Auszug aus einem Interview, das Omar Hassan mit Hamza Hamouchene geführt hat, veröffentlicht auf Open Democracy | 23.04.2019:
[…] While the events of 2011 swept much of the region, important local differences shaped the divergent outcomes. For instance, in Egypt it was youth-led and relatively loose, which meant it lacked institutional and social weight at crucial times. In Tunisia, the national trade union centre – especially its lower ranks – was very important. What kind of social forces have been leading the movement in Algeria? Are there organisations or ideas of particular prominence?
The Algerian uprising has its own specificities, strengths and weaknesses.
First, what makes this movement unique is its scale, peaceful character and national spread, including in the marginalised south. The movement is also characterised by significant participation of women and especially young people, who are the majority of the population. Algeria has not witnessed such a broad, diverse and widespread movement since 1962, when Algerians celebrated their hard won independence from French colonial rule.
Second, one can see this uprising as a continuation of the anti-colonial struggle of the 1950s and 1960s to regain popular and economic sovereignty. Many references have been made in the protests and marches to the anti-colonial revolution and to its glorious martyrs who sacrificed their lives for Algeria’s independence, reaffirming that formal independence has no meaning without popular and national sovereignty – the ruling elites have been selling off the country and its resources for more than 30 years. These anti-colonial sentiments are reinforced by a staunch hostility to foreign interference and imperialist intervention.
Third is the unshakeable and eternal solidarity with Palestinians: Algerians understand that their liberation won’t be complete without the liberation of Palestine. This is unique in the Arab world: alongside Algerian flags, you always see the Palestinian flag. And people commemorate Algerian and Palestinian martyrs without distinguishing between them. This can be explained by Algeria and Palestine being the only countries in the region that experienced racist, genocidal settler-colonialism.
Fourth, the arid political landscape that resulted from the decimation of a genuine political opposition – the bankruptcy of party politics within the country – coupled with the repression and co-option of trade unions led people to organise differently. In the last few years, growing dissent and discontent have increasingly been expressed through sectional protests or the emergence of horizontal social movements, especially in the gas and oil-rich Sahara.
There is an entrenched hostility toward political parties. Similar to Egypt, the movement is youth-led and relatively loose. There are no clearly identifiable leaders or organised structures that are propelling it. It is a popular uprising mobilising mass forces from the middle classes and from the marginalised classes in urban and rural areas affected by decades-long neoliberal policies and a corrupt rentier economy within the framework of a predatory globalisation that facilitates the pillage of the country’s resources, financial and natural. Students, workers (especially those in the oil and gas sector), autonomous trade unions, judges and lawyers are playing a very important role in these mobilisations as they participate and organise their own protests, call for strikes and keep the momentum going. Unlike Sudan, where the Sudanese Professional Association is playing a leading and organising role, in Algeria it looks like things get organised mainly through social media.
Finally, I am not one of those who, if they don’t like the outcome of a revolution – or its forces, demands and strategies – rush to downplay or deny its revolutionary character. However, we need to be critical, intellectually honest and learn from the mistakes of previous revolutions. The valorisation of spontaneity and “leaderless” movements, and the hostility to any form of structuring, is not unique to the Algerian case but has been seen in other revolutions in places such as Egypt and Tunisia.
Spontaneity and leaderless movements will generate large inter-class mobilisations that give the impression of unity despite class, gender and ideological differences. However, this can become dangerous when the question of the socio-economic rights of the marginalised are expelled from any debate. In such scenarios, legitimate questions of popular sovereignty and social justice will give way to vague liberal notions of democracy, freedom and equality at the expense of the fundamental demands of the wretched of the earth. […]
[This article was originally published by Redflag on April 17, 2019]