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In Egypt, Islamism is not the problem, but Capitalism
In Egypt, Islamism is not the problem, but Capitalism

The Egyptian military has installed a totalitarian regime that is brutally cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters raising the stakes in the Arab World’s most populous nation.

The newly inaugurated “cabinet” includes eleven Mubarak era old guards signaling a quick return to the old regime that the Egyptian popular uprising ousted in February 2011.
Last Saturday, security forces including snipers stationed on rooftops fired indiscriminately on a peaceful protest by Morsi supporters in a suburban Cairo rally killing 120 civilians in cold blood while sources indicate hundreds may have been injured. This follows a July 8th incident, in which the military massacred 54 Morsi supporters camped outside the Republican Guards Barracks where the deposed leader is believed to be held. Over 300 Egyptians have lost their lives since July 3rd when Morsi was removed from power.
There are fears that the escalation by the military is intended to ignite a civil war, reminiscent of the descend into violence in Algeria in 1992 when the military annulled the Islamic Salvation Front’s (FIS) electoral victory. A military-instigated civil war would give the ruling junta the heavy-handed "mandate" it needs to "crush" and "disperse" the Muslim Brotherhood and terminally drive the movement from Egyptian politics.
The military in Egypt are not the "saviors" of the revolution. By far, the military are the real counter revolutionaries and the main power brokers in the land. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was never fully in power during its short-lived one year tumultuous reign. Even with the fall of Mubarak, the military never left the scene. They remain the power behind the throne with the corrupt, largely liberal political class fronting as a civilian administration. In Egypt, the military now delegates symbolic power to the civilian ruling class as was the case with the Muslim Brotherhood and the newly- installed, military - controlled interim administration.
In the land of Pharaoh, the problem is not Islamism but capitalism. Upon ascending to power following the June 2012 elections, Mohamed Morsi moved fast to implement not necessarily an Islamist agenda but a capitalist program relying on austerity measures driven by the dictates of neo-liberalism. Though his administration maintained the face of “Islamism” it was nonetheless an entirely neoliberal-oriented regime. Even some western observers have noted that it is neoliberalism that is holding back Egyptians, not religion.
Under president Morsi, the upper echelon of the Brotherhood espoused the free market economy, including deregulation, trade liberalization, attracting foreign direct investment and retrenchment of the public sector all of which make up the pillars of neoliberalism. While Islamic law is universally known for its general prohibition of interest, the Morsi government ironically pursued the interest-based IMF loans despite resistance within Muslim Brotherhood circles and the overall opposition to such punitive loans by the Egyptian population.
The media largely focused on the “Islamist” aspects of Morsi’s regime but totally ignored its neo-liberal leanings. His brief leadership was in stark contrast to the Brotherhood’s egalitarian ideals that promote redistribution of resources rooted in over eight decades of delivering non-state social programs through charities that provided livelihood and support for the rural and urban poor and educated thousands of orphans across Egypt.
To divert attention from their overt commitment to free market capitalism and resultant near collapse of the Egyptian economy, the Muslim Brotherhood government tried to frame the current crisis in religious terms, blaming opposition to their ineptness on an anti-Islamist, liberal elite.
Apart from the economic downturn and totalitarian tendencies blamed on the Morsi government, the Muslim Brotherhood’s close association with the West has drawn the wrath of a restive Egyptian public seeking a total de-linking from imperialist forces. It is too simplistic to blame the Muslim Brotherhood for allying themselves with the US, EU and Israel. Alliance with these forces pre-dates the Brotherhood, has existed since the reign of Anwar Sadat and would continue with the current, un-elected interim administration. In fact the Obama Administration was a closer ally of the Egyptian military than the Brotherhood. The West's main ally in Egypt is the military, not the helpless and corrupt political classes propped up by the armed forces.
To placate the military and its western backers, Morsi willingly embraced neo-liberalism, plunging Egypt into economic doldrums. It is the shambolic and dysfunctional, Morsi-led capitalist-driven, austerity-laden economy that drove the masses into the streets triggering his downfall. Morsi and his inner circle may have opted for capitalism but the overwhelming base of the Brotherhood remains an organization committed to a people-oriented agenda.
Why is the military cracking down heavily on the Muslim Brotherhood? The latest wave of military-led state repression directed at the MB is not necessarily a direct response to the Movement’s Islamist inclinations. On the contrary, the military is targeting the MB largely due to the fact that its support base is primarily made up of millions of Egypt’s poor and working class, which the military sees as a threat to its oligarchic rule. Throughout Egypt’s post-colonial era, the Brotherhood, which traditionally draws its support from the Egyptian poor and working class remained the most formidable opposition to the Military Supra-State while other oppositional forces were chiefly co-opted into the state or totally silenced.
Even though all Egyptians have suffered enormously under Mubarak's rule, it was the Brotherhood that bore the brunt of state violence for much of Egypt’s post-colonial history. It is foolhardy to blame the Brotherhood for all of Egypt’s economic woes and social ills. Egypt’s legitimacy crisis cannot be summed up in the Brotherhood’s one year botched rule but can be traced to the rise of the military-industrial-complex in the 1950s that has given the armed forces and its capitalist enterprise the virtual control of almost every aspect of Egyptian life.
Egyptians elected the Brotherhood hoping that it would provide a viable alternative to neo-liberalism. But the opposite happened and the enduring people of Egypt took to the streets again, this time, to drive out Morsi from power. Egyptians should not spend all their energies focusing on the Islamists but must turn their full attention to the scourge of capitalism to stem back the debilitating effects of neo-liberalism. They should discard neo-liberalism and seek economic alternatives by allying with genuine anti-capitalist forces regardless of their political stripes.
Damaging to the revolution are the emergent divisions among the poor and the working class now scattered into the pro-military and pro-Morsi camps although the MB still forms a larger segment of the working class that is decidedly anti-military. The Egyptian military and the shameless liberal political class are using the ouster of Morsi to drive a wedge between the poor and the working class.
Ironically, it is the MB’s supporters engaging in near daily protests in the streets that are calling for the military’s head, condemning its top brass and demanding a complete disengagement of the armed forces from the political realm. Even for the chronic Morsi haters, this type of rhetoric is important to the revolution because there can be no revolution in Egypt till the military vacates the political scene.
The Brotherhood failed largely because they were set up by the military. This is not to say they are not to blame for their despotism, exclusivity and unpopular policies. Much of the Brotherhood's problems while in power were either orchestrated or encouraged by the military. For a true revolution to occur in Egypt, the people must topple the military. Once the military is ousted, the ineffectual political class that derives its ill-gotten power from the military will collapse, and this will set the stage for the people to take over the instruments of power in the state.
For the masses to secure ultimate victory in the upcoming third phase of the revolution, the poor and working classes caught in rival camps must put their differences aside, reject neoliberalism and unite to remove the military and the remnants of the old regime from power.

This opinion article was written by a independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of GRILA