An Interview with Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm: The Syrian Revolution and the Role of the Intellectual


Over at The Republic:

As opposed to many leftists and Marxists in Syria today and in the world, Sadiq Jalal al-Azm’s position is clear and unequivocal in its support for the Syrian revolution. What are the roots of this leftist ambiguity towards the revolution? And what consequence will this have for the future of the left in Syria?

Due to the nature of this question, I will begin briefly with an introduction about myself. Many ask me if the popular Intifada in Syria against the tyrannical regime, its corrupt government, surprised me or not. My answer is yes and no at the same time. Yes, I was surprised by the timing of the outbreak of the Intifada, with a lot of apprehensiveness at the beginning due to the possibility of quick repression, which I knew was a possibility due to the institutionalized rigidity of the security apparatus in Syria, as well as its repressive ferocity, penetration of the pores of the Syrian body, and its continuous control of nearly all its movements. This reality constituted a type of inferiority complex (in me and in others) due to my impotence in the face of this military regime’s overall power, as well as due to the impossibility of pronouncing a possible “no” against it (individually or collectively). I dealt with this inferiority complex by adapting slowly to this stressful tyrannical reality, and through the careful introspection of the rules and principles of interacting with it, with all that’s required of hypocrisy and pretending to believe and accept, secrecy, word manipulation and circumvention of the regime’s brute force. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to either continue with my normal life and do my routine work and daily errands, or preserve my mental and physical health.

So, why would I not align with this overwhelming popular revolution against this form of tyranny and oppression, regardless of the nature of the convictions that I hold whether they be leftist, Marxist, moderate, or even right-wing?