Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 4, 2016

The Green Party and Syria

Filed under: Green Party,Syria — louisproyect @ 6:38 pm


Over the past five years, I have written 204 articles about Syria in the hopes that I might convince the left to support the Syrian rebels. The Syrian revolution is our generation’s version of the Spanish Civil War. Unlike the 1930s, however, much of the left today is backing the Syrian equivalent of General Francisco Franco’s fascist military in Spain.

Given my commitment to the struggle against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, many of my friends and colleagues wonder why I am supporting the Green Party candidacy of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, whose positions on Syria are exactly those I have been writing against for the past five years. The time has come to explain this paradox, but, before doing so, it would be useful to examine closely what Stein and Baraka have said on the Syria issue, if for no other reason than to confront the actual record.

The Left’s Syria Problem

To understand support for Assad on the left, it helps to think diagrammatically, in terms of concentric circles. The innermost circle belongs to people like Professor Tim Anderson, an Australian who is one of Assad’s most hard-core, Western leftist supporters. In circles closer to the middle, you have people like Baraka, Patrick Cockburn, Seymour Hersh, and others who would likely admit that Assad is a neoliberal who has collaborated with the CIA in torturing abductees (the facts are undeniable), but see him as a lesser evil to the “jihadists.” Close to the outer edges, you have someone like Stein, who likely never gave much thought to Syrian realities, but has relied on what she has read from those closer to the middle circles, in places like CounterPunch, Salon, The Nation, the London Review of Books, and ZNet. (If these references to concentric circles reminds you of Dante’s Inferno, I cannot blame you.)

While ignorance is no defense in a court of law, Stein is neither better nor worse than the vast majority of the left, which has made up its mind that the U.S. government is actively seeking regime change in Syria. Like most on the left, Stein sees Syria’s problems largely as an outcome of American intervention on the side of “extremist” groups funded by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Steeped in this belief, Stein issued a foolish statement on November 2, 2015, opposing American ground troops in Syria and accusing President Barack Obama of trying to engineer “regime change” in the country. In her statement, she urged the U.S. government to work with Syria, Russia, and Iran “to restore all of Syria to control by the government rather than Jihadi rebels.”

Unfortunately, Stein seems not to know that the Syrian uprising was sparked by suffering created by the Assad government. Even if Islamist groups have tried to hijack the uprising since then, the genie cannot be stuffed back into the bottle.

Unlike Stein, who superficially parrots the left’s prevailing “anti-intervention” viewpoint, Baraka’s Baathist sympathies are far more pronounced. Indeed, if he were the one running for president, I would not support his candidacy.

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  1. Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty International UK, ‘Jill Stein could’ve said many things to help protect Syrian civilians – saying the US should rehabilitate a brutal dictatorship is the worst’.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — October 5, 2016 @ 11:31 pm

  2. Clay Claiborne is right on this issue and I think you are wrong Louis. Meanwhile Putin Assad Iran prepare to take Aleppo and what will the fate of the people of eastern Aleppo be. Julian Roepke of bild.de says their fate is dreadful unless there is some form of , extremely unlikely, foreign intervention against the Assad- Putin-Iran Fascist axis and the Erdogan-Putin deal, Aleppo for border security. Stein’s position is so dreadful on Syria, and reveals so much that is wrong about her politics, as Clay Claiborne points out. I read she is a millionairess too, times over, and invests in big pharma all the same, she can’t even be bothered to invest ethically according to her lights. So much for not voting for a bourgeois politician like Clinton.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — November 8, 2016 @ 6:15 pm

  3. Matthew, I am not sure you know much about Marxist history but the practice of voting for bourgeois parties dates back to Stalin’s Popular Front turn. I would be violating my Marxist principles by endorsing Hillary Clinton. You and Clay, of course, are entitled to your own opinions. If owning a mutual fund that is invested in an oil company is a greater evil than giving the green light for 99 out of 100 Predator drone strikes that cost the lives of many women and children, I can’t help you.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 8, 2016 @ 6:41 pm

  4. A Daily Beast article the other day said she has between $50000-100000 invested in a fund that has Raytheon Corp as its fourth largest holding. Raytheon manufactures drone systems.’ She could invest in clean energy funds but, the article points out, they offer a poor rate of return. What Stein gives a green light to, meanwhile, in Syria, is absolutely terrifying – from the industrial scale torture on. She is with Putin, shares a table and drinks with him. She is nauseating.

    Claiborne wrote , ‘While Stein is free to believe Damascus’s denials about using sarin gas and barrel bombs, numerous reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations make it clear that the Assad government is a criminal regime with no regard for the right of it citizens.’ Stein has the kind of mind that exists at the Global Research hoax blog. At least Clinton is not a total idiot and one could engage with her politically. I just don’t get at all how you can vote for a person who is along with Putin on Syria and actively connives with the lies about Ghouta chemical attacks etc. But, have to agree to disagree.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — November 8, 2016 @ 7:49 pm

  5. At least Clinton is not a total idiot and one could engage with her politically. I just don’t get at all how you can vote for a person who is along with Putin on Syria and actively connives with the lies about Ghouta chemical attacks etc.

    Because you are not a Marxist and don’t understand the world in class terms. This blog is called the Unrepentant Marxist for obvious reasons. Like Clayborne, you obfuscate the difference between words and deeds. More than a million Muslims have been killed because the American Congress gave George W. Bush the authority to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. The fact that you prefer Hillary Clinton to Jill Stein even though she voted for wars that cost the lives of a million Muslims shows that you are just as fucked up ideologically as Mike Whitney. Sad, really.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 8, 2016 @ 8:00 pm

  6. The fact that you vote for Stein, after you said Syria was a litmus test, – sad , really.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — November 9, 2016 @ 5:21 am

  7. […] leftist writer Louis Proyect, in a useful article, suggests considering the position of the Greens in a similar way to that of the US Communist Party […]

    Pingback by The Western left and the Syrian war — Corey Oakley | REDFLAG: A VOICE OF RESISTANCE | Taking Sides — April 19, 2018 @ 3:45 am

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