[Marxism] regarding Russian air strikes

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Oct 1 12:49:42 MDT 2015

On 10/1/15 2:34 PM, Ron Jacobs via Marxism wrote:
> this is just absurd, Clay.  For one thing, they were Marxist.  For another
> thing, they weren't being supported by the OSS as soon as their use to
> Washington was done and, for another thing, they were fighting the US
> military and its puppet regime in Saigon, not trying to set one up.

Look, let's cut the baloney.

The world is divided into two blocs of capitalist nations--one 
headquartered in Washington and the other in Moscow. If you are in a 
country that is part of the Moscow bloc, where the hell are you supposed 
to get weapons? From Venezuela? Cuba? What are the chances that someone 
in Homs could talk a Chavista colonel into shipping them some MANPAD's?

It is only natural that you would turn to the USA or one of the states 
that are allied with it such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Qatar (even 
though they are also acting on their own Sunni sectarian motives). Did 
Ron expect them to rely totally on weapons they confiscated from 
Baathist munitions storehouses they overran?

In 1914 M.N. Roy, the founder of the Mexican Communist Party and later 
the Communist Party of India, approached the German imperialists for 
arms. Later on, an Indian nationalist named Subhas Chandra Bose lined up 
support from Adolph Hitler against the British. Unlike Roy, Bose was not 
a socialist but his cause was just.

Finally, there is every evidence that the Syrian rebels had the 
intention of building grass roots democracy every bit as legitimate as 
the Kurds in Rojave. It was absolutely disgusting that at the time it 
was moving in this direction, "anti-imperialists" had talked themselves 
into believing that they were no different than Jonah Savimbi or Adolfo 

The best article describing this process was written by Anand Gopal for 
Harpers in August 2013. I reviewed his excellent book on Afghanistan for 
CP a while back.

I am pretty sure that his article is not behind a paywall 
(http://harpers.org/archive/2012/08/welcome-to-free-syria/) but here is 
the takeaway:

Matar brought me to a mosque that sits next to one of the mass graves. 
Inside, there were heaps of clothes, boxes of Turkish biscuits, and 
crates of bottled water. An old bald man with a walrus mustache studied 
a ledger with intensity while a group of old men around him argued about 
how much charity they could demand from Taftanaz’s rich to rebuild the 
town. This was the public-affairs committee, one of the village’s 
revolutionary councils. The mustached man slammed his hands on the floor 
and shouted, “This is a revolution of the poor! The rich will have to 
accept that.” He turned to me and explained, “We’ve gone to every house 
in town and determined what they need”—he pointed at the ledger—“and 
compared it with what donations come in. Everything gets recorded and 
can be seen by the public.”

All around Taftanaz, amid the destruction, rebel councils like this were 
meeting—twenty-seven in all, and each of them had elected a delegate to 
sit on the citywide council. They were a sign of a deeper transformation 
that the revolution had wrought in Syria: Bashar al-Assad once subdued 
small towns like these with an impressive apparatus of secret police, 
party hacks, and yes-men; now such control was impossible without an 
occupation. The Syrian army, however, lacked the numbers to control the 
hinterlands—it entered, fought, and moved on to the next target. There 
could be no return to the status quo, it seemed, even if the way forward 
was unclear.

In the neighboring town of Binnish, I visited the farmers’ council, a 
body of about a thousand members that set grain prices and adjudicated 
land disputes. Its leader, an old man I’ll call Abdul Hakim, explained 
to me that before the revolution, farmers were forced to sell grain to 
the government at a price that barely covered the cost of production. 
Following the uprising, the farmers tried to sell directly to the town 
at almost double the former rates. But locals balked and complained to 
the citywide council, which then mandated a return to the old 
prices—which has the farmers disgruntled, but Hakim acknowledged that in 
this revolution, “we have to give to each as he needs.”

It was a phrase I heard many times, even from landowners and merchants 
who might otherwise bristle at the revolution’s egalitarian 
rhetoric—they cannot ignore that many on the front lines come from 
society’s bottom rungs. At one point in March, the citywide council 
enforced price controls on rice and heating oil, undoing, locally, the 
most unpopular economic reforms of the previous decade.

“We have to take from the rich in our village and give to the poor,” 
Matar told me. He had joined the Taftanaz student committee, the council 
that plans protests and distributes propaganda, and before April 3 he 
had helped produce the town’s newspaper, Revolutionary Words. Each week, 
council members laid out the text and photos on old laptops, sneaked the 
files into Turkey for printing, and smuggled the finished bundles back 
into Syria. The newspaper featured everything from frontline reporting 
to disquisitions on revolutionary morality to histories of the French 
Revolution. (“This is not an intellectual’s revolution,” Matar said. 
“This is a popular revolution. We need to give people ideas, theory.”)

Most opposition towns elect a delegate to one of the fifty or so 
district-wide councils across the country. At the next level up is the 
Syrian Revolution General Command, the closest thing to a nationwide 
revolutionary institution. It claims to represent 70 percent of the 
district-wide councils. The SRGC coordinates protests and occasionally 
gives the movement political direction: activists in Taftanaz told me 
that they sometimes followed its suggestions concerning their publications.

More information about the Marxism mailing list