I was thinking this morning that when there was a revolution in Portugal in the 70s, the British left scrambled around to find groups in Portugal it could relate to. Thus the SWP found itself befriending a group called the PRP-BR, with the BR I think standing for revolutionary brigades, as they were just coming out of a guerilla struggle against Franco's dictatorship. You have to show solidarity before you earn the right to criticize. When the Left here has seen fit to lecture Syrians on the dangers of hitching their cause to imperialism (misunderstanding that any involvement of the West in Syria has not, and will not, have the character of régime change), while doing nothing to support Syrians, one can only look on in despair at the short-sightedness. Because there has been a revolution there, because hundreds of thousands have died and hundreds of thousands more will likely do so, because it is hard to get to grips with an armed conflict in a part of the world where America is not the dominant imperial power, this will be what people will lambast the Left with for a generation from now.
There was actually a half-decent joint statement put out by Socialist Resistance, Workers Power, the Anti-Capitalist Initiative and the International Socialist Network, which called for the arming of the rebels, along with some patronising stuff about how important it was to link up with the more-pro-Assad types in Stop The War to prevent American aggression. But there has been precious little stuff apart from that that I can even see on their respective websites. Workers Power may be an honourable exception there.
I heard a guy from Greepeace asked the other day, about their members detained in Russia, "What else can you do at the moment?" He said, "We do what we can. We're demonstrating outside the Russian embassy today, we have a petition." If the Left doesn't do the same things over Syria, what is its point?
I haven't heard much from anyone on the left over Syria since the intervention crisis predictably went away. The ISN had a meeting on Syria and Egypt, but nobody bothered to say even how that went or if anything came out of it.
It would be useful if socialists had an input to the Syria revolution. A strategy that could be based on the seizure of the means of production, of transportation, of the power supply, might have cut short the resistance of a state with nothing more than guns to defend itself. The historic collaboration of the Left with the Ba'athist dictatorship in Syria is why that's not a popular option right now. But if it just presents what is going on as a series of images, as in the video below, it isn't going to add to anyone's understanding. Or have a credible answer when asked, "What did you do about Syria?"
Here's a passage from Colin Barker's book, Revolutionary Rehearsals*, about the Iranian Left:
"If one wants an index of the weakness of the Iranian Left in 1979, one has to look no further than their failure to campaign openly among the workers, in the Shoras [councils] and elsewhere, in unambiguous support for the rights of women to determine their own lives, of the rights of the religious minorities to pursue their faith in complete freedom, and of the rights of the national minorities to secede from the Iranian state. A movement against oppression and exploitation that is divided and sectionalised is a movement more easily defeated...The more advanced the workers movement, the more it can urge its allies to adopt its own principles."