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Monday, 22 July 2019

Book Review: A Marxist perspective for the January revolution

Egypt's pre-eminent Marxist thinker Samir Amin explores in his new book a way forward for Egypt based on a 'non-alignment movement' similiar to that which existed in the Cold War era

Mahmoud El-Wardani, Monday 29 Feb 2016
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Mustaqbel Thawrat Misr (The Future of Egypt's Revolution) by Samir Amin, Al-Ain publishing, Cairo 2016. pp.148
 
During the last five years, well-known Marxist economic thinker Dr. Samir Amin authored five books that have tackled the status of the 25 January Revolution, its developments and the successive changes it has underwent. He has devoted his latest book to the future, so he isn’t just a distant follower. 
 
But as a matter of fact, since the revolution broke out, he has embarked diligently trying to comprehend all its surrounding details and minutiae. 
 
Dr. Samir Amin is one of the founders of the Egyptian Communist Party in the forties of last century. Since his graduation from French universities, he has also worked among the teaching staff in several French universities and escaped the successive imprisonment campaigns during the Nasserite era in the fifties and sixties of the last century. 
 
During the seventies he worked as a professor and then as a director of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, affiliated to the UN in Senegal. 
 
His intellectual contributions, amounting to twenty books, constitute a main tributary in the renewal of Marxism and modifying it to the new realities, similiar to which the Non-Alignment Movement played a major role during the Cold War in international politics.
 
Despite his acknowledgement in his latest book that the four years that have passed since the revolution aren't enough to evaluate it, he is certain that it hasn't achieved its objectives yet. Consequently, "it is probable that the same reasons that led to the uprising, which are still unanswered, will lead to continuing the struggle." 
 
The diversity of the demands of the revolutionary movement, in his viewpoint, is natural and doesn't hinder its powers from convergence in a probable integrated practical programme based on reformation in the three following approaches:
 
The first approach: exiting from the flagrant globalised economic liberalism pattern in order to seek another national popular development pattern. 
 
The second approach: democratisation of the administration of all facets of life whether economic, social or political. 
 
As for the third approach: reinforcing the principle of respect of national sovereignty.
 
On another level, Dr. Amin points out to the necessity of the accurate specification of the demands and slogans that the revolution raised in its early days. Social justice, for instance, is a flexible term that the politicians employ to ornament their words. 
 
Justice requires exiting the prevalent globalised liberal pattern. This necessitates "reviving Bandung spirit" (What is meant here is the Non-Alignment Movement and National Liberation which were dominant in the fifties and sixties of the last century. It was formed by newly independent states in Asia, Africa and Latin America where the most prominent countries in the movement were Egypt, China and Cuba. It achieved a kind of economic and social development, especially biased towards workers and farmers.)
 
Concerning the demand for freedom and democracy, Dr. Amin asserts that the prescribed democracy formula, reduces it to a multi-party system and elections as the means to build the desired national bloc. 
 
In contrast, he sees that the concept which should be raised now must add new dimensions for democracy. 
 
It should attach the environmental and ideological dimension (i.e. replacing the principle of competitiveness in administering society with that of solidarity) and the cultural dimension (i.e. replacing the westernisation as a synonym to modernisation with civilistaion integration).
 
On the international level, the USA's strategy, according to Dr. Amin, is based on destroying the state's institutions in many countries such as what happened in Egypt, Algeria, Syria and Iraq, because this may lead to the ascendance of the "reactionary Islamist Salafist current" to power, which in the end will meet with the American strategy.
 
In order to execute its strategy, America relies on two loyal allies in the region, namely Israel and Turkey, in addition to the Arabian Gulf bloc. Indeed, total destruction was inflicted on institutions in Somalia, Libya and Iraq before them, after the "play" of Saddam Hussein owning weapons of mass destruction. 
 
The result was the demolition of Iraq's infrastructure and industries as well as looting museums and monuments, assassinating the scientific and cultural intelligentsia and sparking a sectarian and ethnic war that hasn't stopped until now. The USA even provided "protection to the person who became afterwards the IS group Caliphate Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi."
 
The success of the American strategy produced the preferable conditions for Iran to enter the arena through backing the Shiites. America invented the spark of Arab Spring Revolution in Syria based on the Libyan model. Turkey joined the mass moving towards the invasion of Syria. 
 
In this context, the war in Yemen was also invented in order to pour more heat into the conflict with Iran. In spite of this, the conflict isn’t sectarian because the majority of Yemenis are Shiites and the ongoing war is revolving around monitoring the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
 
Finally, although Dr. Amin’s perceives well that the existing circumstances are now totally different from that in which the anti-colonialist Non-Alignment Movement emerged during the fifties and sixties of the last century, he didn’t clarify or explain why now and in the light of these new circumstances is it possible to re-start the movement and its influential role.
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