A blunder of historic proportions

Voting for the Muslim Brotherhood was a vote for a party of counterrevolution, not the revolution. Jack Conrad examines MB's origins, ideas and evolution

Sadly, for the Socialist Workers Party the choice was immediately “clear”: Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood had to be supported. “A vote for Mursi is a vote against the legacy of Mubarak and for continuing change in Egypt. Now it is time to put Mursi to the test - and to continue struggles over jobs, wages, union rights and for radical political change,” wrote Socialist Worker’s Phil Marfleet.[1]

In justification, Mursi was presented as a vacillating reformer, a reed willing to bend before mass pressure. By contrast, to vote for Ahmed Safiq - Mubarak’s last prime minister and effectively the candidate of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces - would be a vote to finally snuff out the revolution.

Worse, instead of rejecting lesser evilism, and joining a clear majority in a ‘pox on both sides’ boycott, the SWP’s Egyptian co-thinkers, the Revolutionary Socialists, pleaded for Mursi and MB to declare themselves in favour of a “national front” government, a government which would include representatives from “across the whole political spectrum”. In other words, a grand coalition uniting all classes, all interests, all parties - excepting only the “fascists” of the “old regime”.[2] If only by implication, the tiny Revolutionary Socialists would, if asked, participate in this cross-class abomination.

In terms of defending the standard Marxist argument against participating in any government as a minority party, in any government not committed to carry out the full minimum programme of Marxism, I will limit myself here to showing how, throughout its long history, MB has been a counterrevolutionary organisation. And, therefore, why, despite numerous tactical shifts and feints, MB remains an enemy of democracy, secularism, religious toleration, women’s rights and the working class. Hence, surely, the necessity of constituting the left, and crucially the working class itself, as a party of extreme opposition to any MB-led government.


While constantly referencing the Koran and drawing inspiration from the prophet Mohammed and the Rashidun caliphs of the 7th century, MB is a thoroughly modern formation. So while there are medieval reference points, MB is best seen as originating as a strand of the Egyptian national independence movement. Religion being infused with and driven by national feelings, the two forming an ambiguous and contradictory unity.

Though dominated by the Mamaluk class of slave-warriors till the early 19th century, Egypt constituted an integral part of the Ottoman empire. However, Albanian mercenary troops rebelled and put their leader, Muhammad Ali, into power. He ruled as khedive (viceroy) of Egypt and Sudan from 1805-49. British forces occupied the country in 1882 - putting down Egypt’s nationalist army and popular democratic movement in the process. The British considered it politic to maintain the Muhammad Ali dynasty and Egypt’s place within the disintegrating Ottoman empire. Only in 1914 did Egypt officially became a British protectorate.

Prior to the outbreak of World War I anti-British agitation was confined to elite circles and had little impact. However, with the British administration conscripting one and a half million Egyptians into labour gangs and requisitioning crops, buildings and animals, discontent steadily rose … till boiling point was finally reached. In March 1919, after demands for independence had been flatly rejected, strikes and mass demonstrations erupted throughout Egypt. It amounted to a national uprising. British military installations were attacked and at least 3,000 Egyptians were killed, as order was painfully restored.

Yet, given the balance of forces, the British had to make concessions. Independence was granted in February 1922. However, this status was purely formal. The extravagant, incompetent, debauched, pro-fascist king had to be flattered, bribed and occasionally threatened, but British rule continued. With the bureaucracy and the big capitalist and landlord classes safely in harness, a form of neo-colonialism could be imposed. Mired in debt, the Egyptian state remained hopelessly dependent on the City of London. Egypt continued to be both a “market for British manufactured goods and a cotton plantation to service the Lancashire mills”.[3] In other words, economic development was skewed and capital accumulation proceeded mainly in the interests of Britain. To underwrite that exploitative relationship British naval bases in Alexandria and Port Said were maintained by binding treaty, along with an army garrison on the Suez canal. In the event of war British forces were to be free to move anywhere across Egypt.

