Friday, February 04, 2011

Divisions Emerge As Chaos Reigns Over Egypt

One must give Hosni Mubarak plenty of credit. He's a master of political warfare. Mubarak is certainly impressing the world with the level of single minded ruthlessness, not to mention the intrigue, he's employing to maintain power. He is a clever and devious fiend. He has managed to confuse all of Egyptian society. Reports today have confirmed the assessment of this blog yesterday, that the regime offered people 50 Egyptian pounds ($8.50) to carry pro-Mubarak placards. Mubarak has achieved a very important objective. He has managed to divide Egyptians from one another. Instead of a unified mass opposition organised against the government, the masses are now fighting amongst themselves.

This deliberate division of the masses against the government comes at the moment of the revolution when class divisions have emerged. In the industrial city of Suez, the dock and refinery workers have gone on strike. The Upper Class districts of Cairo and Alexandria have come under attack by gangs of poor youths. The class divisions are also evident in the escalation of street level crime. Middle and upper class  Egyptians as well as Westerners have been mugged and robbed. On the other side of the class divide, civil servants and upper class people have joined together to participate in pro-Mubarak rallies.

Egyptian State TV has created further divisions between Egyptian people and the outside world by broadcasting maliciously false reports that all foreign journalists are agents and spies of Israel. It has become dangerous for all reporters, both Egyptian and foreign, to be on the streets of Egypt. Scores of journalists have been attacked and beaten by mobs. Cameras and satellite trucks have been vandalised and  demolished. Egyptian journalists have been told that they are traitors to Egypt. Over the past 10 days scores of journalists have been arrested and beaten by the police. The situation in Egypt has degenerated into "All Against All".

The army has revealed which side it's really on. It was naive, if not stupid, for anti-government protesters to believe that the army was on their side. This is a classic example of what Marxists call "false consciousness." Wilhelm Reich detailed how nationalism and allegiance to the organs and institutions of the state are lodged into the "psychic structure" of the masses. The Egyptians cheered as the army tanks rolled onto the streets believing that the army would protect them. Since yesterday, the military police have been arresting and beating protesters. The army hasn't lifted a finger to protect the anti-government protesters. There are now fears about the intentions of the army for tomorrow's showdown with Mubarak.

Friday February 4th is the deadline date set by anti-Mubarak forces for the president to step down. The largest demonstrations in Egyptian history are planned. However, there's the question if the masses will come out. Many of them are not only exhausted but they hadn't expected the counter-revolutionary violence unleashed by the regime. They had believed that once they had defeated the regular police and secret police, Mubarak would be out of ammunition and would have no choice but to step down. Furthermore, the economic damage has also taken its toll. Banks and cash machines have already run out or are close to running out of money. Business has come to a standstill. Many small shopkeepers are tired of the tumult and are ready to make their peace with Mubarak in order to get back in business.

The Egyptian masses are on a steep learning curve in their education of social and political revolution. They have committed two critical errors so far: First, they underestimated the political mastery of Hosni Mubarak while overestimating their own. Second, they failed to connect the army with the political structure of the country. Every leader since the revolution of 1952 has been a military general. Mubarak was previously the general commander of the Egyptian Air Force. The military in Egypt can only be loyal to the head of state, not to the people.

The masses are missing the most critical element. This is an element that Mubarak has which they do not: Organisation. The revolution must organise itself. Currently it lacks any leadership at all. While it's romantic and Anarchist to have a leaderless and non-hierarchical revolution, in practicality it can only lead to defeat. Mubarak and his security and military subordinates are planning their strategic moves right now. They are doting their I's and crossing their T's. The opposition has no such organisational structure. It's absolutely imperative they hold meetings and plan their own strategies. They must democratically delegate responsibilities of leadership and organisation for the mass protests not only for tomorrow but ultimately in order to complete the revolution for social justice and political democracy.They are up against military generals trained in combat warfare. The opposition obviously cannot mount a counter military strategy, but they should be having serious detailed mass meetings to deal with certain critical factors with which they will be dealing with tomorrow and in the weeks and months  ahead. Revolution is not a morality play of the flowers of romance. It's a deadly serious affair.

I fear the the possibility of a bloodbath tomorrow in Tahrir Square. One mustn't forget Tiananmen Square in Beijing back in 1989. When the Maoist dictatorship faced a similar mass revolt, the People's Liberation Army was sent in to crush it. There are other bitter reminders from the 20th Century. In 1968 and 1956, the Warsaw Pact nations sent tanks and troops to crush the Prague Spring and the Hungarian uprising. There is nothing to prevent history from repeating itself. Just as the puppet governments of Czechoslovakia and Hungary had the military backing of the USSR, Egypt has not only the military backing of the US and Israel but billions of dollars of unlimited money from them as well. I'm afraid that the masses are neither prepared politically nor psychologically to defeat Mubarak along with the US and Israeli military might which supports him. Tomorrow will make or break the revolution.

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