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Syria and Individual Responsibility

charleslb
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2/20/2014 3:10:10 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Many of us in the West, alas, have rather simplistic, superficial, and stereotype-based views about the nature and causes of the current strife and violence in the Middle East, viz. the former Iraq and Syria (the political entities formerly known as Iraq and Syria no longer exist). Conflict in the Middle East is disdainfully dismissed as a regionally idiosyncratic phenomenon powered by fanatical fundamentalism; and by the power of evil intention, so to speak, the worldly ambition for power of villainous organizations and leaders who exploit the religiosity of their followers and foot soldiers to manipulate them into slaughtering their fellow man and Muslim.

But taking an alternative, somewhat more causal and deeply probing approach to understanding current events in "the Arab world", we find that it's more the case that the seemingly senseless barbarism and bloodshed is born of existential and economic factors, of poverty and powerlessness, the social and economic disenfranchisement of the mostly young, lower socioeconomic class males who are perpetrating the violence. Although they of course wrap themselves and their actions in religious ideology, they're in fact motivated by a legitimate desire to better their material condition, to empower themselves out of an unhappy existential situation characterized by economic hardship and political repression - and by the fact that they have little to lose, and a good bit of anger and aggression that's been produced in them by their existential plight that they need to vent.

In short, what we're witnessing in the Middle East is immiserated people lashing out, the downtrodden rising up with a vengence, human suffering exploding in political violence. It's quite simply lack of social and economic well-being, of access to political power, and of respect for the human dignity of the lowborn that supplies warm bodies to violent movements. Human beings with an adequate quality of life, with at least a meager something to lose, are usually loath to lay their lives on the line for a cause or a jihad. People's cultural and theological beliefs certainly factor into the equation, but without being primed by underlying painful existential circumstances they don't take up AK-47s and commence to waging civil war in the streets.

And of course here's where the West bears a good measure of historical and moral responsibility, as the painful existential circumstances driving the internecine warfare in the cities and villages of the Middle East are to a great extent due to the colonialism and ongoing neocolonialism practiced by European powers and the United States in the region. Yes, what a fine mess the West has helped make of Arab societies, but rather than accept our portion of accountability our "news" media program us to assign all of the blame to the Muslim faith of those engaged in armed struggle. Conscientizing ourselves, i.e. liberating our minds from such programming and compelling our political leaders to acknowledge their culpability, and to begin doing the right rather than the realpolitik and realeconomik thing in the Muslim world and the rest of the Third World, this is a genuine contribution that each of us can make to achieving peace in the Middle East and on Earth. But do enough of us care enough to take the trouble to attend a protest, or even write a letter to the editor?

But no doubt there are those who are invested in continuing to fixate on the badness and Islamist ideology of some of the more unsavory players in Syria and Iraq. I'll simply point out again that masses of people don't take up arms and become "militants" and mujahideen in a vacuum, rebel militias have arisen and fighters are flocking to their banners from many Muslim societies in a matrix of historical factors, current events, and economic conditions conducive to such a phenomenon. And the West did indeed have a large and heavy hand in creating this militancy-generating matrix. In the era of what I'll term open imperialism European powers most certainly sowed the seeds of modern-day anti-Western anger, political radicalism, and deadly insurgency. By imposing a Western national paradigm and political structures to facilitate their rule and destructively impacting the indigenous order of things, by securing their hegemony by practicing a divide-and-rule MO that promoted and militarized divisive religious and ethnic identities, and by leaving authoritarian comprador regimes in power after granting independence to their former victims, the perpetrators of the crime of colonialism determined much of the Middle East's subsequent history, including the current eruption of civil violence and collapse of states.

And then of course there's the United States' role in the era of neocolonialism. What with placing Saddam Hussein in power, supporting and arming him for quite some time, and ultimately invading his country to take direct military and political control, thus leaving it in an utterly destabilized and fragmented state, the good ole US of A deserves the vast preponderance of the blame for the ongoing catastrophe in Iraq. And let's not overlook the great contribution America has made to the radicalization of the Muslim world by supporting the repressive regime of the shah of Iran and thereby creating conditions that brought religious extremists to power and made that country patient zero in the outbreak of fundamentalism. Yes, the United States has much accountability to acknowledge. (I won't even go into how the support that the West has given the state of Israel for its own self-interested reasons has contributed to the radicalization of the Middle East, contributing to the current destabilized and war-torn state of affairs in defunct countries such as Syria and Iraq, that's a topic for another post.)

