Manifesto: Our Revolution Is Not a Rumor!
We still want to overthrow the regime.
Our slogan is still: Work, Freedom, and National Dignity
Neither Ennahdha nor RCD nor false modernizers nor Salafists
We will make the alternative that meets the objectives of the Revolution
When the spark of the Tunisian Revolution broke out on 17 December 2010, after all these years where our people has continued to immolate and to give up to suffering and destruction; and the greedy, who crave always for more, have stolen their bread and their rights, slogans chanted by crowds were loud and clear:
“The People Wants to Overthrow the Regime”
“Work, Freedom, National Dignity”
Meanwhile, the multi-faceted enemy was easy to describe “Thieves of our country, murderers of our children”.
Today, a year and a half after Ben Ali’s flight, our fury continues to rumble. Ben Ali’s real and virtual allies in Tunisia and overseas, who were begging partnership in vain in most cases, managed to circumvent, distort, and erase the slogans of the Revolution from the collective memory as they removed the slogans of the Kasbah sit-in, for instance.
Today, they have even converted the revolution of dignity to a scene of deadly conflicting identities upon which compete the “Retrogrades of Enlightenment” with the “Retrogrades of Darkness” on the dispossession of the people’s awareness and the deviation of its attention away from the real issues for which it rose up. At the same time, biased justice, which released those accused of killing the martyrs and protected the corrupt who stole the bread of the poor and plundered the wealth of our country.
All this for the benefit of a fierce war for power and privileges raging between the parties, associations and lobbies of those partners who are motivated by the same non-patriotic culture of patronage. They are interested only in the heated power conflict on media platforms, social networks, during elections, in their militias’ confrontations, and in the backstage of financial and political international lobbying.
It is dirty war waged daily grind that everyone who participated in the popular uprising. Corrupt justice imprisons revolutionary youth and criminal police makes assaults upon the wounded of the revolution, the families of martyrs, the unemployed and the students. The dependent economic policy crushes the poor. Complicit media, despite their diverse allegiances, participate in misleading the people and diverting their sense of criticism to indulge them into intolerance or election polls.
Let’s understand this pole as follows:
Troika: or “How we stay in power for as long as possible.”
A – Ennahdha: the spearhead of the troika or “temporary majority of popular legitimacy”
• It reproduces the Party-State without the slightest shame by appointing members, relatives, supporters and loyalists in the bulk of governmental and administrative positions. It does its best to renew alliances with RCDists to ensure their help maintaining the power under the pretext of necessity.
• Its economic program is neo-conservative-neoliberal, which depends on the culture of charity and ignores class struggle (which Ennahdha considers heresy), and continues to serve the wealthy and the powerful at the expense of the disadvantaged.
• It Imports political, religious, economic models from the Gulf countries and elsewhere. It also covers up blatant Salafist attacks and protects the aggressors.
• It fails, suspiciously, to address the urgent and sensitive files such as those relating to prosecution in the sectors of security, justice and finance. Sometimes, it behaves in a manner which reveals some kind of selectivity in prosecuting those who were indulged in corruption (as if Ennahdha were willing to offer immunity to those who show their loyalty and their services).
• Foreign policy is based on the logic of “who pays us is our ally”, whatsoever this party is and whatsoever its crimes against our people or its people or against the Palestinian people.
• Although it is obvious that Ennahdha lacks efficiency in dealing with the various responsibilities and files, this does not explain either the vast difference between its pre-election discourse and its post-election one or the striking contradiction between its leaders’ official discourse and its supporters’ practices known for their discipline.
B – Ennahdha’s Both Allies: Useful for Nothing
Both parties, CPR and FDTL, which were supposed to balance the scales of the powerful majority so as to ensure a real “rupture” with the authoritarian regime, they, on the contrary, reinforced the dominance of Ennahdha. This contributed to provoking serious weakening divisions within both parties. Moreover, most of their ministers are no different from Ennahdha ministers in the lack of efficiency, daring and sometimes in the abuse of power. The false pretext to work on the Constitution, on which both parties have often fallen back, no longer fools anyone.
The Opposition: or How to Recover Power for as long as Possible
A – RCD:
After it has been dissolved legally and in a way made its files and many of its possessions, assets and archives safe, and after it led the country in the interim period I (before elections), Leaders of this party have become suddenly revolutionary and have called the system, of which they were the most loyal guards, “the former regime”.
