Monday, February 25, 2013

The "Resistance" Myth is Dead

It is possible for an individual to hold the wrong views for the right reasons, just as it is possible to hold the right views for the wrong reasons. There is nothing wrong with believing in something at one stage, and then, when presented with a different set of facts, change our views completely. The same holds true for what was once referred to as the "resistance" axis in the Middleast: Iran; Hezbullah; Syria and Hamas.

There are some who had become so attached to the world view and ideology of the resistance axis, and had so internalized its discourse and nomenclature, that it has no effectively shaped their perception of the facts in such a way that it is not possible for them to understand what is happening Syria, they are epistemologically limited to what the Party wishes them to believe. This is nothing new, and human history is littered with failed experiments of alternative realities, whether of National Socialism or even Communism. History, however, is also littered with those who rejected "groupthink" and rejected the opinions and values that they had once held dearly and passionately.

If the idea of "groupthink" or of being epistomologically limited to understanding something only in a sanctioned mode of thought sounds familiar, then that is because such concepts had emerged in various literary forms, most notably in Orwell's (née Blair) 1984. For those who haven't ever read this book, I suggest you turn off your laptop or smartphone and immediately get your hands on it. In 1984, Orwell speaks of a totalitarian and authoritarian government that has been so successful in repressing its citizens, that it has even started limiting the language that they speak so that it would not even be possible for them to think of dissent, let alone express it.

In 1936, Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Communists as part of the Republican forces fighting back the fascist insurgency that eventually took over the country.  During this time, it became clear to Orwell that Soviet Communism was not what he thought it was, and that rather than liberating people, it simply replaced one set of oppressors for another. This served as the inspiration for his other great story, Animal Farm, where the animals that revolt against the humans eventually find that the pigs who come to hijack their revolution are barely different from their former oppressors. 

But Orwell is just one amongst many intellectuals and thinkers whose originally held beliefs were challenged by reality and who were forced to re-evaluate. Sartre denounced the Soviet repression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956, along with other communist intellectuals, arguing that socialism cannot be imposed "at bayonet point". Not only did he condemn the violence, but he also boycotted all Soviet intellectuals who did not unequivocally condemn the oppression. The similarities with what is happening in Syria today are striking, and we find no less a division amongst intellectuals and writers who oppose imperialist designs on the region, but who were then plunged into crisis when the "heroes" of the resistance turned out to be nothing more than murderous thugs whose methods equalled if not exceeded anything that we had seen from imperialist adventures in the region. 

The pseudo-intellectual who waxed poetic about the outrages and abuses of Abu Ghreib or Guantanamo Bay remained strangely silent about the torture dungeons in Syria or Evin Prison in Iran. In 2009 the Green uprising was dismissed as a "foreign plot", and, but for the tens of thousands of videos documenting the abuses committed by Assad's forces in Syria, would have done the same for the Syrian revolution. There is no doubt that foreign hands are meddling in Syria, but should that make the cause of toppling the regime there any less worthy? The answer is a clear and resounding no. You cannot be against some injustice but not all of it without forfeiting your moral integrity. It is no argument to claim that because the Syrian regime, along with Hezbullah and Iran, have championed and suffered for the Palestinian cause, that this should give them a mandate to absolute power and control over the affairs of the People. There is no sovereign higher than the will of the People, for without them, in all their chaotic contradiction, there is no "resistance", no culture and no history.

The basis of the argument by these pseudo-intellectuals is that a select few know what is best for the many, and that injustice by a local ruler is preferred to injustice by an invader. A consistent and principled human being can and should reject this thesis. There is no grade to injustice, no measurable point where it is acceptable to submit to it and another where it must be fought against. Such a thesis is not only illogical but a regression of human thought and development. To quote Orwell's totalitarian "Big Brother" in 1984, "freedom is slavery" and the citizen becomes truly free, and truly liberated, when they not only accept slavery under Big Brother's auspices, but love it and accept it with all their heart. This horrific vision of society for the people of the Middle East was not apparent so long as the "resistance" axis kept the worst of its excesses hidden, and focused its efforts on foreign threats. However, when the ugly violence upon which these regimes rely was brought to bear on the Syrian people, the truth can no longer be denied - the "resistance" myth is dead.

Some might be terrified to contemplate this evident truth, and others will surely deny it because it has not yet become fully apparent to them. This rotting carcass that has weighed down our region for decades must no longer be allowed to exist, and in its place a new tree of thought must be nurtured, one which is based on principles and a consistency to the truth. It is not possible for somebody to speak about the liberation of the Palestinian people, or the sovereignty of Middle Eastern "states" without at first clearly articulating the primacy of the human being and her rights as the principle goal of such states. The Arab Spring, for all its imperfections, is not just a revolution against despots and tyrants, but against the ideologies that had justified repression in the name of a greater good. These ideologies must be fought and challenged with as much ferocity as Gaddafi or Assad's killing squads, or Mubarak's secret police.


Ali said...

Well written, well informed and thought provoking article.

Anonymous said...

Great post but I'd like to address a point from a Lebanese perspective.

Has Hezbollah really suffered for the Palestinian cause?

Many outsiders fail to understand the extent of sectarian rivalry in Lebanon,it runs everything, like profit in a capitalist economy, like gang royalty in the ghetto.

I mean a lot of us here in Lebanon are convinced that all Hezbollah really cares about is the return of the Sunni Palestinian refugees to Israel, and they're clear about that being one of the only few reasons that would make them disarm.

In such a state of sectarian strife, all sects are competing for political and military power, and when a the Shia sect represented mostly by Hezbollah has a monopoly on militias, they're not going to give it up, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are a mere excuse. So are Chebaa farms, a small strip of land, that Israel could have really given up to the Lebanese government if they wanted to take way lousy excuse from Hezbollah.

I think the question that debunks this whole issue of Hezbo caring for Palestinians is, why does Hezbollah oppose giving the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon their rights as human beings, to vote, buy property and work? Not naturalising them, just their right to reside freely and vote. They won't because the majority of Palestinians are Sunni, exposing Hezbollah as yet another Lebanese sectarian party, in a country of sectarian strife and rivalry, with a moqawama facade.

This may all be considered foreign to all non lebs, it was extremely foreign to most Syrians who didn't understand the nature of Lebanese sociopolitical system, and before the uprising a Lebanese Sunni Muslim would have had a hard time convincing most Syrians ( who are also mostly Sunni Muslim) that Hezbollah is just another sectarian party with a militia, just like Ammal, Lebanese Forces, Kataeb,Future Movement but with a resistance facade. But to ALL lebanese people this is considered general knowledge, even though some of us won't admit it.

J.D. said...

Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!

Tony Sayegh said...

An Excellent Comment!

I posted it yesterday On My Blog: Palestinian Pundit.

Thanks for a very well-written piece.

Safiya Outlines said...

Wonderful as always Maysaloon. However, I have to also thank Anonymous for such an insightful comment.