Originally published by Dollars & Sense
In mid-August, the eminent Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek wrote, “Unfortunately, the Egyptian summer of 2011 will be remembered as marking the end of revolution, a time when its emancipatory potential was suffocated.” Indeed, the forcible clearing of protestors from Tahrir Square, the outlawing of labor strikes, and the imprisonment of thousands by the military that was taking place as Žižek wrote did not bode well for the revolution. In the months since his words were published, things have not gotten much better: the military has reinstated Mubarak’s Emergency Law, the International Monetary Fund has issued grim predictions for Egypt’s economic performance as interest rates soar, and Moody’s has again downgraded Egypt’s bond rating and that of several of its major banks. Meanwhile, the Islamists, marginalized in the earlier days of the revolutionary uprising, have returned, well organized and poised to play a significant part in the constitution-writing process that will commence following the upcoming elections.
Yet since the overthrow of Mubarak, industrial actions against low wages and poor working conditions have persisted, and a multitude of new, independent labor unions have been formed. In recent weeks, a new wave of labor strikes has exploded across the country on a scale “not seen since the earliest weeks of the revolution,” as the Washington Post put it. But in view of the monumental challenges they face, what can these ongoing labor and leftist popular political movements still hope to accomplish? Is the revolution doomed, as Žižek suggests, or is a brighter future, and a truly radical social transformation, away from the domination of Egyptian society by capital, still within reach for Egypt?