[Marxism] Fwd: Nationalism, resistance and revolution – International Socialism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 20 07:24:31 MST 2016

Nationalism, resistance and revolution
by Bassem Chit

The reduction of current struggles in Lebanon and Syria in particular, 
and across the Middle East in general, to purely abstract nationalistic, 
sectarian and “identitarian” dimensions is one of the dominating 
features of the analytical and methodical logic of the Arab nationalist 
and Stalinist left.1 Their analysis fails to consider the social 
structures involved and their contradictions, the ideological engines 
powering such national or sectarian identities. Nor does it take into 
account the crises that they experience, in particular those imposed by 
the revolutionary process; a process that is ongoing despite its 
fluctuations and fractures.

The methodology of the Arab nationalist and Stalinist left sees the 
situation in the Middle East and in the Lebanese and Syrian region in 
particular, through the lens of antagonistic binaries and approaches 
society and its contradictions through a set of predetermined cultural 
and national/religious identities. Therefore we hear of “Sunni-Shia 
strife”, the Oriental culture, Arabs, the West, Orientalism, identity 
crisis, sectarian rule, Christians, Muslims, etc. According to such 
characterisations, these identities are treated as independent 
structures and established entities that interact among themselves in a 
relationship of convergence, divergence and struggle on the local, 
regional and international theatres of the shifting balance of power.

The movements of the masses are therefore evaluated according to their 
closeness to a particular regional or international alliance and their 
distance from another. The “resistance” axis is said to include Iran and 
Syria, and is supported by Russia. An opposing 
“American-Zionist-Takfiri”2 axis is viewed as being backed by the US and 
includes regimes like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. A mass movement is 
subsequently legitimised or de-legitimised according to where it stands 
in the struggle between these axes. The ongoing struggle is pictured as 
a struggle between identities that are legitimised by the political 
language used to describe them, regardless of how genuine these entities 
themselves are, particularly in the face of the revolutionary 
transformations that govern the situation today.

The Stalinist and Arab nationalist left have never seen beyond the 
milestone of national struggle and national liberation to which, in 
spite of their importance and necessity, the revolution cannot be 
restricted. This perspective on the revolution is invoked by the 
language used to describe it. Herein lies the essential problem: are we 
seeing the revolutionary process, on the one hand, through its actual 
reality, in other words through the context that gave birth to it and 
the contradictions characterising that context; or, on the other hand, 
evaluating it based on a theoretical assumption that has never been able 
to concede that the Arab or non-Arab individual in this region cannot be 
exclusively reduced to his or her national identity?

full: http://isj.org.uk/nationalism-resistance-and-revolution/

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