A propagandist-in-chief's war on intellectual imperialism and pursuit of a resistance episteme

Posts Tagged: revolution

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We saw it in Syria and now we are witnessing it again in Ukraine and Venezuela; namely, using the politics of protest to engineer anti-democractic movements which seek to overthrow popular and/or elected governments in the name of democratic freedoms. And we aren’t merely talking about undemocratic groups here, but anti-democractic movements which are opposed in principle to democracy (takfiris and jihadis in Syria; right-wing fascists in Ukraine; reactionary neo-liberals in Venezuela). In all these cases, governments are being rebuked, pressured and sanctioned for exercising their constitutionally prescribed and universally recognized duty to maintain law and order and to protect national security, public safety and national unity. And as we witnessed in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring”, democracy and revolution are now redefined in the public imagination as any popular outpouring of anger irrespective of the nature of its demands, the medium through which it is expressed, or its intersection with the interests of global capital.

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Thanks to imperialism and its proxies, the concepts of “terrorism” and “revolution” have become completely inane terms bereft of any meaning. When freedom- fighting resistance movements become terrorists and nihilistic terrorists became revolutionaries, is it really all that shocking that the Saudi regime feels it too is entitled to stretch the definition of terrorism to include such subversive activity as defying driving laws if you are a woman? It’s only a matter of time before these catchall concepts are sandwhiched between “cray-cray” and “YOLO” in Urban Dictionary.

Full story on Saudi’s new “counter-terrorism” laws here

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Aside from developments in Syria and Libya, nothing showcases the complete bankruptcy of “Arab Spring” discourses in media, academia and policy-making circles, or calls for a redefinition of the concepts/Western buzzwords of revolution, democracy and moderation, as much as the millions of Egyptian protesters today who are staging a “Tamarod” or rebellion against [the results of] the “revolution”, calling for the overthrow of their “democratically” elected regime, and denouncing the religious intolerance and sectarianism of the so-called “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood.

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Much has been written about what a misnomer it is to call the Syrian uprising-cum-proxy war a “revolution”. However, many [pseudo] leftists in the opposition camp insist that our labeling of their movement as counter-revolutionary is simply an emotionally-informed opinion and not a scientific analysis. I challenge any leftist supporter of the opposition to deconstruct the concept of revolution using a Marxist definition and a scientific socialist methodology as I did for my class today in this simplistic manner and see if they can reach any other conclusion:

-Revolutions entail change from one social system or economic mode of production to another, which is accompanied by political change. Revolutions cannot, by [Marxist] definition just be political, which is little more than regime change.  

-Capitalism is the dominant economic system in the world today; Imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism. The US is the leading capitalist, imperialist power in the world today.

-Any movement that resists or seeks to overthrow this global status quo is ipso fact revolutionary.

-Any movement that is not merely supported, but sponsored, financed and controlled by the hegemonic capitalist, imperialist power, ipso facto becomes a movement that serves the world order and hence the status quo.  

-When such capitalist-imperialist-sponsored movements actively seek to overthrow governments that defy the US, and have hence revolted against the world order, these movements effectively become counter-revolutionary and regressive forces which serve imperialism. And this is without factoring in even more reactionary Salafi-Takfiri and Wahhabi forces who are anathema to socialism.

Addendum to my class lecture: let’s add to that the Syrian National Coalition’s recent threats to boycott international meetings, in an attempt to blackmail the US and western powers into “taking action” on Syria— i.e. to increase the scope of western military intervention. The Syrian opposition emerges as a movement which is not merely counter-revolutionary as per the above definition, but an unabashed proxy force eager to be promoted to a satellite state which it aspires to build on the ruins of the Syrian state that it hopes its capitalist-imperialist masters will destroy on its behalf.

No leftist can support such a movement without defying the most basic Marxist premises and/or indulging in self-delusion.

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Viva la Revolucion! Viva la Resistencia!

Viva la Revolucion! Viva la Resistencia!

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"When revolution, alternative media, leftist intellectuals and hacktivism are mainstreamed, and dissent itself is reduced to just another site for domination, revolutionary struggle becomes one of resisting “revolution”, hacking the hacktivists, countering the so-called counter-hegemonists and above all, blaspheming against the new “protest” orthodoxy."

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I am posting here an excerpt which I had written for my last article for al-Akhbar, “Supporting Resistance, Not Regime” , but which was edited out by the editors due to space constraints. I feel this passage is important to the consistency of my argument as a few comrades asked why the conclusion seemed incomplete. So here is the relevant section on Lenin and Hizbullah’s understanding of revolutionary action:

As underlined by David Fennell in his illuminating essay on counter-revolution in Libya, “Marxism understands that anything is determined by the totality of the forces acting in it.” Fennell goes on to quote Lenin’s definition of totality as one which takes account “of all the forces, groups, parties, classes and masses operating in a given country’.” In other words, when formulating a political position, an analysis of the working class’ situation alone does not suffice, but must involve all social contradictions, with special emphasis on social contradictions which occur on the world system’s level.

