The Times finally wakes up and notices the Egyptian labor movement. Of course, more than 2 million workers have gone on strike in Egypt in the last few years. The 3 week effort to push Mubarak out of power was the cherry on the sundae of a very deep and long effort.
But big questions remain: how will labor organize itself? will it push beyond demands for union recognition and confront basic questions of economic and political organization?
In Germany in 1919 a revived labor movement at the heart of the German Revolution of 1981-19 led to the fall of the monarchy and then the creation of the Weimar Republic. While many on the left viewed it as a new form of progressive government it was hobbled by all sorts of political compromises that in fact left a door open for the restoration of authoritarian rule – in the form of the new Nazi party.
Egypt must avoid that outcome. It is not clear that there is an “Egyptian solution,” however, without a regional solution that encompasses the rest of the Arab world and Israel as well. None of the countries in the region can stand on their own. to be independent of big power influence they need to organize together, democratically.