Western left-opportunism, and “denying agency” in Syria.

Having last week expounded upon the duplicity of the western “liberal lefts” position on the imperialist-sponsored fascist coup in Ukraine, a particularly egregious example of the same petty bourgeois sophism so pervasive within western civilised dissent has once again reared its ugly head. In what can only be described as emo agitprop, the western petty bourgeoisie’s flagship of misinformation and imperialist propaganda recently published an article on Syria by self-proclaimed “leftist Artist” Molly Crabapple.

The article covers a demonstration organised by an anti-government Syrian activist, who has chosen to read the names of 100,000 victims of the Syrian war standing outside the White House for 72 hours. The intended symbolism of such a demonstration is quite difficult to ascertain, particularly considering a sound historical analysis shows that western imperialism – ergo: the White House – bears huge responsibility for the deaths of those very people now being used to “guilt” the western public into supporting some form of further “action” against the Syrian state – meaning, (overt) US military intervention, NATO freedom-bombs, etc. Moreover, it seems that both Crabapple and her subject have forgotten, or are intentionally omitting the fact that over half of those victims met their deaths at the hands of the western/Israeli/wahhabi monarch-sponsored fundamentalist dominated militia; the very same militia Crabapple is now lionizing as “revolutionaries”.

Naturally for the Guardian, the narrative fulfills the many western falsehoods propagated on behalf of the reactionary insurgency since it began, by doing so, it provides an opportunity to expand upon and expose the role that western left-opportunism has played in buttressing said falsehood throughout the Syrian crisis. Further still, it provides a chance to counter the twisted theories and phrasing being used to attack anti-imperialists and anti-revisionists from within the western petty bourgeois “celebrity-left” camp, through which Crabapple and Co. postulate the absurd notion that westerners with the tendency to focus on the role of western imperialism represent “perverse Orientalists”.

Barring the usual “40 year dictatorship” slogans so typical of the deluded and self-righteous cheerleaders of western bourgeois “democracy”, the historical context for Crabapple’s Syrian “revolution” is built via the rosy portrayal of a wave of protests that “swept the world”. In Syria, a “police state and neoliberal reforms” are the central material factors used to explain the crisis.

These puerile simplifications are employed to distort and minimise the primary role of western predatory imperialism, either that, or simply through blind stupidity and laziness. In such a decontextualised analysis, there is no space available to document the years of western-led economic sanctions and subversion; nor is any space permitted to analyse the sociopolitical effects of the five-year drought that had decimated Syria’s agricultural industry prior to 2011 – causing widespread impoverishment to the disaffected rural sections of society. There is no economic analysis whatsoever. More importantly, there is no space afforded to document the decades of western support and collusion with Saudi Arabia’s sponsorship of ,ilitant fundamentalist ideologues, with the direct aim of unleashing them and their sectarian hatred upon Syria (or any other target in the region, see: Libya, Hezbollah, Iraq, etc) when political needs required; no space is given for the direct sponsorship of western imperialism toward the ex-pat “SNC” puppet administrators travelling between hotel suites in Ankara, Doha and Riyadh, or the thousands of US State Department-trained “activists” and NGO workers flooding media and commentary with false or bias accounts, staged photos and misinformation. Any critique of the western corporate media, and its complimentary “tailored analysis” industrys disgraceful servitude to western government narratives is completely omitted – regardless of the fact that both form essential components of modern “soft” imperialism.

To suggest western imperialism has invested in any of these individuals, policies or organisations with any sort of altruistic intention is comparable to suggesting over sixty years of historical evidence to the contrary is worthless; negating any value in historical materialism and dialectics. Omission of context and crude historical revisionism are entirely deliberate and further prohibit the prospect of reaching a sound political or moral examination of events and their evolving processes. Dialectics, logic, critical distance and contradictory evidence are replaced with emotionally driven narrow-framed discourse to remove the wider context – therefore western culpability – and form the false depiction of a “popular peaceful uprising versus despotic regime”.

Crabapple informs us that “it took four months for Syria’s protests to become an armed insurgency”. This blatant lie is a most crucial one in upholding western Imperialisms false narrative on Syria. Yet, as we shall see, while the celebrity-lefts continue to blindly recycle the lie, it has long been refuted, in even the most loyal organs of western imperialism itself.

Once the underlying causes of the crisis have been distorted beyond any semblance of reality, whitewashing the “rebels” and their imperialist sponsors’ role as the instigators and primary actors responsible for excacerbating the crisis, Crabapple then attempts to bolster the false distinctions between the supposedly moderate and extremist rebel groups with the double fabrication that Al Qaeda took six months to enter the fray, and that Saudi Arabia took twenty months to “officially” start supplying arms; thereby portraying the fundamentalists emergence at around February to March 2012.

