[Debate] Joshua Stacher, "How Egypt's Army Won"
peterwaterman1936 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 4 07:59:49 BST 2012
I am not an Egyptian although I am a secular leftie. I am not inclined to
respond in their name.
As a secular leftie, however, I am unattracted by 'lumpen development'.
This because it suggests an ideal-typical capitalist development, whereas
it seems to me that US or Swedish capitalism could be likewise
characterised - the automobile, the environmental destruction, commercial
TV with its 10 minute breaks between advertisements...I could go on.
Furthermore, you imply that 'lumpen development' produces the raw material
for political Islam. Which raises the question of whether the 'Arab street'
is incapable of collective, effective, and even progressive self-activity.
There is here a further implication, it seems to me, that 'real capitalist'
development produces a rational, secular, progressive - not to say
revolutionary and internationalist - working class. As in...the
Bearing in mind the radical-democratic - not to say environmentally aware
and rationally utopian - role of rural and indigenous populations, or urban
squatter movements in Latin America, I would have thought that the choices
before the Left in Egypt were not necessarily confined to either a Turkish
or Pakistani model in the mind of Samir Amin.
On Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 8:41 PM, Yoshie Furuhashi <
critical.montages at gmail.com> wrote:
> The longer lumpen development continues, the larger the informal
> sector* grows, the more numerous potential recruits for Islamic
> movements are likely to become. What's secular Egyptian leftists'
> strategy in this context?
> * <http://bit.ly/LTlIld>
> The Electoral Victory of Political Islam in Egypt
> by Samir Amin
> The electoral victory of the Muslim Brotherhood and of the Salafists
> in Egypt (January 2012) is hardly surprising. The decline brought
> about by the current globalization of capitalism has produced an
> extraordinary increase in the so-called "informal" activities that
> provide the livelihoods of more than half of the Egyptian population
> (statistics give a figure of 60%).
> And the Muslim Brotherhood is very well placed to take advantage of
> this decline and perpetuate its reproduction. Their simplistic
> ideology confers legitimacy on a miserable market/bazaar economy that
> is completely antithetical to the requirements of any development
> worthy of the name. The fabulous financial means provided to the
> Muslim Brotherhood (by the Gulf states) allows them to translate this
> ideology into efficient action: financial aid to the informal economy,
> charitable services (medical dispensaries etc.).
> In this way the Brotherhood establishes itself at the heart of society
> and induces its dependency. It has never been the intention of the
> Gulf countries to support the development of Arab countries, for
> example through industrial investment. They support a form of "lumpen
> development" -- to use the term originally coined by André Gunder
> Frank -- that imprisons the societies concerned in a spiral of
> pauperization and exclusion, which in turn reinforces the stranglehold
> of reactionary political Islam on society.
> This would not have succeeded so easily if it had not been in perfect
> accord with the objectives of the Gulf states, Washington, and Israel.
> The three close allies share the same concern: to foil the recovery
> of Egypt. A strong, upright Egypt would mean the end of the triple
> hegemony of the Gulf (submission to the discourse of Islamization of
> society), the United States (a vassalized and pauperized Egypt remains
> under its direct influence), and Israel (a powerless Egypt does not
> intervene in Palestine).
> The rallying of regimes to neo-liberalism and to submission to
> Washington was sudden and total in Egypt under Sadat, and more gradual
> and moderate in Algeria and Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood -- which is
> part of the power system -- should not be considered merely as an
> "Islamic party," but first and foremost as an ultra reactionary party
> that is, moreover, Islamist. Reactionary not only concerning what are
> known as "social issues" (the veil, sharia, anti-Coptic
> discrimination), but also, and to the same degree, reactionary in the
> fundamental areas of economic and social life: the Brotherhood is
> against strikes, workers' demands, independent workers' unions, the
> movement of resistance against the expropriation of farmers, etc.
> The planned failure of the "Egyptian revolution" would thus guarantee
> the continuation of the system that has been in place since Sadat,
> founded on the alliance of the army high command and political Islam.
> Admittedly, on the strength of its electoral victory the Brotherhood
> is now able to demand more power than it has thus far been granted by
> the military. However, revising the distribution of the benefits of
> this alliance in favor of the Brotherhood may prove difficult.
> The first round of the presidential election on 24 May was organized
> in such a way as to achieve the objective pursued by the system in
> power and by Washington: to reinforce the alliance of the two pillars
> of the system -- the army high command and the Muslim Brotherhood --
> and settle their disagreement (which of the two will be in the
> forefront). The two candidates "acceptable" in this sense were the
> only ones to receive adequate means to run their campaigns. Morsi
> (MB: 24%) and Chafiq (Army: 23%). The movement's real candidate -- H.
