Tunisia, As Expected

Mass protests have returned in Tunisia, since the 20th of January, in Kasserine, then in Tunis, and in the rest of the country.  As expected, the pursuit of neoliberal policy by the so-called “national unity” government (ranging from Islamists of Ennahdha to leftists, including Bourguibists and survivors of the defunct Ben Ali regime) has not allowed any social progress for five years and has even led to the continuing degradation of social conditions.  Thoughtless praises lavished upon this government by Western “democrats” of all stripes have proved to be vacuous.

At the roundtable that we (Third World ForumWorld Forum for Alternatives) organized at the World Social Forum in Tunis in March 2015, we explained that to begin to respond to the just demands of the Tunisian people would require a different economic policy, breaking with neoliberalism.  The secretary general of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), Houcine Abassi, noted in his speech, with powerful and convincing arguments: “Nothing has been solved in Tunisia yet, and electoral democracy without parallel implementation of new and audacious social and economic policies would do nothing to stabilize the country.”  Making an umpteenth appeal to Western countries, especially France, for financial aid will not help advance the solution to the Tunisian problems.  Beginning to solve them means carrying out a sovereign development plan and initiating negotiations with partners open to supporting it: China, BRICS, even the neighboring Algeria.

It is time, now that the Tunisian people is regaining the initiative, that all democrats of the world at last understand what are the real objectives of the strategy of the imperialist powers, their local friends (the Islamists of Ennahdha, the Bourguibists, and the survivors of the defunct Ben Ali regime), and even a good number of organizations engaged in democratic struggles on multiple fronts.  The dominant reactionary forces are pursuing a single goal: to keep Tunisia in the position of a country subordinated to the needs of imperialist capitalism of financial monopolies — nothing more.  The discourse on “democracy,” the falsely naïve remarks about Ennahdha characterized as a “convert to the democratic cause,” is only a smokescreen, to delay the necessary political awakening of popular classes engaged in the struggle.  Following the policy imposed by the Western powers can only help “terrorist” networks take root.  The leaders of the “democratic” West certainly understand that; but that’s what they want.  Their only fear is that people are taking into their own hands the conduct of their own affairs.

The struggle continues.

22 January 2016

Samir Amin is director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal.  His numerous publications include The Liberal Virus, The World We Wish to See, The Law of Worldwide Value, The Implosion of Contemporary Capitalism, and Three Essays on Marx’s Value Theory.  His latest books from Monthly Review Press are The Reawakening of the Arab World: Challenge and Change in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring (forthcoming in March 2016) and Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism (forthcoming in June 2016).  En Français.  En Español.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).