Algeria – No Change for the Workers
Published in Labour Worker, 1 July 1965.
As we go to press, the situation in Algeria is far from clear. Ben Bella was overthrown without bloodshed, but fighting already appears to have broken out.
The crisis of independent Algeria is a deep-lying one. Its problems – such as a million unemployed – are no more capable of being solved by state capitalism than by old style capitalism. But the present change of leadership does not appear likely to resolve that crisis. Ben Bella, who took power in 1962, mainly as a result of the support of the Army, maintained his position by playing off different groups against each other. Only three days before the coup the F.L.N. had come to an agreement with the opposing “Front des forces socialistes.” Now the conflict between civil and military leaders has come to a head, and Boumedienne, chief of Algeria’s 60,000-strong Army has taken power.
Boumedienne (who is said to speak perfect French, but pretends he doesn’t) may initiate a more nationalistic and Islamic phase of Algerian development; such nationalism may help to secure the loyalty of the people amid economic difficulties.
But the very violence of the new Revolutionary Council’s denunciation of Ben Bella (“Mystification, adventurism and political charlatanism”) suggests that ideological differences are minimal.
The language of the Revolutionary Council is as “socialist” as Ben Bella’s: “The people’s national army, worthy heir of the glorious army of national liberation will never, amid whatever temptations and manoeuvres, allow itself to be cut off from the people, from which it has sprung, and whence it draws both its strength and reason for existing.” It has called for: “the consolidation of revolutionary power on the basis of a more just appreciation of democratic centralism, and for the building of a truly socialist society.”
But the Algerian workers and peasants (in this country which some see as a leading proponent of “workers’ control”) in no way intervened in the change of régime. It is only when they do intervene that Algeria’s problems can be solved.