> Sabbahi -- who did not receive the means normally granted to
> candidates, allegedly only got 21% of the vote (the figure is
> At the end of protracted negotiations it was agreed that Morsi was the
> "winner" of the second round. The assembly, like the president, was
> elected thanks to a massive distribution of parcels (of meat, oil, and
> sugar) to those who voted for the Islamists. And yet, the "foreign
> observers" failed to observe a situation that is openly ridiculed in
> Egypt. The assembly's dissolution was delayed by the army, which
> wanted to give the Brotherhood time to bring discredit upon itself by
> refusing to address social issues (employment, salaries, schools, and
> The system in place, "presided" over by Morsi, is the best guarantee
> that lumpen-development and the destruction of the institutions of the
> state, which are the objectives pursued by Washington, will continue.
> We will see how the revolutionary movement, which is still firmly
> committed to the fight for democracy, social progress, and national
> independence, will carry on after this electoral charade.
> Samir Amin is a Marxist economist. Translation by Julia Monod (first
> published by Pambazuka News under a Creative Commons license).
> On Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 2:32 PM, peter waterman
> <peterwaterman1936 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > This makes it sound as if those who went out of the streets, struck in or
> > outside their factories, risked their lives in Tahrir Square, exposed
> > themselves to military vengeance in the universities, should have waited
> > until Egyptian Capitalism matured to the point at which a Vanguard Party
> > could have led them in a triumphant secular, socialist, worker and
> > revolution.
> > I am looking forward to something which draws some positive practical
> > lessons for the radically-democratic activists and turbulent people in
> > factories and slums.
> > Pw
> > On Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 5:52 PM, Yoshie Furuhashi
> > <critical.montages at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> The MB-SCAF pact will be profitable for both, and both will prosper at
> >> the expense of secular democrat intellectuals, workers, and peasants
> >> over the medium term.
> >> In the short term, the SCAF will have the upper hand, but in the
> >> medium term, over the next several decades, the MB will be able to
> >> execute their passive revolution much the way the AKP and the Gulen
> >> movement have done in Turkey.
> >> Socially and economically, however, Egypt's will be much more of
> >> lumpen development than Turkey's. As Samir Amin noted early in the
> >> Jan25 process, it will be more like the Pakistani model than the
> >> Turkish model in this respect:
> >> <http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/amin030211.html>.
> >> Secular democrat intellectuals in Egypt seem to have no idea how to
> >> resist either the MB or the SCAF, let alone both. Few of them have
> >> ideological resources beyond liberalism. They don't cohere either.
> >> On Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 11:24 AM, peter waterman
> >> <peterwaterman1936 at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> > If the Muslim Brotherhood is thus discredited, might this not itself
> >> > value to democratic secular forces?
> >> >
> >> > We are all of us attracted to the 'In one mighty leap Tarzan was free'
> >> > notion of revolution. This, historically, is not the case, either in
> >> > France,
> >> > Russia, China, Cuba or South Africa.
> >> >
> >> > The SWP (UK) slogan, 'One Solution, Revolution!' fails to recognise
> >> > the
> >> > revolution is more of a problem than a solution.
> >> >
> >> > This does not, clearly, imply that 'the more things change, the more
> >> > they
> >> > remain the same'. I would have thought that we must think of uprisings
> >> > as
> >> > providing new learning experiences from which radical-democratic
> >> > movements
> >> > must learn. Next time, in Egypt, I doubt whether anyone is going to
> >> > chant
> >> > slogans of praise to the armed forces.
> >> >
> >> > Pw
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >
> >> > On Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 5:08 PM, Yoshie Furuhashi
> >> > <critical.montages at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> >>
> >> >> <http://nyti.ms/N8rBsF>
> >> >> June 29, 2012
> >> >> How Egypt’s Army Won
> >> >> By JOSHUA STACHER
> >> >> Cairo
> >> >>
> >> >> JUBILANT chants echoed far beyond Tahrir Square when the Muslim
> >> >> Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, was confirmed as Egypt’s
> >> >> civilian president last week. Mr. Morsi’s election was lauded across
> >> >> the globe, and many are hailing today’s “transfer” of power as a
> >> >> triumph for democracy.
> >> >>
> >> >> But there is little reason for celebration. In this latest grand
> >> >> spectacle manufactured by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,
> >> >> generals symbolically respected the people’s choice while using the
> >> >> election to further entrench their unaccountable political autonomy.
> >> >>
> >> >> In February 2011, most analysts assumed that Mr. Mubarak’s government
> >> >> had collapsed. They were wrong. The regime never changed. It was
> >> >> reconfigured. The underlying centralized structures of the system
> >> >> the military council inherited from Mr. Mubarak persist, and the
> >> >> generals have sought to preserve them. The recent election was just
> >> >> the latest attempt to formalize the generals’ executive authority
> >> >> while winning public legitimacy.
