'killing' 'his own people, so that US invasion and occupation forces are seen as 'good' fighting' evil', as representing 'freedom' and 'democracy' in opposition to 'dictators' and 'tyranny'. This is why it was so difficult to promote the government US imperialism had been arming and funding in Tunisa and Egypt as those of 'evil' and run by 'dictators'.

More importantly, as governments are but managers of States, which are based on economic interests of appropriating classes, are class powers, it is necessary to demonise individuals to blind side the actual politics of class in the cases both of the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, as well as of the US government that govern its bureaucratic military State power in the interests of the US appropriating classes -capitalists, landowners and parasitic finance capitals.

The function of US imperialism is to repressent the interests of the capitalist classes at home and abroad. To demonise the heads of State of Tunisia and Egypt is at the same time to keep the bureaucratic military state of the national bourgeoisie and their property in Tunisia and Egypt from the 'news', which is in the interests of US based transnational property in tact in Tunisia, Egypt and everwhere else.

Revolutions are products of class struggles - an insurrection is the means by which one class expropriates another, by at the same time overthrowing the government of the appropriating classes that had managed the state power of those ruling classes. Not only is 'Arab revolution' a misnomer, but the presenting of US, British and French imperialism as 'revolutionary' are conceptional oxymorons.

Tariq Ali asks whether the 'reshaping of the' so-called 'Arab world' - 'the people, or the US'? This statement is supposed to place him in the camp of 'Arab revolution' and 'anti-imperialism'. Well, any time you read authors and propagandists, as well as imperialist politicians, calling the overthrow of a government a 'peoples revolution' we know that 'the people' include the bourgeoisie and its lackeys and lickspittles in the 'Arab' countries. On the other hand, charaterising these revolts according to its majority, class content of workers and unions advancing workers interests and demands, thus advocating a workers revolution, excludes the national bourgeoisie as well as the transnational corporations and imperialists.

Through the write-up by Tariq Ali we see the reactionary consequence where the categorisation of the class struggles by workers as an "Arab spring" and 'pro-democracy' so-caled 'Arab revolution' against individuals in Tunisia and Egypt, "that united the [Arab] masses regardless of class or creed". This ideological racial populism is bourgeois racialist ideology that by eliminating class antagonism for the so-called 'Arab revolution' leaves capitalist ownership of the productive forces - including of transnational corporations - in the possessions of those appropriating classes, appropriating and exploiting wage workers.

The Arabist bourgeois nationalists and racialist 'anti-imperialists', such as Tariq Ali, by idologically presenting the workers and unions uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt as an "Arab intifada" devoid of class content and ignoring that these majorities are working class and presenting class demands, comes to conclusions in the interests of the bourgeoisie and imperialists' concept of 'people power', rather than recognizing the proletarian revolution to reconstitute society by the revolutionary dictatorship expropriaing their means of production and distribution constituting socialism, not just in Tunisia and Egypt but, in all the industrial capitalist societies in the world in which the wage workers are the democratic and organized majority that are rising in the nations of the Mediterranean Basin!

There is no such thing as a 'genuine popular movement', that's the same slogan the reactionary Tea Party movement in the US calls itself. All social movements constituent of civil society are dominated by material interests of classes.

The task of social science /scientific socialism is to do an empirical analysis of class elements of both the revolt and of reaction, and not be tricked by high sounding flowery rhetoric of politicians and propagandists representing the American and EU capitalist ruling classes describing those in rebellion and of reaction. The politicians and the print and electronic media propagandist endorse with flowery words such as 'freedom fighters' the lackey elements in countries that further the interests of the capitalist ruling classes in the US and EU, and demonise the countries the governments of which the imperialists oppose.

There is no genetic based social movement. There is no 'Arab world' nor 'Arab revolution' or 'Arab intifada'. There is a Palestinian national intifada that is led by the Palestinian bourgeoisie against Israeli armed occupation in West Bank and Gaza, repression and humiliation of the Palestinian natives. Al Fata is a bourgeois party, Hamas petty bourgeois, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine the proletarian socialist party of Palestinian workers and intellectuals. Isreali and Palestinian workers and unions supported the workers revolting in Tunisia and Egypt, whereas the governments of Hamas in Gaza and PLO- Al Fatah, as well as of the State in Israel oppose it.