And yet Americans and other Westerners prefer the interpretation that portrays Arabs as swarthy, fanatical, conflict-prone B-movie villians who are entirely responsible for their own woes. This is of course a racist and Islamophobic interpretation, and it's also one that's been programmed into our worldview because it absolves our own ruling class of any fault for what's unfolding in the Middle East, and for the bomb-toting chickens now coming home to roost in the form of "terrorism". At any rate, between our racism and programming, it's utterly inconceivable to many of us that armed struggles in the Middle East, just like conflicts and revolutions in other parts of the world, can be expressions of people's desire for a better life. Well, they can be and they are, and it would behoove us to get in touch with this reality and stop simplistically and bigotedly reducing all political violence in Muslim countries to mere manifestations of religious madness. There's indeed meaning, if not always method, to the seeming madness. Even when masked and perhaps tainted by fundamentalist ideology, the quest and struggle for liberation from poverty, repression, imperialism, and denial of human dignity shares the same moral and spiritual meaning, validity, and nobility as it does in more familiar secular and Western guises. And it would be very much in our interest to come to, and to force our leaders to this more enlightened realization, and to begin dealing compassionately and justly with the problems of the Middle East from a place of such enlightenment, because in the modern global community if there's no justice for the peoples of Syria or Iraq there will be no peace and security for the citizens of the Western nations historically complicit in their plight.

In conclusion, to realize the vision of a world without so much political violence and mayhem, we must recognize that the desire of human beings (even human beings who subscribe to a fundamentalist belief system) for a reasonably decent quality of life is a

Continued below
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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2/20/2014 3:12:01 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Conclusion

righteous one and one that can't be denied without repercussions (something we're also witnessing today in Kiev), and we must forthwith undertake to do our part to ameliorate and humanize the existential lot of the peoples of a Third World still suffering the ill effects of colonialism and yearning to liberate itself from dehumanizing globalized capitalism.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
bluesteel
Posts: 12,301
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2/20/2014 5:21:03 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 3:12:01 AM, charleslb wrote:
Conclusion

righteous one and one that can't be denied without repercussions (something we're also witnessing today in Kiev), and we must forthwith undertake to do our part to ameliorate and humanize the existential lot of the peoples of a Third World still suffering the ill effects of colonialism and yearning to liberate itself from dehumanizing globalized capitalism.

wow charles, writing those 9000 characters was really brave of you. I'm sure the Syrian rebels really appreciate it. You helped teach them that they don't hate the oppression of the Assad regime, they just hate capitalism.

tldr; charles tries to co-opt the entire Arab Spring for his purposes and offers his brave assistance in the form of an intellectual jerk-off session from the safety of his armchair
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
AnDoctuir
Posts: 11,060
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2/20/2014 5:37:58 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
You know when a person throws off capital letters it's indicative of their retreating into self-centeredness, right? Like how you did so on my profile each time I got one over on you, for example.
PotBelliedGeek
Posts: 4,298
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2/20/2014 8:21:57 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 5:21:03 AM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 3:12:01 AM, charleslb wrote:
Conclusion

righteous one and one that can't be denied without repercussions (something we're also witnessing today in Kiev), and we must forthwith undertake to do our part to ameliorate and humanize the existential lot of the peoples of a Third World still suffering the ill effects of colonialism and yearning to liberate itself from dehumanizing globalized capitalism.

wow charles, writing those 9000 characters was really brave of you. I'm sure the Syrian rebels really appreciate it. You helped teach them that they don't hate the oppression of the Assad regime, they just hate capitalism.

tldr; charles tries to co-opt the entire Arab Spring for his purposes and offers his brave assistance in the form of an intellectual jerk-off session from the safety of his armchair

Au contrair, Bluesteel. He is entirely right in everything he said here. Ask yourself, why was the Assad regime in power in the first place? It was indeed a direct result of western meddling in the region. The Middle East has been the Jackpot of the world for any superpower ever in existence. From Alexander the Great, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Persia to the British Empire upon which the sun never set, and modern USA, every world power in history tried to get fingers into the Middle East. This caused the horrendous political and social fragmentation that has plagued the region throughout the millennia. Note that in the points in time when now foreign power was involved in the Middle East, the region settled into peace, and even established a world power of their own.
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Juan_Pablo
Posts: 2,052
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2/20/2014 9:10:53 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
I agree ( just not with your anti-capitalist sentiments ). The Syrian people are suffering a great injustice. The United States should do everything it can legally do to continue to eradicate the chemical weapons stockpile in Syria and to remove President Bashir Assad from power.

His regime is not looking after the best interests of the Syrian people and it isn't promoting Syrian civil liberties and fundamental human rights.

The Syrian people would be tremendously benefited if the current Syrian regime were to be removed from power and if a democratically-elected government, which observes international human rights, were to be put in its place.

For the sake of the Syrian people and the world community I hope this happens soon!
charleslb
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2/20/2014 1:15:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 4:13:44 AM, AnDoctuir wrote:
Good post, man.

