Democratic rights had been achieved to a satisfying level in Tunisia (comparing to the situation under the previous dictatorship regime of Bin Ali), after ten years of the revolutionary Arab uprisings, which had been sparked in this country in 2011. Yet, the main dilemma that mobilized the masses in the first place (the socio-economic contradictions) still exists, and the question of social justice is not solved.
By Tamer Khorma
Since the very beginning of 2021, massive protests dominate the streets in several cities, including the capital (Tunisia). The authorities claim that these protests are mere riots, motivated by a so called “hidden agenda” to break the curfew and the governmental measures for confronting Corona-virus.
However, the main and the only genuine reasons behind these protests are poverty, unemployment, and the quest for social justice. Statistics show that unemployment rates in Tunisia had increased from 13 percent in 2010 to 16.2 percent in 2020, and reached 35.7 percent among the Youth. In addition to this, the country recorded an economic recession of 9 percent, a budget deficit of 13.4 percent, and foreign debt close to 90 percent of the GDP.
This decadent economic situation was the result of the performance of the Islamic Bourgeois system of Al-Nahda and their secular allies within the same bourgeois regime, which had been controlling the country since the overthrowing of the dictator. PM Hisham Al Mishishi started his period with a compromise with the parliament chairman Rashid Al Ghannouchi (Al Nahda), which lead to a reshuffle in the government, in order to get rid of the actors affiliated with the populist president of the republic Qais Saed. The masses recognize that their economic problems resulted by Al Nahda will remain the same, if not deeper into worse conditions.
The political parties of the bourgeoisie (both Islamic and secular sectors) had been fighting for power without addressing the economic problems that sparked the Arab uprisings from this country. The masses, therefore, are trying to reset the course of their revolution on the correct track. The core of this revolution is represented by the famous Arab slogan: Bread, Freedom and Social Justice, which neither the Islamic nor the secular bourgeoisie have any interest in addressing it.
For many observers, the Tunisian revolution is considered as the only victorious revolution, which had not been defeated by a counter-revolution or stolen by imperialist or regional capitalist forces. But, in fact, even this revolution has not achieved its massive goals yet, and it is still influenced by both regional and international powers. As a result, the new regime is still presenting the interests of the bourgeoisie and, therefore, the working class has no option but to carry out an ongoing revolution. The main actor who can organize and lead the new protests are trade unions and the newly formed Youth leftists’ organizations and movements.
Democratic rights and individual freedoms are not the only and most essential goal for the Tunisian and Arab masses. Bread and the quest for social justice were and remain the most fundamental demands of these ongoing uprisings, which started its’ first wave in 2010 and continued its second wave by the end of 2018 (Sudan, Algeria, Iraq and Lebanon) and the third wave is highly expected now in Tunisia, Jordan and Morocco (the monarchies which so far manage to adapt to these revolutionary waves).
Even human rights, such as the right of expression, is not totally guaranteed under the bourgeois ruling regime in Tunisia. The police violence against the recent protests shows the brutal approach of such a liberal ruling class. The number of political detainees reached about 900 activists, the vast majority of them young people. Thus, besides the economic demands, the masses call for the immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned activists.
Tunis did not suffer a civil war or military coup counter-revolution after the 2010 uprising. Yet, the goal of this revolutionary process can never be achieved under a bourgeois government, even if it is a reformist “democratic” one. The working class seizing power is the only way to create a real alternative system, in which all the social and economic contradictions can be solved. Yet, the main dilemma in Tunisia and the rest of the Arab countries remain the same. i.e the absence of the vanguard working-class party.
However, the absence of a leading socialist party does not imply into an inevitable defeat of these ongoing revolutionary uprisings. The objective factors lead to this process, and new Youth movements are being formed through which the masses can learn from their own experience within this process. International unconditional support to these newly emerged Youth formations, and to the masses’ trade unions, should be provided. What Tunisia witnesses today show undoubtedly that the masses will carry on with new revolutionary waves, and that the reformist bourgeois procedures will never be sufficient!