2013 Position Paper on Syrian Conflict

I have not been updating this blog for a while for a number of reasons. In part because of other responsibilities, especially work and family-related; but also because of a number of political-ideological shifts that I have made. I will not discuss the former as they are of no consequence to any reader of this blog, but will briefly mention the latter, since it does pose a question about the future of this blog. I no longer regard myself as a Maoist. This is not to say that I do not still think that the Chinese Revolution or the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution are not of world historic significance, nor does it mean that I do not think that Mao Zedong was a communist who deserves to be deeply studied, but it does mean that I do not think that Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is the only guide to revolution. Indeed, in the letters between JMP and I, I made it clear that I wanted to bring to bear a rather broad number of voices together to help construct a Maoism proper, however, over the last 1-2 years I have realised that this is not simply possible within the four walls of Maoism, especially as understood by the international Maoist movement broadly conceived (indeed, I have been chided by many for even wanting to even discuss Althusser, Bettelheim etc.). Thus, I now regard myself as a communist.

I intend to talk about what I mean by this in a subsequent post, but in this post would like to simply upload a position paper on the Syrian conflict that I had written in 2013 for consideration of my former organisation (as part of abandoning the moniker “Maoism”, I have also renounced all organisational ties. This latter part dovetails with my own reconsideration of what it means to be a communist in the current conjuncture). The paper attached below was never adopted for reasons that I am still not clear about, although it was adopted by my local group. I was recently re-reading it and felt that it would be a shame to let it just die on an old hard drive, especially given that I spent a lot of time researching and writing it. I still think it was the correct position to hold at the time and think it still could help guide a current position on the situation in Syria. I would appreciate hearing any comments/criticisms people may have. Also, I would like people to tell me if they think in light of my somewhat change in position whether I should continue this blog, but to explore the politics I am myself grasping for, or abandon it completely as a testament to the “Maoist” phase in my communist politics?

Here is the Syria Position Paper. I will likely post 1-2 more documents in the coming days that I wrote as part of my “Maoist” phase, which I regard as being appropriate.


6 thoughts on “2013 Position Paper on Syrian Conflict

  1. It’s a lucid and well-researched position paper. Obviously, events have developed and the situation has seemingly reached a nadir of disintegration in Syria, but I agree that it remains a strong piece. What I would like to either explore further on my own or see explored further is the apparently paralysis and rudderless nature of the major powers in Syria. They seem to lack any kind of plan beyond sporadic airstrikes and vague pronouncements, which seems almost like a tacit nod to letting the chaos in the country continue.

    As for your blog, I for one would appreciate continuing the same blog under a different affiliation, since I did more or less the same thing with my own and think it could be a worthwhile project to contrast the two positions and explore the changes.

    1. Thanks for the kind comments about it. I completely agree that the paper is outdated and that the situation in Syria has gone from bad to “a nadir of disintegration,” however, I think that at this point the major powers are trying to figure out how to contain the Syrian crisis without endorsing the regime. This can be seen both in the Iran nuclear deal (hence taking Hezbollah out of the picture) and the ascendancy of ISIS, an actor that has deeply unsettled the American government because it directly challenges their own plans in the region.

      Thanks for your suggestion regarding the blog. Hopefully others will pipe in and make their suggestions and then I will make a decision.

    1. Thanks Travis for your opinion. I think I will continue to post on this blog because it was always a place in which I put down ideas that have helped me grow politically, and just because I have departed from a label and some presuppositions I once had, the critical thrust of my communism remains.

  2. interesting, well researched, and serious paper. Be curious to know your views, or if you have already written anything, on Libya and in particular the Socialist Jamahiriya and Gaddafi.

    ( I am generally pro SJ, but don’t claim to be an expert)

    As you know, Libya and Syria seriously divided most of the left, and in my own ‘circle’ of comrades and friends in the UK, there are extremely different and contradictory views. Some are pro Gaddafi/SJ, while others consider that there is ‘nothing progressive about the SJ’.

    Some, Trotskyists and Anarchists, wanted to see some kind of ‘leaderless horizontal’ revolt against Gaddafi, but it seems that in many cases, they were cheering on Islamists and celebrating the destruction of a functioning country that did provide many things for its people.

    Everything i’ve read on your blog is well thought out and argued, something which has become somewhat rare in the ICM, where so many tend to think in cliches and labels and already set positions.

    It is good that you are thinking, and pushing forward some issues. There are some things that need to be said and stated.

    Nobody should ever be chided for wanting to discuss issues, be it Althusser or any other thinker. Why should anyone be chided for that? Sad to hear that you’ve come across this kind of attitude.

    There is something wrong, at least in the western MLM circles i’ve been acquainted with the general mindset of many of the people.

    You should definitely continue the blog, and i look forward to reading it in the future!

    1. Hi Roshan,
      Thanks for the compliments regarding my work. I think that we really need to get beyond the cliches, labels and already established positions and think about each conjuncture in a political manner if there is going to be any change in the fortunes of the revolutionary left. Of course, this requires a reflection on history as well, but a consideration of that history in a critical light considering the fact that the project thus far has failed or been defeated. The behaviour I describe I think is all too prevalent in the revolutionary left and I think speaks to, in part, why the revolutionary left in Europe and North America, Maoist or otherwise, in the main, has really struggled. Greece is one of the few countries in which there is slowly emerging a political space in which a high quality of political debate is occurring and unfortunately the various Communist orthodoxies have not been shown to bear fruit (whether Trotskyist or Maoist or Hoxhaite).

      I actually have not done extensive research on the SJ or Ghaddafi, but personally opposed the military intervention. Given that I have not done any significant research I could proffer a very general and superficial reading of the situation, but instead prefer to reserve judgement about whether SJ or Ghaddafi were progressive or not, and what was the nature of the uprising that did take place. If you have any recommendations for for books and articles by serious scholars of the situation there I would be very happy to get them.


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