Thanks.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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2/20/2014 2:01:10 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 5:21:03 AM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 3:12:01 AM, charleslb wrote:
Conclusion

righteous one and one that can't be denied without repercussions (something we're also witnessing today in Kiev), and we must forthwith undertake to do our part to ameliorate and humanize the existential lot of the peoples of a Third World still suffering the ill effects of colonialism and yearning to liberate itself from dehumanizing globalized capitalism.

wow charles, writing those 9000 characters was really brave of you.

Well, it's 8185 characters, counting spaces. And I don't recall actually claiming that writing a post is my idea of heroic activism. But I suppose that if one lacks the ability or arguments to make a cogent case against a philosophcal opponent's views one will reflexively resort to the sort of unsophisticated attack on his character that involves impugning his personal courage (as if you have the testicular fortitude to do anything more perilous than participate in a online forum).

I'm sure the Syrian rebels really appreciate it.

You're endeavoring to be maliciously facetious of course, but who knows, some of them might have access to the internet.

You helped teach them that they don't hate the oppression of the Assad regime, they just hate capitalism.

Being on the receiving end, I think that perhaps folks in the Middle East and the Third World have a somewhat more heightened awareness of the adverse effects on ther socioeconomc well-being of capitalism in the form of neocolonialism than you give them credit for. No, I don't suppose that you give them much credit, as you're probably one of those chauvinistic Westerners who views all Muslims as ignorant and crazed religious zealots.

tldr; charles tries to co-opt the entire Arab Spring for his purposes and offers his brave assistance in the form of an intellectual jerk-off session from the safety of his armchair

And you offer no substantive feedback whatsoever.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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2/20/2014 2:05:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 8:21:57 AM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:
At 2/20/2014 5:21:03 AM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 3:12:01 AM, charleslb wrote:
Conclusion

righteous one and one that can't be denied without repercussions (something we're also witnessing today in Kiev), and we must forthwith undertake to do our part to ameliorate and humanize the existential lot of the peoples of a Third World still suffering the ill effects of colonialism and yearning to liberate itself from dehumanizing globalized capitalism.

wow charles, writing those 9000 characters was really brave of you. I'm sure the Syrian rebels really appreciate it. You helped teach them that they don't hate the oppression of the Assad regime, they just hate capitalism.

tldr; charles tries to co-opt the entire Arab Spring for his purposes and offers his brave assistance in the form of an intellectual jerk-off session from the safety of his armchair

Au contrair, Bluesteel. He is entirely right in everything he said here. Ask yourself, why was the Assad regime in power in the first place? It was indeed a direct result of western meddling in the region. The Middle East has been the Jackpot of the world for any superpower ever in existence. From Alexander the Great, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Persia to the British Empire upon which the sun never set, and modern USA, every world power in history tried to get fingers into the Middle East. This caused the horrendous political and social fragmentation that has plagued the region throughout the millennia. Note that in the points in time when now foreign power was involved in the Middle East, the region settled into peace, and even established a world power of their own.

Thanks for making these astute points.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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2/20/2014 3:04:28 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 9:10:53 AM, Juan_Pablo wrote:
I agree ( just not with your anti-capitalist sentiments ).

Well, you're certainly entitled to disagree with my anti-capitalist analysis if you're so inclined, but as you're a progressive, i.e. someone whose heart and mind are in the right (as in a left-of-center) place, I would think that you would appreciate that there's bleeping ample empirical evidence in virtually every society of the "Third World" (and currently of the "First Wotld" as well, what with the ongoing recession and debt crises brought about by the implementation of free-marketarian ideology) that the global capitalist order is a huge and often primary factor in the pain and plight of the majority of the planet's human population.

The Syrian people are suffering a great injustice. The United States should do everything it can legally do to continue to eradicate the chemical weapons stockpile in Syria and to remove President Bashir Assad from power.

The political and economic establshment of the United States will, as per usual, do the realpolitik not the right thing, unless a conscientious citizenry speaks up loudly enough and demands that it adopt an ethical, righteous, compassionate policy. (Personally, I would be more in favor of a massive UN intervention aimed at removing Assad, suppressing the violence of the various factions, and improving the existential circumstances of the people of Syria so that they enjoy sufficient liberty and material quality of life that they no longer have any motivation to take up arms.)

His regime is not looking after the best interests of the Syrian people and it isn't promoting Syrian civil liberties and fundamental human rights.

It certainly isn't, but then neither is the global regime of the megacorporations and the captalist elite that displays no more conscience or humanity than blatant bad guys such as Mr. Assad.


The Syrian people would be tremendously benefited if the current Syrian regime were to be removed from power ...

To put it mildly.


For the sake of the Syrian people and the world community I hope this happens soon!

As do I.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
PotBelliedGeek
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2/20/2014 4:08:09 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 9:10:53 AM, Juan_Pablo wrote:
I agree ( just not with your anti-capitalist sentiments ). The Syrian people are suffering a great injustice. The United States should do everything it can legally do to continue to eradicate the chemical weapons stockpile in Syria and to remove President Bashir Assad from power.

