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Egypt: Libertarian Socialist Movement

category north africa | anarchist movement | press release author Thursday May 26, 2011 16:41author by الحركة الاشتراكية التحرريةauthor email anarchisminarabic at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

We libertarian socialists struggle for a socialist society without classes, an anti-authoritarian society free of the repressive apparatus of the State and of Capital. We stand against the introduction of State capitalism, such as in the oppressive regimes that existed in "socialist" countries. We reject and oppose the capitalist system. [العربية ]

Egypt: Birth of the Libertarian Socialist Movement

The Libertarian Socialist Movement was founded on 23 May 2011 in Cairo, at the heart of the Egyptian Revolution and in the midst of the revolutionary wave that is sweeping over the world today, from Tunisia through Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria and even reaching Spain, bringing back memories of the waves in 1848 and 1968. This revolutionary wave should also reach other countries.

The Movement has published a Manifesto and is currently preparing a more detailed statement of its basic principles. It aims to involve all those opponents of capitalism (private and State) and all opponents of bureaucracy and centralization, the suppression of individual liberties and those who are against the erosion of human rights, all supporters of self-management in the workplace and building cooperatives, all supporters of economic emancipation, administrative decentralization and direct democracy. The Movement is organized into working groups whose members meet up and coordinate with the other groups, and is made up of elected delegates from these groups, who communicate through the use of modern means of communication in order to avoid the formation of organizational hierarchies.

As the Movement has no other source of financing for its activities other than the contributions of its members and the voluntary work they do, and as its activists are wage-slaves, none of whom are wealthy, and considering that they do not want their freedom limited by financial dependence, the Movement has decided to use internet as it is the cheapest way to communicate. It also intends to produce paper publications when possible. For the same reason, the movement is not in a position to buy premises and thus its activities are carried out within the various popular organizations such as trade unions, workplace and neighbourhood committees andcooperatives, and we ask our members who are present in all the popular protest movements to coordinate and communicate through internet.

Libertarian Socialist Movement

We libertarian socialists struggle for a socialist society without classes, an anti-authoritarian society free of the repressive apparatus of the State and of Capital. We stand against the introduction of State capitalism, such as in the oppressive regimes that existed in "socialist" countries. We reject and oppose the capitalist system.

We believe that the working class is capable of leading a vast coalition arising from tenacious efforts to bring down the power of both capitalism and the repressive State.

Our immediate aims are:

  1. Administrative decentralization without governors and mayors, managed by local neighbourhood and area councils, the right of popular control with elected, recallable delegates of local councils and citizens' committees.

  2. The conversion of all service companies and production plants into cooperatives self-managed by their members in a democratic, decentralized society with the aid of freedom and independence from the administrative State.

  3. The cancellation of tax incentives given to investors and the application of progressive taxation in order to support the service cooperatives which will include sectors such as education, healthcare and so on.

  4. Trade-union pluralism, freedom of association in factories and workplaces and the creation of unions for all State employees and military establishments in order to support the participation of all workers in the management of workplaces, self-management in the factories and companies that were privatized amid injustice and corruption during the Mubarak era.

  5. The confiscation of all money of illicit origin and its distribution among the cooperatives.

  6. A Constitution which guarantees all forms of human freedom, such as the freedom of religion, association and thought; the creation of a parliamentary republic, decentralized governance with permanent popular control by the local administrations and citizens' committees who take the place of the Government and the Head of State; the right of delegates acting on popular mandates to propose laws and referendums.

  7. The constitution of a socialist society, that does not depend on an act of liberal authority but rather on the will of the cooperatives without a central authority, so that a society without classes can be self-organized through popular committees and local committees, against the authority of a central, repressive State.

Libertarian Socialist Movement

E-mail: lsm.egypt at gmail at com

Translation by FdCA-International Relations Office

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author by Michael Schmidt - ex-ZACF (South Africa)publication date Fri May 27, 2011 22:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hi all

Allow me to attempt - from the distance of Johannesburg and with the disadvantage of not knowing more about the Libertarian Socialist Movement (LSM) - to analyse this statement. Firstly, it is amply clear that this is a minimum programme designed for the widest possible public consumption, and not a maximum programme designed as the internal guide to praxis of a revolutionary organisation. As a result, it is: a) simplified in the extreme; b) avoids some crucial questions of implementation; and c) combines revolutionism with formulae that are patently reformist. But there are reasons for all three of these issues.

