Years of protest by workers and others have now been joined by the middle class and even sections of the military and elite with the toppling of the Mubarak regime the result. The weight of those years of resistance have now had their impact, like a river carving its way through a mountainside.
Only a few days ago, Secretary of State Clinton tried to stem the tide by expressing fear of early elections. She clung to the Mubarak Constitution though it was already a dead letter arguing that if Mubarak resigned power would devolve to the head of the Supreme Court and that that would lead to “radicals” taking power. Even as late as early this morning Egyptian time the military was still trying to use the Clinton approach – modest constitutional reform with Mubarak still in place as a figure head.
But the Egyptian people made clear that that was not enough. Millions came into the streets and the military went to Plan B and dropped Mubarak. Now indeed the head of the Supreme Court has been given control of the state. Far from a vacuum so feared by Team Obama, the Egyptian people are now in the process of organizing their own society through the exercise of mass democracy.
The people’s work is not done, but they have broken through and now must chart a way forward for themselves and the region. The key is to understand the link between the authoritarian nature of the ousted regime and the neo-liberal economic agenda pushed on the country, indeed much of the region, by the US and larger economic powers. The challenge is for the Egyptians then is to keep in mind that there must be a reorganization of the economy as well as the political sphere. The first step clearly must be the dismantling of the military and Mubarak regime’s hold over economic enterprises. The emergence of an independent labor movement with many thousands risking their lives to strike over the last few years will be critical in pushing this dual economic and political agenda forward.
Here in the US one can only hope that the democratic left learned an important lesson as they watched the reactionary policy of the Obama Administration, first calling the regime stable and then saying Mubarak was not a dictator. Even as Biden and Clinton spoke these words, the Mubarak regime was crumbling and yet continuing its attempt to torture and harass the Egyptian people on its way out the door. If we are lucky the events in Egypt will signal a break in American politics as well leading to a reconsideration of our imperial approach to the newly emerging global order.