Bring the Ruckus Statement on Egypt

We welcome the democratic uprising in Egypt.

Saying this becomes important as various governments in the U.S. and Europe attempt to negotiate a transition whereby the policies of the old regime in Egypt are kept while the current head, Mubarak, is eased out. Those who have come out in complete opposition to the uprisings, whether it is al-Gaddafi in Libya or Sarah Palin in some alternate reality, will have little weight in the coming weeks. It has become a race to see which force can absorb or co-opt the uprising, not oppose it.

These EU and U.S. governments understand, as the rulers of large nations must, that the current situation, where large popular gatherings have in the last two weeks already broken the barriers placed on them by both official curfews and resisted both police and unofficial physical attacks, cannot continue. Dual power in a modern society of almost 100 million cannot exist indefinitely.

Our sympathies should be obvious, since in the brief time since the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, a democratic space has been opened by youth, women, intellectuals, workers and the poor of Egypt. They have used their bodies and their cellphones to protect the physical space of Tahrir Square and the neighborhoods that they have come from. They may, in the days to come, continue to extend that democracy to the neighborhoods and workplaces of Egypt. If the general strike that has been called for by workers in Suez spreads, then the fall of Muburak will be the least of the worries of the current pharaohs of Egypt.

There are a number of reasons why governments and global capital are watching and will be forced to intervene. The U.S., which is our major concern, has been investing billions of dollars in Egypt's military for years. The tanks which would be used against the popular movement are licensed Egyptian-built copies of the Abrams M-1 Battle tank,a main weapon of the U.S. military (and if there's any doubt of such a battle, recall that the students and workers in Tiananmen Square had access to the most modern communications of 1989. Tanks vs. Twitter will see a similar outcome). Those tanks also protect the Suez Canal, through which passes almost 15% of the world's shipping, including a sizable portion of oil bound for Europe. The democratic movement in Egypt threatens the steady flow of oil from the autocracies of the Middle East. As well, every government in the Middle East faces, in one form or another, the structural problems that have propelled the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. They cannot rest easily while democracy blossoms next door.

It is appropriate, on the Monday after the Super Bowl, to point out that Monday morning quarterbacking is an activity engaged in by radicals and revolutionaries of every stripe in North America as well as those in fantasy football leagues. Criticizing the democratic uprisings for 'not having enough organization' or 'not having communist leadership' is as wishful as asking why the Steelers didn't intercept more passes.

We will welcome any further movement to spread genuine democracy to every neighborhood and workplace in Egypt. For the workers and poor of Egypt to seize land and power would smash myths in Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Iran, Iraq and around the world. But until there is a Left in the United States that has the ability to materially aid the democratic uprising or stop U.S. intervention, we should be reminded of the moral of the Mediterranean and Roman folktale: Hic Rhodus, hic salta: Prove what you can do, here and now.

— Bring the Ruckus, February 7, 2011