In Tunisia and Egypt, as in Greece and Italy, Turkey and France, there are proletarian strikes characteristic of workers revolts presently on all sides of the Mediterranean Basin, whereas in Libya it is the revolt of reactionary monarchists working hand in glove with US and EU imperialism to set up a lackey if not a quisling regime, similar to the State of Israel, as its imperialist armed Mediterranean ally.

Tariq Ali, by presenting working class revolts in Tunisia and Egypt as, instead, an 'Arab revolution', to which he says workers interests are subordinate, or rather not even mentioned, this is typical bourgeois nationalist politics and ideology. It does not criticise the State, or even the government managing the State, but presents bourgeois interests as 'national interests'. Nay, as reactionary racial 'Pan-Arabism'.

Ali declares:

In January, Arab streets resounded to the slogan that united the masses regardless of class or creed: "Al-Sha'b yurid isquat al-nizam!" – "The people want the downfall of the regime!" The images streaming out from Tunis to Cairo, Saana to Bahrain, are of Arab peoples on their feet once again.

In Germany, the 1930s, "Ayran streets" also 'resounded to the slogan that united the masses regardless of class or creed: 'Triumph des Willens' and 'the people want the downfall of the regime!' The images streaming out from Nuremberg to Munich to Berlin. The Nazi demagogues and their print and media propagandists called these Reichsparteitag der Freiheit: "Rally of Freedom" Would Tariq Ali also characterise and support those Nazi rallies as "Aryan people on their feet once again'?

The fascist "masses" on the "Aryan street" were also pan-Germanic. Obviously, the numbers and the 'race' or genetic code determined morphology and complexion of 'people in the streets' does not determine the class politics of those 'masses'. Calling them 'the masses' or 'the people' isn't itself a political characterisation, and refering to them in Germany as "Aryan", and to those in Tunisia and Egypt as "Arabs", doesn't either. The masses' are not 'united regardless of class'.

Capitalist Society - the capitalist mode of production and appropriation's relations of production - determines individual and class interests. It is the bourgeois nationalists whose class interest's are in telling the workers that classes don't matter, that: "we are all of the same 'nation' or 'race', ", and therefore the 'masses' that comprise the exploited working classes are duped into sacrificing their material class interests. Those interests are in natural antagonims of those of the appropriating classes that exploit the appropriated [purchased] labour of the working classes. The working classes and toiling masses are asked to forgo material class interests on the basis of 'national' &/or 'racial' unity.

Discounting the fundamental class nature of revolutions and ignoring the primacy of the workers uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, by referring to these working class revolts as a so-called 'Arab revolution', is to seperate the workers of Tunisia and Egypt from the waves of general strikes of workers in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and elswhere in the Mediterranean Basin and in Europe.

US and British imperialist politicians, together with their respective print and media propagandists, benefit the capitalist ruling classes everywhere by demogogic clap trap about 'freedom', and presenting the problem as not objective economic antagonism but ideational nonempirical and against individuals - 'dictators', 'despots'...

Lil Joe


Who will reshape the Arab world: its people, or the US?

by Tariq Ali

Phase one of the Arab spring is over. Phase two – the attempt to crush or contain genuine popular movements – has begun

Tariq Ali

The patchwork political landscape of the Arab world – the client monarchies, degenerated nationalist dictatorships and the imperial petrol stations known as the Gulf states – was the outcome of an intensive experience of Anglo-French colonialism. This was followed after the second world war by a complex process of imperial transition to the United States. The result was a radical anticolonial Arab nationalism and Zionist expansionism within the wider framework of the cold war.

When the cold war ended Washington took charge of the region, initially through local potentates then through military bases and direct occupation. Democracy never entered the frame, enabling the Israelis to boast that they alone were an oasis of light in the heart of Arab darkness. How has all this been affected by the Arab intifada that began four months ago?

