Whither goeth the left? Syria will decide.
The left has been in sustained crisis for nearly forty years now–since the end of the Vietnam War really. It has long been divided & factional but for nearly 100 years the decisive rifts have always involved war & where you stood. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that a crisis is emerging so sharply among progressives about where you stand on Assad, on Syria, & on foreign military intervention.
Partially, the problem is reliable media sources of information in a complex situation; partly it’s the theoretical bankruptcy of celebrity left leaders who appear to be coasting on memes rather than political scholarship; & partly it’s the debating style of leftists who ridicule & taunt opposing views rather than politically anatomize them. Macho one-up–man-ship has replaced sharp, coherent analysis.
Quite frankly, most of us don’t know squat about the organizational & military character of ISIS. It’s very difficult to unravel the political character of the Syrian popular militias & who is arming them. Most of us can’t agree on who is actually bombing Syria or whether those bombers are going after Assad or ISIS of civilians.
But one thing is clear & that is Syria is a watershed moment for progressives–socialist & others. How we are responding, including the theoretical methods we use to understand, are creating rifts & divisions from which there will be no rapprochement–but from which many young people will learn & will emerge as new theoretical & political leaders to replace those veterans who substitute assiduous analysis with strutting. As it stands today, there is no left on Syria but only a cacophony of competing rationalizations depending on which military you support.
What’s going on in Syria is complex & confusing. Antiwar activists need to understand if this is, as some allege, a regime change situation like the US in Iraq & Libya–& if so, what can we do about it without supporting the dictatorship of Assad. There needs to be discussion on this, not snide, smart-aleck repartee where analysis is required.
But there are some red alerts that should be noted in the ongoing cacophony that can hardly be called a debate: If you support the Assad regime & sneer at the popular revolution against him, you might be a redneck. If you support or advocate military intervention by any regime for or against Assad, you might be a redneck. If you take Russian propaganda like RT as the gospel truth & sneer at the testimony of Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, & other Syrian human rights groups, you might be a redneck. If you vilify first responders digging through rubble to rescue civilians & slander them as al-Qaeda, you might be worse than a redneck. If you slander the deceased Jo Cox as al-Qaeda for supporting those first responders, you might as well bend over & kiss your ass good-bye as a progressive.
Photo is (r) Syrian child suffering white phosphorous burns & (l) rain of white phosphorous from Russian bombers from FB wall of Syrian Organization for the Defense of Human Rights.
The historic imperative remains: rebuild the international antiwar movement.