The Society of Muslim Brothers (al-Ikhwan al-Moslemoon) was founded under these conditions of disappointment in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna (1906-47). A primary school teacher and son of a small landowner, who also served as the local imam, al-Banna inserted Egyptian national humiliation into a wider narrative. Islam was portrayed as having been corrupted over the course of many centuries. That is what led to the occupation of Egypt by British infidels. That is what led to the carving up of the Ottoman empire in the aftermath of World War I. The nadir was the abolition of the caliphate by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1924.[4] A catastrophe for the religiously pious.

It is clear that the ‘puritan’ Wahhabite sect - the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia - served as something of a theological-political blueprint. Following its example, al-Banna taught that Islam is “creed and state, book and sword, and a way of life”. He urged political activism and insisted that Islam went beyond the four walls of the mosque: “There is no meaning to faith unless it be accompanied by works, and no profit in a doctrine which does not impel its possessor to bring it to fruition and to sacrifice himself for its sake.”[5] Put another way, Muslims were urged to patiently find their way back to taking state power.

Al-Banna looked to the pristine certainties of the Koran, the Sunna and the revitalising spirit of Mohammed. His Islamic renaissance would deliver Egypt from “decadence, corruption, weakness, poverty and humiliation”.[6] He wanted Egypt to be genuinely independent, freed from economic dependence and put on a par with the leading countries of the day. Simultaneously a rebellion against imperialism and a bid to join imperialism.

Holy curses rained down upon the head of king Fuad, his parasitic family, his grasping ministers and his British masters. MB called for land redistribution, the nationalisation of Egypt’s natural resources, the nationalisation of financial institutions, including the Egyptian-owned Misr bank, the abolition of usury and the introduction of a zakat-based system of social security. However, proletarian socialism and democracy were emphatically rejected as un-Islamic. MB was therefore in rebellion against the future too.

Al-Banna imagined destiny’s hand had selected him for greatness and so got himself appointed murshid al-amm (‘general guide’). MB was run according to the Führerprinzip (‘leader principle’) and Al-Banna openly expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. MB willingly distributed Mein Kampf and pro-German propaganda. Of course, rightwing nationalists did much the same in India, Ireland and South Africa, the Third Reich being seen as a potential liberator from British chains. Al-Banna wrote glowingly to Hitler on many occasions. He too hated Jews, he too wanted to see the overthrow of the British empire. During the initial stages of World War II MB was considered a valuable asset by Germany. MB had its military wing, al-nizam al-khass (‘special organisation’) and its fighters were meant to rise up on cue. Rommel’s Africa corps would then cakewalk into Egypt. Exposure of secret contacts with Germany did MB little harm. Such was the popular loathing of Britain.

The Brotherhood began by setting up supplementary, or parallel, educational institutions which would give its male adherents jihad training. Winning hearts and minds has always been seen as a necessary precondition for re-establishing the caliphate: first in Egypt and other Muslim countries, eventually over the whole globe.

While Egypt is expected to play a key role, narrow nationalism is eschewed. The Brotherhood is pan- Islamic. Included amongst key aims is building khilafa (basically unity between Islamic states) and “mastering the world” with Islam. Each MB national branch being obliged to draw up programmes for “Islamising” government after what are called “realistic studies”.[7] For those who see MB as hell-bent on world conquest, the findings of the Carnegie think tank should provide a calming corrective: MB poses no “security threat” to the US and ought to be “welcomed as a legitimate party”.[8]

The Brotherhood calculates that it would be too risky to rule over a population which has not internalised Islamic law. Incidentally, with this in mind, psychologists have long claimed that sadomasochistic pleasure can be gained from submitting to and/or enforcing authority: “the first defining trait of a sadomasochistic dynamic” being the “existence of a hierarchical situation”.[9] The merits of such arguments aside, the fact of the matter is that in pursuit of its goals MB has constructed a steeply graded hierarchy of power and dependence. Indeed via the media, parliament, mosques, charity work and specifically Islamic trade unions, professional associations, health centres, student societies, women’s groups, etc, MB has built a hugely powerful organisation that amounts to a state within the state.

