From the Editors
It is a concrete rationale that fuels opposition to Israel’s apartheid regime and the United States’ duplicitous and violent policies in the Middle East. It is a concrete rationale that imbues the condemnation of and struggle against authoritarian rule in the Arab world. It is a concrete rationale that inspires and necessitates the support of resistance to all the above. This rationale is an expression of the most basic forms of moral and political principles. It is this reasoning that must apply to the brutal suppression of the Syrian uprising.
But part of the leftist camp in the region, specifically in Lebanon, faces the unfolding bloodiness of the Syrian scene with a striking measure of ambiguity. Should “good” leftists support the opposition, condemn the regime’s unbridled brutality, or remain “neutral” (the latter decidedly a position in and of itself)?
This “dilemma” is a false one. It emanates from the arguably legitimate reverence for the Syrian regime’s support of the resistance - principally through Hezbollah - to US and Israeli imperialism. Few leftists disagree with this basic position, even if they were critical of, or condemned, Syria’s own domestic policies prior to the eruption of mass protests.
However, the five-month-long protests against the regime in Syria, and the brutal response that left more than 2,000 Syrians dead and many thousands more injured or imprisoned, should leave no ambiguity. One wonders how these brutal policies by the Syrian regime will bring about salvation/freedom/liberation from Israel’s own racist and brutal policies; how they will stop home demolitions, population transfer schemes, and illegal Jewish-only racist settlements? How will these policies roll back the hypocritical policies of the United States in the region, its devastation of Iraq, and its support of Israel’s apartheid policies and of the remaining Arab dictatorships that partake in this anti-resistance camp?
If one’s opposition to imperialism were based on a political position and not on principle, it might be more understandable, even if patently unprincipled, to stand by the Syrian regime. But this would be akin to Israelis or Israel supporters who personally object to the racist policies of Israel, but somehow justify their support for Israel as it stands. The irony is that these Israeli leftists are chastised by the aformentioned part of the pro-resistance left precisely for abandoning anything smacking of leftism.
Where is the principle in all this? While this question may indeed be naïve, it is directed here to those who claim to take positions on principle, and on principle alone. The Syrian regime has long passed the threshold when those who prioritise resistance must return again to principle. As with hyper-nationalism - i.e., “my country right or wrong” -unfettered exhibitions of loyalty to the Syrian regime have no place. If one opposes imperialism on principle, then one must oppose the Syrian regime’s crushing of the protesters on principle. Whatever resistance credentials the Syrian regime possessed withered when it started killing its own people at a rate of approximately one hundred per week (for the last five months).
The question is not whether the left - an increasingly amorphous category that now includes liberals, reactionaries, and even those with fascist politics - should support or oppose the Syrian regime. It is a decision that real people need to make in the real world: do we support a political position or a principle? Do we support country or principle? Does patriotism or nationalism trump principle? If so, why have we been criticising the Americans’ support for the United States’ war on Iraq? Why do we reject trickle-down economics that smash lives as we wait for the mirage of sustained growth? Why do we critique Israelis when they support their state’s racist policies?
To condemn oppression on principle means to condemn it whomever is exercising it. Otherwise, we cannot invoke principle. For then, we risk reenacting that which so many of us have loudly and rightly condemned. Have we not indicted the US war on terrorism as being arrogant and hypocritical in part because it violates the very principles it is purporting to uphold?
Certainly there are gray areas, and that is precisely why it was imaginable to support Syria’s support of resistance while condemning its internal policies prior to the protests. However, the last five months in Syria cannot be excused because of Syria’s resistance credentials. Without principles, there can be no Left.
[This article appeared first on Al-Jazeera English website]
[See Part 2 here]
1 comment for "For Syria, What is "Left?" (Part 1)"
If you prefer, email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hot on Facebook
Jadalicious / جدلشس
Not all successful mediators are neutral, yet America’s seemingly limitless devotion to the colonizer against the colonized cries out for a counterweight.click | email | tweet
Latest EntriesView All Entries »
- من إنجيل العراق الضائع
- Revolutionary Street Art: Complicating the Discourse
- Khalil Sweileh: from Barbarians' Paradise
- Djerba, Tunisia: Garbage Disposal, the Environmental Crisis, and the Awakening of Ecoconsciousness
- Last Week on Jadaliyya (August 25-31)
- On SJP’s Freedom to Organize: An Open Letter from CUNY Faculty
- New Texts (NEWTON) Compilation by Category For Fall Semester
- One Century after World War I and the Balfour Declaration: Palestine and Palestine Studies
- Italian-Palestinian Relations: What Went Wrong?
- From Containment to Counterinsurgency in the Gaza Strip
- Sharing the Nile Waters According to Needs
- After The Ceasefire: Searching for Accountability
- Cities Media Roundup (August 1-30)
- Message From Human Rights Defender Maryam al-Khawaja
- Beard Phobia
- نفس الكتاب".. جرحٌ تعجز الكتابة عن لَأْمِه"
- On the Margins Roundup (August)
- Prominent Human Rights Lawyer Ahmed Seif al-Islam Dies
- An Open Letter
- New Texts Out Now: Erin Runions, The Babylon Complex: Theopolitical Fantasies of War, Sex, and Sovereignty
Jad NavigationView Full Map, Topics, and Countries »
Breaking! Chancellor Wise to Forward Salaita Appointment to Trustees. Read two explanations here: http://t.co/kuKnXOYS5p via @CoreyRobin
yesterday at 8:27 PM
Djerba, Tunisia: Garbage Disposal, the Environmental Crisis, and the Awakening of Ecoconsciousness http://t.co/7PNcZKV47u
yesterday at 4:23 PM
سنان أنطون: من إنجيل العراق الضائع http://t.co/MMn2DoRPhy
yesterday at 3:13 PM
Call for Submissions: Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art http://t.co/aHY0mnUmdj
yesterday at 11:03 AM
Last Week on Jadaliyya (August 25-31) http://t.co/hHrD9k6F9m
yesterday at 7:18 AM