The Arab Spring a Decade Later: Perspectives
It has been 10 years since the Arab Spring burst in Tunisia. This has been an enormous decade in terms of the varieties of experience. Although the hopes and aspirations of the masses were drowned in blood and tears during this process, the rebellions have not ended.
Life gives birth to new struggles, accumulates new powers, and prepares new rebels in various countries of the Middle East, including Turkey. The point is to take lessons in light of this decade of experience. This is the only way we can be ready for the upcoming struggles. Nevertheless, the left-socialist movement in Turkey is very far from drawing the necessary lessons. We can summarize the perspectives as follows:
- When examining the nationalist-conspiratorial choir, the Arab Spring was nothing more than a delusion of US imperialism from the very beginning. The attempt to understand and narrate the experience of all these countries with this simplicity, even if attractive to slouchy minds and conspiracy buffs, was highly detrimental to the class struggle. These petty-bourgeois circles, which look down on the masses, fear from them and are determined to preserve their comfortable and safe life enviously, created a tragic confusion by using the backwardness of the masses as an excuse. These nationalists, who focus on the politics between the states and are always bound to their own states, indirectly offer the masses nothing more than pacifism and national isolation.
- A smaller group of useful idiots was the projection of the nationalist groups in the liberal left. The Arab Spring process in different countries was similarly wrapped in the same bag and blindly called as revolution. In Libya and Syria, the regime change efforts of imperialism, their deadly interventions, ethnic and sectarian strife, jihadist fanaticism, warlords etc. were ignored and a song of revolution was sung. The ones who called the jihadist gangs, which are under the command of the MIT(Turkish Intelligence Service), the CIA or Gulf sheikhdoms, as revolutionary has taken its place in history as a useful type of idiocy benefited by the imperialists and Islamists.
- The Kurdish National Movement and the organizations around it, has seen the process from their window. Although the Rojava Kurds’ right to self-determination is a just and progressive struggle, it is clear that the US-led YPG’s national project cannot appeal to Middle Eastern workers and promise them a new order. There would be no point in expecting anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism and internationalism from the Kurdish National Movement. It is quite normal that the national movement is characterized by pragmatism. The efforts for cooperation with Israel, which PKK Leader Karayılan pointed out in his interview in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, do not promise much.
- Those who defend the Permanent Revolution Perspective welcomed the uprisings that started in Tunisia and Egypt; on the other hand, they took an anti-imperialist stance in Libya and Syria by separating these countries. According to the “permanent revolutionists”, it was revealed long ago that the “democratic revolution” project, which was put before as a necessary step to pass in underdeveloped countries, is not valid. In other words, democracy could not come without abolishing capitalist production relations. That is to say, the existing social conditions will not give rise to a bourgeois democracy but a workers’ democracy in underdeveloped countries. If there was to be a revolution, if the main social problems of the people were to have their real solutions, it is possible only through the socialist revolution. For instance, there could be no emancipation for Egypt unless the workers, who participated in demonstrations, went on strike and built barricades in Mahalla Al Kubra, Alexandria, and Cairo, take the political power. Therefore, the organization of the workers had to be increased, the socialist perspective had to be strengthened and the Leninist construction process had to be accelerated. The storm of socialism that would develop would spread to the whole Middle East, defeat imperialism and sweep away all kinds of reactionaries. This was the only possible way of progressive development.
The Path to March on
The Arab Spring experience is discouraging in many ways. Despite the burdensome costs, the return of despotism, civil wars, ethnic-sectarian hatred, jihadist gangs… All of these reinforce fears, but on the other hand, the misery of the people, the futility of the youth, and the decay of the system are unbearable. This crisis, which the imperialist capitalist system has not been able to get out of since 2008 and that has deepened with the pandemic, will deepen the problems. As long as these contradictions exist, the energy of rebellion will never end.
Maybe the streets of Egypt are silent today, but no one knows what will happen tomorrow. While this article was being written, the actions of the student youth were continuing in Beirut. Lebanese, Iranian and Iraqi laborers can fuel the rebellion at any time. The rulers in Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Sudan, and others fear badly. Also in Turkey, objective conditions of a social explosion are maturing. Yes, the Arab Spring left behind painful memories and the price paid after the successes which could not reach the victory. But let's not forget, the biggest fear of the working people is the fear of abandonment brought about by disorganization. So revolutionary socialists, trying to organize in Turkey and each country they reached. To change the course of history. SEP and ISL are for this.