His regime is not looking after the best interests of the Syrian people and it isn't promoting Syrian civil liberties and fundamental human rights.

The Syrian people would be tremendously benefited if the current Syrian regime were to be removed from power and if a democratically-elected government, which observes international human rights, were to be put in its place.

For the sake of the Syrian people and the world community I hope this happens soon!

While I agree with the general sentiment here, I stress that is must not be the US to do this. I refer you to Iraq.
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charleslb
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2/20/2014 4:09:08 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Btw, thank you AnDoctuir, PotBelliedGeek, and Juan_Pablo for constructive input, as opposed to the kind of ad hominem feedback represented by bluesteel's reply.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
bluesteel
Posts: 12,301
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2/20/2014 5:01:08 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 8:21:57 AM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:
At 2/20/2014 5:21:03 AM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 3:12:01 AM, charleslb wrote:
Conclusion

righteous one and one that can't be denied without repercussions (something we're also witnessing today in Kiev), and we must forthwith undertake to do our part to ameliorate and humanize the existential lot of the peoples of a Third World still suffering the ill effects of colonialism and yearning to liberate itself from dehumanizing globalized capitalism.

wow charles, writing those 9000 characters was really brave of you. I'm sure the Syrian rebels really appreciate it. You helped teach them that they don't hate the oppression of the Assad regime, they just hate capitalism.

tldr; charles tries to co-opt the entire Arab Spring for his purposes and offers his brave assistance in the form of an intellectual jerk-off session from the safety of his armchair

Au contrair, Bluesteel. He is entirely right in everything he said here. Ask yourself, why was the Assad regime in power in the first place? It was indeed a direct result of western meddling in the region. The Middle East has been the Jackpot of the world for any superpower ever in existence. From Alexander the Great, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Persia to the British Empire upon which the sun never set, and modern USA, every world power in history tried to get fingers into the Middle East. This caused the horrendous political and social fragmentation that has plagued the region throughout the millennia. Note that in the points in time when now foreign power was involved in the Middle East, the region settled into peace, and even established a world power of their own.

My criticism of Charles' post was exactly this - that it seems to say, "who cares about studying Syrian history, everything in the entire Arab Spring is a reaction to generalized 'capitalist imperialism.'" In fact, the Assad regime never had help from the US; they began by seeking help from the Soviets:

"When Assad took power, Syria was isolated;planning an attack on Israel, he sought allies and war material. Ten weeks after gaining power, Assad visited the Soviet Union . . . While he soon understood that the Soviet relationship with the Arabs would never be as deep as the United States' relationship with Israel, he needed its weapons. Unlike his predecessors (who tried to win Soviet support with socialist policies), Assad was willing to give the Soviets a stable presence in the Middle East through Syria, access to Syrian naval bases (giving them a role in the peace process) and help in curtailing American influence in the region. The Soviets responded by sending arms to Syria. The new relationship bore fruit, and between February 1971 and October 1973 Assad met several times with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev."

The US *is* responsible for some dictators, like in Egypt, but Assad is not one of them. And I think it's annoying to try to co-opt a movement that is really about a horrible regime and terrible human rights abuses by claiming it is really a struggle against capitalist imperialism.

The Middle East is not one monolithic region with similar histories. It is intellectually lazy and dishonest to group them together and claim we have meddled equally in the entire region.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
bluesteel
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2/20/2014 5:02:34 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 4:09:08 PM, charleslb wrote:
Btw, thank you AnDoctuir, PotBelliedGeek, and Juan_Pablo for constructive input, as opposed to the kind of ad hominem feedback represented by bluesteel's reply.

^ Proof that this is just an intellectual masturbation session for you. You're thanking someone who said nothing other than "good post" for their constructive input. What you want is a circle-jerk, not a real discussion.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
PotBelliedGeek
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2/20/2014 5:14:50 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 5:01:08 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 8:21:57 AM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:
At 2/20/2014 5:21:03 AM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 3:12:01 AM, charleslb wrote:
Conclusion

righteous one and one that can't be denied without repercussions (something we're also witnessing today in Kiev), and we must forthwith undertake to do our part to ameliorate and humanize the existential lot of the peoples of a Third World still suffering the ill effects of colonialism and yearning to liberate itself from dehumanizing globalized capitalism.

wow charles, writing those 9000 characters was really brave of you. I'm sure the Syrian rebels really appreciate it. You helped teach them that they don't hate the oppression of the Assad regime, they just hate capitalism.

tldr; charles tries to co-opt the entire Arab Spring for his purposes and offers his brave assistance in the form of an intellectual jerk-off session from the safety of his armchair

Au contrair, Bluesteel. He is entirely right in everything he said here. Ask yourself, why was the Assad regime in power in the first place? It was indeed a direct result of western meddling in the region. The Middle East has been the Jackpot of the world for any superpower ever in existence. From Alexander the Great, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Persia to the British Empire upon which the sun never set, and modern USA, every world power in history tried to get fingers into the Middle East. This caused the horrendous political and social fragmentation that has plagued the region throughout the millennia. Note that in the points in time when now foreign power was involved in the Middle East, the region settled into peace, and even established a world power of their own.