However, there is also currying favour from established state powers. MB looks benignly upon those who preside over what are called “true” Islamic governments. They deserve “support and help”.[10] While that never included upstarts such as Mubarak, Assad or Gaddafi, the Saud, Hashem, Sabah, Nahyan and other such ‘authentic’ Arab dynasties are another matter. Time legitimises. Time consecrates. “What is grey with age becomes religion/ Be in possession, and thou hast the right/ And sacred will the many guard it for thee!”[11] Benefits flow in return for “support and help”. Hence the description of MB as an “ideological protectorate of Saudi Arabia”.[12] An exaggeration, no doubt. Nonetheless, there is abundant evidence showing the closeness of the MB-Saudi relationship. Eg, the Islamic University of Medina has been generously financed by the Saudi monarchy. From its beginning, in 1961, the institution has been considered a centre of Brotherhood teaching (approximately 70% of its 22,000 students are non-Saudi).[13]


Let us apply the typology of Helmut Richard Niebuhr (1894-1962) to the Islamic movement.[14] MB is an Islam of the transformation of culture. A revivalism or conversionism which seeks to redeem humanity through returning it to an imaginary ideal. Needless to say, all such attempts necessitate radically refashioning social realities in the here and now. By definition something which requires a well-tuned political antenna and ability to rapidly manoeuvre in force. Not a purist withdrawal from society and separatism (Islam against culture) nor accommodation and loyalty to the existing state (Islam of culture).

Some include MB under the heading of ‘political Islam’. Political Islam being contrasted with religious or ethical Islam. Political Islam is sometimes dated from 1979 and the coming to power of ayatollah Khomeini in Iran: this “turned political Islam from a dream into a reality”.[15] Of course, MB has rather older antecedents. But leave aside this quibble. ‘Political Islam’ is a highly problematic term and those who use it certainly need to acknowledge that there is nothing new about the fusion of Islam and politics. Mohammed established and ruled over an Islamic state in Medina and his immediate successors built an extensive Islamic empire. Obviously running a state is a political act by definition, which is why I prefer nomenclature which conveys both continuity and commitment to change. Not that we should get hung up on terminology.

Suffice to say, from the first, MB combined faith in its largely mythical 7th century ideal with the patient, solid, practical work needed to secure a mass base. From beginnings as one of many squabbling Islamic grouplets, membership was to soar and soar again: from 800 in 1936 to 200,000 in 1938. MB voiced its politics through a number of fronts, but also the explicitly named Party of the Muslim Brotherhood. By 1948 the organisation had an estimated half million members and an equal number of close sympathies - the biggest political organisation in the Arab world.[16]

MB fashioned this human material into a social battering ram - ultimately in the heavily disguised interests of those classes and strata which both opposed British imperialism and feared proletarian socialism. From the start students and ex-students were the vital mediation between the MB’s leadership and the masses. Students lived in the vast shanty towns and often came from the countryside.

MB continues to represent dissident imams, bazaar merchants, better-off peasant farmers, shopkeepers, the urban middle classes, small capitalists, etc. And especially since the fall of Mubarak, MB has grown a bloated body of full-time functionaries: professional politicians, advisers, teachers, trade union officials, security guards, publishers, journalists, hospital managers, technicians, accountants, business operatives, etc. Inevitably they have developed their own caste identity, concerns and aims.

Needless to say, MB leaders strive hard to give the impression of putting aside their own particular interests. Instead the sufferings, fears and dreams of the masses are highlighted and given an Islamic coloration. In terms of religious doctrine nothing could be easier. After all, oppression, greed and exploitation are forthrightly condemned in the Koran. Rich Muslims are told that they have binding obligations towards the downtrodden, the poor and the unfortunate.

