Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Anarchy in Syria - Probably A Good Idea?

Symbol for Steady Reform?
  • The Media is being selective in what it shows. It is not showing both sides of the story.
  • We are in a state of crisis and we have to work together not against each other.
  • We are with the legitimate demands of the people, but we must distinguish the peaceful calls for reform from those of the saboteurs.
  • They are striking at the identity of our homeland. At our unity.
  • We should be less emotional and more rational.
  • We don't want chaos.
  • Work with us so we can make this work.
  • We just need a bit more time.
Last year I was shadowing at the local magistrate's court and I had noted how most of the cases we saw were to do with domestic violence and abuse. Sadly this is so throughout the United Kingdom. For many of these cases, it was not the first time that the couple were in court. In fact, many times the claimant would not appear in court - meaning that the case against the defendant would collapse. I spoke with many of the advisers and lawyers there, and they all noted a depressing cycle whereby the wife or girlfriend would 'change her mind' because her husband would 'smooth-talk' her, buy her flowers, and promise to never do it again. But they did do it again. A few months later the claimant would be at a police station again, having been beaten horribly, and the cycle would continue.

I have said previously that the relationship between the state and the people is a lot like that of an abusive husband with their wife. The arguments I've listed above are from various statements made by the government or its representatives and apologists. They lead to circular arguments and use a simple binary logic to trap a reasonable person with statements that you cannot disagree with. Of course the reasonable person does not see the interrogations, the torture, the abuse, the grainy videos of men getting their brains blown out with live ammunition, or of school children with the marks of torture on their backs. The average person does not see the pools of blood in the streets. They know it is there, but the fact that they do not see it makes these honey-coated lies all the more potent, all the more seductive.

Instead, under the cloak of stability, respectability, and an 'orderly progress', a corrupt oligarchy is being allowed to continue its dominance of an entire state. If you question the status quo, you are undermining national cohesion; you are a subversive working for the foreign enemy; you are a traitor. So corrupted have the institutions of the state become, so inmeshed with the injustice, that to attack the injustice is to render you an outsider, a saboteur, an 'anarchist'. The word anarchist is thrown around as if it is an insult. Google Translate presents the term anarchist as فوضوي - which actually means somebody chaotic and disorderly.

What an anarchist actually is, and this is something that those government officials aren't even aware of, is somebody who is opposed to the entire structure of power and hierarchy, along with all the privilege and trappings that these bring. Property is theft, meaning you do not own lands, factories, and buildings. That does not mean, as some ignorant people think, that you will dye your hair fluorescent green, put nose rings and tongue studs, and adorn yourself in tattoos and leather jackets. During the Spanish Civil War, the POUM were organised militias that fought against General Franco's fascist military forces. What they lacked for in arms and professional training, they made up for in enthusiasm and determination. Ironically it was not Franco who crushed the POUM, but Stalin.

Contrary to propaganda at the time, Spain's anarchists did not burn, rape and pillage their way across the countryside. Quite the opposite, they were organised, popularly led and completely egalitarian. Granted that the biggest hindrance to the anarchist ideology is understanding its radical restructure of society and hierarchy, but the Middle East has already had an anarchist uprising before, under the first Muslims. If Rubii bin Amer is not the epitomy of an anarchist then I don't know what is. The pomp and arrogance of an ineffective Islamic caliphate was, in his time, still in the unforeseen future. The remnants of this egalitarian restructure of our region are uncomfortable for traditional Islamic groups and conservative classes in the region, but they are undeniable and far from being a radical, secular, political import.

In a country such as Syria today, where power and privilege are the exclusive preserve of the few, where the abuse of such power and the wielding of this power solely for the sake of power is the norm and not the exception, and where the entire state apparatus is subverted to maintain the status quo, it is time to consider whether anarchy in Syria is probably a good idea.

No comments: