Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘balance of power

Left parties, progressive parties…: What’s that to do with Syria?


In the midst of the broad revolutionary protest movement, which is demanding freedom in Syria (Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia…) and which has faced terrifying repression that resulted in more than 1100 deaths and ten thousand of people detained in Syria, most of whom are members of the Syrian toiling class, peasants and workers, came the latest memorandum from the political bureau of the Lebanese Communist Party (issued on April 20, 2011), reminding the Syrian people who it has the right to “mobilize through all peaceful and democratic means for the sake of social, political, and economic reforms and the combating of corruption.”

Khalil Issa published an article “The Lebanese Left Fails in Syria” on the blog Jadaliyya and was translated into English by Hanna Petro. The original Arabic version of this article can be found here.

I will re-publish the article before commenting.  I had undertaken minor editing, abridging of a few paragraphs that seemed redundant. (Sentences in parentheses are mine).

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[Leftist march in Lebanon. Image from unknown archive.] [Leftist march in Lebanon. Image from unknown archive.]

“When the left loses all the material elements of its steadfastness, a result of its mistakes and of surrounding local pressures, it recourses to the political-ethical discourse as a principled stance on the basis of which to fight. Being a leftist is to side with justice against oppression, with the victim against the perpetrator (of crimes against humanity), with the (common people) against the exploiter. This is the moral position that keeps us leftists after the near death of the Lebanese left, as an organized political movement.

The memorandum failed to name any martyrs and murder victims in Syria, and “wishes that [the Syrian government] be quick in implementing all the reforms put forth by President Bashar al-Assad.”

The ambiguous position of the Communist party becomes more (striking) when its long speech describes “Syria confronting internal strife, which imperialist America and Israel strive towards in cooperation with some of the collaborating forces inside and outside of Syria, forces steeped in reactionary politics.”

What fitna [internal strife] is the Lebanese Communist Party referring to?

And why do we want to mention particularly the fitna, when the discourse should be against oppression, murder, and terrorism?  Have the national opposition members in Syria like Michel Kilo, Aref Dalila and Yasin al-Hajj Salih—who are all “comrades” by the way—suddenly become agents of the imperialist “circles?”  Or has the absurd fitna theory, which constitutes an offshoot of the “conspiracy theory”, becomes an alternative to all the positions that must be undertaken by a party supposed to be the “party of the people” par excellence?

The position of the Communist Party on what is happening in Syria is a failure on both the ethical and political levels.  Shouldn’t politics is supposed to be genuinely serving the interests of the oppressed classes?

It sound as if the Communist Party practically rejects the change demanded by the toiling class and the workers in Syria, as well as adopts the regime’s “external conspiracy” narrative.

All that remains for the comrades of the political bureau is to participate in the propaganda against the protesters, calling them “conspirators” or “armed gangs”:  The Secretary General Khalid Hadada confirmed the centrality of “the conspiracy against Syria” in an article of his in al-Safir newspaper (May 28th, 2011). If Hadada rejects the security solution in Syria, he also repudiates “attempted bullying by the outside.”

What dialogue is the Communist Party calling for? For example, Azmi Bishara, (a Palestinia/Israeli deputy revoked by the Israeli Knesset) says in one of his latest media appearances that “it is clear that there is dialogue. Unfortunately, only dialogue pertaining to reform, but there is an instigation to murder and shoot at those who demand reform.”

Many of the Lebanese leftists are convinced that what is happening in Syria is the doing of the “Salafis” or the “Anglo-Americo-Zionist-Saudi-Qatari” conspiracy.  This ever-present phobia of the Conspiracy mixes with a “secular sectarianism”.

Many leftists now repeat the repudiation by poets like Adonis and Safidi Yusuf of “the coming out of revolution from the mosque,” or that what is happening is nothing but a verse of “the West’s making.”

Secular sectarianism is inflating minority sensibilities, horrified by the cries of allahu akbar [Allah is great], and gives life to a sick elitism that does not see a sufficient “revolutionary consciousness” among the Syrian masses. This might reflect a class disdain expressed by a small bourgeois leadership towards workers and peasants who are being killed.

The Revolution is to be in accordance with the standard of a distressed left defined only by the discourse of “secularism.” How about “overthrowing sectarian regimes?”

Today, we have come to the presence of a “secular sectarian” Lebanese left, which has retired from its duties, vacillating between a Lebanese nationalist vision and an Arab nationalist position in the archaic sense of the word.

Most Lebanese left parties are intellectually lazy, politically coward, folkloric, carrying a vulgar Marxist discourse with an opportunistic tendency… They adopt  narratives of injustice starting with the “imperial West” and ending with lamentation over the “injustice” committed by the other Lebanese sectarian parties towards it. When the left does not question ready-made answers, it becomes a “religious” left.

