Saturday, 05 December 2020

Tunisia: a new blaze of rebellion!

  • Category: Texts
  • Published: Saturday, 17 March 2018 18:06

While the protests and clashes in North Africa were raging, turning the entire area upside down – a season of extraordinary battles, those of the so-called “Arab Springs” - we wrote (Il programma comunista, n°2 del 2011): “It was not a revolution. A revolution calls into question not a régime (even the toughest) but a whole mode of production. In Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere there was a powerful and widespread wave of rebellion, originating from the proletarian and proletarianized masses declaring Enough! […] We witness a movement born in the depths of the social subsoil and sparked off by the advance of the economic crisis, which continues its inexorable path, destroying presumed stability and certainty and at the same time pulling down ideological walls and fences and uniting, under the banner of an urgent need to survive, different sectors of a suffering world proletariat abandoned to its own devices.”


Let us return now to the present, where the same area is heavy with social tension that has failed to die down, even though seven years have passed since those events. Tunisia – so the bourgeois media tell us – has achieved a credible democratic transition, thus deserving mention as “Country of the year” in the Economist of 2014. But after driving out a dictator who had remained in power for 21 years, the fertile democratic terrain generated a new dictatorship: as predictable!

With the protest in Iran having “died down” (at least for the moment), here it is flaring up again in Tunisia. Seven years after the “Jasmine” rebellion and the so-called “Arab Springs”, those without reserves have again returned to the centre of the fight against the price of living, a precarious existence and poverty, against marginalization and unemployment. Let us get to the heart of the dynamics and try and put the prospects of events past and present into focus.

With differing intensity and to different extents, the proletarian and proletarianized masses of the two countries came out onto the streets with no regard whatsoever for appeals to moderation: after almost ten years of oppression and repression the top was off the bottle again. One more confirmation that the two areas, the Middle East and North Africa, are socially connected: the proletarians, Arabs or Persians without any resources, are and continue to be of the same class, because they have the same needs. At the same time, religious concepts and divisions are still illusions and ideological drugs they continue to drag along with them, like chains, imposed on them by the ruling class. Just as the anger of young people in Iran has its roots in their miserable living conditions, aggravated by the enormous burden of years and years of spending on war, so, in Tunisia, the trigger for the revolts was provided by the succession of increases in prices produced by the implementation, last December, of the 2018 Financial Law, approved by the Tunisian Parliament (and demanded by the IMF). It foresees increases in the prices of fuel, automobile tax, insurance, services, cars, mobile phones, VAT (+1%) and, last but not least, bread. The Executive’s objective was thus on the one hand to contain public spending and on the other to implement the austerity plan demanded by the International Monetary Fund to “reform” the economy and requiring the repayment over three years of a loan of 2.8 billion dollars. And what does the international loan shark want in exchange? Simple: the elimination of 20 thousand public employees and the end of the pension system, whose deficit has increased by 65% over two years. Where is the money to be found? Through an unrealistic 2% increase in GDP, the lowering of salaries, with inflation rising to 6%, and the devaluation of the Tunisian dinar. Faced with this authentic attack, the revolt broke out in a dozen or so cities with protests and clashes on the streets. For three days the country was shaken by the battle against unemployment and poverty, especially amongst the masses of young people.

The clashes with the police, the hundreds of arrests, the wounded, the death of a man run over by an army vehicle, the raid of a supermarket show the degree of violence that spontaneously developed. In Tunisi, too, as in the suburbs, hundreds of young people filled the streets: stones, molotovs … rubbish bins and police cars set alight… In Citè Zouhour, in the governate of Kasserine, the combined army divisions “restored order” after a day of clashes and tension. The authorities were obliged to confirm that there were huge demonstrations all over the country, during which – so the reports say – police stations, barracks, offices, warehouses, municipal offices and banks were attacked.

Il Sole 24 Ore, the daily organ of the Italian Manufacturers’ Association, could not help writing: “the unpopular reforms affect the weaker sectors, yet they are the only way, painful as they may be, to reach the objective of a “sustainable economy.” Where and when? What is happening in the land running from Tunisia to Iran demonstrates on the contrary the unsustainability of this economy, the unsustainability of the capitalist mode of production. The proletarians throughout the area experience this unsustainability at their own cost and attempt, isolated though they are, to react against it: that the "guaranteed" Western proletariat learn the lesson!

Jan. 12, 2018


International Communist Party

Il Programma Comunista

Kommunistisches Programm

The internationalist


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