Secondly, allow me to deal briefly with the elements that are clearly revolutionary before dealing with those three questions. The key elements are:
1) Direct Democracy: The decentralisation of power from a statist-hierarchical regime to “local neighbourhood councils,” apparently federated horizontally into “area councils” which I presume cover larger districts (both are pluralistic class organisations). The local neighbourhood councils are to be under the directly-democratic control of “elected, recallable delegates,” some of whom may be put forward by a diversity of popular groupings, here called “citizens’ / popular committees” which I presume may either be hetereogenous or may have a more distinct political orientation (specific organisations). The citizens’ / popular committees appear to in fact be a parallel structure to the councils as it is envisaged that they, alongside the councils, are to replace the government and state (note that both are to be abolished, not just one or the other). It appears that elected delegates of (area?) councils and perhaps also of citizens’ / popular committees are then represented in a “parliament” that is empowered under a popularly-agreed, free-associative “constitution” to propose laws and referenda, levy a wealth tax, and distribute capital’s ill-gotten gains to worker co-operatives.
2) Worker Control: Alongside the decentralisation of administration, the LSM envisages the decentralisation of the ownership of the means of production via the “conversion of all service companies and production plants into cooperatives self-managed by their members”. These co-operatives will include ones that were privatised, and are now to be socialised, put under worker control (rather than nationalised, that is, converted back to state ownership). In replication of the political structure, local co-operatives will be organised more broadly, industrially, into sectoral federations, especially in the service sector: “education, healthcare and so on”. And this workerist economy will, like the political dispensation, see the creation of parallel structures: self-managed factory and workplace co-operatives (class organisations), with autonomous unions (specific organisations).

So: a) yes, while the statement – for it cannot be called a programme – is super-simple, I believe it is deliberately so to make it easily digestible to people unaccustomed to sophisticated politics; b) yes, it avoids key questions of implementation, in an apparently deliberate attempt to gain as much public resonance as possible without quibbling over details; and c) yes, it combines elements of reformism (for example the notions of a “parliament” rather than, say a national congress of councils / soviets, and the notion of a "constitutional republic" though these may be semantic differences, and the maintenance of money and taxation, even if only a sort of Tobin Tax) in what appears to be a tactic not to frighten off layers of the insurgent oppressed classes who may be unfamiliar with revolutionary thinking.

So lastly, what does the statement *not* deal with? Clearly, there is:
1) No programme for the defence of the revolution: especially how to prevent foreign interests intervening militarily through the likes of NATO to suppress the revolution.
2) There is no plan on how to deal with the military itself, such a powerful factor in Egyptian politics: other than the unionisation of the military, there is no indication of how the military will itself be placed under civilian control, and be internally democratised. They should look to the Makhnovists, the Spanish militia and the Zapatistas for examples.
3) There is no plan on how to deal with the current comprador elite, the higher state bureaucracy and the Egyptian bourgeoisie (other than dispossessing them at the level of industrial plant ownership).
4) The question of private property is avoided, in fact it seems that small-scale personal wealth is to be retained. The retention of money and taxation suggests an intermediary, Proudhonist, solution rather than a full-scale revolutionary communist solution along the lines of Luxemburg or Bakunin. To be fair, in most functional revolutions (Mexico in the 1910s for instance), some form of exchange was retained, but this need not be so.
5) Other than the cancellation of tax incentives for foreign investors and the confiscation and redistribution of “all money of [ill-defined] illicit origin,” there is no clear plan on what to do with gold / other state reserves, state and private investments, speculators and the banks themselves, both state and private.
6) The question of the redistribution of large land-holdings, especially those of large capitalist corporations including foreign ones, and domestic latifundistas, is not dealt with. In fact the sharing of other natural resources such as the waters of the Nile for irrigation, is also not dealt with.
7) Finally, what is also not stated and should be, is whether co-operatives (class organs) and unions (specific organs) are to be represented in the “parliament” alongside councils (class organs) and citizens’ / popular committees (specific organs); certainly to include them would be more revolutionary, and to exclude them would be to risk a return to the professionalisation of politics and the exclusion of the working class from the exercise of anything other than industrial power, a division of labour v decision-making powers that is distinctly capitalist.

I’m sure there are many other gaps that I have missed, but those are the ones that most immediately spring to mind. On balance, however, the LSM envisages a kind of libertarian industrial council communist “socialist society without classes” that is close to enough in ideology and praxis to anarchist-communism for we southern African anarchists to support. I hope that stimulates some further debate.

Red & Black regards

author by Wayne Price - personal opinionpublication date Sat May 28, 2011 08:14author email drwdprice at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

As Michael says, this is an excellent beginning of a revolutionary libertarian socialist statement. His comments, I believe, are right on the mark. I would add only two comments:

(1) As he implies, there is a need for some sort of idea of replacing the existing regular, centralized, bourgeois, pro-imprialist, military with a new sort of military force, an armed people, a workers' and peasants militia. So long as the present military exists, the revolution is at risk.

