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The Dictatorship is Over, Long Live the Dictatorship


Mubarak has resigned, finally. According to Al-Jazeera, El Baradei has declared "The country has been liberated after decades of repression." This is not exactly true.

But "regime change", either brought about from the push of domestic forces as this just happened in Egypt and Tunisia or from abroad, through imperial intervention as in Iraq and Afghanistan or multinational "humanitarian intervention" as in Haiti, is not revolution. The change of government can easily be, and often in fact is, just a change in the executive power of the ruling elites whose hegemony continues to be exercised through the economy and the inertia of mainstream political culture.

And "regime change" looks even less like real change when the same army that supported the previous dictatorship is now saying that it will "guarantee the peaceful transition of power in the framework of a free, democratic system which allows an elected, civilian power to govern the country to build a democratic, free state" as announced by a senior army officer on state television and reported by Al Jazeera the day after the resignation of Mubarak. "Peaceful transition of power" and "free, democratic system" are all code words signalling what the power of the army is willing to tolerate and what it is not.

The strongest sign that the army is sending right now is, thus, that no real alternative to some form of liberal democracy and Egyptian capitalism will be tolerated, only cosmetic changes to the political system of often feeble and powerless representatives of divided, factionalist, and sectarian parties outnumbered by the best corporate-supported, elite-controlled, and imperially-approved party of all, which in Egypt has yet to emerge, though emerge it certainly seems like it will.

The resignation of Mubarak is, therefore, only the beginning, not the end, and even less so the hoped-for "liberation" of Egypt itself. The fall of the Mubarak/NDP dictatorship is thus merely the fall of one form of dictatorship of power and it can easily lead to another one. Underneath the extremely fluid political events of the last two weeks or so, Egypt continues to be under the yoke of the dictatorship of capital and its internaitonal allies.

The liberal elites working behind El Baradei, with the support of the conservative army, the United States and its international allies in the region and elsewhere, continue to hold the invisible strings of power. These elites may be content with "democratic" reforms, constitutional changes, opening the political system to party competition, and even allowing "fair and free" elections even with the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Changes to the electoral system, and even the nature of executive power, however, hardly amount to a revolution. Revolutions are radical or they are not revolutions; revolutions are about changing the basic structures of society or they are not revolutions; in the twenty-first century, revolutions are about resisting imperialism, international corporate-driven globalizaiton and neoliberal enviromentalism (carbon trading regimes) or they are not revolutions; revolutions are about stopping the beating heart of capitalism, in cities and the countryside, or they are not revolutions; revolutions are about changing property relations or they are not revolutions. Therefore, true liberation is not going to arrive in Egypt unless and until the dictatorship of capital itself is radically challenged and, indeed, overthrown.

The peaceful overthrow of Mubarak is, without a doubt, a huge accomplishment of the Egyptian Revolution and the concrete and mobilized communitas of Tahrir Square. This profoundly meaningful act of the people should not be trivialized, but it should not be allowed to be hijacked by El Baradei and the Egyptian liberal elites or their faction of followers among the people. Although the global corporate media is now focusing on what El Baradei is saying and using his words as the expression of the will of Egyptians, this will of Egyptians is not reducible, at least not yet, to a simple liberal platform against political dictatorship and for an "orderly transition to democracy'

The revolutionary community must now push further, and harder, against the transformation of the revolutionary dream into the kind of liberalism that El Baradei is proposing. This is the liberalism of corporate-driven globalization. The revolutionary community must push further and harder for the peaceful overthrow of the dictatorship of globalized transnational capital.

If the revolution stops with the removal of Mubarak and his cronies from the NDP, as good and necessary as this is, the revolution will remain unfinished and will, in fact, be hijacked by a project of neoliberalism that will give continuity to the dictatorship of globalized transnational capital.

The personal dictatorship of Mubarak may be over, but the socio-economic structures that generate oppression and marginalization will continue to exist unless the revolutionary community pushes the process harder and further than the local ideologues of Empire are prepared to go.

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