Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 21, 2019

Mea Máxima Culpa

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 9:51 pm

These men and women — Westerners all3 — refused to see that Syria under Assad was the privatised domain of ‘an intellectually, politically and ethically degenerate junta’, one that stole a nation’s wealth by means of obscene and aggressive cronyism and a ‘neoliberal [and] authoritarian development model’.4 They refused to see that the junta was cynically sectarian, having favoured Alawites from its inception and sown mistrust among the rest of the population, purely so as to stiffen its totalitarian grip on power and make any form of resistance to it impossible. And they, like me, were wilfully blind to the fact that the dirty work of Assad’s ruling caste of gangsters was performed by the mukhabarat, ‘an occupying army… that [had] thoroughly penetrated society with violence, hostility and an almost racist supremacy.’5 In short, then, these propagandists could see no reason — except perhaps the CIA — why the people of Syria might have risen up to demand reforms in the spring of 2011.

Once the uprising had entered its third phase, in about summer 2012, the likes of Robert Fisk — who hypocritically embedded himself with an arm of the Assadist killing machine — seemed far more eager to denounce the shadow of Salafist-jihadism than the regime whose nihilism cast it.6 In doing so — in employing the language of the ‘War on Terror’ — Fisk and others aligned themselves neatly with the neocons and Israeli officials they always professed to despise. Never mind that Assad, who’d played host to many an ‘extraordinary rendition’, didn’t give a damn about Palestine; that Palestinians themselves — in the West Bank and in Gaza — were fully cognizant of this; that in time, pro-Assad forces came to obliterate Yarmouk, killing Palestinian refugees in the process.

More to the point, the ability of Fisk and Pilger, Cockburn and the Grayzone gang, to make causal connections between state policy and instances of terror — in other words, to mobilise the logic of ‘blowback’ — appeared to desert them when it came to the war in Syria. In reality, of course, there were several concrete reasons for the emergence and success of Salafist-jihadists in parts of the burning country.

If you deny a people a civic sphere, disappear their loved ones, systematically immiserate and humiliate them, then in their hopelessness they might — just might — seek refuge in religion.7 If you abuse Islamist prisoners daily for decades, as the father did at Tadmur, and subsequently release them en masse, as the son did in 2011, then you have knowingly supplied the loom with which Daesh et al will weave their sinister black banners. And if, on top of all of that, you subject a population to years and years of ‘continuous, horrifying violence’,8 including but not limited to shelling, torture, rape and dispossession, then of course conditions will be ripe for the irruption of ‘a religiously-tinged form of nihilism’.9 After all, such nihilism ‘is most likely to be found in a society that no longer trusts any available social mediations’, be they ‘politics, culture, laws and institutions’, or, indeed, the ‘international community’.10 (Such nihilism is also liable to be exploited, as in fact it was in Syria, by foreign actors possessed of their own agendas and lots of lucre.)


via Mea Máxima Culpa

1 Comment »

  1. I don’ t think it is clear that this piece was not written by you or that it comes from another site: I figured that out only because I wanted to look at the footnotes and found the link at the bottom of the text. That said, thank you for posting it.

    Comment by Jed Rosenstein — January 22, 2019 @ 11:03 am

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