As a Syrian who has always identified politically with the left, I am particularly appalled by those men and women who call themselves left-wingers — and are therefore supposed to stand in solidarity with struggles for justice worldwide — and yet openly support the regime of the Assads, father and son, who are chiefly responsible for the Syrian disaster.
Following four months of intense bombardment by the Russian air force, Bashar Al-Assad’s army, along with Shiite militias hailing from everywhere and mobilized by the Iranian mullahs, have now finished ‘liberating’ Eastern Aleppo. Liberated from whom? From its inhabitants. More than 250,000 inhabitants were forced to flee their own city to escape massacres, as had the people of Zabadani and Daraya before them, and as will many more Syrians if systematic social and sectarian ‘cleansing’ continues in their country under the cover of a massive media disinformation campaign.
That in Syria itself wealthy residents of Aleppo, belonging to all religious sects, rejoice over having been rid of the “scum” — meaning the poor classes who populated Eastern Aleppo — is not surprising at all. We are accustomed to it: the arrogance of dominant classes is universal.
It defines itself as a forum of countries committed to democracy and the market economy… [Wikipedia]
“Democracy” and “market economy” (aka “capitalism”) have long been Israel’s reiterated mantras, in an attempt to cosy up to other “developed” countries of the world, that use the same phrasing in order to back up their military or economic exploitation of “less developed” people within and without. In fact, this seems to be a very natural coupling.
In his classic study of propaganda, the late Australian scholar Alex Carey writes that the 20th century was marked by three major developments: the rise of democracy, the rise of corporations, and the rise of propaganda to protect corporations from democracy. One of the aims of early 20th century propaganda was to exploit significant symbols: to associate capitalism and big business with liberty and freedom, and unions, state ownership with totalitarian collectivism. In his latest piece M. Shahid Alam’s looks at the final collapse of these connotations along with the general crisis of capitalism.
It has never been easy offering a critique of capitalism or markets to my undergraduate students. Most have never heard an unkind word about these bedrock institutions, which they know to be the foundations of American power and prosperity.
These are hallowed institutions. The power of private capital to produce jobs, wealth and freedom is one of the central dogmas that many Americans absorb with their mother’s milk. To hear this dogma challenged – in any context – is unsettling. I sometimes suspect that this bitter pill is harder to swallow because it emanates from someone who, so transparently, is not a native-born American.
As the weeks pass, however, my students appear to settle down. In the past, they have been reassured to learn that markets have done a good job at delivering prosperity to a few centers of global capitalism. They do work for us, even if they have not worked for most Asians, Africans and Latin Americans.