[Marxism] John Rees versus Richard Seymour/Simon Assaf on

En Passant with John Passant en.passant at bigpond.com
Wed Aug 1 17:40:42 MDT 2012

John Rees' article was a very interesting and informative piece on Syria. What worries me however is that he has criticises Richard Seymour and Alex Callinicos for an argument they don't actually make.

As I read them, Richard and Alex were rebutting the knee-jerk 'anti-imperialist' left that supports Assad because he is supposedly 'anti-imperialist'. This knee-jerk position is one John himself attacks. 

Did Richard and Alex then fall into the trap of becoming starry eyed supporters of an undifferentiated Syrian revolution? No. They recognise, as John does, the dangers of imperialist intervention in Syria. 

They are searching for an answer to the question so well posed by Richard: 'how to support a democratic resistance movement without giving carte blanche to those who want to hijack it?'

And I think John's response is almost on the money when he says that the straightforward answer to Richard's question '...would seem to be: make it clear that we are opposed to Assad but also opposed to Western intervention and, this is only logical but seems to be contested, also oppose those within the Syrian revolution who are calling for and taking arms from Western imperialism.'

I would add one qualification. Revolutionaries in some circumstances can take arms from imperialism without that being imperialist influence or intervention in fact. Western imperialism may want it to be, but that necessarily doesn't make it so.

I thought Alex's piece such a cogent response to the knee jerk anti-imperialist brigade that I reposted it on my blog. I think John's piece an important contribution to the debate as well. So much so I'd like to re-post it on my blog too. If John is reading this, he might like to contact me to discuss doing that. 

John Passant

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