3:34 PMWhy did the “Arab Spring” fail? Criticism of Gilbert Achcar and "Jacobin" magazine.
I became interested in re-examining the "Arab Spring" (2010-11) because of what is happening in Rojava (northern Syria), and Murray Bookchin serving as an ideological guide to Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurds. Murray Bookchin seems to place a great emphasis on self-organization of people: local assemblies, etc. Hence, my renewed interest in re-examining the "Arab Spring", as one movement where the initiative came from below, without a guiding party to harness the energy.
One of the memorable authors (on the topic of Arab spring) I came across was Gilbert Achcar ("GA" from now on). GA writes in "Jacobin" magazine:
"this “Spring” was the result of a cultural and political mutation born by a new generation connected to global culture, thanks to the new information and communication technologies"
This is true. “Arab Spring” protests are similar in nature to other protests – in Portugal for example (listen to the song "Parva Que Sou", English lyrics here, the gist is: you need to study to be a slave, Deolinda, 2010). The idea of educated, globally connected youth, unemployed, or with prospect of becoming a slave in an office, “office plankton”. In Arab countries, in “Occupy” – this was the leading, revolutionary force.
Thus, we immediately grasp the modern revolutionary subject as:
1) educated, having to do with knowledge, the more educated, the more revolutionary;
2) mostly youth, globally connected via Internet;
3) facing either the prospect of becoming a slave in an office, or unemployment; either option means dead end.
To the characteristics above, we may add "young female". GA writes:
"the economies have been unable to create jobs matching the demographic growth, thus producing massive unemployment, especially young and female unemployment"
Educated female unemployment is especially high in conservative Islamist countries, such as Saudi Arabia. Women are simply treated as shit - beaten, repressed, even burned to death - in countries such as Afghanistan.
Hence, women taking up guns in self-protection, in Rojava, should be no surprise.
But GA is bent on fitting the Marxist thesis about the "revolutionary proletariat" into the case of the Arab spring:
"The UGTT started organizing roaming general strikes, in one region after the other. The day that Ben Ali fled Tunisia, January 14, 2011, is actually the day when the general strike reached the capital. So, the UGTT was, in fact, the real organizer of the uprising in Tunisia."
Here, the Marxist thesis about the revolutionary role of “the workers” – in this case, the main trade union of Tunisia – is stretched to fit the actual events. First, Ben Ali fled, then the general strike reached the capital.
We should make clear: the powers that be - in this case, the capitalist class - control all the key positions in social and political organizations, such as the trade unions, student unions, etc. These organizations have been "adopted" by the system (for example, by high pay of union officials, by various perks, priviledges, etc.) Breaking the system can come only through organizations outside the system, underground.
In the Arab countries, the Left were crushed by the centrist regimes, often with the help of the right-wing forces. For example, in Syria a 1000 members of Communist Action Party were thrown into jail in 1980's, tortured, often held for 10-20 years. Hence, the main opposition to the centrist regimes of Syria, Egypt, etc. has come from right-wing forces: the Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc.
We notice the same dialectic in case of former "socialist" countries: the left has been repressed, hence the right-wing forces - the nationalists, the nazis, have come to dominate the government. They also form the opposition.
The “Jacobin” magazine represents the U.S. liberal, Obama administration agenda. GA is saying:
"For the war to end, you need some kind of compromise between the regime and the opposition. And for this to happen, Assad must go, because there can’t be any workable compromise, any ending of the conflict, with Assad in place."
But this is exactly the agenda of the U.S. Obama administration:
"Since 2012, the Obama administration has been saying, “We are not advocating regime change in Syria but we believe Assad should step down for a compromise between the regime and the opposition to see the light.”
As Russia is supporting Assad, GA throws a stone into it:
"Russia is no less imperialist than the United States, and is even more brutal if you consider what it did to Chechnya although it is part of the Russian Federation"
Read: Russia is a greater imperialism than the U.S. That’s why we should fight it!
Another example of the same garbage:
"the Russian regime is even more right-wing neoliberal than the US regime is. There is a flat individual income tax of 13 percent in Russia vs. a cap of 40 percent for the US federal tax, not counting additional local taxes"
Read: Russia is more capitalist then the U.S. That’s why we should fight Russia first!
That's what the "left" magazine and "left" professor are advocating. That's why they are the real enemies! The real enemies of global revolution today are the "left" magazines and authors who say that Russia is "capitalist" and "imperialist", and that it is "even more right-wing" than the U.S., and hence the left should attack it first.
According to GA:
"The view of some people on the Left who live in a time warp and believe that Russia is somehow the continuation of the Soviet Union and that Vladimir Putin is the heir of Vladimir Lenin, is quite preposterous."
Hence, the whole struggle of Trotsky, after he was thrown out of the USSR, the whole Marxist theory of state, as applied to the USSR, is "preposterous". But - are we going to believe L. Trotsky, banished from all Western European countries and the USA, or G. Achcar, a professor in London, invited to all sorts of talks, books fairs, etc.?
We should add that GA is a member of a Trotskyist organization, "New Anticapitalist Party", founded in 2009.
GA is a very good investment for the imperialist system!
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