Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 25, 2017

White Supremacist Support for Assad in Charlottesville (and Beyond)

Filed under: Fascism,Syria — louisproyect @ 4:34 pm

It was impossible not to miss the support for Bashar al-Assad that was on display in the white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville. The press drew attention to the picture of Assad with the word “Undefeated” emblazoned beneath it on the Facebook page of James Alex Fields, the man who plowed his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-protestors killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. There is also the video clip  of a couple of fascists saying that “Assad did nothing wrong” and calling for “dropping barrel bombs on those motherfuckers”, a reference to the counter-protestors.

Washington Post article dated August 14 concluded that there was always an underlying affinity between the Baathists and fascism: 

The far right’s love affair with Assad might not be entirely unpredictable. His Baath Party is fiercely nationalist and ethnocentric, focused on the promotion of Arab identity. One of the few political parties permitted by his regime and one of his staunchest supporters in the war is the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, which drew the inspiration for its logo from the swastika.

In my view, this analysis—while not entirely wrong—is inadequate to explaining the underlying reasons for racist and fascist support for Assad. Nor does it come to terms with the much broader appeal that Assad has had for many on the left who regard him not as a fascist but as a fearless anti-imperialist warrior who is being attacked by American and Saudi proxies because of his resistance to IMF-imposed austerity. This analysis is encapsulated in Canadian blogger Stephen Gowans’s new book Washington’s Long War on Syria:

Juxtapose U.S. prescriptions for how the Washington-led global economy would be structured against the economic program espoused in the founding document of the Ba’ath Party: Industry “will be protected together with the national production from the competition of foreign production.” Natural “resources, and means of transportation ” “shall be directly administered by the State,” in the public interest. Workers “shall take part in managing the factories and they will be given, [on top of] their wages, a share of profits to be determined by the State.” The Interim 1990 constitution of secular Arab nationalist Iraq declared that the “State assumes the responsibility for planning, directing, and steering the national economy.” These views were inimical to the economic policies Washington promoted as the world’s self-appointed leader. They did not fit with the global economic order Washington insisted on creating.

Like a Rorschach test, the Syrian dictatorship is open to multiple interpretations. To really get to the bottom of this complex and dialectically contradictory phenomenon of Baathist rule, it is necessary to place it into the context of two historical sea changes that have marked this epoch.

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  1. you’re behind the curve on this, Looie: The Symphony of Church and State

    Comment by mark — August 26, 2017 @ 11:54 am

  2. This essay was too long. Answer: the alt-right supports MENA dictators (and Russia) because they kill uppity brown people and explicitly oppose “democracy”, end of story.

    Comment by max — August 26, 2017 @ 11:26 pm

  3. They also hate Maduro cause he’s a “commie”, unlike Assad. (So I guess the essay could have been two sentences, not one.)

    Comment by max — August 26, 2017 @ 11:28 pm

  4. Okay, next time I will stay within 140 characters.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 26, 2017 @ 11:35 pm

  5. And if Al Qaeda & its affiliates were to take over Syria, how might this effect the class alignment in the Middle East?

    Comment by jacobo — August 28, 2017 @ 12:40 am

  6. I have no idea. Why don’t you answer your own question?

    Comment by louisproyect — August 28, 2017 @ 12:43 am

  7. Answer to Question 5 is : “Badly”

    Comment by Ted — August 28, 2017 @ 8:38 pm

  8. Don’t worry, Ted. Assad is the victor in this war. He will be free to torture, exploit and kill with impunity carrying on in the family dynasty’s customary fashion.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 28, 2017 @ 8:43 pm

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