MB was used by the British against the Jewish national movement in Palestine following World War II. Members of the Brotherhood were provided with military training.[17] With the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, king Farouk’s government was accused of displaying criminal passivity in face of the Zionist foe; the Brotherhood mobilised some 10,000 volunteers to fight alongside the beleaguered Palestinians. MB’s special organisation began terrorist attacks in Egypt itself, which led to a swift ban. A Brotherhood assassin gunned down the prime minister, Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi, on December 28 1948. Tit for tat, al-Banna himself was killed by government agents.

Throughout its existence, MB has faced stiff competition from various liberal, nationalist, pan-Arabic, ‘official communist’, leftist and youth movement radicals. At times this competition has seen uneasy alliances; at other times bloody confrontations. Nevertheless, when it comes to winning mass support, the Brotherhood has often proved more successful. Rivals are typically technocratic and envisage social change brought about from above: ie, through the state. By contrast, in the here and now, MB provides practical relief and speaks in easily understood terms and phrases.

The Brotherhood supported the officers’ revolution in 1952 - government posts were accepted. Within a matter of weeks, however, relations soured. After general Mohammed Naguib was elbowed aside, Gamal Abdel Nasser was widely credited as being the moving spirit behind the declaration of Egypt as a republic and the promise to nationalise the Suez canal. However, as a pan-Arab socialist, Nasser refused to generalise sharia courts: indeed in 1956 he summarily abolished them. His mantra was modernisation: eg, nationalisation, industrialisation, secular education, land redistribution, the advancement of women and a strong military. A hugely popular package, which implicitly threatened classes and strata reliant on neo-colonial, pre-capitalist and religious forms of exploitation.

Unable to navigate these forward-moving currents, MB began to lose coherence. Hope was on the march. Increasingly its doctrines appeared anachronistic. The popular tide ebbed away. Exposed, confused, fearing social extinction, MB’s core constituency opted for either cringing accommodation with Nasser or violent confrontation. Ruinous internal battles and debilitating rifts followed. The national HQ in Cairo was physically fought over. Embracing the cult of death, various breakaway factions transformed terrorism into their raison d’être. MB members co-organised the botched attempt on Nasser’s life in 1954. Immediately thereafter the Brotherhood as a whole was subjected to a wave of repression. Four thousand members were arrested and many more fled to Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon. What had been a mass organisation all but disintegrated. MB would only recover under president Anwar Sadat, Nasser’s successor, who gradually released its activists from jail and allowed exiles to return.

MB socialism

Because of Nasser’s mass round-up of MB activists, Sayyid Qutb (1900-66) found himself imprisoned. He is, let us note, still considered one of the “most influential and controversial Muslim and Arab thinkers”.[18] With the luxury of time, provided courtesy of Nasser, Qutb carefully plotted revenge. First and foremost by studying, moulding and applying the seminal ideas of Syed Abul A’ala Maududi (in 1941 he established the revivalist party, Jammaat-e-Islami, in British India). But Qutb developed his own unique programme and strategy. Freed from prison in 1964, he was almost immediately rearrested … then tried and, presumably on Nasser’s direct orders, executed.

Qutb’s most important work is Ma’alim fi al-Tariq or Signposts on the road1[19] - first published in 1964. The basic thesis being that humanity faces a crisis of leadership: “All nationalistic and chauvinistic ideologies which have appeared in modern times, and all the movements and theories derived from them, have ... lost their vitality” - Nazism, fascism, Peronism, Nasserism, etc.[20] Marxism, he declared, had failed too. Not a “single nation in the world is truly Marxist”, because “the whole of this theory conflicts with man’s nature and its needs”. Marxism only prospers in a “degenerate society or in a society which has become cowed as a result of some form of prolonged dictatorship”. As proof of his contention that Marxism had floundered, Qutb pointed to the increasingly dysfunctional Soviet economy and how the USSR was “suffering from shortages of food”.

What of the west? It is, he said, “now in decline”. Not because its culture has “become poor materially or because its economic and military power has become weak”.[21] Rather, Qutb believed that the west had become morally decadent: it is “deprived of those life-giving values which enabled it to be the leader of mankind”. He visited the US on behalf of the Egyptian government over 1948-50. A lifelong bachelor, and one presumes sexually repressed, he recoiled from the supposed libidinal wantonness and promiscuity of America’s women. As an aside, Qutb claimed a link between what he saw as sexual riot and the unnatural chastity of monastic Christianity. One excess provoking the other. Qutb argued that Christianity had still to fully free itself from paganism.

