Comrades from Cairo, Pambazuka
To you at whose side we struggle,
From the beginning of the Egyptian revolution, the powers that be have launched a vicious counter-revolution to contain our struggle and subsume it by drowning the people’s voices in a process of meaningless, piecemeal political reforms. This process is aimed at deflecting the path of revolution and the Egyptian people’s demands for ‘bread, freedom and social justice’.
Only 18 days into our revolution, and since we forced Mubarak out of power, the discourse of the political classes and the infrastructure of the elites, including both state and private media, continues to privilege discussions of rotating ministers, cabinet reshuffles, referendums, committees, constitutions and most glaringly, parliamentary and now presidential elections.
Our choice from the very beginning was to reject in their entirety the regime’s attempts to drag the people’s revolution into a farcical dialogue with the counter-revolution shrouded in the discourse of a ‘democratic process’ which neither promotes the demands of the revolution nor represents any substantial, real democracy. Thus our revolution continues, and must continue.
Egyptians now find themselves in a vulnerable moment. Official political discourse would have the world believe that the technologies of democracy presently spell a choice between ‘two evils’. These are: Ahmed Shafiq, who guarantees the consolidation of the outgoing regime and its return with a vengeance, openly promising a criminal assault on the revolution under the fascist spectres of ‘security’ and ‘stability’, and the false promise of protection for religious minorities (against whom the regime systematically stages assault and isolation as part of its fear-mongering campaigns); and Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood whom we are expected to imagine might ‘save’ us from the ‘old regime’ through the myths of cultural renaissance – all while consolidating its financial stronghold and the regional capitalist hegemony that fosters and depends on it for a climate of rampant exploitation of Egypt’s people and their resources.
This consolidation, we are certain, will be accompanied by the subsequent marshalling of the military apparatus to protect the emboldened ruling class of the Muslim Brotherhood from the wrath and revolt of its victims: the multitude whom the leaders of the organization have historically fought by condemning and outlawing our struggles for livelihood, dignity and equality.
According to election officials, most voters themselves (75 per cent) have chosen neither Shafiq nor Morsi in the first round of elections. We refuse to recognize the choice of ‘lesser of two evils’ when these evils masquerade in equal measure for the same regime. We believe there is another choice. And in times where perceived common sense is as far from the truth as can be, we find the need to speak out once again.
We perceive the affair of presidential elections in Egypt as an attempt by the as yet prevailing military junta and its counter-revolutionary forces to garner international legitimacy to cement the existing regime and deliver more lethal blows to the Egyptian revolution. We ask you to join us in resisting the logic of this process that seeks to further entrench the counter-revolution.
Our struggle does not exist in isolation from yours.
What is revolution, but the immediate and uncompromising rejection of the status quo: of militarized power, exploitation, class stratification, and relentless police violence – just to name a few of the most basic and cancerous features of society in the present moment. These structural realities are not unique to Egypt or the Egyptian revolution.
In both the South and the North communities resist what we are meant to accept without questioning, rising up against the narrow realist perspective that tells us that democracy is merely choosing the lesser of ‘two evils’, and that the election of either represents a choice in government rather than what it is: an affirmation of the only government that exists – that of unbridled, repressive and dehumanizing capitalist relations. We stand in solidarity with the masses of precarious and endangered people who have chosen to defend their being from an aggressive global system that is in crisis; indeed, a sputtering system that, in its twilight hours, reaches for unprecedented levels of surveillance, militarization and violence to quell our insurrections.
We must make clear that despite the fact of the international political establishment’s praise of the ‘democratic’ nature of the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections, we strongly and categorically reject the outcome of these elections for they do not represent the desires of the Egyptian people that fought in the January 25th Revolution.
Furthermore, we categorically reject the elections themselves in principle, for the following reasons:
1. Even by the standards of the deceased and irrelevant systems of representation that once existed in the Global North, no ‘free and fair elections’ can take place under the supervision of a power-hungry military junta, vying relentlessly for continued political domination and the protection of their vast economic empire, so relentlessly, indeed, that no constitution exists to define the powers of any presidency. How can we tolerate a military dictatorship’s supervision of any political process when thousands of Egyptians continue to languish in the dungeons of military prison after undergoing arbitrary arrest, campaigns of systematic torture, and exceptional military tribunals.
2. The abuse of law in favour of the power mongering of the ruling military generals: in order to run the junta’s preferred candidate, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission has simply and blatantly disregarded the law of political exclusion recently passed in order to ban the candidacy of any members of Mubarak’s regime from running in the presidential elections.
3. The absurdity of unlimited power concentrated in the hands of an electoral commission made up of central figures from the Mubarak era who are meant to supervise a ‘democratic’ process.
4. The vague programs marketed by the most strongly backed candidates fly in the face of the values and object of the revolution, the very reason why we are even having these elections today and the cause for which over a thousand martyrs gave their lives: ‘bread, freedom and social justice’.
If these elections take place and are internationally recognized the regime will have received the world’s stamp of approval to make void everything the revolution stands for. If these elections are to pass while we remain silent, we believe the coming regime will license itself to hunt us down, lock us up and torture us in an attempt to quell all forms of resistance to its very raison d’etre.
We continue on our revolutionary path committed to resisting military rule and putting an end to military tribunals for civilians and the release of all detainees in military prisons. We continue to struggle in the workplace, in schools and universities and with popular committees in our neighbourhoods. But our fight is as much against the governments and systems supporting the regime that suppresses us.
We are determined to audit loan agreements that did and continue to occur between international financial institutions or foreign governments with a regime that claims to represent us while thriving from exploiting and repressing us.
We call on you to join us in our struggle against the reinforcements of the counter-revolution. How will you stand in solidarity with us? If we are under attack, you are also under attack for our battle is a global one against the forces that seek our obedience and suppression.
We stand with the ongoing revolution, a revolution that will only be realized by the strength, community and persistence of the people; not through a poisonous referendum for military rule.