Dan Poulton takes a look at a thoroughly unordinary week of revolution, coups and mass uprisings
This has not been an ordinary week.
The 30 June witnessed the biggest single demonstration in modern history as over ten million surged through the streets of Egypt against the neoliberal regime of President Morsi.
This aerial footage shows this momentous mobilisation -off the back of a petition signed by 22 million people- in action.
And Wednesday night saw a military coup designed to limit the forward thrust of the revolutionary masses. John Rees' article is essential reading on this.
Turkey, too, has seen momentous street protests this week, as tens of thousands continue to rail against the creeping neoliberalisation of public places and the government’s divisive social policies.
And Brazil has entered the contest, with hundreds of thousands taking up a heroic struggle against 'everything'. This is particularly fascinating, as the demonstrations began as protests against bus fares. Polls show that a remarkable 80 percent of the population backs the protests.
We live in a time where single issues can generalise to wider concerns with remarkable speed.
None of these protests, including the game-changing 'Arab Spring' revolutions before them, began with explicit demands for revolution.
But events quickly took on a revolutionary logic of their own, moving rapidly down the fault lines and fissures of neoliberalisation, mounting inequality, economic turmoil and rampant state oppression.
The Western imperialist powers are currently doing their best to intervene militarily in Syria precisely because their counter-revolutionary strategy is to re-route revolutionary processes back into a social-political framework that maintains the global balance of power in favour of the corporations, the warmongers, the imperialist rulers, and the monolithic dictum of neoliberalism.
A serious omission in the Egyptian situation is the lack of any political institution which can represent the views of the most radical sections of the revolution.
Without such a formation being constructed, in the words of John Rees, the masses provide the steam but the ruling class provide the piston box.
This means that revolutionary pressure becomes an engine for bourgeoise rule. The revolution provides the train, the ruling class provide the driver.
The movements in Turkey and Brazil are operating at a lower register, but Egypt provides an urgent reminder that every radical movement necessitates coherent organised political expression. Otherwise the train will get run off the tracks.
Dan is a writer, broadcaster and campaigner. His most recent documentary was The New Scramble For Africa and his documentaries have appeared regularly on the Islam Channel. He is an organiser for Counterfire and a regular contributor to Counterfire site.
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- Love against the Law: the People's Bank has its day in court
- Is Russell Brand right, do we need a revolution?