(2) At some point, there should be raised the idea of abolishing the national borders, creating some sort of libertarian socialist federation of North Africa and the Middle Eastern countries. This would help to strengthen military and popular resistance to imperialism and to local counterrevolutionary forces, as well as to aid in pooling the resources of the region in a democratically-planned regional economy.

author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Sun May 29, 2011 06:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

First of all, I am delighted to see this initiative of organisation taking place. Secondly, I am really glad that they are willing to deal with the reality of Egyptian society today rather than indulge in harmful and rather pointless utopianism at a moment when anarchists can and must become a relevant force for change. I acknowledge the questions that Michael rise, but we have to take into account the specific conditions of Egypt. We are not discussing an anarchist programme in abstract, but we are rather discussing what constructive role anarchists could play in a living movement where some of our demands could be met and we can make sure that they are actually met. In fact, a lot of the demands in relation to workers control and local government through the people's committees would be rather pointless in many other countries, but in the context of radicalisation of Egypt (and taking into consideration the combativity acquired over the last five years by the workers movement and the organisation of a vast network of people's committees), they seem actually possible if there is a revolutionary force willing to push these issues to the end. That's the role anarchists should and must play.

I don't think that the retention of money and taxes necessarily suggest a Proudhonist solution, what would be to "ideologize" too much a matter which is primarily practical. It only means that abolition of money is not on the agenda at the moment as something that could be possible to achieve, and therefore it could not be a useful demand at the moment. I do not think that at every moment of our lives or in every struggle we have at hand the full implementation of the anarchist communist programme, and I think that this lack of programmatic thinking, this inability to distinguish what would be desirable given ideal circumstances to what is achievable now, is a heavy and harmful burden in the anarchist movement, that makes us quite ineffectual and makes us often lose sight from what is possible to attain at a particular conjuncture. Not even in Spain in 1936, where anarchists were hegemonic in some regions, the abolition of money was on the agenda (collectives created their own currency in most cases, which created its own problems), and the lack of a sound currency policy during the Makhnovist revolution created a great deal of problems, such as inflation and the circulation of different types of currency, etc. It escapes me how could it be possible to ask for the immediate abolition of money in one country (simple things as how to deal with the foreign trade would become a major factor playing against it).

I would rather agree with Wayne's statement that as long as the military exists the revolution is at risk, and that a new, alternative structure for the defence of the revolution should be promoted. But again, I think that the statement is not trying to deal with all problems of the revolution (even though this seems to be quite an important and fundamental one, which will require an urgent consideration given yesterday's events in Egypt).

author by r.m.publication date Sun May 29, 2011 06:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have heard about a an egyptian anarcho-communist group called "Black Flag".Is it the same or they are seperated?

author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Sun May 29, 2011 07:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

BF was an ad hoc small group created in Tahrir that did not have proper existence. Some of the people inolved in BF are involved in this project of a more stable organisation.

author by nestor - 1 of Anarkismo Editorial Grouppublication date Sun May 29, 2011 07:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As far as I know, "Black Flag" was the name given to a temporary group of comrade who got together during the main protests that led to the fall of Mubarak. The LSM is a more formal grouping basically made up of the same people.

author by nestor - 1 of Anarkismo Editorial Grouppublication date Sun May 29, 2011 07:43author email nestor_mcnab at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Please note that an introductory text by the LSM has now been added to the article above.

author by Breinopublication date Tue Jun 07, 2011 02:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

call me primitive. because that is what i am.
you all doubt what man can do.
when a group of people work together they can do much.

A)for my man that OVER analyzes every of aspect of every detail.
you know , if everthing thing was laid out and planned out, then were is the organic, truely free flowing element in a revolution? hmmm.

B) in regards to the militia wich consists of our the peoples (father mother brother sisters keep in mind militia our communities to fill the boots).. it will become family vs. family . the people must arm themselves. the people must have family insurgents to complete this mission. militia need not be abolished after revolution. will there be fighting? yes. are we underdogs? yes. does the underdog garuntee failure? NO.

C) in regards to money. tck tck. ahhh. money. money. money. his money your money. their money. it's all the same. i say "no money" but thats just me. then someone says " hey what about the coffee beans form venezuela , the inport, the trade, i say fuck the coffe beans grow your own. someone " but wait i cant pay for technology less we have money" i say fuck technology. we lived without cellphones back in the 90's we can do it again.

author by Red and Black Actionpublication date Sat Dec 17, 2011 22:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The previous commentator embodies some of the problems with discussion in our movement: quick dismissal, sweeping statements and claims and positions that have peculiar implications. We need real debate and discussion on how the revolutionaries will build a mass base, not empty phrases dictated by the pose of appearing 'super radical.'

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