This is quite the perversion, and once again can only be interpreted as pure stupidity, or outright disingenuity in the aim of furnishing the imaginary “secular moderate freedom fighters” with unwarranted moral platform.

Contrary to such crude and uninformed analysis, and long known by anyone paying attention, the dominant proto-Salafi militia, such as Ahrar-al Sham – who form the vanguard of the insurgency throughout, and are inextricably linked to both overt Al Qaeda elements and ostensible “moderates” in thrall to Imperialism – openly admit to planning a violent insurgency before any protests in Syria began. These militia, sharing much in common with their overtly extreme counterparts, were most certainly active in the first weeks of the crisis, as evidenced by the oppositions own death-toll accounts: the one hundred-plus Syrian soldiers and police killed during March-April 2011 alone belies the fantasy that the violence erupted simply through state oppression of peaceful protesters.

Further contradicting the “peaceful protester-moderate rebel” narrative, corresponding incidents of organised violence against state security became widespread by the middle of 2011 (see: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), the massacre of 120 soldiers in Jisr al Shugour (20 miles from the Turkish border) in June 2011, provides but one prominent example. Either Crabapple is oblivious to all this, or is deliberately omitting it for the same reasons listed above. In attempting to skirt the issue, Crabapple regurgitates the evidence-free conspiracy theory that the soldiers were executed by their own superiors for refusing to fire on protesters, further dehumanizing the Syrian army.

Another critical falsehood follows, and one that has been endlessly spewed to form unwarranted moral platform in the face of compelling contradictory evidence. Crabapple claims that “crimes are committed on all sides. But only the Assad regime, with its superiority of force … could kill on the scale and with the consistency that turned war crimes into a tactic of war.” Again, this is a blatant lie and distortion of the facts. The theory that the Syrian airforce’s bombardment of rebel encampments in civilian zones equates to a larger percentage of the death toll is complete logical fallacy void of any material evidence. The opposite is in fact true: according to the US Chief of Staff, 90% of deaths in Syria have been incurred by gunshot or ground-to-ground artillery; weapons which the rebels have had, and used in abundance since the early stages. It has been amply documented that every stage of western, Turkish or Gulf initiated military support to the rebels has resulted in a huge increase in both the death-toll, and civilian displacement – most notably in the period between late 2011, when Russia and China made it clear they would block any Libya-style No Fly Zone attempts, and July 2012, when the CIA and Gulf states dramatically increased the arms shipments to rebels.

Death tolls provided by anti-government activists such as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) – used as a principal source for western media, the UN, and western humanitarian “NGO’s”, no less – show it is the fundamentalist rebels that are likely responsible for the majority of killing. In its latest tally, the SOHR claims that 55,000 Syrian army and national defence force personnel have been killed during the conflict, accounting for almost 40% of total deaths, whereas rebel deaths – including 10,000 foreign fighters – amount to 33,000, accounting for almost 25% of the total, leaving roughly 50,000 civilian deaths, or 35% of the total.

Using these figures; if one were to equally divide the civilian deaths between government and opposition forces, then the “revolutionaries” would be responsible for close to 80,000 people killed, or around 55% of the total – unless of course one were to posit the absurd theory that thousands of disparate fundamentalist militia have the ability to kill twice as many professional soldiers than they lose, while avoiding a considerable toll on civilians within the urban zones they invade and militarize.

The equally false portrayal that a majority of Syrians oppose the government is omnipresent throughout such commentary, and of course, this is another blatant lie. An example of just how far-removed from reality this perception is was exposed way back in January 2012 – at the height of domestic anti-government sentiment and western agitprop – when a Qatari-funded YouGov poll found that 55% of Syrians,  a massive majority considering the political conditions, still supported the government. This majority has undoubtedly continued to rise as the conflict has dragged on, primarily as a result of the barbaric practices employed by the rebels in civilian areas they encamp, ethnically cleanse, militarize, and generally terrorize the remaining inhabitants of – a sentiment further intensified through the prolonged incompetence of the ex-pat puppets in five-star hotels, elevated to the lofty position of “the sole representatives of the Syrian people” by virtue of imperialism alone. Needless to say, the poll and its results were completely whitewashed from the western media narrative and was most observantly ignored by the western petty bourgeois opportunists, who find themselves parodying William Hague when claiming to speak on behalf of the “Syrian people”.

