Millions of people around the world are burning with outrage under imperialist oppression. Islamic fundamentalism tragically channels this explosive discontent into mindless violence that offers nothing positive. This nightmare will only get worse, unless people fight to take their societies on a radically different path.
People are horrified and rightly outraged by the recent Islamic fundamentalist attack in Tunis. We are told that the only rampart against this type of barbarism is to unite behind the even greater criminals who preside over an international network of people-grinding exploitation protected by war, torture and local dictators.
Four years ago millions of people throughout the Middle East chose to risk death rather than spend another day living as they were forced to live. Now people find themselves paralyzed or drawn into choosing between unacceptable alternatives: more of the old kind of regimes they already rejected, or religious fundamentalists whose cruelty toward the people is no less than that of the West's local accomplices they want to replace. The intensifying conflict between these two sides has brought one massacre after another and this deadly dynamic will continue as long as capitalism and imperialism dominates. Yet there is a different, liberating way forward – through communist revolution.
It is the workings of the imperialist system itself that spawned 21st-century religious fundamentalism, including political Islam's false claim that the answer to the corruption, moral hypocrisy and national humiliation imposed by the West is a sharia-based regime where superstition and patriarchy have the force of law. The Western powers have embraced that where it suits their interests, but now Islamism has emerged as the West's main ideological rival and challenger to the region's present political configuration. In the name of saving people from barbarism, these hi-tech barbarians invaded Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali, sent their commandos and drones rampaging in Pakistan and Yemen, wreaked havoc on Libya and are now bombing Syria. Imperialist interventions, invasions, occupations and massacres have only made Islamism stronger and spread it further, just as every fundamentalist mass kidnapping and decapitation drives many people into the crushing arms of the West. Yet the Western powers are openly preparing public opinion and their armies for wider war.
A look at Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere in the region shows that unless there is real revolution, the people will end up with even more obscurantism and backwardness combined with national humiliation and no rights, whether they "choose" the flags of Western-obedient politicians and generals or the Islamists who want to replace them. This is a nightmare that can only get worse unless people fight to take these societies on an entirely different path. Even amid the rebellions of the last few years, reformist and narrow politics and theories have not been able to durably mobilize the deeply dissatisfied youth and the desperately poor who make up the majority across the Middle East.
Today's repugnant political choices have to be confronted with a plan for radical yet totally realistic social change, based on a scientific analysis of the problems we confront and lessons of previous experiences of revolution. Some examples of core principles for such an approach, taking into account differences between countries, might include:
- The revolutionary actions of millions must confront and overcome every kind of reactionary force, dismantling and replacing not only the monarchies and theocracies but also the political systems where parliament and formal equality hide the domination of the capitalists and landowners, and the lives of millions of people throughout the Middle East are subordinated to the accumulation of capital in New York, Paris, London and Frankfurt. A completely different political system must be built that actually enables the masses to transform society, ensures the participation of the masses, encourages a vibrant discussion, values dissent and protects the political and personal rights of the people, including the right to practice any religion or propagate atheism.
- As has been proven by experience – from postcolonial Algeria to Assad father and son and the Islamic Republic of Iran (and Venezuela) – to talk about breaking with imperialism while remaining entrapped in the imperialist world market is just talk. No people, whether their eyes are blinded by oil or not, can be free to run their own affairs without a new economic system where the wealth is produced for the benefit of transforming society and the world. The new economy needs to practice balanced development to undo the logic of imperialist dependency, repair the massive ecological destruction and strike out on a new path of sustainable development. It must open the door toward a genuine socialist system where the people collectively own and administer the productive capacity in the interests of society as a whole. That kind of economic transformation is not possible without revolutionizing the countryside to uproot the remaining authority of reactionary social forces and make a vigorous, self-reliant economy possible.
- This means and makes possible the development of a new revolutionary culture that incorporates the best that humanity has produced in the sciences and the arts and fights against both oppressive capitalist-imperialist morals and values and obscurantism. A culture that unites the people of all nationalities and brings forward all that is positive from the varying traditions and historical communities for all to enjoy, learn from and thrive on.
- The many different peoples of the Middle East need to unite in a common struggle against their oppressors, and this unity cannot be achieved without eradicating the national oppression of Amazigh ("Berbers"), Kurds and other oppressed minorities as well as the liberation of Palestine from Israeli apartheid colonialism.
- The liberation of women from patriarchy, male domination and all forms of degradation, oppression and stultification, both "modern" and medieval, has rightfully become one of the sharpest dividing lines in the region and the world. Most of the region's "leftists" have wasted this enormous potential by trying to avoid conflict with the backwardness common in people's thinking. The struggle to eliminate the oppression of women needs to be a driving force now and in the long-term transformation of society.
- The truth about the socialist revolutions of the 20th century and the liberating experience of a century and a half of revolutionary communism needs to come out. The previously existing socialist states achieved great things in opening up a pathway to different relations among people and were beyond comparison to any existing state today. We need to learn lessons from the shortcomings and errors, as well as those achievements, so as to do even better in the next round of revolutions. A new synthesis of communism has been brought forward by Bob Avakian, which addresses this experience and proposes a clearer idea of communism as a science and a re-envisioned approach to socialist revolution. This new synthesis is increasingly the subject of debate internationally. Revolutionaries in the Middle East, like everywhere else, need to fully engage this as part of carving out a different way forward.
Uncounted millions of youth and others are burning with outrage. Islamic fundamentalism tragically channels that explosive discontent into an outlook and program that offers nothing positive. What we have to offer the youth and those at the bottom of society, and in fact people from throughout society, is a chance to become emancipators of humanity, seeking to transform the globe country by country as part of a world-wide process whose goal is communism, a world where people work and struggle for the common good. Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings. Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.
Real blows for liberation struck in the Middle East will reverberate around the world and give heart to the oppressed everywhere. The oppressed have brothers and sisters everywhere – witness the stirrings of revolt in Mexico and the growing struggles against oppression in the U.S.
We glimpsed people's aspirations for thorough-going change in the upsurge that brought down Ben Ali and Mubarak. It shook the entire region and sent a message of hope for real change appreciated around the world. The old political order began to crack, but the need for the establishment of a radically new kind of state and society was not well understood. Whether in old or new forms, the injustices and outrages people rose up against are even worse today. If an understanding of the real problem and solution became a real force, couldn't revolution be a real possibility? A flag representing that basic understanding, in total opposition to Islamic illusions and imperialist realities, could unite the vast majority of people – of countries, the region and the world – against their real enemies in the long run. Right now it could serve as a welcome unifying pole among people who are being increasingly divided, crushed and robbed of all hope. It could begin to reverse today's deadly dynamic. This path is difficult, but the only way to get free of this madness.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This leaflet by the Revolutionary Communist Manifesto Group in Europe was massively distributed in Arabic, French and English at the World Social Forum in Tunis 24-28 March 2015. Contact: [email protected] Check out: www.revcom.us