Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla is having enormous political ramifications in the Middle East. The assault has exposed some of the social tensions in Egypt and Turkey, two key US allies.
Workers in the Middle East have the collective power to bring about real change.
The actions and struggles of Egyptian workers against their dictatorship and in solidarity with Palestine show how this change can begin to take place.
The Russian Marxist Leon Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution explained this dynamic.
Trotsky sought to understand how revolutions could develop in countries where the working class was relatively small compared to the peasantry and other groups.
The rulers of Egypt will not deliver democracy or thoroughgoing reform. Although they are junior partners in the imperialist order, they are still tied to it and won’t confront it.
So workers must lead the fight with strikes, mass protests and great social movements. The power contained in such movements can grow into a challenge to capitalism itself.
Trotsky argued that revolutions have to be permanent in two senses.
First, that workers have to fight to push any revolutionary struggle to the point where they could take power and abolish class distinctions altogether.
Second, it has to be international. If the revolutionary process spreads to other countries, where workers are more numerous, it can become a “permanent” process.
The movement in Egypt is already putting pressure on the government and opening up a space for radical ideas to break through.
This is more advanced than what is happening in Turkey, where the state is trying to turn the anger at Israel’s attack into a shoring up of its support.
Workers across the world should not just stand by and hope that things will get better in these countries.
International movements in solidarity with Palestine and against imperialist war give confidence to movements in the Middle East and expose cracks in the existing order.