This article appeared in Solidarity.
What happened in Egypt over the last few weeks has a clear historic parallel in the events of August 1980 in Poland.
In both cases, weakened authoritarian regimes crumbled as popular unrest spread. In Poland and Egypt, state-controlled labour fronts proved unable to control the masses; new, independent unions were formed in struggle. In both countries, religion provided a means of expressing dissent – and both the reactionary Roman Catholic church and the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood posed threats to the prospects of genuinely progressive change.
And in both countries, small groups of workers and intellectuals struggled over many years (KOR in Poland, the CTUWS in Egypt) building the basis for the independent unions that eventually emerged.
The lessons we learned in 1980 apply today, and the battle is already on to determine what happens next for the Egyptian working class – and for the region as a whole. (more…)