My criticism of Charles' post was exactly this - that it seems to say, "who cares about studying Syrian history, everything in the entire Arab Spring is a reaction to generalized 'capitalist imperialism.'" In fact, the Assad regime never had help from the US; they began by seeking help from the Soviets:

"When Assad took power, Syria was isolated;planning an attack on Israel, he sought allies and war material. Ten weeks after gaining power, Assad visited the Soviet Union . . . While he soon understood that the Soviet relationship with the Arabs would never be as deep as the United States' relationship with Israel, he needed its weapons. Unlike his predecessors (who tried to win Soviet support with socialist policies), Assad was willing to give the Soviets a stable presence in the Middle East through Syria, access to Syrian naval bases (giving them a role in the peace process) and help in curtailing American influence in the region. The Soviets responded by sending arms to Syria. The new relationship bore fruit, and between February 1971 and October 1973 Assad met several times with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev."

The US *is* responsible for some dictators, like in Egypt, but Assad is not one of them. And I think it's annoying to try to co-opt a movement that is really about a horrible regime and terrible human rights abuses by claiming it is really a struggle against capitalist imperialism.

The Middle East is not one monolithic region with similar histories. It is intellectually lazy and dishonest to group them together and claim we have meddled equally in the entire region.

I fully understand where you are coming from, but I will point out that while the Arabs are separated into nations under various political regimes, they do indeed view themselves collectively as one people, the Arab people. And yes, the entire Middle East without exception has suffered foreign meddling for millennia.
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bluesteel
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2/20/2014 5:31:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 5:14:50 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:


I fully understand where you are coming from, but I will point out that while the Arabs are separated into nations under various political regimes, they do indeed view themselves collectively as one people, the Arab people. And yes, the entire Middle East without exception has suffered foreign meddling for millennia.

"Speaking for others" is heavily critiqued. You should be more wary of doing it. The Sunnis and Shi'ites do not consider themselves to be part of one "people." The Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan and western Pakistan do not consider themselves to be part of some pan-Arab movement. I have not studied any other groups in depth, but your claim is patently absurd (see below).

"The idea that all Arabs are one nation and must unite as one state demonstrated much power in the past, with President Abd al-Nasir of Egypt emerging as a charismatic leader transcending boundaries. The rise of the Ba'th Party during the 1940s represented the same idea. This led to several attempts to establish a united Arab state (with the Italian and German unifications in the 19th century sometimes pointed to as precedents) and the actual establishment of a United Arab Republic (including Syria and Egypt) in 1958-1961. (Arab nationalists might object to the term "panethnicity" as applied to them and see themselves as one ethnic group on the basis of their common language.) While the movement soon lost its momentum, the idea of one Arab nation still exists but now tends to be undermined by religious and other identities."
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
PotBelliedGeek
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2/20/2014 6:02:50 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 5:31:41 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 5:14:50 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:


I fully understand where you are coming from, but I will point out that while the Arabs are separated into nations under various political regimes, they do indeed view themselves collectively as one people, the Arab people. And yes, the entire Middle East without exception has suffered foreign meddling for millennia.

"Speaking for others" is heavily critiqued.

Entirely correct. I should clarify that my assertions are of a general nature, and by no means apply to all Arabs. They are also the result of a long and vigorous education in this exact field.

You should be more wary of doing it. The Sunnis and Shi'ites do not consider themselves to be part of one "people."

They in fact do, with the exception of extreme minorities on the far ends of the spectrum.

The Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan and western Pakistan do not consider themselves to be part of some pan-Arab movement.

That is because they are not Arabs in the first place, nor are they in the Middle East.

I have not studied any other groups in depth, but your claim is patently absurd (see below).

I have. I am not trying to be snub, arrogant, or patronizing, so please do not interpret this as such. That said, I have two college degrees in this field from a very prestigious Arab university.


"The idea that all Arabs are one nation and must unite as one state demonstrated much power in the past, with President Abd al-Nasir of Egypt emerging as a charismatic leader transcending boundaries. The rise of the Ba'th Party during the 1940s represented the same idea. This led to several attempts to establish a united Arab state (with the Italian and German unifications in the 19th century sometimes pointed to as precedents) and the actual establishment of a United Arab Republic (including Syria and Egypt) in 1958-1961. (Arab nationalists might object to the term "panethnicity" as applied to them and see themselves as one ethnic group on the basis of their common language.) While the movement soon lost its momentum, the idea of one Arab nation still exists but now tends to be undermined by religious and other identities."

