[Marxism] For or against the Assad regime ? (Socialist Defeatism)

dan d.koechlin at wanadoo.fr
Thu Aug 23 14:45:02 MDT 2012

Manuel Barrera wrote :
"So, no pox on houses, no struggle except for socialism, religion sucks?"

What is great with Materialist Dialectics is that one must be 
exceedingly careful and intelligent in one's approach to social 
relatiionships within any given nation and indeed the entire human race. 
One can use different lenses in order to fully grasp a conflict, from 
the micro-level to the macro-level. The most important realisation is 
that all the different elements are interconnected and it IS possible to 
gain an understanding of what is going on that fits all the pieces of 
the jigsaw together. An analysis that remains "stuck" on only one level 
of interpretation cannot "move" to complete the dialectical puzzle.

Which is why I welcome your probing into my comments, trying to bring 
out a deeper analysis of the situation in Syria.

"Pox on Houses", meaning I suppose that neither the Montagues or the 
Capulets are in the right, or alternatively that both are wrong, is 
always true whatever the situation : every polity is always self-serving 
and always uses violence and propaganda to keep one social class in 
complete control over the process of production. The Ancient Egyptians 
believed that the Pharaoh was an embodiment of the Sun God, was 
necessary for the harmonious flooding of the Nile and that pyramids 
reflected this fact (well actually, there were periods in which various 
social classes rebelled against the "Natural Order" thus precipitating 
regular "chaotic periods" in this "Hydraulic Theocratic"/ middle Bronze 
Age society).
So on a broad level of analysis, yes, every class-based society in which 
a State is used by one class to subjugate another is by definition an 
obstacle to the emancipation of humankind.

However, history is a constant struggle between various social classes 
for supremacy, and therefore one should be able to determine which of 
these aspirations and social forces will bring about more freedom, 
justice and equality for society as a whole. Marx never shied away from 
expressing preferences (the North was better than the South in the 
American Civil War for example, or "Ireland should become a free state" 
) although his analysis oscillated between "what would bring the 
productive forces of Capitalism to a head faster" and "what would 
benefit society the most".

I don't think MArx himself fully reached a final descision on which 
"leans" to use in all cases. His complicated changes of heart when 
discussing Poland, Ireland, France, Prussia, etc. were brought about by 
a fundamental indecisiveness over whether Capitalism was a progressive 
force in dissolving previous "backward and superstitious" modes of 
production or whether different modes of production (Slavic, 
Asiatic,...) contained elements that Capitalism could not digest.

Marx's changing views on the Irish and Polish question between the 1840s 
and 1880s is interesting. National Bourgeoisie better than Imperialism ? 
Worse ? What about the working class ???

But of course nowadays, the question is not whether a certain polity 
"will accelerate the world-wide process of Capitlaist Accumulation" or 
not. Debates now center on whether a regime delivers more human rights 
than another.
In this respect, I think the Syrian working class will be less 
subjugated to the nepotism of Assad's regime, but will not be empowered 
by a conservative Sunnite regime. On the whole, I guess a change is 
always welcome and can give the working class more "breathing space" to 
have more say in management, although I don't currently see this 
happening in any country (neither US, or EU, or Sunnnite Arab country, 
or Iran, or China). But this is just a result of my being removed from 
the actual scene of social change in the middle East, and therefore, 
unlike Marx, I would be much more careful and humble before delivering 
any judgements.

b) "no struggle except for socialism" : yep, that's a great notion. But 
of course, history doesn't work that way. And conflicts between various 
groups contain progressive and reactionary elements. On a grand scale, 
however, humanity struggling ONLY for self-managment and democratic 
socialism is more appealing in the abstract than the dirty, cruel 
reality in which human beings have to take sides in each individual 
country. IT just doesn't work that way, but let's keep our utopian 
convictions alive (they always come in handy at various junctures).

c. "religion sucks" : Always and everywhere. Sucking the life blood out 
of real human beings. And MArx would agree wholeheartedly with this 
statement. Religion is the product of social development, in which an 
authority figure comes to symbolize the very existence of the real 
producers of wealth (see : Alienation). Religion is to be resolutely 
denounced everywhere, and the fact that vested interests are using 
religion to weaken the working class (especially since the 1970s) should 
make us even more suspicious of the whole concept of a "Daddy in the Sky 
who created us and wants us to stick to a certain way of life or else we 
will be punished severly".

As you can see I haven't answered your question by a YES or NO answer. 
This is because dear Manuel I would like to have your thoughts on the 

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