The Left and the People: Extending Hamid Dabashi’s Critique

Vijay Prashad in Jadaliyya:

ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 04 15.55“The overall anti-imperialist sentiment remains strong among the Syrian population and the attempts by parts of the Left to smear the entire uprising as a stand-in for imperialism belies a Manichean worldview that badly misunderstands the country’s history. I don’t see any contradiction in opposing intervention and simultaneously being against the Assad regime—which, we need to remember, has embraced neoliberalism and consistently used a rhetoric of ‘anti-imperialism’ to obfuscate a practice of accommodation with both the US and Israel.” Adam Hanieh, author, Capital and Class in the Gulf Arab States, 2011.

One of Hamid Dabashi’s most acidic critiques of Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran is that she indulged in the “systematic denigration of an entire culture of revolutionary resistance.” A simple index for the Left is to protect itself from this kind of amnesia. The Syrian people threw off the violent regime of imperial France in their Great Revolt from 1925 to 1927. The revolt inaugurated a trek into Arab nationalism, whose most eloquent energies were absorbed and distorted by the Ba’athist party that has ruled Syria since 1963. Nonetheless the Syrian people incubate a thirst for freedom from their suffocation by the Ba’ath regime. The problem has been that the power of the Syrian state and the enchained geopolitics of the region have denied them, for now.

More here.