To attribute the notion of a united Arab people to these splinter political factions is incredibly short sighted, and is factually incorrect. These groups merely capitalized on a sentiment as old as Arab history itself.
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bluesteel
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2/20/2014 6:09:32 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 6:02:50 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:
At 2/20/2014 5:31:41 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 5:14:50 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:


I fully understand where you are coming from, but I will point out that while the Arabs are separated into nations under various political regimes, they do indeed view themselves collectively as one people, the Arab people. And yes, the entire Middle East without exception has suffered foreign meddling for millennia.

"Speaking for others" is heavily critiqued.

Entirely correct. I should clarify that my assertions are of a general nature, and by no means apply to all Arabs. They are also the result of a long and vigorous education in this exact field.

You should be more wary of doing it. The Sunnis and Shi'ites do not consider themselves to be part of one "people."

They in fact do, with the exception of extreme minorities on the far ends of the spectrum.

The Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan and western Pakistan do not consider themselves to be part of some pan-Arab movement.

That is because they are not Arabs in the first place, nor are they in the Middle East.

I have not studied any other groups in depth, but your claim is patently absurd (see below).

I have. I am not trying to be snub, arrogant, or patronizing, so please do not interpret this as such. That said, I have two college degrees in this field from a very prestigious Arab university.


"The idea that all Arabs are one nation and must unite as one state demonstrated much power in the past, with President Abd al-Nasir of Egypt emerging as a charismatic leader transcending boundaries. The rise of the Ba'th Party during the 1940s represented the same idea. This led to several attempts to establish a united Arab state (with the Italian and German unifications in the 19th century sometimes pointed to as precedents) and the actual establishment of a United Arab Republic (including Syria and Egypt) in 1958-1961. (Arab nationalists might object to the term "panethnicity" as applied to them and see themselves as one ethnic group on the basis of their common language.) While the movement soon lost its momentum, the idea of one Arab nation still exists but now tends to be undermined by religious and other identities."

To attribute the notion of a united Arab people to these splinter political factions is incredibly short sighted, and is factually incorrect. These groups merely capitalized on a sentiment as old as Arab history itself.

I find it hard to believe that Syrians are part of a communist movement right now due to their lingering pan-Arab sentiments, which result in anger at US meddling in other Arab countries. Probably they are pissed that their neighbors are being murdered by the Assad regime.

Let's remember the original context here: Charles wants to wipe over the uniqueness of the Syrian struggle with broad strokes from his Communism brush and paint it as simply another example of people hating capitalist imperialism.

If you agree with him on this point, then I'd have to say that your AA degree must not have gone into sufficient depth.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
PotBelliedGeek
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2/20/2014 6:26:27 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 6:09:32 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 6:02:50 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:
At 2/20/2014 5:31:41 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 5:14:50 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:


I fully understand where you are coming from, but I will point out that while the Arabs are separated into nations under various political regimes, they do indeed view themselves collectively as one people, the Arab people. And yes, the entire Middle East without exception has suffered foreign meddling for millennia.

"Speaking for others" is heavily critiqued.

Entirely correct. I should clarify that my assertions are of a general nature, and by no means apply to all Arabs. They are also the result of a long and vigorous education in this exact field.

You should be more wary of doing it. The Sunnis and Shi'ites do not consider themselves to be part of one "people."

They in fact do, with the exception of extreme minorities on the far ends of the spectrum.

The Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan and western Pakistan do not consider themselves to be part of some pan-Arab movement.

That is because they are not Arabs in the first place, nor are they in the Middle East.

I have not studied any other groups in depth, but your claim is patently absurd (see below).

I have. I am not trying to be snub, arrogant, or patronizing, so please do not interpret this as such. That said, I have two college degrees in this field from a very prestigious Arab university.


"The idea that all Arabs are one nation and must unite as one state demonstrated much power in the past, with President Abd al-Nasir of Egypt emerging as a charismatic leader transcending boundaries. The rise of the Ba'th Party during the 1940s represented the same idea. This led to several attempts to establish a united Arab state (with the Italian and German unifications in the 19th century sometimes pointed to as precedents) and the actual establishment of a United Arab Republic (including Syria and Egypt) in 1958-1961. (Arab nationalists might object to the term "panethnicity" as applied to them and see themselves as one ethnic group on the basis of their common language.) While the movement soon lost its momentum, the idea of one Arab nation still exists but now tends to be undermined by religious and other identities."

To attribute the notion of a united Arab people to these splinter political factions is incredibly short sighted, and is factually incorrect. These groups merely capitalized on a sentiment as old as Arab history itself.

