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World in revolt

By: 
Jesse McLaren

July 3, 2013

From Turkey, to Brazil, to Egypt, people are rising up against austerity—no matter which government is imposing it—and demanding a better world.
 
From spark to revolt
At the end of May, a small protest in Turkey to defend trees and stop gentrification in Gezi Park mushroomed into a mass movement against government repression. While the immediate issue was the park, the protests galvanized broader struggles. Opposition to police brutality intertwined with Kurdish solidarity, and when government tried to stop all demonstrations including Pride, tens of thousands marched.
 
Shortly after Turkey, protests exploded across Brazil in June—triggered by public transit fare hike, in the context of the government is using the World Cup to displace poor people while giving millions to corporations. The protests also tapped into longstanding anger about inequality and inadequate public services.
 
One of the frustrations is that governments across the political spectrum are imposing the same austerity: in Turkey it comes from the right-wing Islamist AKP, while in Brazil it is delivered from the left-wing secular “Worker’s Party” (PT). The trigger for the protests is clearly not Islamism, as Western media claim, but capitalism. The PT in Brazil have joined the British Labour Party, South African ANC, and PASOK in Greece in cutting jobs and services, backed up by police violence.
 
From revolt to revolution
But there is growing confidence to resist. June saw not only mass movements emerge in Turkey and Greece, but also general strikes in Costa Rica on June 25 and Portugal on June 27, and rolling strikes by US fast food workers demanding $15/hr and the right to unionization.
 
Meanwhile the Egyptian revolution—whose outbreak in January 2011 sparked the ongoing mood of global revolt—reached a new stage on June 30, as millions rallied against the new president Morsi. This is a huge development from just one year ago, when Egyptians voted for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)—the largest opposition group—out of hope it would provide an alternative to neoliberalism and imperialism.
 
While the MB’s base includes millions of poor and working class people, its leadership is committed to the capitalist state. So Morsi has supported Israeli apartheid, IMF loans, and the Egyptian military and police who continue to attack resistance. But ongoing strikes and protests have driven a wedge into the MB and isolated Morsi, driving the Egyptian revolutionary process forward.
 
As Egyptian socialist Sameh Naguib wrote last year, “It was natural that a large section of the masses would elect Islamists after the revolution. The masses do not leap to an integrated revolutionary consciousness all of a sudden. But the election of the Brotherhood and the more hard-line Salafists is not the end of the story. It is a transitional phase…It requires an intense and patient struggle to win the majority to our revolutionary project and to the necessity of a second Egyptian revolution.
 
We need a similar intense and patient struggle to win the majority to the necessity of revolutionary transformation not only in Egypt but the world over.

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