ElBaradei: Questions of Neoliberal Economics and More, Excerpts from SocialistWorker.org, Commentary by Tom Usher

Excerpts with highlighted commentary:

In television interviews given after his return to Egypt, he [ElBaradei] advocated a system of social democracy similar to Scandinavian political systems as the best way to develop the country and achieve social justice.

Mohamed ElBaradei

ElBaradei...publicly backs the right to strike. He supports a new campaign by workers to force the government to establish a living minimum wage of $220 a month.

For example, he champions the cause of Coptic Christians, who make up 15 percent of the population and suffer widespread and systematic discrimination in jobs and education.

ElBaradei has vowed to fight for full citizenship equality for Copts and regularly raises the old slogan of Egypt's popular anti-British revolution of 1919: Religion for God and Country for All. He insists that the first article of the constitution, which states that Islamic Sharia law is the basis of all legislation, must be removed to ensure equality between Muslims and Christians.

He, like Mubarak, supports a peace deal with Israel. He is critical of what he considers Israeli excesses and arrogance. "This is not really sustainable that you have Israel sitting with nuclear weapons capability there while everyone else is part of the non-proliferation regime," Al Baradei told the Sydney Morning Herald.

But this is little different from Mubarak's stated positions. The similarities between ElBaradei and the regime on Palestine put him at odds with the vast majority of his supporters, who oppose normalization with Israel. [This is scant information upon which to judge ElBaradei's views concerning the whole issue of Palestine. To suggest that he should be equated with Mubarak on any level is beyond stretching.]

On broader questions of U.S. domination over Egypt and the Middle East or neoliberal economic policies backed by the U.S., ElBaradei supports a special relationship with Washington and is on friendly terms with many U.S. politicians. [However, "social democracy similar to Scandinavian political systems " is not "friendly" to the whole of neoliberalism, per se. In addition, the Washington Consensus brand of neoliberalism has been under severe attacks since the so-called Great Recession, which is really a massive depression.

From the Wikipedia on Neoliberalism:

Iceland began implementing neoliberal economic policies beginning in the late 1980s. As measured by the Economic Freedom of the World, it had the 53rd "freest economy" in 1975 and it was one of the poorest countries in Europe. In 2004, it had the 9th freest economy and it was one of the richest.[57] However, by 2009, the country was bankrupt, a consequence that a number of observers have attributed directly to Iceland's adoption of neoliberal economic policies.[58][59][60][61][62]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberal#Scandinavia

I assume ElBaradei is not advocating modeling the Egyptian economy after the failed policies of reactionary, neoliberal, laissez-faire capitalist, sociopathic, Ayn Rand loving destroyers of the original social democracies of Scandinavia, as they most certainly did with Iceland.]

In essence, ElBaradei is attempting to put together a moderate, populist and reformist coalition that could tap into mass anger and channel it safely toward a more democratic system, while avoiding any violent confrontation with the regime.

For example, while he formally supports the right to assemble and protest, ElBaradei has not yet personally joined any street protests yet. [Since the date of this SocialistWorker.org article, he did join the street protests.] And the NAC, the organization which he heads, doesn't call for an immediate lifting of all emergency laws. [It does now.] Instead, its program advocates a two- or three-year transitional period [now one year, which I say is vastly too long] to convene a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution.

Nevertheless, despite these quite moderate positions, the fact is that ElBaradei's decision to return to Egypt has stirred up the country's political debate—and given confidence to democracy activists and a rejuvenated working class movement to push for their own demands in a more militant way.

via A challenge to Mubarak | SocialistWorker.org.

See also: "The rising class struggle" and "Beginning of the end?"

See also: "Conversation with an Egyptian socialist" Excerpt:

THE ARMY is a key part of the Egyptian economy. It controls 25 percent of the economy from industries, agricultural land and hotels, all the way to arms' trade.

The army forced Mubarak out and took over in order to attempt to slow down the rhythm of the revolution and save the system. The pressures of the revolution from below caused a split in the army leadership. Mubarak, Defense Minister Mohamed Tantawi and Vice President Omar Suleiman wanted the army to use force to end the revolution. Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan, the army chief of staff—who was in Washington on January 25, by the way—refused to use force. [Emphasis added] At that point, there was no way out but to dump Mubarak.

Now, the army is calling on strikers to end their movement. That is all they can do. They aren't in a position to ban and attack strikes at the moment. The momentum so far is on the side of the workers. The army would need some time to mobilize a majority public opinion against strikers—not just middle class liberals—before it can consider an attack on strikes.

Finally, the army is in a difficult position. The Egyptian revolution is making a huge regional and international impact. The world is looking at us. The revolution has deep causes, a tremendous breadth and a great potential to turn into a social revolution. This is different from the revolutions that took place in the Philippines against Ferdinand Marcos in the 1980s or Indonesia against Suharto in the 1990s. The role of the working class in Egypt in our revolution is more central than the role workers played in those two revolutions.

The Egyptian working class set the stage for January 25 through an intensive class struggle that has been happening since 2004. Now, it is on the move. Therefore, it is much more difficult for the ruling class here in Egypt to limit the revolution to political reforms.

So you see, ElBaradei has been heavily involved, but labor unions and the socialists have also. You will also note that the Muslim Brotherhood is not that strong just now. They of course will be appealing for more support from 1) the poorest sector (always the most marginalized and all too often forgotten in tactical terms by students and labor leaders) and 2) the most devout religious Muslims who will be more desirous of having a sharia state.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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