“Our hostility is a spreading flame””

Revolution against all governments: Critical reflections on the attitude of the Syrian opposition towards Turkish politics

Posted: July 7th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Syrian Revolution | No Comments »

Translators intro: I chose to translate this text because there aren’t many texts circulating in English critiquing the complicity of the Syrian opposition groups in Turkey with the increasingly authoritarian position of the Turkish government, especially not from an anti-authoritarian perspective. Though I do consider this text to be substantially  anti-authoritarian for its insistance that revolt must not confine itself to a single country or tyrant, the author situates his argument relative to several categories that are essentially authoritarian, particularly “state-building”. Though state-building is often presented as nearly a synonym to “peace-building” and the word “state” is sometimes carelessly used to mean “society”, the author doesn’t get into enough detail on these concepts to allow us to understand them other than literally. That said, “state-building” and “the rule of law” are juxtaposed with radical Islamist groups and “developing citizenship” is presented as an alternative to the sectarianism pushed by meddling foreign states — this is a context for which anarchists in North American or Europe have no comparison. That’s why, in spite of the references to “state-building”, “citizenship”, “rule of law” and rights discourse, I still consider this text to be of interest to anarchists and to anyone interested in understanding grassroots struggle in the Syrian diaspora.

Translated from Tamaroud [At the time of posting, tamaroud.com seems to be offline… text is available in google’s cache]

Some quick critical reflections on the practices of the Syrian revolution, taking its attitude towards Turkish politics as an example:

As a refugee or resident in Turkey, I’m overcome by contradictory feelings when I talk about this country, which has taken in millions of refugees, particularly from Syria and Iraq. Its political elites are engaged in several ongoing regional issues, notably Syria with all its ramifications. What I find striking here is the widespread attitude of support for the Turkish government by a large section of the Syrian opposition located in the territory of this state that seems to defend the cause of the Syrian people. This raises major doubts about the solidity of their values, which have in turn led to popular protests in Syria about the suitability of the opposition and the effect of passing on their views to future generations.

The question is this: why would Syrians in Turkey defend the politics of the Turkish government and justify most of the recent decisions and behaviours of its disgraceful ruling party? Especially as this party sets caution aside to proceed with lightning speed towards a classic form of authoritarianism following the failed coup attempt? Prominent opinion makers in Turkey keep their mouths shut, especially those who find themselves in official positions in the state. Read the rest of this entry »

Introduction to a book by anarchists from Aleppo

Posted: May 17th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Syrian Revolution | No Comments »

Translated from Tamaroud

The following discussion seeks to reflect the current situation of Syrian individuals who are trying as hard as they can to free themselves from patterns of collective hypocrisy and over-optimistic thinking. Our experiment was still just newly born when it developed the problem of being unable to clearly distinguish the latent authoritarian power in society and in the state, to draw back the curtains that have concealed it. At the start of the revolution, in small gatherings of friends, we predicted that if the struggle lasted longer than a month, then the country would descend into civil war – this wasn’t just an intellectual exercise, as it’s our current reality.

Revolutionary theory, or even theory in general (any attempt at analysis, extrapolation, or critique) is seen as an aberration when it’s produced by a “normal” individual. Theory remains the exclusive domain of a supposedly “elite” political and cultural class in Syria, with its long and documented history of struggle and imprisonment. This class has in the past organized itself into clubs, parties, or groups (such as the Damascus Declaration, the Attasi Club, or civil society groups)… Read the rest of this entry »

To Live in Revolutionary Time

Posted: May 11th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Syrian Revolution | 3 Comments »

 Translator’s Introduction to The Formation of Local Councils by Omar Aziz

Translator’s introduction to the English translation of Omar Aziz’s text The Formation of Local Councils. The translation can be found here. As well, we have laid out the introduction and the translation as a pamphlet for easier reading and distribution, and the PDF can be found here.

On 17 February 2013, the Local Coordination Committees of the Syrian revolution reported that Omar Aziz, prominent Syrian intellectual, economist, and long-time anarchist dissident, died of a heart attack in the central Adra prison. Held incommunicado by the air force intelligence since 20 November 2012, the big and warm – albeit ailing – heart of Omar Aziz could not stand almost three months of detention inside the infamous dungeons of the Assad regime. The reports of his passing emerged on the second anniversary of the Hariqa market protest, when 1,500 Syrians vowed for the first time not to be humiliated in the heart of Old Damascus. Aziz leaves behind a rich, significant legacy of ground-breaking intellectual, social and political contributions as well as an unfinished revolution and a country in desperate need for people like him. (Budour Hassan: Rest in Power)

Omar Aziz, revolutionary anarchist born in Damascus, was a friend and comrade to many and is fondly remembered and deeply missed. His text, The Formation of Local Councils, remains one of the core strategic proposals of the social revolution in Syria. He first published it in late 2011, and then released an expanded and revised version in February 2012 with a new introduction. This present translation offers the introductions to both versions and the full text of the second version. It doesn’t seem that Omar’s intention was to produce a static, finished text — with his emphasis on adapting to local context and changing conditions, it’s likely he would have continued to revise and change his proposals. You will notice some repetition between the two introductions, which is simply because the second was written to replace the first, and so they weren’t meant to be displayed side by side.

Although Omar’s name is somewhat well known, there has not been an adequate English translation of his writings. As well, the text was very much an internal document, circulated among people organizing in Syria. There are large sections presented as bulleted lists of proposals, and there is essentially no context given. The Formation of Local Councils was only published publicly online after Omar’s death in 2013; perhaps the lack of translation since then reflects the difficulty of presenting this important text to an English-speaking public in a way that allows it to be understood. However, the text is tremendously rich and offers many concrete ideas and reflections for those in western countries engaged in struggle against the state and reactionaries, and for autonomy and freedom. Read the rest of this entry »