Not that the Muslim world was let off the hook. Using a combination of hard facts and dehistoricised koranic quotes, Signposts castigated all existing Muslim countries. None were Islamic. “If Islam is again to play the role of the leader of mankind”, Qutb insisted, “it is necessary that the Muslim community be restored to its original form.” The first step had to be washing away the “debris of the man-made traditions” and “false laws and customs”, which are not “even remotely related to the Islamic teachings”. Qutb said Muslims were living in the midst of a new “jahiliyyah” - effectively everything they disliked. The jahiliyyah was the period of ignorance corresponding to life in Arabia before the prophet; the new jahiliyyah was a “rebellion against god’s sovereignty on earth”.[22] He and other MB leaders were equated with Mohammed and his close companions. They must form a “vanguard” amongst the youth and single-mindedly fight to destroy the jahiliyyah. Not for nothing has Signposts been described as the What is to be done? of revivalist Islam.[23]

Qutb reckoned his programme might take many years - perhaps hundreds of years - to complete. His followers were urged to approach their mammoth task of winning global leadership through a series of strategic stages: hence the Signposts or Mileposts title of his book.

Once in power, in their first national outpost, they would not simply return to the conditions of the 7th century, but creatively adapt a purified Islam to fit in with the demands of modern technology - industrial production, air travel, telephones, etc. In other words, monopoly capitalism would be embraced. Despite that, in the meantime, Muslim socialism serves to hoodwink: part mythologised past, part protest against existing conditions, but always hostile to working class interests. Social aid is combined with MB moral-purity campaigns directed against women, the Coptic minority and militant workers. Such campaigns have a material base in the patriarchal economy. Shopkeepers, peasants and artisans exploit not only themselves. They traditionally rely on the labour of family members - mainly wives and children, who work endless hours for no pay. Moral-purity campaigns serve to keep them in their place - under the thumb of the head of the family. Their exploited position being sanctioned by the Koran. To rebel against the patriarch is therefore to rebel against Allah.

What of militant workers? The Brotherhood systematically acts to weaken and divide. In the words of the Communist manifesto, what the Brotherhood lambastes capitalism for is not “so much that it creates a proletariat”, but that it creates a “revolutionary proletariat”.[24] Muslim trade unions are established and pitted against secular trade unions and united with Muslim employers. Workers and employers are told that they have mutual rights and obligations - in return for “punctually” paid wages, workers are expected to work “fully and faithfully”.[25] Strikes against Muslim employers are in effect outlawed as running counter to Islamic law: eg, the right to strike is recognised, but only as long as it “does not disturb work”.[26] Working class unity is thereby broken in practice, while leaving religious and state structures intact. The Brotherhood has insisted from the beginning that Islam “does not tolerate divided loyalty, since its very nature is that of total unity”.[27]

Qutb’s ideas proved inspirational, and not only for fellow Sunnis. The Islamic movement in Iran - which climbed to power in 1979-81 - drew many of its theological innovations from Qutb. Khomeini himself translated Qutb’s book In the shade of the Koran (1952) into Farsi.

Khomeini, in essence a Bonaparte figure, successfully mobilised a broad section of the urban poor, first against the shah, then against the left. Those who had fled from an impoverished countryside and scratched a living in the sprawling shanty towns of Tehran flocked to his banner. The left was hopelessly outmanoeuvred, not least because of an elementary failure to grasp the politics of the Khomeiniites. Anti-Americanism was confused with anti-capitalism. With this grossly false notion clouding minds, most left groups willingly backed Khomeini. Disgracefully, in defence of the so-called ‘imam’s line’, that included some justifying the execution of fellow leftwingers, the crushing of the women’s movement and the banning of strikes and workers’ councils.

