Dr SaulatNagi The Arab world is in a state of turmoil. The cauldron of repressed emotions, which was simmering for decades, has developed to a volcanic proportion. Two totalitarian regimes have already been blown to bits and the rest are shaking in fear. The breeze of change has picked up momentum and the ruling elite are helplessly hoping for a miracle to happen, which may rescue them from the inevitable. It all started in Tunisia when a young man set himself ablaze to protest againststate oppression. He became the sunbeam for the rest of the wretched of the earth, to borrow a phrase from Frantz Fanon. His funeral dirge brought the new battle cries of war and victory. The then President of Tunisia, Zine El-Abidin Ben Ali, fled the country and upon being deserted by his former friend and ally, France, found refuge in Saudi Arabia. The rest of the Arab world, especially Egypt, was watching this phenomenon with amazement as the whole thing unfolded; their receptive ears had already prepared them to set honour in one eye and death in the other. But why now? Marx has rightly addressed this question when he said: No society poses for itself the problem, the necessary and sufficient conditions for whose solution do not already exist or are coming into being and no society comes to an end before it has expressed all its potential content. Egypt is a country of nearly 80 million people, the proud custodian of one of the most ancient and glorious civilisations - about whom Napoleon, once in a rare moment of exaltation, said, from the top of these pyramids, 40 centuries of history is looking down on us, who rose to the occasion and succeeded in removing an ironclad superstructure, along with an autocrat drunk with power. For America, the stakes in Egypt are extremely high, as it was the cornerstone for maintaining the hegemony of imperialist powers in the Middle East that is vital for the continuation of the status quo in the Arab world. The figure of Hosni Mubarak was instrumental, as he belonged to that section of the middle class (petit bourgeoisie), which imbibes its inspirations from Western secular ideals. A cursory glance on the class composition of Egypt reveals a comparatively huge middle class - 42percent of the population is the urban areas. According to the Economic Research Department of BNP Paribas: One-third of the young people (in Egypt) are unemployed and poverty is rampant among the 80 million inhabitants. The industrial base of Egypt indicates a substantial presence of the urban working class yearning for a change. Its army, since the dynastic era, derives its strength from the middle class. Former President GamalAbdel Nasser reinforced this presence, while introducing semi-Socialist reforms. He quickly leaned towards the Soviets although in the same breath he banned the Communist Party. A near welfare system and the victory at Suez made him an icon not only in Egypt, but also of the Arab world. Consequently, the image of the army was enhanced. It was petit bourgeoisie, which helped him to launch 'Nasserism something close to 'Bhuttoism though much superior to it; a sign of populist leadership which according to the Marxist Theory reflects a Bonapartist regime indicating a balance of forces amongst belligerent classes. The defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israel war and later the death of Nasser changed the direction of Egypts ruling class. It revealed its true class character by kneeling in front of the imperialist hegemony. The people felt betrayed, but had little value in equation since the proletariat (working class) had already been defeated. The army imposed a stifling superstructure based on repression. The fear of Islamists was created to curb civil liberties - if at all there were any - with the connivance of the American imperialism, which is always available to the Bonapartes. And certainly Caesars are galore in the Arab world. The capitalist class and the middle class view the working class differently - the former acknowledges its strength and always remains weary of this, while the latter suffers from inherent uncertainty. The middle class either does not believe in the 'people power altogether or eyes it with suspicion. It tends to forget that wars are not fought with generals alone; it is the unwavering support of the people that determines their outcome. The spontaneity and success of all liberation movements is a case in point. The Camp David agreement was a clarion call of this disbelief in the might of the people of Egypt following which metropolitan capitalism came to this realisation, and rightly so, that status quo has been successfully imposed on the people of Egypt. The native capitalist class quietly accepted this hegemony as long as it was allowed to retain its share. But the contradiction was bound to fester. The recent recession in the capitalist world has weakened the might of American capitalism. For the native bourgeoisie/capitalists, this respite is a God sent opportunity. It needs a congenial climate to confront the foreign capital in order to attain absolute control over the means of production. What else can suit it more than Western secular democracy and an unbonded labour? As the crunch was gradually progressing, the public disquiet and anger was gaining strength. The restless working class had been taking out rallies against the system for years, but success in Tunisia brought self-belief home. Realising their power, the people found themselves masters of their own destiny. An educated unemployed middle class was already prepared to lead them. An act of free men triggered by free will ensured what is called a revolution,as defined by Rosa Luxemburg. As the people were struggling to regain their rights, the army was lurking alongside monitoring the events very closely. Ostensibly, it stayed neutral. But, as Antonio Gramsci put it: so-called neutrality only means support for the reactionary side; but in such situations, the question has to be posed in such terms to prevent the unrest in the country being reproduced within the army. The military is a political force, which comes into action publicly when 'legality is in danger. Mubarak was a necessary expression of his class and was closely tied to the conditions and exigencies of his time. He was crucifiedin the flawed hope of saving the system. But the people cannot be deceived all the time. They have refused to accede to this political gimmickry. This time around they mean business; they want a change in the system and not in the faces of pawns and puppets. The vestiges of old hierarchy are paving the way for the newly emerging bourgeoisie. Prime Minister Ahmed Mohammed Shafik, who was appointed by the old regime, has already been removed amidst calls for a change in the current government. A new constitution shall herald a new beginning in which the army is likely to take a backseat, as it seems to have realised the supremacy of the people at least for the time being. Egypt is heading towards a bourgeois democratic revolution. The winds of change have taken over the Arab world, which is coming out of a deep slumber. It is ready to pay the price in blood or in tears or both The writer is a freelance columnist.