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Luxemburg on Tahrir Square: reading the Arab Revolutions with Rosa Luxemburg's the mass strike

Sami Zemni UGent, Brecht De Smet UGent and Koenraad Bogaert UGent (2013) ANTIPODE. 45(4). p.888-907
abstract
he protests on Tahrir Square in Cairo have come to symbolize the Arab uprisings of 2011. They have proven that Arab political life is more complex than the false choice between authoritarian rule or Islamist oppositions. The popular uprisings witnessed the emergence of “the Arab peoples” as political actors, able to topple entrenched authoritarian leaders, challenging repressive regimes and their brutal security apparatuses. In our contribution we want to analyze the political dynamics of these uprisings beyond the salient immediacy of the revolutionary events, by taking, as our guide, Rosa Luxemburg's pamphlet The Mass Strike (2005 [1906], London: Bookmarks). An interesting theoretical contribution to the study of revolution, Luxemburg's book provides us with tools to introduce a historical and political reading of the Arab Spring. Based on fieldwork and thorough knowledge of the region, we draw from evidence from the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions and the more gradual forms of political change in Morocco. Re-reading the revolutionary events in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco through the lens of The Mass Strike offers activists on the ground insights into the dialectic between local and national struggles, economic and political demands, strike actions and revolution. The workers protests in Tunisia and Egypt during the last decade can be grasped as anticipations of the mass strike during the revolution; the specific mode in which workers participate as a class in the revolutionary process. This perspective enables an understanding of the current economic conflicts as logical forms of continuity of the revolution. The economic and the political, the local and the national (and one may add the global), are indissoluble yet separate elements of the same process, and the challenge for revolutionary actors in Tunisia and Egypt lies in the connection, organization and fusion of these dispersed moments and spaces of struggle into a politicized whole. Conversely, an understanding of the reciprocity between revolutionary change and the mass strike allows activists in Morocco to recognize the workers’ movement as a potentially powerful actor of change, and trade unionists to incorporate the political in their economic mobilizations.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
Rosa Luxemburg, Morocco, Tunisia, political change, Tahrir, Egypt, Arab Revolutions
journal title
ANTIPODE
Antipode
volume
45
issue
4
pages
888 - 907
JCR category
GEOGRAPHY
JCR impact factor
1.885 (2013)
JCR rank
11/76 (2013)
JCR quartile
1 (2013)
ISSN
0066-4812
DOI
10.1111/j.1467-8330.2012.01014.x
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
2983496
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-2983496
date created
2012-09-07 14:57:35
date last changed
2013-09-03 11:13:54
@article{2983496,
  abstract     = {he protests on Tahrir Square in Cairo have come to symbolize the Arab uprisings of 2011. They have proven that Arab political life is more complex than the false choice between authoritarian rule or Islamist oppositions. The popular uprisings witnessed the emergence of {\textquotedblleft}the Arab peoples{\textquotedblright} as political actors, able to topple entrenched authoritarian leaders, challenging repressive regimes and their brutal security apparatuses. In our contribution we want to analyze the political dynamics of these uprisings beyond the salient immediacy of the revolutionary events, by taking, as our guide, Rosa Luxemburg's pamphlet The Mass Strike (2005 [1906], London: Bookmarks). An interesting theoretical contribution to the study of revolution, Luxemburg's book provides us with tools to introduce a historical and political reading of the Arab Spring. Based on fieldwork and thorough knowledge of the region, we draw from evidence from the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions and the more gradual forms of political change in Morocco. Re-reading the revolutionary events in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco through the lens of The Mass Strike offers activists on the ground insights into the dialectic between local and national struggles, economic and political demands, strike actions and revolution. The workers protests in Tunisia and Egypt during the last decade can be grasped as anticipations of the mass strike during the revolution; the specific mode in which workers participate as a class in the revolutionary process. This perspective enables an understanding of the current economic conflicts as logical forms of continuity of the revolution. The economic and the political, the local and the national (and one may add the global), are indissoluble yet separate elements of the same process, and the challenge for revolutionary actors in Tunisia and Egypt lies in the connection, organization and fusion of these dispersed moments and spaces of struggle into a politicized whole. Conversely, an understanding of the reciprocity between revolutionary change and the mass strike allows activists in Morocco to recognize the workers{\textquoteright} movement as a potentially powerful actor of change, and trade unionists to incorporate the political in their economic mobilizations.},
  author       = {Zemni, Sami and De Smet, Brecht and Bogaert, Koenraad},
  issn         = {0066-4812},
  journal      = {ANTIPODE},
  keyword      = {Rosa Luxemburg,Morocco,Tunisia,political change,Tahrir,Egypt,Arab Revolutions},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {888--907},
  title        = {Luxemburg on Tahrir Square: reading the Arab Revolutions with Rosa Luxemburg's the mass strike},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8330.2012.01014.x},
  volume       = {45},
  year         = {2013},
}

Chicago
Zemni, Sami, Brecht De Smet, and Koenraad Bogaert. 2013. “Luxemburg on Tahrir Square: Reading the Arab Revolutions with Rosa Luxemburg’s the Mass Strike.” Antipode 45 (4): 888–907.
APA
Zemni, S., De Smet, B., & Bogaert, K. (2013). Luxemburg on Tahrir Square: reading the Arab Revolutions with Rosa Luxemburg’s the mass strike. ANTIPODE, 45(4), 888–907.
Vancouver
1.
Zemni S, De Smet B, Bogaert K. Luxemburg on Tahrir Square: reading the Arab Revolutions with Rosa Luxemburg’s the mass strike. ANTIPODE. 2013;45(4):888–907.
MLA
Zemni, Sami, Brecht De Smet, and Koenraad Bogaert. “Luxemburg on Tahrir Square: Reading the Arab Revolutions with Rosa Luxemburg’s the Mass Strike.” ANTIPODE 45.4 (2013): 888–907. Print.