Why socialists shouldn’t vote for the Muslim Brotherhood
After a heavily contested first round, the Egyptian presidential election came down to a run-off between two candidates, representing two wings of the same ruling class. As we go to press the results are not known.
The candidate of the undisguised counter-revolution is Ahmed Shafiq, puppet of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), a pillar of the old regime. Opposing him stands the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi, presenting himself as a “moderate” candidate of the revolution, its respectable and socially conservative face. in fact he too represents the counter-revolution.
This makes line of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) to call for a vote for the Brotherhood candidate as dangerous as it is unprincipled. Socialist Worker on 2 June stated: “This has been called a “nightmare scenario”, in which Egyptians are asked to choose merely between military rule and Islamism. In fact the choice is clear. A vote for Shafiq would be a vote against the revolution.</br>
A vote for Mursi is a vote against the legacy of Mubarak and for continuing change. Revolutionary activists will not enjoy voting for Mursi. If they do not do so, however, they are likely to experience the real nightmare scenario—a president cloned from the dictator they overthrew last year. Mursi is not in a strong position. The Brotherhood has struggled since the start of the revolution. Its leaders have tried to make deals with Egypt’s real rulers—the generals of the SCAF. At the same time they have been under great pressure from their own members and supporters to deliver further change. They have suffered many splits and defections as it becomes clear that they can’t meet the people’s needs and expectations.”</br>
Aside from the little matter of principle, that Marxists never vote for the candidates of bourgeois parties, this estimate of the Brotherhood is wrong.
In fact the Brotherhood is a reactionary organisation, which gave only lukewarm support to the revolution and opposed the candidacy of women or Coptic Christians for the presidency. It also opposed the self-organisation of the workers in their new trade unions, as well as their moves towards self-defence during the February 2011 protests, which might have helped to break the state’s monopoly on violence.
Arguing that the Brotherhood’s victory would be some kind of shield against the violence of the military regime is a dangerous deception. Overestimating both the democratic commitment and the interdependence of the Brotherhood’s disparate petty-bourgeois mass base, this simply ensures that when the settling of accounts comes, the energy and loyalties of the working class will be divided amongst the different bourgeois factions, each competing for the favour of foreign imperialists.
Used to being a semi-tolerated “unofficial” opposition in the Mubarak years, the Brotherhood now want to reassure the army and foreign investors that Egypt under their rule will be just as good for business as it was under his regime.
The SWP have called on activists to demand that Mursi grant government posts to left-wing figures. Why a party capable of winning an outright majority would concede its power to those opposed to its political programme is unclear.
In any case, demanding that the workers, youth and women who made the revolution in the streets subordinate their leaders to the Brotherhood promotes dangerous illusions in the ability of parliamentary institutions to safeguard and extend the gains of the revolution.
To call for a coalition government of bourgeois and workers’ leaders would be analogous to the Mensheviks joining the 1917 Provisional government or the Popular Fronts, which disarmed, disempowered, and eventually crushed the revolutionary workers’ movements in France and Spain during the 1930s.