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Egypt and Tunisia

Some Q&A on Facebook

Note: These are some Q&As I had on Facebook, after I posted my article “The Awakening in Arab Countries “. All in Farsi of course. I thought it might be helpful to clarify some of the points I made in that article.
Koorosh Modarresi
February 2, 2011

Q: What is the difference between this so called revolution and what happened in Iran after the presidential election of 2009? Muslim Brotherhood is a player in these demonstrations and has nothing to do with the human dignity.

A: Revolution is an objective phenomenon in which masses step into the social arena and the government can not govern.

The Green Movement was not a revolution. It was the movement of a faction of the regime which attracted the support of the parts of the “leisure class”.

What we are witnessing in Egypt is a revolution. Nothing to do with the regime, it is not a movement from the above. It is a mass movement which aims at toppling the regime right from the beginning.

About the Muslim Brotherhood, I think we should note that:

Finally my point about dignity has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is about the relation between individual and the state and society. Revolution redefines this relationship not the political parties participating in the process. Iranian revolution of 1979, whatever the outcome, changed this relation dramatically.

If we overlook these aspects of the revolutions, we will end up with a “puritan” and asocial stand.

Q: I agree that this is a mass movement, independent of the government, but, if movements are not organised and are not coherent then it will be like shooting blind.

A: But revolutions are always like this. Rebellious masses, most of the time without any organisation take to the street. We can not wait for a revolution devoid of religion, nationalism etc. Or, wait until masses are organised. This kind of revolution never happens. I mentioned that revolutions are like volcanoes. Its eruption is not in our control. Only the proletarian revolution is a pre-planed and organized revolution.

Nevertheless, these revolutions open up all kind of possibilities. The outcome of the revolution depends on the role different classes and movements play. Whatever happens a revolution turns the relationship between individuals and the state in the collective conscience of the the society, upside down. More importantly , it opens the door to the process of unity and class-consciousness among the working class. This is the opportunity which should excite every communist and every revolutionary. Waiting for a “perfect” revolution is waiting for the impossible.

Is it possible that this revolution could be hijacked by the Islamists? Sure, it is possible. Is it possible that this revolution will evolve into a socialist revolution (permanent revolution)? This is also possible. But this the meaning of opening up the possibilities and the exhilarating thing for the working class is the later one which is not there during the non-revolutionary periods.

The revolutionary period is the period of confrontations, tactics, inventing heroes and saviours, an eye opening period. Currently in Egypt, the bourgeois plays with two cards: Army and Al Baradi. Can they lead people to accept one of these cards? I don't know. It is possible, But what makes it possible is the balance of power between the organization of the class-conscious working class and the bourgeois

It seems that the outcome of the Iranian revolution has put the revolution, per se, under a question mark among many. Whatever the out come of Iranian revolution, it made the proletarian revolution more possible. It gave birth to the Worker-communsim. It changes the dignity of humans vis a vis the state for ever. Nobody accepts the kind of dictatorship we had during the Shah's reign. We should appreciate this.

Q: What is the difference between revolution, uprising and riot?

A: I am not sure if there is a classical definitions for these, but, this is how I understand them.

Riot implies a collective movement for a specific demand, like bread riot or riot against poverty.

Revolution is a more general movement against the state as a whole in which people do not accept the government and the government can not govern.

Uprising is stage in the process of a revolution, during which the masses bring down the government by force and destroy its machinery of suppression. Like the February 1979 uprising in Iran which was a stage in the 1978-1979 revolution.

Not all revolutions will go through an uprising, like the Tunisian case

In any case, these are my definitions which I think help us to analyse the events more accurately.