International Statement – REVOLUTION IC
Since the downfall of dictator Mubarak in 2011, Egypt’s people have had to fight tooth and nail to get a new set of laws – a constitution – democratically created. Then they had to vote whether to accept the draft.
On the 15th of December, the first round of the constitution referendum started. The results were published soon after the second round on the 22nd of December with 64% voting for the constitution.
The content is reactionary in it’s Islamist character, defining the Sharia as the main source for jurisdiction, the absence of explicit women’s rights, the discrimination of religious minorities, and the unchanged autonomy and power of the military apparatus. The state shall guarantee the ethics, morals, and the law and order and gives a big space for interpretation for its use of power.
The outcome of the referendum means a preliminary victory of the counterrevolution. It means a setback for the opposition movement and a consolidation of the new – but, in fact, old – regime lead by the Muslim Brotherhood.
In the struggle for the new constitution, President Morsi gave himself the power that his decisions couldn’t be fought by the court and argued that this would be necessary for the safety of the revolution. He sees himself in a struggle against parts of the state apparatus from the old Mubarak regime which still controls the judiciary. This also explains why only three representatives of the old regime got convicted in the course of the revolution. His fear of the court wanting to dissolve the Constituent Assembly caused him to empower himself and to push the referendum by fast tracking with reactionary means.
This caused huge protests against the president’s self-empowerment and against the constitutional referendum. While bourgeois forces like the liberals, and even openly reactionary forces like the supporters of the old regime, tried to get a voice within the uprising, its social roots lay elsewhere. The oppositional alliance, where even smaller socialist forces were involved, and the radical youth caused mass demonstrations leading to a political crisis in society where the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists revealed their reactionary character. The massive protests forced Morsi to withdraw his dictatorial decrees but not the referendum and the draft constitution.
During the protests, scores of clashes between oppositional demonstrators and supporters of Morsi occurred. Parts of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists started attacks on the demonstrations leading to five people being killed and 700 being injured. As a reaction to the attacks from the Islamist forces, radical youths set an office of the Muslim Brotherhood on fire. President Morsi gave permission to the military to take people under arrest and stationed soldiers and tanks near the presidential palace. Although the military asserted not to intervene into the protests, it was clear that it should frighten the demonstrators and should be ready to intervene in case of emergency.
The most militant and progressive element of the opposition is the youth, with many of them tend to Left or anarchistic positions. This is no coincidence; the youth in Egypt suffers the most from the economic crisis. 75 percent of those 15-28 years’ old are unemployed. The biggest influence spurring the youths is the April 6 youth movement, which has a huge range and force for mobilization.
Nevertheless, the movement considers itself not as a party and couldn’t organize the most radical youth on a clear and revolutionary perspective. Still the youth has to be aware to link their struggles to other social layers with a special attention to the organized working class, which is the only force in society which can really take the government and enterprises under pressure by strike and which is able to reorganize the form of production and by that the whole society. Therefore, the youth has build their own independent organization but do so on the basis of a clear and revolutionary program that orientates toward the working class.
It is also the working class which suffers alongside oppressed layers like youths, women, and immigrants from the capitalist crisis and the reactionary regime. The social and political crisis in Egypt sharpens with the ongoing differentiation between rich and poor. The economy lies down suffering under missing incomes from foreign investments and tourism. President Morsi had to make a request for an IMF credit of 4.8 billion Dollars which is as usual connected to cost-cutting measures, in particular the cutbacks of energy subsidies, the tax increase on consumption, and a higher taxation on income.
Although the president abandoned a tax increase shortly before the referendum, which displeased the IMF, one has to consider this measure as a tactic in the referendum. The credit and the cost-cutting measures will then come next year, ruining the life of many workers, peasants, and poor in Egypt. The working class and the trade unions have to pick up a fight against the cutbacks and against the government and the Muslim Brotherhood, which tries to dominate the trade unions by undemocratically replacing the union officials with people appointed from the Manpower Minister for leadership positions.
Also the government led by the Muslim Brotherhood dropped a draft law for the freedom of trade unions. Mursi’s attempts to weaken and take over the trade unions is a preparation for a bigger attack on the working class. That’s why the struggle of the workers and the trade unions must also be struggle against the Muslim Brotherhood and the constitution.
The Constituent Assembly is dominated by the Muslim brotherhood and the Salafists and doesn’t represent the people. It had been elected by the parliament with almost no discussion about the procedure of vote and without a minimum number of female representatives and representatives of religious minorities and, therefore, had been boycotted by many liberals and secularists. Moreover, the April 6 youth movement reports about the constitution referendum on later opened polling and voters being affected by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The movement sent members to different towns to observe the referendum. In Damietta, Islamists offered money for votes for the constitution; in the province Menufija, a judge had to dismiss his advance men, because they tried to persuade voters for the constitution. Also, preachers in mosques called for the constitution. Nevertheless, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists claim that the votes for the constitution mean the will of the people in spite of the ridiculous voter participation of 32%.
A representative constitution must be a constitution of the masses of the workers, peasants, and youth. There must be a constituent assembly elected by democratic councils in districts, towns, and workplaces with delegates which can be elected and deselected. These councils have to control the assembly and have to build a power which can challenge the bureaucratic, state apparatus. They have to be defended by self-defense committees and workers and peasants’ militias. This is the only way to guarantee a constitution in the interest of the masses.
But even this isn’t enough. A new, revolutionary constitution cannot limit itself to be a democratic one, since it cannot change the living conditions of the people as long as they are being exploited and oppressed by imperialism and the Egyptian capitalist class. The capitalists will fight every democratic reform by every mean as soon as it becomes a threat to their rule and their profits.
The revolution has to go on to build up democratic councils of the masses and build dual power; it has to arm itself; it has to take the power and build it on the councils of workers, peasants, youth, and the poor. It has to decide a revolutionary constitution which dis-empowers the capitalists and landlords and, therefore, nationalizes the most important companies under worker’s control, and further steps ahead to a socialist society of justice, freedom, and equality.
This requires the buildup of a common workers’ party on a revolutionary communist program, which can fight for the power of the masses and for a socialist constitution by dual power. Currently, the elections to parliament after the passed constitution will be an important process of political dispute and an optimal opportunity create such a workers’ party.