This quarter’s selection

Issue: 150

In an interview on the Jacobin website Egyptian Revolutionary Socialist Sameh Naguib recalls the events of the Egyptian revolution and counter-revolution. Naguib explains how the origins of the revolution were both political and economic and how mass strikes and movements on the streets resonated with each other. Naguib shows how the counter-revolution, led by Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, has co-opted people’s genuine anger at the Muslim Brotherhood for their own ends—“learning from and deploying the language of revolution against itself”, for example by portraying themselves as defenders of women’s liberation against the Islamists. In reality, there is nothing progressive or secular about the military.

However, the el-Sisi regime is far from stable:

The spirit of resistance among workers has not been crushed. We’ve seen a new wave of strikes in the last two months, involving textile workers in the delta, workers in subsidiary companies on the Suez Canal, cement workers, civil servants, and graduate students. There’s a revival of the workers’ movement, and a degree of panic on the regime’s side. Nothing has changed in terms of economic policy. On the contrary, the neoliberal policies of the Mubarak era have been deepened and accelerated. So on the economic plane, there’s a retrenchment of neoliberalism, and on the political plane, the ramping up of repression. But the radicalisation of hundreds of thousands of mainly working class young people still has yet to be uprooted.

Naguib concludes by discussing the tasks of the Egyptian left today and particularly the crucial question of how to relate to the Muslim Brotherhood. He argues that it would be a mistake for the left to refuse to go to demonstrations against the regime if Brotherhood supporters are also there for example, a position that will lead to isolation and paralysis. Instead he calls for a much more serious debate about Marxism and the Islamic movement, both in Egypt and internationally. See

The latest issue of New Left Review (II/97) starts with a fascinating article by Benedict Anderson, who died in December, about the long-term historical origins of the struggle between the Reds and the Yellows in Thailand and includes an interesting (if technical) critique of the methods used by the World Bank to claim that global poverty is declining. But politically the issue is dominated by another long and important interview, this time with Stathis Kouvelakis on “Syriza’s Rise and Fall”. His conclusion?

The paradox of the Greek case is that, although it ended in disaster, at some moments it gave us a glimpse of what an alternative might be. The sequence of the referendum was vital in relaunching the process of popular radicalisation. It showed a way to combine electoral success and popular mobilisation. It was an important event: the first time a people has defiantly said “No” to an ultimatum from Europe’s ruling powers, on such a scale. We should remain faithful to the meaning of that event and reject the dominant narrative, which asks us to pretend it never happened.