Syria: The failure of the left
I have recently finished reading an article by Joey Ayoub, published on the Middle East Eye. The article, ‘The lefts hollow anti-imperialism over Syria’, outlines the consistent failings of a left response to events in the country. It is difficult to argue against any of the conclusions that he draws. The points that he raise also have a wider, global context.
The western left have been inconsistent over their position on Syria. At times preferring to debate philosophical issues rather than make a commitment. This has resulted in divisions that have handed the high ground to the forces they pledge to oppose. While arguing over semantics the anti-imperialist movements have allowed the seed of a right wing narrative to grow, and we are now witnessing it gain momentum across the world. Innocent Syrians have, and are continuing, to pay a price for power politics and the response of the left is muted to say the least.
In his article, Joey Ayoub, separates the anti-imperialism arguments into two camps. One viewing universal opposition. While the ‘Essentialist anti-imperialists’ are defined solely in relation to one’s own government and its actions. This view turns its adherent towards external sympathisers, creating the problem that it can, and has, replaced one form of imperialism with another.
In claiming anti-imperialist credentials, you actually have to oppose imperialism, regardless of the country, or belief system that instigates it. The true definition of imperialism is a policy of extending a countries power and influence over another. Influence achieved economically, through military force, or both.
The actions of a number of imperialist powers in Syria have rendered the people faceless, and they are becoming stateless. As the conflict escalates and the humanitarian crisis deepens, it is time for the left to make a stand and a commitment. Replace the outdated, introverted thinking of the past with a new global left perspective. Imperialism in all of its forms and manifestations is oppression, and for the sake of the Syrian people, the fight must be an international one.