A new party of repression, corruption and tyranny has been resurrected in the form of dozens of political parties and associations grossly, taking advantage of the old networks, whose dismantling signals one of the accomplishments of the revolution. It has become clear that the class—the service people of Ben Ali and Bourguiba—that governed us half a century ago, would not accept to give up easily. On the contrary, it maintains that same arrogance (History has not recorded any symbolic apologies from any RCD leader addressed to the people whom they oppressed, robbed and killed. On the contrary, the statements of many of them were offensive against their victims). It still maintains its interests and protects those of its lobbies by infiltrating media continuously and making pressure on corrupt judges to release those who were arrested and to recover the money stolen from public and private funds. It tries also to maintain its power by approaching and trying to hold suspicious transactions with the Troika in general and Ennahdha in particular to ensure their protection in return for services we are entitled to question (especially if we keep in mind, for example, that the Minister of the Interior, who is one of Ennahdha’s leaders, refused to publish the list of political intelligence and the informers of the RCD).
The Dusturians try to go back to the political scene under a new cover—that of Bourguibist modernity—a project, for whose non-completion they are historically responsible, and a concept that has remained shallow and away from the people’s aspirations. They continue to court the West and westernizers using slogans such as the “State of Law”, “women’s rights” and the “Nation-State” and to make a clear strategy that reinforces the same political, economic, and social model, and this by:
•Reducing the economic problem to a mere problem of bribery and corruption
•Reducing the authoritarian regime and dictatorship to the excessive abuse of the Ben Ali family and in-laws
•Reducing corruption to economic practices and robbery and considering collaboration with tyranny as “wrong judgment” and not corruption
It is an effective way to turn away popular attention from their continuous control of government departments and economic lobbies and to keep the same system that still protects their privileges.
B – “Democratic” Parties: or Perpetual Victimization
It is a mixture of liberal and leftist bourgeoisie whose struggle is limited to defending individual freedoms and human rights. It is in fact a struggle for a noble cause, but it is part and parcel of the greater cause: the cause of freedom in its broader meaning, which guarantees human rights, economic and social development. And therefore it does not make sense for these rant slogans under the domination of an affordable class over another that is trapped in the day-to-day obsession with bread earning, and cultural and political marginalization.
It is known that these parties were about to accept only Ben Ali’s departure or at least to share power with him, which adds to their historical mistakes (their position on 13 January and their participation in the first Ghannouchi administration) without any apology. This deepens the breach between these parties and the rest of the population, which they tried, in vain, to seduce with slogans of social justice and participatory democracy they deploy excessively in their rhetoric without having the least perception or community project that reinforces their credibility amongst impoverished and marginalized groups.
Perhaps this early political rift, which made the democratic parties in isolation from the popular strata and deepened the gap through their engagement with the game of identity and their blind defense of secularism as a national priority instead of prosecution of corruption and social justice. All this made these parties in a dangerously weak position where instead of reviewing their position within the community they delve into a war of survival for power, which led to a nostalgic return to their spiritual fathers, the Burguibists. They got involved with them in an alliance against “the dark forces”, in a vortex of bourgeois contempt of the election body and in a contemptuous rejection of the regional and social classes which had already rejected or had not understood their approach of “modernity”.
An approach that does not differ radically from the modernizing approach projected on the population and produced by the dictatorship as a mechanism that aimed at first to legitimize its survival and to prop up its image in the West. Such approach attacks mainly the real liberating project which cannot be built without critical thinking, dialogue and innovation in harmony with the cultural heritage and social solidarity and free research and expression.
C –The Left or Lazy Sophism
Part of it chose the “easiest solution” of opportunist alliance with the “democratic parties” and the engagement with the false battle of “modernity”. While another part, including parties, trade unionists and independents, is trying to circumvent the dichotomy of counter-revolutionary forces, to continue the revolutionary stream which it headed, and to make the economic issue and prosecution as an urgent priority. However, some members get involved in silly and outdated sectarian and leadership conflicts, and remain incapable of intellectual creativity, political exercise and effective communication in a context of insecurity, financial difficulties and campaigns of defamation and alleged heresy against whom the pole of counter-revolution (Islamists and modernizers) deploys. Such accumulated deficiencies make these members limited to the realm of reaction instead of action and initiative, and give them a marginal role in the battle between the hostile forces of the revolution.
