Jean-Luc Melenchon on the coup in Egypt

Protest in Cairo (12 July) calling for reinstatment of deposed President Morsi

We publish below the comments of Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the French Parti de Gauche, on the coup in Egypt. The original text can be found here.

Socialist Action strongly agrees with his judgement that this was a coup, that it was a rightist coup and that those forces that have welcomed the coup – or failed to recognise it as a coup – are profoundly wrong and store up grave errors of approach for the future.

In his comments he also indicates he believes that if the army had not intervened, then the mass movement alone could have imposed a more progressive outcome. In our view the mass movement was already hopelessly politically compromised in support for the army, the Mubarakists and other right-wing and pro-imperialist forces by the time of the 30th June mobilisations – which were organised and encouraged by all the forces of the pre-2011 state. The call for the overthrow of Morsi could only lead to an anti-democratic and retrogressive outcome when no more left or progressive political force had hegemony – and indeed were small and mainly compromised minorities – in the demonstrations.

However, as Melenchon correctly points out, the social and political ills which beset Egyptian society remain very deep and the mobilisations of the population very profound. It is yet to be seen whether the army can impose any period of ‘calm’ in Egypt, and if so, for how long. The mass movement will continue to demand support and solidarity.

“I will take advantage of this time at my keyboard to say a word about Egypt and the events that took place there. What should stand out to us is the capacity of the popular democratic will in that country to constantly rebound. This teaches us a lot. Citizens’ revolutions are new political processes. Even if they reproduce many features of the revolutions of the last century, we shouldn’t judge these new developments according to old frameworks. Citizens’ revolution is a process. It’s not a “new dawn after the long night,” assuming there ever was such a thing. What is expressed this time round is the product of the new realities of our time and their combined effects. A large, densely populated and highly educated urban population, including a large female workforce, which is abandoned in face of all the problems of daily life, produces a relentless will to take control of the reality.To believe that these movements will subordinate themselves to ideologies and accept a classic, institutional political outcome is a complete misunderstanding. Proof was needed and I think it has just been given.

“So, in a very friendly fashion, I say to all those who welcomed the military action that in my opinion they are deeply wrong. Firstly because to rely on military coups to promote democracy or “general will” is like putting your finger in the gears – you will always lose it. To make the army the arbiter of what is good or bad and even the instrument of the will of the people is a very dangerous approach. For my part I am absolutely and totally opposed to such an approach. I hasten to add that my opposition holds for all cases. By which I mean that “left coups” -should such occur – are no better in my eyes that “right coups”. For me, the army coup d’Etat against the elected President Morsi is a coup d’Etat of the right. Not because Morsi was to any tiny extent to the left:  it was just the opposite. But because the army, by intervening prevented the people from achieving the victory they were going to win by their own actions. That is why we should expect new twists and turns in the popular action. The army is not there for any other reason than to take control of the situation that the popular action also wants to control. As there is no exit from the impasse without deep and radical changes in Egyptian society, the masses – that we have already seen the rise up twice – will not settle for being rid of the Morsi team. It will be necessary to meet the democratic and social demands that are the engine of the popular action. The idea that the military can take this in charge is a pure figment of the imagination and the source of terrible confusion for the future.”

Translation is by Socialist Action, has not been approved by the originator and any errors ours alone. Please refer to the original if wishing to present as a quotation from J-L M.