Down with the Nationwide Curfew! For a General Strike and Mass Uprising to Bring down the Essebsi Regime! Onward to the Second Revolution!
Joint Statement of the International Secretariat of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and the RCIT Tunisia, 23.01.2016, www.thecommunists.net
1. In the last few days, Tunisia has been shattered by a wave of spontaneous mass protests, many workers and youth clashing with security forces. The protests started in the western Kasserine province, following the death of an unemployed man who was electrocuted atop a power pole near the governor’s office. Soon the discontent spread to other towns including Sidi Bouzid, Jendouba, Gafsa, Kebili, and Ettadhamen (a working class district in the area of Tunis). Up until now, 240 civilians and 74 policemen have been reported injured and one policeman killed. As a result, President Beji Caid Essebsi was forced to cut short a European tour and return to his country where he imposed a national curfew with the army controlling the streets. He’s trying to undermine the uprising by deliberately withdrawing police from rebellious areas and letting loose criminal thugs so that people actually prefer the presence of the police and plead for their return. Nevertheless, the uprising continues! It’s very spontaneous and is being led by no specific party. The slogans on the streets – summarizing the demands of the uprising– are “Work, Dignity and Freedom” and “We will not stop our Struggle until we get Jobs”! The Al-Shuruk newspaper wrote: “It’s as if we were back in 2010-2011,” referring to the revolution that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Clearly, a pre-revolutionary situation has opened in Tunisia.
2. The new uprising is the result of the failed promises of successive governments following the overthrow of Ben Ali. First was the bourgeois-Islamist Ennadah government and, since late 2014, the reactionary Nidaa Tounes government representing the return to power of the old guard of the Ben Ali dictatorship – both have betrayed the hopes of the masses to overcome unemployment and poverty. Today, Tunisia’s official unemployment rate stands at around 15%, but in poorer regions like Kasserine it reaches as high as 30%. Even President Essebsi has been forced to acknowledge that Tunisia has “700,000 unemployed and 250,000 of them are young people who have degrees“.
3. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) stands in full solidarity with the Tunisian workers and youth. We call the international workers’ movement to support the protests. This new uprising completely refutes the idiotic claims of many reformists and centrists that the Arab Revolution had ended in defeat, or that it had been the product of a conspiracy by Western imperialists. The crucial task now is to form action committees in the workplaces, neighborhoods, schools and universities in order to organize the struggle democratically. In addition, such committees should organize self-defense units to fight state repression. Activists should put pressure on the UGTT trade union federation, the UGTE (student union), as well as on other mass organizations to organize a general strike. For now, the central demands should be to end the national curfew and to establish a public works program under the control of the UGTT and other mass organizations, financed by the expropriation of Tunisia’s super-rich, many of whom are close to the Ben Ali clan.
4. If the workers and youth succeed in building such action committees and as self-defense units, both could then become organs of struggle as well as of power, creating the basis for a workers’ and popular government. Such a government would exclusively serve the interests of the popular masses and would remove power and wealth from the hands of the small corrupt elite of super-rich politicians and army generals. It would also expropriate the foreign imperialist corporations which are exploiting semi-colonial Tunisia.
5. Revolutionaries in Tunisia must work hard to advance the formation of a revolutionary party without which the Second Revolution is in danger of failing just like the first did after 2011. Such a party must also be part of the new revolutionary world party, since capitalism in Tunisia and the class struggle there are closely interrelated with international capitalism. The activists of the RCIT in Tunisia call upon revolutionaries to join forces on the basis of an unambiguous revolutionary program of action. An authentic revolutionary organization in Tunisia has to break with the treacherous capitulationist tradition of those sectors of the left – mostly influenced by the Stalinist/Hoxhaist as well as Nasserist/Baathist tradition – which unabashedly supported the Nidaa Tounes forces in the past.
6. The importance of the Second Tunisian Revolution cannot be overestimated. It has the potential of not only stemming the counterrevolution which the country experienced in recent years and advancing the previously unfinished democratic revolution which set in motion the wave of Arab revolutions. But in doing so it could also revitalize the Syrian Revolution against Bashar al-Assad, strengthen the mass resistance in Egypt against the dictatorship of General al-Sisi, set an example for and give support to the Palestinian liberation struggle against the Zionist state, and inspire the Yemeni war of liberation against the foreign invasion by the Al-Saud gang. In addition, a successful mass uprising in Tunisia would invaluably advance the struggle against the reactionary sectarianism promoted by reactionary forces like the Salafi-Takfiri Daash. Finally, it would also strengthen working class and democratic forces in Europe, encouraging them to fight back against the counterrevolutionary wave of racism and state repression which is currently being waged by various conservative and social democratic governments with both tacit and open assistance and support by semi-fascistic forces. In order to advance these historic struggles and infuse them with a socialist program of permanent revolution and working class power directed against both Western and Eastern imperialism as well as local bourgeois regimes, the RCIT calls upon revolutionaries around the world to join us in the struggle for a new world party of socialist revolution!
* End with the national curfew in Tunisia!
* For a program of public works under the control of the UGTT and other mass organizations, financed by the expropriation of the super-rich cronies of the Ben Ali clan!
* Expropriate the Foreign Imperialist Corporations!
* Down with the Essebsi Government! Forward to the Second Revolution!
* For the building of Action Committees and Self-Defense Units! For a Workers’ and Popular Government based on such organs!
* Solidarity with the liberation struggle in Syria, Egypt, Palestine and Yemen!
* Solidarity with the refugees arriving in Europe! Down with racism and state repression in the EU! Lift the state of emergency in France! No restrictions to democratic rights!
* No to reactionary sectarianism! Down with Salafi-Takfiri Daash!
* Revitalize and spread the Arab Revolution which began at the end of 2010! For a socialist federation of the Middle East!
* Forward in building revolutionary parties in Tunisia and internationally! For the revolutionary Fifth Workers’ International!
For our analysis of the Arab Revolution we refer readers to:
RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World: An Acid Test for Revolutionaries, 31 May 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-arab-revolution/