Mobilizing the opposition to Morsi

May 24, 2013

The spreading and deepening discontent with Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood government he leads has found a new expression: the Tamarrud (which means "Rebellion") campaign to gather 15 million signatures in support of a document that expresses the Egyptian people's lack of confidence in the new regime and that calls for an early presidential election. Here, the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt explain the petition campaign's importance in the context of the current situation, more than two years after the uprising that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

SINCE ITS inception on January 25, 2011, the Egyptian Revolution has seen many twists and turns in its path.

We have sometimes seen great ascents in the revolutionary movement, with not just hundreds of thousands, but millions taking to the streets and the squares against Hosni Mubarak, the Military Council and, after them, Morsi in support of the demands of the revolution and their implementation. The rising of the populace for democratic demands has usually accompanied or followed a rise in the social movement, from workers' strikes and protests demanding bread, social justice and improvements in working conditions; to the overthrow of the corrupt administrations.

Other times, we have seen the partial retreat of the revolutionary movement, a dispersal of the ranks of the people and the revolutionary vanguard, a widespread frustration that leads some to believe that the revolution has ended. These times especially are the periods when the attacks of the counterrevolution increase, to push back any gains the people have achieved at the high water marks and to bolster the institutions of the ruling class and strengthen them in anticipation of the next revolutionary wave.

Protesters march through Cairo streets marking the second anniversary of the beginning of the revolution
Protesters march through Cairo streets marking the second anniversary of the beginning of the revolution

Under the shadow of current conditions, with an uptick in popular discontent against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and their ruling class associates from the army, police and business elite, there has been an increase in frustration and despair of any change. But now, the Tamarrud (Rebellion) Campaign has been launched by a group of revolutionary youth, with the idea of collecting 15 million signatures within two months across all the governorates for a document expressing no confidence in Morsi and calling for an early presidential election.

THIS CAMPAIGN has succeeded within a short time in spurring great momentum in the streets and in the political field more generally. The campaign has been active in neighborhoods across the governorates, and has succeeded in collecting more than 2 million signatures in 10 days [Update: now more than 3 million]. It has brought to many of the frustrated revolutionary youth renewed energy and hope, reviving once again popular political discussion. It has become a channel into which the burgeoning popular indignation at Morsi's presidency can flow in light of the clear decrease in demonstrations and protests in the squares.

You must target your efforts at these millions of embittered people, go out to meet them, discuss with them and call upon them to make efforts toward change, not to wait in frustration. Raise slogans challenging the current powers and say: "If you think the president is not achieving what we wished of him, if you think that he doesn't represent what you wish to see achieved, then don't wait three more years to change him--we'll change him now...because we the people have decided to do so."

The sense of disillusionment in what was chosen by the ballot box was felt spontaneously by progressive segments of the people, who became aware of it in their daily lives and political lives and through the speeches of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders. This growing awareness imposes upon every revolutionary fighter the necessity of working to develop popular democratic alternatives which express the desire of the people. By organizing themselves in new ways, they can express their wish for something other than the status quo, which has never and will never represent anything other than the same politics that we came out to rebel against in our revolution.

The tactic of collecting popular signatures to pressure those in power has been used previously, both recently and historically. We might recall the campaign of collecting signatures for a change in the National Assembly a year before the revolution, and the campaign of collecting signatures for renationalizing the privatized companies and for a minimum and maximum wage more recently. In those situations, the campaigns stirred the stagnant waters in extreme periods, helping to raise the consciousness of the masses to take steps forward.

We in the Revolutionary Socialist Movement understand the limitations of this type of campaign, for it cannot, of course, topple any regime on its own. For without a broad mass movement led by members of the working class, the basic pillars of the regime and the state cannot be shaken. However, we recognize that this moment anticipates a long path of democratic and social struggles necessary for mass consciousness--uneven by definition--to ferment. These struggles serve to increase the confidence of the masses in themselves and in their power to create change.

For this reason, it is necessary for us as a fighting Marxist revolutionary movement to support this democratic campaign, which works toward building mass consciousness from below. We must build this campaign and engage with it where it is effective and open our headquarters to it, so that our mission and our huge responsibility is to be a vehicle for it.

It is incumbent upon us to get out into the streets and into every corner of every neighborhood, factory and organization. We should not only collect signatures for the petition--which is important in its own right--but also facilitate broader discussions with people in these places, always making connections to the social struggles and showing the connections between the policies of the current government and the difficulties of the people in their daily lives.

This is also an important opportunity for us as revolutionary socialists to connect with hundreds of revolutionary youth involved in the campaign, to share our views with them and to understand their viewpoints. But not only that, it is an opportunity for us to engage with broad segments of the country in different governorates--to conduct discussions about the feasibility of withdrawing confidence in the "elected" president, and to extend the discussions to the broadest possible revolutionary horizons.

AS FOR the National Salvation Front (NSF), we rejected participation in it because of its previous association with the remnants of the old regime and because it distorted the revolutionary consciousness of the people, mixing the corrupt soil with the fertile. Soon after, as experience has shown us, it failed. It continues to be unable to put forth any fundamental alternative or any revolutionary agitation that would put it in the forefront of a broad democratic movement to overthrow the current regime.

Not only that, but the NSF has been content to remain on the sideline of the struggle, apologizing every time it is compelled to mobilize the masses for the narrowest possible rights. The NSF wants no more than a preferred seat at the table to negotiate with the reigning dictatorial powers, in order to share in political positions in the government and parliament. This goal is the highest goal that it can accomplish. It is exactly this performance that has disappointed the hopes of broad swaths of the public.

What is completely new and different about the Rebellion Campaign is that it stems from a popular initiative, opening up space for revolutionary work and experience from below. Beyond that, the theoretical and practical possibilities of beginning a grassroots opposition movement far exceeds the narrow opportunist horizons of the leadership of the National Salvation Front. The campaign utterly opposes the projects of the old regime remnants, which loathe democracy many times more than they hate the Muslim Brotherhood.

This strategy relies fundamentally on the conscious and unified intervention of the vanguard of revolutionaries in this struggle, to win them over to a viewpoint that uses this campaign as a lever. The revolutionary leadership must organize the political struggle of the masses to a level of preparation for the coming confrontation with this tyrannical regime.

Our movement cannot trail in a struggle like this one and cannot forfeit an opportunity to develop the consciousness of different sectors of the popular revolutionary masses. This is an opportunity to restore confidence in the power that connects and drives the people collectively against the police state. Therefore, we announce our full and determined participation in this campaign and call all those struggling for democracy and justice to participate with us and with the entire working class movement in carrying out this battle. This can only lead the way sooner or later to a second popular uprising against this dictatorial regime with all of its interests and biases, to raise in its place the authority of the rule of the many in the interests of the many.

Long live the glorious revolution of freedom!

The Revolutionary Socialists
May 19, 2013

Translation by Jess Martin

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