“The Lebanese left is united with all the oppressed people of the world, with the exception of the Arab people. Maybe it is because those Arab people are still … “Muslim”, meaning they are not “secular” enough!”

There is a deeper problem facing leftists and communists on the theoretical level. It is the “freedom” called for by the crushed Arab masses from the Atlantic Ocean (Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria…) to the Arab/Iranian Gulf.  That used to be an expression of lost dignity because of regional regimes governing in a ‘local’ colonial fashion.

Is thinking of “Arab dignity” more important today than the endless pleas for analyses by the martyr Mahdi Amel or the economic determinism that Marxism itself has surpassed?  Many traditional communists consider the subject of “democracy” as a “bourgeois” issue. They ignore the fact that the right to vote, the right to express one’s opinion, and the right to form political parties was never a “liberal” gift, but something that came as a result of struggles fought out by the working class and the peasantry.

The loathing of political freedom by describing it as “bourgeois freedom” is at the root of positions that neglect the demands of the masses who want ‘dignity’ before anything else.

We are confronting three issues:

First, the secular sectarianism which was transformed into a politics of identity;

Second, the disease of elitism, which despises the struggling classes; and

Three, the absence of intellectual renewal because of repeat of deaf leftist prayers, which claim to answer every worry and complaint. We hope that the left will return to the left and the Communist Party to its communism. Circumstances indicate that hard times will befall on Lebanon, and we  need this new left.” End of article

I like the spirit of the article.  For the non-Lebanese readers, the left factions represented behind this article sided in the last two decades with governments representing mainly Saudi Arabia absolute monarchy interests in Lebanon and in the region, explicitly backed by the US.

The governments of the Hariri clan supported Bush Junior strategy in the July 2006 preemptive war by Israel on Lebanon: They demanded that Israel finish off the resistance movement in Lebanon (particularly Hezbollah).

These factions of the left have great animosity with the current government, which displaced the Hariri clan interests of monopolizing the economy in Lebanon…

Is the claim that “external conspiracy” irrelevant?

No State in the Middle-East is in any position of defying the interest of the 5 veto-powers in the UN (US, France, England, Russia, and China):  No State managed to establish any sustainable socio-political-economic structure to defy even powerful regional States.

For example, the western States and the US cajoled Qaddafi for 40 years: As Qaddafi decided to deny France and England substantial arms deals to the benefit of Russia, Qaddafi was to be deposed.

The negotiation with the US to keeping a large military contingent in Iraq has failed: Iran and Syria were blamed for the Iraqi defiance.

Syria regime of the Assad clan was extensively cajoled by France, the US, and Israel in the last three decades: actually, Syria was given mandated power over Lebanon since 1991.  Bashar al Assad was to be deposed…

Only Iran dared occasionally defy the western powers: it focused on self-sufficiency in military power…Even vast and powerful Turkey is relying on the US for its policies in the region…

As to what the left and secular movements could do in Syria, beside allying with the Baath Party and the Assad clan?  With the heavy support of the US, western States and Israel to the Assad regime, it is a winning strategy of the left to have maintained a level of secular spirit in Syria within the troubling conditions…

The balance of power after the Assad regime will lean toward the secular movements, thanks to the decades of sustaining any gain that could be snatched for establishing a secular movement…

What’s happening in Syria now?

The people in Homs have been virulent and demonstrating nightly against the regime. Why?

During late Hafez Assad, the socialist central government invested and funneled money into this major City. In the last five years, and the spread of liberal capitalism that pressured Syria to revise its economic and financial laws, the insiders in the central government and Assad clan opted to invest outside Syria, and in Damascus, and Aleppo.

Hama is virulent for two major reason:

First, Hama has been punished for over three decades from serious government investment related to the 1982 mass uprising. Hafez Assad decreed that: “Every Syrian who is found to be a member of Syria Moslem Brotherhood Party will be executed”.  Hafez was very consistent in his position and many Syrians were persecuted and hanged.

Second, Hama want revenge!

Why Damascus is not currently that excited for reform change?

First, as usual and historically, Sunnis in Damascus give priority to stability and security.

Second, merchant class in Damascus is still reaping the advantages of being resident of the Capital.  When the regime shows definite weaknesses, you can be sure that Damascus will take over and lead the “revolution”: They have to maintain and protect their interest, economically and politically.

The people in Aleppo wish that what is taking place is actually a terrible bad dream: They will wake up from just a nightmarish dream.

Aleppo is in a situation of “No Win”, regardless of which side to take.  If it sides with the government, Aleppo will suffer the most from a civil war because it is in the middle of the Sunni Kurds in the north and Sunni “Arabs” in the south.

There is an after Assad clan regime, and it will be secular, no matter what the scarecrow salafists factor is constantly brought out in media and political circles.




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