The Egyptian Crisis

Published on ZNet, by Bill Fletcher, August 26, 2013 ( see also our new blog: politics for the 99%)

One of the most striking features of the current Egyptian crisis has been the response by most of the US Left and progressives. It is not that US leftists and progressives are ignoring the crisis but that there has been an utter failure to engage with Egyptian leftists and progressives despite the fact that the latter have been writing regular analyses of events, analyses that frequently differ from that created on this side of the Atlantic.

In a political situation that ranks as among one of the most complicated and contradictory of our life-time, the points of view of Egyptian leftists and progressives have been largely ignored here in the USA or treated as if they are mouthpieces for the Egyptian military if they have stood against the Morsi government.

In order for us—in the USA—to get a better sense of the complications and tragedies connected with the on-going struggle in Egypt, one must recognize that there has been an on-going battle for much of the last century between two distinct “projects.” Those projects, and their progeny, help to set the context for the engagements underway.

National populism vs. Islamism: … //

… My enemy’s enemy is not necessarily my friend: … //

… Morsi and the grand miscalculation: … //

… The June quasi-uprising, coup, etc.: … //

… The Tiananmen option: … //

… Implications:

There are several implications flowing from events in Egypt that necessitate consideration.

First, in the USA the principal job of those of us on the left side of the aisle must be to insist upon non-intervention in the internal affairs of Egypt. That includes the cessation of military assistance. While it is certainly conceivable that progressive forces in the Egyptian military pushed for the active intervention to oust Morsi, by now that debate has almost no importance. The nature and extent of the crackdown goes beyond removing a corrupt or tyrannical leader and instead moves towards a purge, one which while targeted at the Islamists at the moment, can just as easily be targeted at progressive opponents of the military in the very near future.

Second, and contrary to the conclusions raised by Columbia University professor Mahmood Mamdani, who recently suggested that there was much in common between the lead up to the Rwanda genocide and the circumstances in Egypt, what we are witnessing is a very different sort of legacy conflict. This is not ethnic group vs. ethnic group but a struggle around two projects, though that struggle has been perverted and exists today between two main protagonists within the spectrum of capitalism.[3] Contrary to Rwanda or Darfur, this is a political conflict which, while quite bloody, probably has more in common with elements of the Algerian crisis that resulted in their civil war in the 1990s.

Third, within the global South there has developed new attention to what might be called “right-wing anti-imperialism.” Right-wing populism in various forms has reemerged in much of the world, but in the global South there are political tendencies and organizations that have a very particular and peculiar characteristic that is not unlike Imperial Japan at the time of World War II, i.e., the shrewd use of anti-Western and anti-imperialist rhetoric in order to advance horribly reactionary agendas (e.g., political misogynism; anti-worker; irrationalism; intolerance). It is critically important that leftists and progressives in the global North pay attention to these developments and not assume that the mere fact that an organization, individual or tendency is at odds with global capitalism necessarily makes them progressive.

Third, uprisings take place even against elected governments. The fact that a government was elected does not mean that that government cannot and will not lose its mandate to govern. The circumstances for such a loss can be terribly unpredictable but under conditions where masses have concluded that there is a power-grab underway, the fact that a government has been democratically elected should not mean that the Left and progressives remain agnostic. In the case of Egypt in June 2013, a mass demand for the completion of the January 2011 Egyptian Revolution appears to have been in operation. The fact that the military intervened takes nothing away from the legitimacy of that original demand.

Fourth, it is not too late to seek a political solution to the conflict. As we are seeing in Syria at this very moment, circumstances can unfold differently than was originally intended and the optimal outcome may not be possible. Both the Egyptian military and the MB need to pull back from the military option. This may be very difficult and we may be witnessing the first acts of a play of the ‘war to the knife.’ But this option may also be one that rests in the hands of the Egyptian grassroots and their ability to intervene against both the military and the MB.

Finally, and to go full circle, we in the USA must pay more attention to what left and progressive forces are saying within countries such as Egypt before jumping to conclusions. As the saying goes, “…seek truth from facts…” but to this should be added that we must pay attention to the analyses of people on the ground, those who have been engaged in the struggle. While we may or may not agree with their conclusions, and as such we should guard against lackey-ism, we should begin by respecting their experience and, where possible, engage in constructive dialogue in order to enrich our own analyses. To do otherwise ends up meaning objectively using an imperial frame of reference, albeit with red or pink coloring.

(full long, long text).

(Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, a columnist for The Progressive, and the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. He can be followed on Facebook and at billfletcherjr.com).

Links:

Obedience (human behavior) on en.wikipedia, with it’s Conclusion: … in human behavior, is a form of “social influence in which a person yields to explicit instructions or orders from an authority figure”[1] Obedience is generally distinguished from compliance, which is behavior influenced by peers, and from conformity, which is behavior intended to match that of the majority. Obedience can be seen as both amoral and a moral. For example in a situation when one orders a person to kill another innocent person and he or she does this willingly, it is generally considered to be amoral. However when one orders a person to kill an enemy who will end a lot of innocent lives and he or she does this willingly it can be deemed moral …;

Compliance (psychology) … on en.wikipedia/Conclusion.

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