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A Close Look at the Syrian Revolution (An Anarchist among Jihadists)

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://www.anarkismo.net/article/24221 A close look at the Syrian revolution An
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7, 2012
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      A close look at the Syrian revolution
      An Anarchist among jihadists

      This could to some extent tell my situation when I was inside the
      "liberated territories" of Syria, that is the territories controlled by
      the free army, the armed forces of the Syrian opposition. But still it
      is not the whole truth. It is true that not all the free army militants
      are devoted jihadists, although most of them think, or say, that what
      they are practising is "Jihad". The truth is there are a lot of ordinary
      people, even thieves, etc. among them, as in any armed struggle.

      My first and lasting impression about the current situation in Syria in
      that there is no more a popular revolution going on there; what is
      taking place there is an armed revolution that could degenerate simply
      into a civil conflict. The Syrian people, which has shown unprecedented
      courage and determination in the first few months of the revolution in
      defying Assad's regime despite all its brutality, is really exhausted
      now. 19 long months of fierce repression and lately of hunger,
      widespread scarcity and continuous bombardment by the regime's army, is
      weakening its spirit. Cynically, the beneficiary of all these hasn't
      been the regime, but the opposition, especially the Islamists. Depending
      on its international relationships, especially with the rich Gulf
      despotic governments, the opposition now can feed and support the hungry
      population in the areas controlled by its forces. Without such support,
      a grave humanitarian situation could be taking place.

      But this support is not provided for free, neither by the Gulf rulers,
      nor by the opposition leaders. They are, like any other authoritarian
      force, asking the masses for submission and obedience. This in fact
      could only mean the real death of the Syrian revolution as a courageous
      popular act of the Syrian masses. Yes, I helped some jihadists to
      survive [1] and others to go back to fight; but my real intention was to
      help the masses I belong to, firstly as a physician, and secondly, as an
      anarchist .

      To tell the truth, I don't think that our problem is with Islam itself.
      Islam can also be egalitarian, or even anarchistic. In the history of
      Islam there have been scholars who called for a stateless and free
      Muslim society, even a free universe without any sort of authority. The
      problem with what is happening now in Syria is not only the difficult
      and bloody process of changing a ruthless dictatorship, but might even
      be worse: substituting it with another dictatorship, which could be
      worse and bloodier. Early in the revolution, a small number of people,
      mainly devoted Islamists, claimed to represent the revolting masses and
      self-appointed themselves to be the true revolutionaries, the true
      representative of the revolution. This went unchallenged by the
      mainstream of the revolutionary masses and intellectuals. We did oppose
      such authoritarian and even false claims, but we were, and still are,
      too few to make any real difference.

      These people claimed that what was taking place was a religious war, not
      a mere revolution of oppressed masses against their oppressor. They very
      aggressively used the fact that the oppressor was from another sect of
      Islam, different from the sect of the majority of the people he is
      exploiting, a sect that has frequently been judged by Sunni scholars in
      the past to be against the teachings of true Islam, which is even worse
      than non-Muslims. We were shocked by the fact that the majority of
      Alawis, the sect of the current dictator, who are poorer and more
      marginalized than the Sunni majority, did support the regime; and that
      they were participating in his brutal suppression of the revolting
      masses. This came as "evidence" of the "actual religious war" taking
      place between Sunni and Alawis. And in this regard these people could
      really claim to be the real Sunni; they are Muslim scholars and they are
      so sectarian that no one can challenge them in this regard. In fact,
      they built their spiritual and moral authority before the material one.

