Before starting this article I would like to precise that I am myself a committed leftist and internationalist. Since the Syrian revolution started in March 2011, some of my leftist friends have not been totally committed, not to say anything else, the same way to the Syrian revolution in comparison to their solidarity to the Egyptian, Tunisian, or the Bahraini revolutions, which I all support from the deepest of my humanist and Marxist convictions.
This article is not addressed to all the left, because I know a big section of the revolutionary left in Europe support the uprising in Syria, like the French NPA, the Norwegian Red Party, SolidariteS (Switzerland), and many others. There is nevertheless a lack of internationalism and analysis of some sections of the left when it comes to Syria.
Some of my friends view it simply as battle with their own ruling establishment, completely ignoring the struggle of the Syrian masses and the dynamics of the revolution, as we can see it through the following post of my leftist friend:
“How the right really sees the Syrian crisis:
“Rather than seeing the Syrian crisis as fundamentally a human rights issue, we should view it in the same strategic terms as the Russians do.
For example, just imagine how the region’s fortunes would be improved if the Assad regime were overthrown and replaced by the first pro-Western government since the overthrow of the Syrian monarchy in the Twenties. Iran’s supply lines to Hizbollah would be cut, thereby denying the militia access to the stockpiles of powerful missiles it uses to threaten Israel. At the same time Russia, the Assads’ only significant ally outside the Middle East, would no longer enjoy its favoured nation status in Syria’s capital and ports.
The West pursued a similar strategy at the end of the Cold War when, despite Moscow’s protests, it actively encouraged the newly liberated states of Eastern Europe and Central Asia to embrace Western-style democracy, rather than continuing to tolerate the Kremlin’s meddling in their affairs. The Syrian conflict is immeasurably more complex, but regime change in Damascus would undoubtedly benefit the West as much as it would the long-suffering people of Syria. “http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9316656/To-help-Syria-we-must-fight-as-dirty-as-Russia.html
The question is how do you see the Syrian Revolution? Is it very different? Unfortunately not…
This is only one example of many others that you can see among some leftists. The example of STWC is also very talkative (see my article on https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/open-letter-to-the-stop-the-war-coalition-stwc-or-real-solidarity-is-needed/). They have continued on the same logic since my open letter, going as far to say that “In Syria – where the majority fears the opposition as much, or more, than the dictator Assad”( http://stopwar.org.uk/index.php/middle-east-and-north-africa/1464-how-the-bbc-is-helping-stoke-the-flames-of-war-in-syria).
This section of the left have proven to uphold similar poor analysis as the right, and as being as dichotomist as its ruling establishment. Some sections of the left has misrepresented the Syrian revolution (mainly controlled by the West and Saudi Arabia), the Syrian regime (anti imperialist and pro resistant), and above all the Syrian people (the majority would be islamists, sectarian and controlled by foreign actors). I invite them to check my section of revolution in pictures (https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/the-revolution-in-pictures-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B5%D9%88%D8%B1/) and statements (https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/statements-%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA/) to see if their analysis stick to reality on the ground, which refuse sectarianism, call for the support of Palestine, and want a civic, independent and democratic state. I don’t claim that my sources include all the strata of the Syrian society, but I challenge anyone to tell and prove me that this is not the main and dominant picture and reality of the Syrian popular movement.
Their analysis is no less orientalist than others account unfortunately that we have found among some rightists analysis, which is less surprising.
I have argued several times that you can oppose your ruling establishment by opposing foreign intervention, while supporting your comrades struggling in Syria and the popular movement which is independent and not controlled by any foreign power, (please see the different analysis since the beginning of the revolution on https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/). Unfortunately it seems unrealistic according to them. Therefore their tactic has been to challenge their government not by describing the Syrian revolution as a foreign plot to serve western interests completely backed by NATO. They have also on some occasions try to challenge the official story about the crimes of the regime to impute them on opposition members which would be link to Saudi Arabia and or Israel.
The opposition to their ruling establishment can be done in many ways, by notably refusing foreign intervention from all actors, being in solidarity with the Syrian people in their struggle by assisting in a way that sustains through education, solidarity, and aid the uprising. It must also, as much as possible, attempt to sustain and protect the agency of the Syrians themselves, while opposing foreign military intervention.
To believe that regime change in Syria would lead inevitably to a pro western regime, and this is a belief unfortunately shared by some sections of the left as well as the right, is a lack of analysis and knowledge of the popular movement and its dynamics. In addition it is to consider that the Syrian regime is pro resistant and anti imperialist, which is totally wrong (see this article to understand the nature of the regime and popular movement https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/understand-the-syrian-regime-and-the-dialectics-of-the-syrian-revolutionary-process/).