Yet the simple fact of the matter is that the Khomeiniites accepted capitalism. Indeed the top clergy quickly merged with finance capital to form a single social amalgam. As for the rest of Iranian society, it was restructured along the vertical lines of religion. Independent working class, minority nationalist and secular forces were driven underground and a suffocating theocratic dictatorship imposed. The only tolerated institutions were Islamic institutions.[28]

Back to the main thread. Like the prophet and his close companions, Qutb said MB needed to know when to withdraw from, and when to engage with, existing society. The Islamic vanguard “should keep itself somewhat aloof” from the “all-encompassing jahiliyyah”; it should “also keep some ties with it”.[29] His dual approach was modelled on Mohammed’s withdrawal from Mecca in 622 and then his engagement with the Medinan city-state.

Subsequently, in Egypt, one group of Qutb’s acolytes developed an ever more rarefied purism, rejecting objective natural laws. Militant irrationalism being closely related to nihilist self-destruction. Those around Shukri Mustafa designated as infidel the whole of Egyptian society. They alone were authentic Muslims. A refusal to pray in ‘infidel’ mosques followed (government-appointed imams were not recognised). Mustafa’s sect also refused to serve in the armed forces. In effect it formed a semi-autonomous counterculture. The Egyptian press dubbed the lot of them the Takfir wa al-Hijra (literally ‘excommunication of holy emigration’). Shukri was executed in 1977 after the kidnapping of a religious functionary.

Another group, led by Abd al-Salam Faraj, adopted a variation of this Islam above culture. Four members of Islamic Jihad were responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat in September 1981. He became widely unpopular when he signed the Camp David peace deal with Israel in 1979. The jihadists were, however, completely quixotic in their expectations. Led by lieutenant Khaled Islambouli, they infiltrated a commemorative victory parade with the intention of wiping out the entire Egyptian government. They thought the population would spontaneously rise up to back their organisation’s bid for power. The town of Asyut was briefly seized. But apart from that essentially minor incident there was a smooth transition from Anwar Sadat to Hosni Mubarak. A not dissimilar attempted putsch occurred in Syria - members of the Brotherhood seized Hama in 1982. Around 10,000 died, as the Ba’athists re-established control.

Not that the jihadi groups should be thought of as mere isolated fanatics. After Mubarak’s forced departure many of them helped form the Nour party - an unstable combination of religious traditionalists, populists and hate-mongers. And, at least in terms of my initial expectations, they did shockingly well in the post-Mubarak elections. However, other jihadi groups continue to target the Copts (the mainly poor, 10-20% Christian section of Egypt’s population). Churches torched, congregations attacked, etc. On new year’s day 2011, for example, an Islamic suicide bomber killed 23 worshipers at the church of St Mark and Pope Peter in the Sidi Bishr district of Alexandria. Many more such horrors followed.

To the disgust of the puritanical Salafists, MB appears to be making the precarious transition from noisily heralding paradise to embracing westernised-type parliamentary democracy and even trying to come to a cautious accommodation with the armed forces. Certainly MB’s leaders are skilled politicians. So in the second round of the presidential election campaign Mursi presented himself as the candidate of the revolution. However, in the first round he made a direct appeal to the Salafists. Mursi promoted himself as the best-placed Islamic candidate, called for a index of sharia law-compliant companies, insisted that his political programme promoted the values of Islam and frequently peppered his speeches with quotes from the Koran.

Lip service

True, MB pays lip service to democracy. However, a fully consolidated MB regime would be an MB dictatorship with all that that would entail for independent trade unions, a free press, women’s rights, the Coptic minority, etc. Moreover, almost needless to say, an MB regime would not combine Islam and socialism, but Islam and monopoly capitalism. MB voices advocating egalitarianism have been bureaucratically silenced over recent years. Mursi explicitly pledged himself to preserve the so-called “free market” and rescue the tottering Egyptian economy by drawing on the $3.2 billion International Monetary Fund loan facility (agreed with MB participation). Naturally, MB’s present-day economic ‘renaissance’ would involve restructuring according to Islamic principles - in truth that can only mean further privatisations, further cuts and further suffering by the Egyptian masses.

