[Marxism] Hamid Dabashi, Vijay Prashad, Syria, and the left

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 5 11:46:54 MST 2012

I would like to call your attention to two important articles on 
Syria written by leftist scholars based in the U.S. The first is 
by Hamid Dabashi, an Iranian studies professor in the Department 
of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) at 
Columbia. Formerly known as MEALAC, this department is a bastion 
of anti-imperialist sentiment and closely associated with the 
postcolonial perspective of the late Edward Said. Dabashi’s 
article, titled On Syria: Where the Left is right and the Right is 
wrong, appeared in the February 28 edition of Al Jazeera and 
includes a critique of a wing of the left that has been backing 
“anti-imperialist” dictators in the Middle East that will be 
familiar to my regular readers.

On March 2nd, Vijay Prashad, Professor of International Studies at 
Trinity College in Connecticut, replied to Dabashi in an article 
titled The Left and the People: Extending Hamid Dabashi’s Critique 
that came as a surprise to me after reading it this morning under 
the assumption that he would have been on the opposite side of the 
fence. I had singled Prashad out for criticism in an article I 
wrote back in April 2011 titled The anti-anti-Qaddafi left  and 
expected him to sell the Syrian opposition short even though in 
retrospect I must confess that I was casting my net too wide when 
I linked him with Global Research et al in the first place.

Of course, if I had paid attention to the title of the article to 
begin with, I would have noticed that he was extending Dabashi’s 
critique not attacking it. That will learn me to read more 
carefully in the future, a major challenge given the cataracts I 
have in both eyes and the macular pucker in the left that makes 
reading from it virtually impossible. Furthermore, since the 
article was published in Jadaliyya, a website very close to 
Dabashi’s viewpoint politically (rather than Counterpunch, for 
example), I should have figured out that my expectations were in 


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