Protesting the freeze of bank accounts and hunger, the Lebanese people brought the October revolution back to the streets on April 27, the so-called “night of the molotovs”. Starting in the outstanding city of Trablous, it spread across the country to Beirut, Saida, Nabatieh, Bekka valley and Akkar.
By Hassan al-Barazili
The Lebanese State sent the army to crush the protests. Resorting to tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and live fire, the army killed 26-year-old Fawaz al-Samman and injured many others in Trablous.
In Saida they arrested and tortured 7 young protesters bringing back the collective memory about 2017 when the army attacked Syrian refugees, killing four of them.
In spite of the fact the number of protesters in the streets are smaller than two months ago, the Lebanese revolution is the first one to restart since the coronavirus outbreak which killed 25 people up to now. Other revolutions will certainly follow suit.
The crisis among the ruling classes
The rich families of different sects who have ruled the country since the end of the civil war are fighting for a better share of a declining capitalist economy.
The request for IMF international aid to bail out banks and the State was supported by all sectarian parties, Hassan Nasrallah included. However, the IMF certainly will recall CEDRE conference requirements: less public deficit, increase energy price and wholesale privatization which Hasan Diab/Michel Aoun administration cannot deliver without deepening the bourgeois split and soaring poverty level when already 50% of the Lebanese people are under or on the poverty line.
Another bourgeois “solution”, the so-called “haircut” or bail-in or Cyprus-way, implies into converting all bank deposits over half million dollars into bank shares (or bonds) what is rejected by the ABL (Lebanese Bankers Association) and all major parties (all of them led by rich families).
The international economic recession makes the loans or donations from friendly foreign governments not probable. The Hariris used to resort to Saudi Arabia and France. Hezbollah to Iran. Saudi Arabia faces economic constraints due to declining oil prices and the high costs of the military intervention in Yemen which the Saudis seem to be retreating from. France is arguing with Germany about bailing out all Mediterranean European countries. Iran is under a criminal blockage by the U.S. what together with low oil prices, COVID-19 explosion and conflicts with Russia in Syria are draining their cash. At last the U.S. are counting bodies and their major concern towards Lebanon is how to weaken Hezbollah, the main stronghold of Diab/Aoun administration.
What is left for the Lebanese ruling class in terms of economic policies are: high inflation to decrease people’s purchase power; and stealing bank deposits in hard currency exchanging U.S. dollars for LL 1500-3000 depending on the amount which are much below the LL 4000 in the black market.
Working people’s poor situation
The situation of the working people is dreadful. The quarantine brought dismissals and vanished the income for informal workers, street-vendors and small shop-owners. There are thousands of expatriates who lost their jobs and income abroad. Bank accounts are frozen. The one-time distribution of LL 400,000 by the State to the poor never materialized. Coronavirus is spreading. Domestic violence against women increased. The revolution restarted in 730,000-people Trablous due to years of neglect, extreme poverty and hunger.
A working-class perspective for Lebanon
CEDRE and IMF means more suffering and poverty. It is not a solution for the working class. The real solution starts in rounding up all the country’s wealth in the hands of the working class. The nationalization of the banks under workers’ control and the seizure of assets of a handful of the richest families are necessary steps to:
- provide a monthly US$ 500 basic income to all poor Lebanese families to survive while in quarantine;
- to fund public education and a good national healthcare system to save lives;
- to pay for public works to provide energy and drinkable water for everyone at low cost generating thousands of jobs;
- To finish the bank accounts’ freezing for 99% of the people while seizing the millionaire bank deposits.
These steps lead necessarily to an open conflict with the bourgeoisie and their sectarian regime. The bourgeoisie have two main cards:
- a) The sectarian appeal to divide the working people and rule;
- b) Open repression by the army, Mukhabarat (political police) and sectarian militias.
Yet, the working people have to resort to all means at their disposal:
1) Unite in struggle. It is urgent to build solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Trablous sending delegations, organizing independent protests in all other cities and calling pot-and-pan banging protests in order to show solidarity while staying away from COVID-19. A general strike by the workers who are at the workplace is instrumental as well.
2) Build independent workers’ and people’s councils across the nation inside workplaces, schools and neighborhoods to democratically decide every and each step of the revolution.
3) Bring the middle classes to support the revolution isolating the bourgeoisie. Their needs for lower cost of living (water and energy bills, healthcare system, university costs) and finishing the bank accounts’ freeze must be emphasized.
4) Bring Palestinian and Syrian refugees to the side of the revolution expressing the revolution opposition both to the Zionist State and Assad regime.
5) Call soldiers and low-ranking officials of the army to refuse to attack protesters and to organize soldiers’ councils inside the army to break away from any authoritarian top-down orders from the generals.
6) Organize self-defense of the working people both in neighborhoods and at protest sites to fight back repression.
7) Call international solidarity. The same day the revolution restarted in Lebanon, young Chileans were holding protests against the ruthless Carabineros police. Soon Iraq people and Hong Kong protesters will be back to the streets. The international economic recession will certainly multiply workers’ actions across the world.
8) No confidence in the regime’s parties: Hezbollah, Future Movement, Amal, Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement. All means all!
9) Build a revolutionary workers’ party to take the lead for the revolution to defeat the bourgeoisie and their sectarian regime, to bring the October revolution to power and to build the necessary international links to defend the revolution.
These are not easy steps as well as hunger and neglect are unbearable. The Lebanese working people will have to decide: Either to bow to the sectarian regime and poverty; or to put the October revolution in power.
The Lebanese working people in motion are in the capacity to carry out all these steps and build a new Lebanon for the workers and the oppressed.