Doubtless, this ‘neoliberalism with an Islamic face’ reflects the influence of big capital and its personifications within MB. Indeed, till he was barred by the election commission, MB’s chosen presidential candidate was Khairat al-Shater - widely credited with being the main “architect” of MB’s current economic policy.[30] Equally to the point, this millionaire’s considerable business empire is said to be one of MB’s main sources of finance.

Shater is far from being a new phenomenon. During the period of persecution under Nasser a number of leading MB figures, such as Omar al-Talmasani and Said Ramadan, took refuge in Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the self-interested help from the royal house of Saud - terrified by Nasser’s pan-Arabism - they became very rich. When Sadat turned his back on Nasserite socialism and the Soviet Union, and opted instead for US patronage and the so-called free market, he found it expedient to allow these exiles to come back into Egypt. Sadat relied on them to counter the influence of his leftist, Nasserite and pro-Soviet opponents. As a by-product the returnees could only but transform the MB. They might have been few in number, but they had millions of dollars in the bank to ensure social leverage. Eg, thanks to their wealth and Saudi patronage, MB can provide a non-state, alternative system of healthcare, social security, religious education and source of credit in Egypt.

The forces of the working class, socialism and communism are pitifully weak in Egypt. But to have called for a vote for Mursi and an MB-dominated government can do nothing to strengthen those forces. The working class cannot gain strength by opting for the lesser evil - let alone tying itself to MB in the hope that it will, almost in spite of itself, create the benign conditions needed to continue the fight for better living conditions, trade union rights and radical democratic change.


1 . Socialist Worker June 2.

2 . Statement by Revolutionary Socialists Socialist Worker June 2.

3 . D Hopwood Egypt, politics and society, 1945- 1990 London 1991, p17.

4 . see www.ummah.org.uk/ikhwan.

5 . Hassan al-Banna The messages of al-Imam-u-shaheed - see www.glue.edu/~kareem/rasayil.

6 . SE Ibrahim Egypt, Islam and democracy Cairo 2002, p53.

7 . www.ummah.org.uk/ikhwan.

8 . www.carnegieendowment.org/ publications/?fa=view&id=43577.

9 . LS Chancer Sadomasochism in everyday life: the dynamics of power and powerlessness New Brunswick NJ 1994, p46.

10. www.ummah.org.uk/ikhwan.

11. F Schiller The death of Wallenstein act 1, scene 4 - see www.gutenberg.org/files/6787/6787- h/6787-h.htm#2H_4_0006.

12. South Asian Analysis Group, paper No3571, December 28 2009.

13. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_University_of_ Madinah.

14. HR Niebuhr Christ and culture 1951 - see www.centropian.com/religion/academic/.../index. html.

15. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4424118.stm.

16. See P Mitchell The Society of Muslim Brothers London 1969.

17. See www.frontpagemag.com/articles/readarti­cle.asp?ID=15344.

18. AA Musallam From secularism to jihad: Sayyid Qutb and the foundations of radical Islamism Westport CT, 2005, pxii.

19. Another translation would be Mileposts.

20. www.pwhce.org.qutb.

21. Ibid.

22. Ibid.

23. See G Kepel The prophet and the pharaoh London 1985, p43.

24. K Marx and F Engels CW Vol 6, New York 1976, p508.

25. Quoted in P Mitchell The Society of Muslim Brothers London 1969, p253.

26. www.tahrirdocuments.org/2011/04/the-mus­lim-brotherhood-one-hand-builds-one-hand-pro­tects-the-revolution.

27. Hassan al-Banna The messages of al-Imam-u-shaheed - see www.glue.edu/~kareem/rasayil.

28. See A Mehrdad Radical Islam: a preliminary study London, nd.

29. www.pwhce.org.qutb.

30. www.opendemocracy.net/fawaz-gerges/new-capitalists-islamists-political-economy.