I find it hard to believe that Syrians are part of a communist movement right now due to their lingering pan-Arab sentiments, which result in anger at US meddling in other Arab countries. Probably they are pissed that their neighbors are being murdered by the Assad regime.

Let's remember the original context here: Charles wants to wipe over the uniqueness of the Syrian struggle with broad strokes from his Communism brush and paint it as simply another example of people hating capitalist imperialism.

If you agree with him on this point, then I'd have to say that your AA degree must not have gone into sufficient depth.

Can you point out where he said that? Because that is not what I got from his statement.

And while I do have an AA in language and culture, that is not the degree I am referring to.
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bluesteel
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2/20/2014 6:54:38 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 6:26:27 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:

Can you point out where he said that? Because that is not what I got from his statement.

So many places.

Charles:

Conflict in the Middle East is disdainfully dismissed as a regionally idiosyncratic phenomenon

^saying that we wrongly think of these conflicts as determined by regional factors

seemingly senseless barbarism and bloodshed is born of existential and economic factors

^trying to say that capitalism, rather than the oppression of the Assad regime, is responsible for the Syrian uprising

And of course here's where the West bears a good measure of historical and moral responsibility, as the painful existential circumstances driving the internecine warfare in the cities and villages of the Middle East are to a great extent due to the colonialism and ongoing neocolonialism practiced by European powers and the United States in the region. Yes, what a fine mess the West has helped make of Arab societies

^ blaming the Syrian conflict on the effects of colonialism in the region

Conscientizing ourselves, i.e. liberating our minds from such programming and compelling our political leaders to acknowledge their culpability

^ Obama should say the Syrian conflict is our fault

I'm only halfway through and I'm tired of re-reading this drivel.

Charles need sh&t to write about because he posts here and then posts the same thing to his blog. It's boring for his "cause" if the Syrian revolution has an entirely local flavor. It's much easier to blame it on the evil colonialism of capitalist powers.

Charles himself is guilty of pandering to the news media. He chose Syria because it's more topical based on what news corporations have been reporting lately (which in turn is based on what sells more news to consumers). Egypt would have been a much more apt example of US colonialism, but Charles didn't choose them because it's not as "sexy" and topical as Syria.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,252
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2/20/2014 7:46:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
This post consists mainly of bare assertions. People who find it compelling would likely find it compelling even if the world were not as it describes. Good and thought-provoking post nevertheless :)
PotBelliedGeek
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2/20/2014 8:23:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 6:54:38 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 6:26:27 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:

Can you point out where he said that? Because that is not what I got from his statement.

So many places.

Charles:

Conflict in the Middle East is disdainfully dismissed as a regionally idiosyncratic phenomenon

^saying that we wrongly think of these conflicts as determined by regional factors

This is correct. The internal strife is a result of political fragmentation, itself a result of European meddling.


seemingly senseless barbarism and bloodshed is born of existential and economic factors

^trying to say that capitalism, rather than the oppression of the Assad regime, is responsible for the Syrian uprising

He did not mention Syria in particular, he refers to the Middle East as a whole which, last I checked, was in complete turmoil. He never mentions capitalism, he mentions economic factors. This is entirely true. The whole reason these protests occurred in the first place is because of the dire economic situation in the Arab world.


And of course here's where the West bears a good measure of historical and moral responsibility, as the painful existential circumstances driving the internecine warfare in the cities and villages of the Middle East are to a great extent due to the colonialism and ongoing neocolonialism practiced by European powers and the United States in the region. Yes, what a fine mess the West has helped make of Arab societies

^ blaming the Syrian conflict on the effects of colonialism in the region

And he is spot on. Hit the nail on the head.


Conscientizing ourselves, i.e. liberating our minds from such programming and compelling our political leaders to acknowledge their culpability

^ Obama should say the Syrian conflict is our fault

Again, you are reading into this that which it does not say.


I'm only halfway through and I'm tired of re-reading this drivel.

Charles need sh&t to write about because he posts here and then posts the same thing to his blog. It's boring for his "cause" if the Syrian revolution has an entirely local flavor. It's much easier to blame it on the evil colonialism of capitalist powers.

Charles himself is guilty of pandering to the news media. He chose Syria because it's more topical based on what news corporations have been reporting lately (which in turn is based on what sells more news to consumers). Egypt would have been a much more apt example of US colonialism, but Charles didn't choose them because it's not as "sexy" and topical as Syria.

You seem to have some sort of history with Charles, so I'll leave you to that. I am taking his writing at face value, and I believe that the statements he made here are entirely correct.

If you disagree with this analysis, I would be most interested in reading your own interpretation of the events in the Middle East.
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BigDave80
Posts: 105
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2/21/2014 12:19:20 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Are there any problems in the world you don't blame capitalism for?

Seriously, when you look around the world, you see that capitalist countries are wealthier, healthier, more politically free, and more stable than non capitalist countries.