> >> >>
> >> >> The military council exemplifies the highly adaptive quality of
> >> >> Egypt’s governing elite. Egypt’s senior generals have remade the
> >> >> ruling coalition by using centralized authority to neutralize newly
> >> >> included political forces and divide the increasingly marginalized
> >> >> protesters. In the process, the military has effectively prevented
> >> >> groups from resisting its encroachment as a fourth estate.
> >> >>
> >> >> This was possible because the state’s apparatus, while disrupted,
> >> >> after Mr. Mubarak’s departure. The hierarchy within the vast and
> >> >> largely cohesive state bureaucracy resumed functioning as the effect
> >> >> of the protests subsided. The state media began accusing protesters
> >> >> causing chaos, scaring tourists and being agents of foreign elements.
> >> >> The demands of workers, women and Coptic Christians were dismissed as
> >> >> special interests of secondary importance.
> >> >>
> >> >> The security services were re-branded, and successive courtroom
> >> >> acquittals gave them a guarantee that their repression of fellow
> >> >> Egyptians would have no legal ramifications. As time passed, the
> >> >> post-Mubarak regime began to look and act like its predecessor.
> >> >> Buttressed by the machinery of the state, the military then sought
> >> >> allies to contain the power of future protests. High electoral drama
> >> >> has produced what political scientists call a “pact making” exercise.
> >> >>
> >> >> Egyptians have gone to the polls five times since March 2011. Rather
> >> >> than elections’ producing real choices, though, the military has used
> >> >> them to create an environment in which it can negotiate a pact with
> >> >> the winners. And the Muslim Brotherhood, which is trying to gain a
> >> >> lasting foothold in the system, has willingly participated. Yet it
> >> >> remains a comparatively weak actor, forced to compete on the
> >> >> military’s uneven playing field.
> >> >>
> >> >> The Brotherhood has long been skeptical of popular mobilization,
> >> >> making it a useful accomplice to the military’s efforts to
> >> >> power. Despite some Brotherhood members’ condemnation of the
> >> >> military’s recent maneuvers as a “coup,” protest politics has become
> >> >> more complicated now that one of their own occupies the presidency.
> >> >> The Muslim Brothers will have a hard time persuading others that they
> >> >> are still an opposition force. Indeed, any Brotherhood members who
> >> >> flock to Tahrir Square are now tacitly resisting their president.
> >> >>
> >> >> In a sign of continuity, Mr. Morsi has met with the interior minister
> >> >> and pledged not to purge that despised ministry or seek revenge
> >> >> against it. Consequently, the Muslim Brothers have become invested in
> >> >> a centralized state that blocks the clamor for change from below.
> >> >> Given this political structure, Mr. Morsi isn’t likely to be able to
> >> >> resist the generals’ ultimatums in the short-term.
> >> >>
> >> >> Mr. Morsi’s control of any of the national security portfolios is
> >> >> unlikely. It remains unclear whether the disbanded parliament will be
> >> >> reinstated or when a new one might be elected. The military has laid
> >> >> mines in the constitution-drafting process, threatening to exercise
> >> >> its veto at every turn. This traps the Brotherhood between street
> >> >> protesters and the generals, with few good options.
> >> >>
> >> >> The protesters can’t seriously pressure the army into transferring
> >> >> actual political power without cooperating with the Brotherhood. And
> >> >> although the protesters won’t disappear, the Brotherhood is unlikely
> >> >> to cooperate closely with them. Mr. Morsi is more likely to attend to
> >> >> Egypt’s ailing economy and save political battles with the generals
> >> >> for another day. In the process, the unaccountable military will be
> >> >> able to better ingrain itself politically while the democratically
> >> >> elected Mr. Morsi becomes the object of popular blame for the
> >> >> country’s economic ills and political gridlock.
> >> >>
> >> >> The military checkmated Mr. Morsi before he was crowned. Egypt’s
> >> >> leading generals had a long-game strategy to capture control and they
> >> >> have emerged as the election’s actual victors because they are poised
> >> >> to remain in charge of the country for the foreseeable future.
> >> >>
> >> >> Joshua Stacher, an assistant professor of political science at Kent
> >> >> State, is the author of “Adaptable Autocrats: Regime Power in Egypt
> >> >> and Syria.”
> >> >>
> >> >> --
> >> >> Yoshie Furuhashi
> >> >> <http://mrzine.org/>
> >> >> _______________________________________________
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> >> >
> >> >
> >> > --
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> >> --
> >> Yoshie Furuhashi
> >> <http://mrzine.org/>
> >> _______________________________________________
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> > 4. WorkingPaper 2012: 'Emancipatory Labour Studies':
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