In January, Arab streets resounded to the slogan that united the masses regardless of class or creed: "Al-Sha'b yurid isquat al-nizam!" – "The people want the downfall of the regime!" The images streaming out from Tunis to Cairo, Saana to Bahrain, are of Arab peoples on their feet once again. On 14 January, as chanting crowds converged on the ministry of interior, Tunisia's President Ben Ali and his family fled to Saudi Arabia. On 11 February the national uprising in Egypt toppled the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak as mass rebellion erupted in Libya and the Yemen.

In occupied Iraq, demonstrators protested against the corruption of the Maliki regime and, more recently, against the presence of US troops and bases. Jordan was shaken by nationwide strikes and tribal rebellion. Protests in Bahrain spiralled into calls for the overthrow of the monarchy, an event that scared the neighbouring Saudi kleptocrats and their western patrons, who can't conceive of an Arabia without sultans. Even as I write, the corrupt and brutal Ba'athist outfit in Syria, under siege by its own people, is struggling for its life.

The dual determinants of the uprisings were both economic – with mass unemployment, rising prices, scarcity of essential commodities – and political: cronyism, corruption, repression, torture. Egypt and Saudi Arabia were the crucial pillars of US strategy in the region, as confirmed recently by US vice-president Jo Biden, who stated that he was more concerned about Egypt than Libya. The worry here is Israel; the fear that an out-of-control democratic government might renege on the peace treaty. And Washington has, for the time being, succeeded in rerouting the political process into a carefully orchestrated change, led by Mubarak's defence minister and chief of staff, the latter being particularly close to the Americans.

Most of the regime is still in place. Its key messages are the need for stability and a return to work, putting a stop to the strike wave. Fevered behind-the scenes negotiations between Washington and the Muslim Brotherhood are continuing. A slightly amended old constitution remains in force and the South American model of huge social movements producing new political organisations that triumph at the polls and institute social reforms is far from being replicated in the Arab world, thus not posing any serious challenge, until now, to the economic status quo.

The mass movement remains alert in both Tunisia and Egypt but is short of political instruments that reflect the general will. The first phase is over. The second, that of rolling back the movements, has begun.

The Nato bombing of Libya was an attempt by the west to regain the "democratic" initiative after its dictators were toppled elsewhere. It has made the situation worse. The so-called pre-empting of a massacre has led to the killing of hundreds of soldiers, many of whom were fighting under duress, and permitted the ghastly Muammar Gaddafi to masquerade as an anti-imperialist.

Here one has to say that whatever the final outcome, the Libyan people have lost. The country will either be partitioned into a Gaddafi state and a squalid pro-west protectorate led by selected businessmen, or the west will take out Gaddafi and control the whole of Libya and its huge oil reserves. This display of affection for "democracy" does not extend elsewhere in the region.

In Bahrain, the US green-lighted a Saudi intervention to crush local democrats, enhance religious sectarianism, organise secret trials and sentence protesters to death. Bahrain today is a prison camp, a poisonous mixture of Guantαnamo and Saudi Arabia.

In Syria the security apparatus led by the Assad family is killing at will, but without being able to crush the democratic movement. The opposition is not under the control of Islamists: it is a broad coalition that includes every social layer apart from the capitalist class that remains loyal to the regime.

Unlike in other Arab countries, many Syrian intellectuals stayed at home, suffering prison and torture, and secular socialists like Riad Turk and many others are part of the underground leadership in Damascus and Aleppo. Nobody wants western military intervention. They don't want a repeat of Iraq or Libya. The Israelis and the US would prefer Assad to stay as they once did Mubarak, but the dice are still in the air.

In Yemen, the despot has killed hundreds of citizens but the army has split, and Americans and Saudis are trying desperately to stitch together a new coalition (as in Egypt) – but the mass movement is resisting any deals with the incumbent.

The US has to contend with an altered political environment in the Arab world. It is too soon to predict the final outcome, except to say it is not over yet.

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Last updated 5.5.2011