This section of the left is actually behaving in a very orientalist and patronizing way toward the people of the region by saying that this revolution is different than others and would be a catastrophic to the Palestinian cause and anti imperialism, while people of the region have a completely different view. In Syria many protests since the beginning of the uprising have witnessed solidarity with the Palestinians, the Palestinian cause, claiming that Palestine is at the heart of their revolutions. The Syrians are the one to have condemned the fact that not a single bullet has been shot to liberate the Golan while more than ten thousands of protesters have been killed by the army of the regime. These are the same Syrian people that opposed the Syrian intervention in Lebanon to crush the left and Palestinian movement in 1976. These latter’s crimes were their wish to build a progressist, resistant and secular Lebanon. The regime has arrested anyone who attempted to organize armed resistant to liberate the occupied Golan and Palestine. The regime has arrested intellectuals and activists who condemned Syria’s participation in the imperialistic war on Iraq in 1991.
The Palestinian refugees of Syria fully aware of all this has increasingly been participating in the revolution alongside their Syrian brothers and sisters. They have suffered from the regime’s repression, with more than 40 martyrs and hundreds arrested by security forces. Actions of support from the Palestine occupied territories and ’48 territories (Israel) to the Syrian revolution have multiplied these past few months. In Egypt, in Tahrir and elsewhere in the country, demonstrations of solidarity with Syrian revolutions have not ceased to increase. The Syrian flag of independence has been seen numerous times in Tahrir in the midst of the protesters and until most recently in the last demonstrations.
In Tunisia, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan and elsewhere in the region, the same show of support to the Syrian Revolution has been witnessed.
The revolutionary left in the region has also brought support to the Syrian revolution and called for its victory. Their opinions are actually completely ignored by this section of the left.
Should we consider all these shows of support as also the signs that these protesters are controlled by the West and Saudi Arabia, the same people that overthrew their own regimes backed by imperialism? Or maybe we, people of the region, are not sufficiently intelligent to see and understand the “truth” as told and explained by these sections of the left that the Syrian popular movement is only a bunch of people serving western interests. This section of the left has actually adopted the same position as the old traditional Stalinist left in the region and in Europe regarding the Syrian revolution, which is worrying when you want to represent a new internationalist and radical leftist trend.
This section of the left refusing to support the Syrian revolution therefore consider that the downtrodden and the exploited of Syria, who are the bulk of the Syrian popular movement, as well as the other downtrodden of the region are just simple instrument of Saudi and US imperialist policies. At the same time they are defending or not taking a position against a regime collaborating with Western Imperialism and protective of Israel, which is pursuing neoliberal policies for the interests of small economic elite that is far from being secular but actually draws its support from the corrupt high religious establishment.
We ask this section of the left to change its position for its own sake and for the sake of the left internationally. True Resistance can only be build with the support of the masses and from them! Internationalism is build in collaboration with comrades all over the world.
We call on this section of the left to remember the legacy of Ernesto ’Che’ Guevara : universal spirit, internationalist and consistent revolutionary. For the Che, the true communist, the true revolutionary is one who regards the greater problems of mankind as his own personal problem; one who “feels deeply troubled every time a man is killed, anywhere in the world; and is filled with great joy whenever the flag of liberty unfolds anywhere in the world.”
Che Guevara rejected authoritarian and dictatorial conceptions and those who argued that people needed to “be educated” from above, that false dogma sharply rebuffed by Marx in his Theses on Feuerbach, i.e., “then who will teach the teacher?”. Che Guevara in a speech made in 1960 answered to this question: “The first step to educate the people is to introduce them to the revolution. Never pretend you can help them conquer their rights by education alone, while they must endure a despotic government. First and foremost, teach them to conquer their rights and, as they gain representation in the government, they will learn whatever they are taught and much more: with no great effort they shall soon become the teachers, towering above the rest.” In other words, the only pedagogy and education that is liberating is one that enables people to educate themselves through their revolutionary practice or, as Marx put it in the German Ideology, “in revolutionary activity, personal change coincides with a modification of conditions.”
Rosa Luxemburg resumed was saying the same thing in the dilemma for the proletariat in their struggle against capitalism, which can be compared in some aspects to the struggle of the Syrian people: `In order to be able to overthrow [capitalism], the proletariat requires a high degree of political education, of class consciousness and organization. All these conditions cannot be fulfilled by pamphlets and leaflets, but only by the living political school, by the fight and in the fight, in the continuous course of the revolution.’
Marx said: “The proletarian needs his dignity more than he needs bread.” So are you going to choose between supporting the Syrian proletarian masses or the Syrian bourgeois regime, between a grassroots movement in its courageous struggle against a criminal and authoritarian dictatorship, or take the option to remain silent about multiple massacres.
The Syrian revolution is part of the revolutionary process taking place in the Arab world, and should not be separated. The Syrian people are struggling like Egyptians, Tunisians, Bahrainis and other democrats, socialists and anti-imperialists in the region.
The Syrian people are the true revolutionaries and anti-imperialists, and not the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. It is the Syrian population who welcomed Palestinians, Lebanese and Iraqi refugees when they were attacked and occupied by the imperialist powers such as Israel and the US. The victory of the Syrian revolution will open a new resistance front against the imperialist powers, while its defeat will strengthen them. The victory of the Syrian revolution will also give a new breath to the revolutionary processes in the region. The Overthrow of each current Arab regime is a step forward to the liberation of Palestine!
Long live the Syrian revolution. Long live revolutionary humanism!