This miserable political climate indicates the extent of disease in the culture of dictatorship and the political class. What makes matters worse is that the deadly war taking place today between the old and new ruling elites is fueled and supported by Western political and economic elites patched up by the Gulf countries. As an evidence of this political and economic intrusion are the huge amounts of transactions for the benefit of political parties and civil society, which affect its independence and divests it of its national identity. In addition to that, the security and military institutions and the Central Bank are equipped with the necessary means to keep their immunity and opacity and to protect the same political and economic system which does not serve but the interests of foreign powers; in other words, to preserve the state of indirect colonialism.
To sum up: “Ben Ali fled,” and the phrase “the former regime,” is but distortion of public opinion
Both ruling parties and the opposition compete to control of the same political, economic and social system based on the exploitation of disadvantaged population, letting go national resources and strangling the country with debts and dependency, preserving fiercely their privileges, without any attempt to go beyond the binaries that have impeded the development of our country for half a century (coastal/inland areas, elite/population, Tourism/Agriculture). Both parties are led by opportunism and authoritarianism, no matter what its form is, whether bearded or bald, in a jellaba or in a short skirt, a chaplet or a glass of wine in hand, slaves to France or maids to Qatar, in any case they are soldiers of the United States.
However, the population has an agency only in the resonant slogans that adorn the speeches of the politicians who appointed themselves spokespersons on its behalf and, at the same time, work to lead it to a deadlock. These categories are entirely absent from the equation of war produced by their own uprising. They are not represented politically, so they resort to solutions such as self-burning, cutting off roads, sitting-in, and facing corrupt policemen. Then both parties rush to distort the image of these popular categories, creating imaginary divisions and prosecuting them. In addition, these parties transform the revolutionary anger to feed the hostile conflict over identity—regional, tribal, sectarian or religious/secular—especially in those regions rich with natural resources like the coalfield in Gafsa.
Based on our reading of this situation,
We, the undersigned, Tunisians
Both men and women,
Religious or not religious,
Workers retired, students, peasants, and unemployed:
•Refuse to be held hostage to any of these two political groups bent on betraying the revolution by maintaining the unjust system against which the population rose up; and thus refuse that our national democratic choice be confined between the two enemies of the Revolution: Ennahdha and its allies and Kayed Essebsi and his allies.
•Are determined to “disturb” through the pen and in the streets to develop an alternative project we offer to our people to discuss it over and to put it into practice. A purely national project that refuses foreign political and cultural templates ready to deploy on a foreign soil. It also discards hollow slogans of partial and vague demands, such as “greater social justice” and “mitigation of development disparities between the regions”
What is needed is, in our opinion, an intellectual, political, economic, artistic, and social alternative. For its formulation, We are ready to collaborate with all those who share our reading of the scene; an alternative which cannot be built away from the street and the daily struggle on the essential fronts offered by the slogan “Work, Freedom, National Dignity”:
First, “the people wants to prosecute corruption“: the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms are the only guarantee of a real rupture with the old regime. Rejection of material compensation without prosecution, and the necessity of public disclosure of all files and lists of the political police, bribery, financial corruption, abuse of power and individual and organized crime. Thus, there is no peace without justice.
Second, “Work is our Right, Gang of Thieves!” The class struggle does exist despite denials from both parties. It has manifested itself quite clearly since the beginning of the revolution in the regions and disadvantaged neighborhoods. As long as it is not recognized, “the striking fury” will inevitably take surface again and the shallow temporary solutions will not succeed to extinguish the population’s anger. It is not a question of corruption, but rather a whole economic and social system that has to be changed. Without such change, there is no room to talk about real social justice, the necessary condition to ensure public and individual freedoms.
Third, “the Tunisian people is free, no room for the USA, or France, or Qatar“: Exposing suspicious transactions between both parties and foreign political and economic parties; recovering the people’s stolen money: no real democracy without national sovereignty, and without the independence of national decision-making in all fields.
We are aware of the magnitude of the tasks we suggest and are determined to join forces to formulate a concrete content to these tasks and to the sovereign and just regime we want for our people as an alternative to the regime it and we want to overthrow.
We still suffer from fragility, weakness, and lack of organization, but we are still filled with optimism, idealism and romanticism. We are determined to not let the counter-revolutionary forces sleep in peace nor see our people, consciously or unconsciously, victim of a double-faced executioner.
Our voice will triumph over the cacophony of the Salafists, the false modernizers and the voices summoning political dinosaurs. So that no one can forget—what the political plot to make forgotten—the cause for which the martyrs died: the right of the impoverished people to work, freedom and national dignity.