Any person with a brain can see that the problem is a lack of capitalism in non capitalist countries.

But, to the illogical socialist mind, the problem in non capitalist countries is capitalism in capitalist countries. Seriously, I don't even know how socialists are taken seriously anymore.
charleslb
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2/21/2014 1:34:45 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 6:54:38 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 2/20/2014 6:26:27 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:

Can you point out where he said that? Because that is not what I got from his statement.

So many places.

Charles:

Conflict in the Middle East is disdainfully dismissed as a regionally idiosyncratic phenomenon

^saying that we wrongly think of these conflicts as determined by regional factors

Actually what I'm referring to in this specific quote is the common notion that the Middle East is a region that's culturally-inclined to be chronically conflct-prone, the racial profiling of Arabs and other Middle Easterners as being too contentious for any efforts to bring peace to the Middle East to ever be lastingly successful.

seemingly senseless barbarism and bloodshed is born of existential and economic factors

^trying to say that capitalism, rather than the oppression of the Assad regime, is responsible for the Syrian uprising

Rather, what I'm trying to say is that political violence in the Middle East can't simply be dismissively pigeonholed as a manifestation of fundamentalist fanaticism, there are legitimate aspirations for a better life being manifested in the armed struggles in the Muslim world. And yes, Western meddling in the region, motivated by the special interests of the capitalist elite, i.e. capitalism in the form of colonialism and neocolonialism constitutes much of the backstory of theses struggles.

And of course here's where the West bears a good measure of historical and moral responsibility, as the painful existential circumstances driving the internecine warfare in the cities and villages of the Middle East are to a great extent due to the colonialism and ongoing neocolonialism practiced by European powers and the United States in the region. Yes, what a fine mess the West has helped make of Arab societies

^ blaming the Syrian conflict on the effects of colonialism in the region

Pardon me, I forgot that the effects and repercussions of historical evils perpetrated by colonialist, capitalist white folks against people of color (e.g., conquest, colonialism, slavery, segregation and what not) disappeared virtually overnight once they were melioriated (i.e., once conquest became occupation and "democracy promotion", once colonialism became neocolonialism and globalism, once slavery became sharecropping and Jim Crow, and once segregation became discrimination and consigning minorities to the projects).

Conscientizing ourselves, i.e. liberating our minds from such programming and compelling our political leaders to acknowledge their culpability

^ Obama should say the Syrian conflict is our fault

Reductio ad absurdum

I'm only halfway through and I'm tired of re-reading this drivel.

My heartfelt apologies for subjecting you to drivel.

Charles need sh&t to write about because he posts here and then posts the same thing to his blog. It's boring for his "cause" if the Syrian revolution has an entirely local flavor. It's much easier to blame it on the evil colonialism of capitalist powers.

Clearly you somewhat viscerally do not fancy acknowledging the complicity of the Western, capitalist powers that be in creating suffering and strife in the Third World. I detect a bit of psychological defensiveness perhaps deriving from guilt, or nationalism, or a vicarious identification with the hegemonic fat cats I'm assigning blame to, or a combination of all of the above. At any rate, your reaction and position is clearly emotive and biased, not ethical and rational.

Charles himself is guilty of pandering to the news media. He chose Syria because it's more topical based on what news corporations have been reporting lately ...

Syria is simply more topical, period. And the fundamental thesis of my post actually applies to the entire Middle East and developing world. I thought that I was fairly explict about that.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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2/21/2014 1:45:52 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 7:46:36 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
This post consists mainly of bare assertions. People who find it compelling would likely find it compelling even if the world were not as it describes.

Yes, I acknowledge that I lazily didn't really cite any data or sources, but the data and sources do indeed exist, and individuals averse to my thesis, such as our dear bluesteel, would not be persuaded over to my POV even by a mountain of data.

Good and thought-provoking post nevertheless :)

Thank you.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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2/21/2014 1:55:47 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/21/2014 12:19:20 AM, BigDave80 wrote:
Are there any problems in the world you don't blame capitalism for?

Seriously, when you look around the world, you see that capitalist countries are wealthier, healthier, more politically free, and more stable than non capitalist countries.

Any person with a brain can see that the problem is a lack of capitalism in non capitalist countries...

Take a tour of the immiserated countries of the Third World, and see if you can persuade the victims of the capitalist world order to believe that they're relatively well-off and beautifully empowered thanks to the application of neoliberal ideology. But if you attempt such an experiment I would suggest that you wear a helmet, they might start stoning you and I wouldn't want any harm to come to that magnificent brain of yours.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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2/21/2014 2:05:44 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/20/2014 8:23:12 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:

You seem to have some sort of history with Charles, so I'll leave you to that...

Dear bluesteel (to whom you refer here) is just another rightist knee-jerk hater of anyone with a point of view resembling mine.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.