Particularly useful for understanding the basic contradiction on Syria between pro-opposition and Third Way intellectuals and resistance camp intellectuals, is the following insight from Fennell’s essay. Here, Fennell attributes leftist support for popular movements hijacked by imperialism “to a non-Marxist theory which sees the class struggle not as resulting from the total contradictions of all classes in society but from some sort of populist unfolding of the masses – put vulgarly, if people are on a demonstration, or if there is a mass movement, it must necessarily be progressive. Regrettably this is not true – as Marx analyzed from the 1848 revolutions onward. It is perfectly possible to have large movements which are either reactionary from the beginning or seized control of and manipulated by reaction and imperialism. It is not the fact that a lot of people are involved that makes a movement progressive, but which class benefits from its victory or defeat.”

While Hizbullah does not espouse a Marxist- Leninist political ideology, it adopts a similar logic not only with regard to Syria, but also to its own resistance activity. Although it is a grass-roots movement which enjoys popular support in Lebanon and the region as a whole, as Nasrallah readily admits, it is also aware that its resistance is “a controversial national issue” which was never “an object of national consensus”. Popular legitimacy is no doubt desirable for the movement, but it is not necessary: “the resistance does not wait for national or popular consensus but must take to arms and press ahead with the duty of liberation.” Viewed from this perspective, resistance isn’t a right because it is launched by “the people” or because it enjoys mass support, but because it seeks to liberate the oppressed. By the same token, if a movement were to hypothetically enjoy some kind of national consensus, but was positioned on the same side of the political divide as imperialism, it would not qualify as a progressive revolutionary movement as its victory would only serve the interests of the Empire.

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"Let us suspend all moral judgment of Bashar al-Assad for one moment and assume (for argument’s sake) that he is the devil incarnate and deserves as much, if not more, blame than the opposition. Let us assume he has been of no value to the Palestinian cause and resistance. I am only interested here in the result this “revolution” has had on human lives: was there sectarian strife, an upsurge in Salafi-Takfiri jihadism, weekly al-Qaeda terrorism, civil war and massacres before this uprising? I am guessing no. But hey, congratulations on your revolution anyway."

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The clashes of yesterday and the sectarian rabble-rousing since warrant a comparison between the Future Movement’s thuggish and demagogic response to   Sheikh Ahmed Abdul-Wahid’s killing and Hizbullah’s response to a similar incident against its own supporters on January 30, 2008. At the time, the Lebanese Army fired and killed 9 of Hizbullah’s Shiíte supporters who were protesting the government’s electricity cuts. Two army officers and 11 soldiers were later charged with the killings. Here is a 2008 report about the incident:

"LAF commander General Michel Suleiman, along with his intelligence chief Brigadier George Khoury, met with Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah late Monday night to offer their condolences on those killed in Sunday’s riots.

A Hizbullah statement issued Tuesday said the army commander stressed that “serious and comprehensive investigations into Sunday’s events in Mar Mikhael have begun and that the investigation will be transparent and unambiguous and precisely determine culpability.”

The statement said that Nasrallah in turn stressed the need for a rapid, serious and comprehensive investigation away from pressures and politicization.”


In an interview on OTV on February 6, 2008, Nasrallah took the following position:

"We are still following the investigations which have been ongoing in a serious and satisfying way. We do not want people to be randomly held responsible. We want facts and for the responsibilities to be defined. What happened is not permissible and I said that to General Suleiman. There were many similar incidents which were dealt with differently. Therefore, investigations should be conducted to see whether or not there were bad intentions. I cannot make any accusations which is why we need the investigations. Assuming that this action was not spontaneous and that Hezbollah and Amal did send this group to take to the streets, this doesn’t change anything to the facts." 

True to formHizbullah did not bring the country to the brink of a civil war. In fact, there was no rioting or even protesting after the killings, no delegitimization of the Army’s authority, no calls to form a Free Lebanon Army, no sectarian agitation, no blame thrown at the Future Movement, no calls for the dethronement of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Case closed. 

Now that is the difference between a leadership and movement which fights for a cause and one which has to exploit sectarian sentiments to compensate for its lack of a cause. That is the difference between a movement which seeks national unity and stability, and one which seeks to please its American-Saudi masters at the expense of Lebanon’s national unity ans stability. That is the difference between the resistance axis and the US-Israel-NATO-GCC axis. That is the difference between Resistance and “[pseudo]Revolution”

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""They hijacked our revolution!" they complain. Here’s the thing: real revolutions are never hijacked, only fought, isolated, pressured, blacklisted and sanctioned. And if you accept that Amerika leads the world order then having it on your side surely means that your "revolution" serves to perpetuate that world order. Unless the definition of revolution has come to mean preserving or further entrenching the status-quo, you are the antithesis of revolution; the counter-revolution no less."

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"So lets take the Syrian oppositionists’ argument to its logical conclusion: those who reject the Syrian “revolution” are ipso facto counter-revolutionaries. So the Resistance which has been revolting against the imperialist-Zionist world order for the past 30 years, and sacrificing thousands of its mujahideen in the process, is counter-revolutionary because it refuses to see the imperialist-Zionist-Arab reactionary- led War on Syria as a revolution."

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Not too far-fetched any more….

Not too far-fetched any more….

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