      Then came the material support from the Gulf rulers. Now the potential
      for any real popular struggle is decreasing rapidly; Syria is governed
      now by weapons; and only those who have them can have a say about its
      present and future. And that is true not only for Assad's regime and its
      Islamic opposition. Everywhere in the Middle East the great hopes are
      disappearing rapidly - in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. The Islamists
      seem to be getting all the benefits of the courageous struggles of the
      masses. And they could easily initiate the process of establishing their
      fanatical rule, without strong opposition from the masses. I could feel
      exactly like Emma Goldman felt in 1922 when she broke with the
      Bolsheviks and finally became disillusioned with their rule. In fact, no
      one in the whole Arab and Muslim world looks closer to the Bolsheviks
      nowadays than the Islamists. Even devoted Stalinists lack the full
      criteria of their ancestors, compared to the Islamists. For a long time
      they were badly repressed by local dictators, used to frighten the
      masses and the West; and because of that might have looked as if they
      were the most decisive part of the opposition to these dictatorships. At
      the same time, they really have the same efficient propaganda machine as
      the Bolsheviks did once. They are so authoritarian and aggressive,
      exactly as the Bolsheviks were during the decisive days of the October
      Revolution. So it seems logical that the Arab peoples opted to try them
      in power, or to accept their rise to power. Even to hope, as the Russian
      workers and peasants did once, that they could really create a better
      and different type of society. In the case of Emma Goldman, she awoke
      very early from such disillusion; for the masses, it took so long to
      realize the truth. Still Emma thought, rightly in my opinion: the masses
      were very right to rise up and try to change their miserable reality,
      the big "mistake", if it could be described as a mistake, was made by
      the authoritarian forces which sought to hijack the revolution. We still
      support the revolution, not its false "leaders".

      Building the libertarian alternative: Anarchist propaganda and organization

      The other issue that I think is so important for us, Arab anarchists and
      the Arab masses, is how to build the libertarian alternative: that is,
      how to initiate an effective anarchist or libertarian propaganda and how
      to build libertarian organizations. To tell the truth, I have never
      tried to convince anyone to be anarchist before. I have opted only for
      free dialogue between "equals" with everyone. I have never claimed that
      I know everything or that any anarchist or any other human being deserve
      to be the "guide" or the "leader" of others, that anyone deserve to be
      in the same position as the Pope, Muslim imams or the general secretary
      of any Stalinist or Leninist party. I have always thought that trying to
      affect others is another way to practice authority upon them. But now I
      see this issue from another perspective: it is all about making
      anarchism "available" or known to all those who want to fight any
      oppressing authority whose repression they are suffering from; be they
      workers, the unemployed, students, feminists, the youth or ethnic and
      religious minorities, etc. It is about trying to build an example or
      sample of the new free life in the body of a free or libertarian
      organisation; not only as a living manifestation of its potential
      presence, but also as a MEANS to achieve that society.

      We have to make anarchism well known to all the slaves and victims of
      all the current suppressive systems and authorities. EFFECTIVE ANARCHIST
      PROPAGANDA is, I think, the first aim of such organizations. In a word,
      we are witnesses of the bankruptcy of the "secular" authoritarian trends
      (including the nationalist and Arab–nationalist, Stalinist and other
      verities of Leninism), and very soon the bankruptcy of the authoritarian
      religious ones. The future alternative should be, logically, a
      libertarian one. Of course, anarchism cannot be implanted artificially -
      it must be a "natural" product of the local masses' struggles. But still
      it will need good care and to be properly highlighted. This will be,
      supposedly, the role of our propaganda. Still there will be no "center"
      in our organisation, no bureaucracy, but still it is supposed to be as
      effective as its authoritarian counterparts, or even more efficient.
      Still our Stalin or Bonaparte is not in power, still the Syrian masses
      have the opportunity to get a better outcome than that of the Russian
      revolution. It is very true that this is difficult and is becoming more
      so every minute, but the revolution itself was a miracle, and on this
      earth the oppressed can create their miracles from time to time. This
      time also, we, Syrian anarchists, are putting all our cards and all our
      efforts with the masses. It could be no other way, or we would not
      deserve our libertarian name.


      [1] I want here to give some details about this. In fact it wasn't easy
      for me to be among Jihadists, but for some reason, it wasn't the same to
      treat them as a doctor. For me, I was so clear - since the first moment
      I entered that front hospital where I was working - that I would treat
      anyone who needed my help, be they civilians, fighters from any group
      and religion or sect; and I was so convinced that no one could be
      mistreated inside that hospital, even if they were from Assad's army. I
      will insist here that my real problem, and that of the oppressed in
      general I think, is not with god himself, but with human beings who act
      as gods, who are so sick with authority that they think and act like
      gods, be they secular dictators like Assad or Islamic imams, etc. God
      himself is never as deadly dangerous as those who "speak" for him.

      Dan Clore

      New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
      in charge on this island?
      Professor: Why, no one.
      Skipper: No one?
      Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
      -- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"
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