Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thoughts on revolution and politics from Egypt

Egyptians are in the middle of something very important, and so what they have to say is of particular interest. has provided us with an English translation of an article by the liberal Egyptian academic Samer Soliman.  I include the following excerpt in hopes you will follow the link to the whole thing:

A critical stance in support of my colleagues in the Revolution
By Samer Soliman, al-Shurouk, 9 January 2012
The revolution’s one-year anniversary represents a chance for reassessment and self-criticism by all those who participated in it. From this standpoint, the criticism that I direct at the positions and ideas of some of my revolutionary colleagues is the criticism of a comrade and has no trace of superiority. Its aim is to improve the performance of reform and revolutionary currents and get past unnecessary divisions in order to achieve our shared goal: establishing a state based on freedom, social justice and human dignity. I have four criticisms for some of my colleagues.
First: Absolute hostility to parties and to organizing is a fatal mistake
Politics, by one definition, is the management and organization of shared and collective interests. You are responsible for managing the affairs of your own home. However, managing the affairs of the entire building is not your responsibility alone, but rather the responsibility of the union of landlords, tenants or the like. This is politics. Politics is nothing but a collective activity that aims to organize the affairs of the state and society. Consequently, whoever is hostile to organizing is unwittingly hostile to politics. If you refuse to organize yourself in a party or group, how can you engage in an activity that basically aims at organizing society and the state? If you accept being organized in small groups, but absolutely reject parties, then you are hostile to the politics that aims to run the state apparatus. As a result, you insist on marginalizing yourself on the pretext of keeping your “revolutionary purity” away from party maneuvering. Yes, politics does not depend on party organizations alone, but is also based on non-party organizations such as pressure groups. However, these pressure groups are not an alternative to parties. Environmental groups, for example, push through their demands to limit pollution by communicating with parties, and cooperating with them and offering them support to the extent that they adopt programs to protect the environment. Whoever decides to act through politics must be a member in an organization of some sort: a party that aims to reach power or participate in it; a pressure group that does not wield power directly but which exerts influence on it; a union that defends workers’ rights in a certain profession, etc. The important thing is that members of every type of organization cannot do without the other types, and that true change only comes through integration and forming alliances among different types of organization.

The article continues with sections on the following points:
Second: Revolution does not mean toppling the regime immediately, and revolution is not opposed to reformThird: The older generation is the wrong enemyFourth: Construction cannot wait for demolition to be complete, and the economy cannot wait for the revolution to be complete
It just breathes common sense.

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