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The international left on the Syrian civil war

(The article is from 2013)

Infantile character of the international left can be seen through its coverage (or lack of such) of the Syrian civil war and the looming U.S. intervention.

The most interesting article on Syria I have found through http://www.occupy.com/ The site carried a link to an English translation of a statement, made on 31 August 2013, by Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt) - Revolutionary Left Current (Syria) - Union of Communists (Iraq) - Al-Mounadil-a (Morocco) - Socialist Forum (Lebanon) - League of the Workers' Left (Tunisia). All of these are Arabic organizations which see themselves as "revolutionary socialist Marxists". Hence, they are a mile apart from "left" of imperialist countries.

First, we find that Saudi Arabia and Qatar attempt to control the revolution in Syria by subsidizing groups that carry out "sharia law" (for more info and photos, read here). 

Second, and perhaps most important statement, we find that "traditional Arab left" has Stalinist roots, and hence is biased towards the Assad regime. This is most important, as it goes to characterize Putin regime, which is a principal supporter of the Assad regime on the world arena. This is also a neo-Stalinist regime, not "imperialism", as the Arab "Marxists" claim

Third, the slogan put forward by the "revolutionary socialist Marxists", at the end of their article: 

"Break open the arms depots for the Syrian people to struggle for freedom, dignity, and social justice"

is doubtful because there is no party able to lead  and organize the struggle of people against the Islamists and the  centrist regime of Assad.

Finally, the article contains a hint as what appears to be the main international dimension of the Syrian civil war: the struggle between Russia and the United States. However, this point was much more clearly expressed in the newspaper of the U.S. establishment, "The Washington Post":

"The four big reasons that Russia wants to protect Assad, the importance of which vary depending on whom you ask, are: (1) Russia has a naval installation in Syria, which is strategically important and Russia’s last foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union; (2) Russia still has a bit of a Cold War mentality, as well as a touch of national insecurity, which makes it care very much about maintaining one of its last military alliances; (3) Russia also hates the idea of “international intervention” against countries like Syria because it sees this as Cold War-style Western imperialism and ultimately a threat to Russia; (4) Syria buys a lot of Russian military exports, and Russia needs the money."

Clearly, this war is not about money, but it's about strategic maneuvering in anticipation of a new World War.

The second best article I have found on Syrian civil war is written by the Socialist Party of Great Britain. I have quoted from it extensively when writing on the nature of the Assad regime. However, in the conclusion, they see only a capitalist alternative:

"For the Syrian working class the best likely outcome in present circumstances from an ending of the civil war is a bourgeois capitalist liberal democracy and at worst an Islamic fundamentalist reactionary theocracy. Any group replacing the Assad regime will have to continue to run Syrian capitalism for the benefit of the Syrian capitalist class".

On "Revolutionary Left" forum, I have read a reprint of a work of a leader of World Socialist Web Forum David North and Alex Lantier, Why the U.S. is waging war against Syria”. This is a simplistic, abstract account. Reasons given for attack:

1. "From a geopolitical standpoint, the long-planned war against Syria is yet another step in Washington’s campaign, since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, to secure its global dominance through military force". We're left with the question: why is the U.S. taking this step in Syria?

2. "Economically, world capitalism is in the fifth year of its deepest crisis since the Great Depression, producing economic stagnation, mass unemployment, and a relentless collapse of living standards. The ever more desperate economic situation—with deepening debts, debased currencies, and intensifying international competition—drives ever more reckless and violent foreign policies". Is it really "a fifth year" in the "recession"? And what happened after 9/11/2001? And was the U.S. economy well off before that? And what is the connection between economic situation and "violent foreign policies"?

Another similar article is published by Socialist Workers' Party of USA. It is called "Hands off Syria!" We hear stale phrases like "The capitalist rulers of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and other imperialist powers are the deadly enemy of working people at home and abroad". Seems like these "socialists" of the U.S. have learned this "mantra", and repeat it ad infinitum.

At "Post-Global Initiative" there is also a "Statement on the Situation in Syria", dated 5th September, 2013.

First, they demand “outside powers” to refrain from bombing Syria. Who are the “outside powers”? These "post-globalists" are afraid to point their finger at the U.S., although this is no secret. Perhaps, such diplomatic language is  explained by the funding of the "post-globalists".

Second, they propose a pacifist solution:

"All outside forces who have contributed to the conflict in Syria should now make commitments to not only support an inclusive peace process to include financial commitments to help in the rebuilding of Syrian society and healing the wounds of war. Such a meeting should consider establishing a working framework for convening all parties involved in this conflict, Arab countries, Iran, Turkey, other states and all members of the different opposition groups collectively referred to as the “Syrian Opposition.”

At "Occupy" we also find essentially pacifist, non-interventionist point of view, for example this article about Syrian refugees. Occupy clearly notes the failure of mass demonstrations to stop an imperialist war. This explains why so few people come to anti-war rallies. Photo below: anti-war rally in New York, 31 August, 2013.

But who is willing to adopt Lenin's attitude to an imperialist war? This consists in turning an imperialist war into a civil war. For "Occupy" this means war against the U.S. government.

At "Occupy" there is an effort to organize against the war on international scale. For example, they publish a map of rallies to be held around the world against the U.S. invasion. But, one reader asks:

“I can say straight from experience protest alone will not stop the U.S. from making war. We need to supplement our protest with stronger threats and measures. May we also organize in the event of the US expanding the war in Syria (as if they don't now have their dirty fingers in it) union organized strikes, people staying home from work, pulling money out of stock markets and other investments, closing up shops for a few days, petitions to Congress that no person voting for war will be voted for when re-election time comes, and other real and symbolic measures which may effectively cause those stoking for war to rethink their plans”.

Clearly, these are pacifist, petty-bourgeois methods: "pulling money out of stock markets", "closing up shops for a few days", and other "symbolic measure". 

Arabic channel Al-Jazeera, http://www.aljazeera.com provides a good factual coverage, but "hold their tongue", when it comes to passing a judgment on imperialism. They occupy the same centrist position as the Assad regime.

The Russian site, edited by Boris Kagarlitsky, "Rabkor" (Worker's Correspondent), limits itself to retelling the major network news. Thus, we're provided with secondary or tertiary information, and who needs that when we can go to BBC or Al-Jazeera first hand?

Ukrainian left sites are simply provincial. One site - "Borot'ba" - carried an announcement of an protest near an American embassy in Kiev on 5th September, 2013, after it has happened. But what do you expect of former "communists"? Photo below: a rally near American embassy in Kiev. Activists are holding flags of "Borot'ba". 

Conclusion:

In the present, the Arab Marxist organizations provide the best coverage of the conflict in Syria. However, their "Marxist" analysis is muddled by false understanding of the USSR. These are essentially Stalinist organizations. 

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