[Marxism] The Deserving and Undeserving Dead

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Sun Aug 17 18:40:27 MDT 2014

The Deserving and Undeserving Dead

Posted: 08/05/2014 by editor

Aftermath of attacks in Douma, near Damascus. The Assad regime drops 
barrel bombs repeatedly, sometimes just to target those who recover the 
dead and wounded.


In the 19th century, wealthy Western philanthropists wishing to bestow 
their patronage on the less fortunate would first distinguish between 
the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor to decide, in effect, who among 
the poorest, most wretched and powerless ‘deserved’ to eat or starve, 
live or die.
While this concept has largely, thankfully, died out at least towards 
Western peoples, it has since been adopted by Western ideologues and 
others worldwide to distinguish between which non-Western peoples being 
subjugated and slaughtered by oppressive states deserve patronage and a 
show of compassion and which should be dismissed as unworthy of 
empathy – the deserving and undeserving dead.
The ideologues of both the Western left and right base their faux 
compassion on which governments nominally or actually support or oppose 
those states and rulers perpetrating oppression and genocide and in what 
name the oppression and genocide are perpetrated. Broadly speaking, 
liberals and leftists will claim to oppose injustice, oppression and 
genocide as and when they’re backed by Western powers and support them 
when they’re perpetrated and backed by non-Western states, with the 
right inverting this – Western-backed oppression and genocide good, 
non-Western-backed genocide bad.
It’s noteworthy that the stance of the neo-nazi far right is 
indistinguishably aligned with the Stalinist left, sharing the same 
taste for totalitarianism.
In both cases, the subjugated and slaughtered peoples are 
one-dimensional ciphers, existing only to support the ideologues’ and 
activists’ own political views; thus, when Pol Pot’s anti-imperialist 
rhetoric to justify mass oppression and slaughter was swallowed and 
regurgitated by the left, there was not a word of complaint from the 
Western left about the killing fields; only after the covert US support 
for Pol Pot was exposed was there a sudden outpouring of outrage for the 
When Iraqis were killed by US warplanes in the name of a US invasion to 
overthrow Saddam Hussein, the right smeared the victims as terrorists 
while the left professed outrage at the slaughter. Iraqis are still 
being slaughtered in massive numbers by US helicopter gunships, but now 
that these aircraft are bought and used by the Tehran-allied Maliki 
government, the left has lost interest – the subjugation and genocide 
are, as usual, approved or disapproved dependent on the perpetrator’s 
and backers’ identity, and the left’s long love affair with Tehran means 
that there can be no liberal or leftist condemnation of that regime’s 
participation in and sponsorship of repression and mass slaughter, 
either domestic or regional.
Likewise on Palestine, the fact that Israel’s subjugation and oppression 
are primarily backed and sponsored by Western powers means that 
expressing support for Palestinian freedom and horror at Israel’s brutal 
subjugation and slaughter are rightly de rigeur for any liberal or 
leftist, while the political right automatically aligns itself with 
Israel. In both cases, this is only nominally out of any concern or 
interest in the subjugated people being slaughtered by warplanes, who 
simply serve as useful props for either condemning or supporting Western 
governments’ policy, being labelled victims of genocide or terrorists by 
the left or right respectively. If, by some miracle, Russia and China 
were to switch overnight to being Israel’s primary supporters while the 
US proclaimed itself the backer of Palestinian freedom, there is no 
doubt that the vast majority of liberals and leftists would become 
ardent Zionists overnight, while the right would take to the streets for 
Palestinian freedom, despite the actual subjugation and slaughter 
themselves being unchanged.
This is most clearly shown at present in Syria, where the world’s 
liberals and leftists have adopted the same Islamophobic rhetoric they 
properly abhor when deployed by Tel Aviv or Washington to justify a 
totalitarian regime’s genocide which has now been underway for over 
three years. Assad and Tehran, just as adept as any hasbara at prompting 
the hatred of Muslims never far beneath the surface with most Westerners 
fed War on Terror drivel for over 13 years, add a patina of 
anti-imperialist oratory to keep the useful idiots happy in justifying a 
genocidal Nakba unprecedented in the past 65 years. Meanwhile Tel Aviv’s 
supporters on the right, who themselves have no real objection to Assad’s 
genocide continuing, enthusiastically point to the left’s support of 
Assad in order to justify their own backing for Israel’s genocide in 
This monstrous alternate indifference to or exploitation of people’s 
subjugation and slaughter as a political tool is, of course, not limited 
to the Middle East; it can also be seen in North Korea, DRC, Somalia, 
Uzbekistan, Chechnya, Kashmir, Burma, where oppression and slaughter are 
also viewed as ideological tools in an endless point-scoring ideological 
dispute. With Washington having outsourced its endless ‘War on Terror’ 
as a global franchise and the world’s left long ago abandoning the great 
ideals of universal brotherhood, of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité as 
rights for all humankind in favour of selective, expedience-based 
faux-compassion, the bodies of the subjugated and slaughtered peoples 
are reduced to a one-dimensional backdrop for political posturing. 
Reduced to mere ciphers useful for political debate, the dead, both 
‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving,’ are, in the end, ‘collateral damage’ all 

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