Based on the fact a majority of Syrians support the government, and would therefore face the wrath of the fundamentalist rebels rather than the army they see as protecting them, a fact which is further evidenced by the vast majority of internally displaced people fleeing “rebel liberation” for the refuge of government safe-zones; then the wilful misrepresentation of the death toll becomes evermore deplorable. It can only be explained by Crabapple and the opportunists being so indoctrinated by their own narrow parameters and dehumanizing terminology; they simply don’t see the tens of thousands of dead Syrian soldiers, their families, and the majority of Syrian civilians who support the government as people worth accounting for. Crabapple and the pseudo-lefts in turn defile the victims of the wahhabi mercenaries and imperialism in Syria by attempting to blame their fate on the very actors protecting them, effectively turning the victim into the oppressor. The only other explanation is, once again, blind stupidity.

Over and above, it has long been known that western special forces, alongside Gulf, Jordanian, Lebanese factions allied to Saudi Arabia, and their Turkish and Israeli counterparts, have been actively conspiring with, and militarily supporting, what are essentially fundamentalist militia – to the tune of billions of dollars and thousands of tonnes of arms. It is these actors accountable for setting in motion a violent insurgency via the fundamentalist proxies they had been fomenting since at least 2006, and now continue to do so without even the pretense of plausible deniability.

The argument the pseudo-lefts are now attempting to throw at western anti-imperialists is one of utter opportunism and deception. Crabapple mimics Zizek (and other servants of bourgeois intelligentsia), and asserts that the emphasis on predatory western imperialism’s role when analysing conflicts and crises abroad – the emphasis espoused by westerners no less! – is in fact a “perverse kind of Orientalism” that removes and belittles the “agency” (another delightful abstraction implanted into petty bourgeois leftist discourse) of indigenous people.

How damning one might say, but where does this “logic” end? For instance, if one opposed the imperialist rape of Iraq, then did one oppose the “agency” of Ahmed Chalabi and all the other reactionary cretins who allied with western imperialism? Did they who opposed the imperialist destruction of Libya – whose position has now been fully vindicated, despite the grotesque doublespeak of Bernhard Henri Levy and his acolytes – “deny the agency” of Al Qaeda, Salafi warlords and the criminals now running riot and destroying the remnants NATO left behind?

The glaring contradiction is lay bare with the aid of a further simple example that may especially perplex the western opportunists who feign support for Palestinian Resistance: if one opposes the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, is one opposing Zionist “agency”?

Applying this “logic” to the Syrian question, if western anti-imperialists “deny the agency” of Syrians by opposing a fundamentalist-led insurgency sponsored by imperialism, then what exactly do the opportunists deny when ignoring the majority of Syrians that oppose the wahhabi revolutionaries!? In the western liberal-left equation, this majority of Syrians simply don’t exist, they have no “agency” worth even considering, let alone their right to self-determination. The opportunists are in fact misrepresenting said “agency” they hold in such high esteem by falsely portraying a minority of localised dissent, alongside a fundamentalist insurgency orchestrated and sponsored by western imperialism, as representative of the entire Syrian population. The opportunists accuse us anti-imperialists of Orientalism and “denying agency” while committing the very act! A case of pure cognitive dissonance, or simply a feeble attempt at creating confusion.

Such fallacious arguments and semantic trickery is employed in the vain attempt to shut down critical analysis that does not abide by western bourgeois political ideology and partisan agenda. In reality, it is the western pseudo-lefts who act as the agents of western imperialism, betraying self-determination and the foundations of internationalist socialism. To engage in such pointless obfuscation and theorizing is to deliberately obstruct simple material fact, historical dialectics, a “ruthless criticism of all that exists” and the correct examinations and conclusions to be drawn in the international sense.

Lenin was forced to spend great energy in combatting the same strands of left-opportunism one hundred years ago, rightly describing it as “the principle enemy within the working class movement”. The modern celebrity-lefts’ distortions and twisted theories represent nothing more than the vile opportunism witnessed within the socialist parties during the outbreak of WWI, when the so-called Marxists chose to side with their national bourgeoisie against the bourgeoisie and the working classes of hostile nations. The European opportunists who chose to employ the catchphrases of social chauvinism and act as the agents of their own bourgeoisie in “defending the fatherland” are today reflected by the western petty bourgeois “socialists” and “leftists” that endlessly obscure the international characteristics of modern capitalism and its inevitable antagonism, in turn diminishing the pre-eminent role, and therefore culpability, of western imperialism.

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Ukraine, Imperialism, and the sophism of liberal “left” media.

Western media’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis has reached epic proportions of bias and despicable hypocrisy, and once more, the western liberal “left” media spectrum is busily laying the groundwork for imperialist-friendly narratives.

Having last year no-platformed a Syrian nun who had the audacity to protest against western-sponsored takfiri mercenaries in Syria, chief pseudo-dissenter of the British liberal “left”, Owen Jones, has kindly decided to educate the masses on the finer points of the Ukrainian crisis.

True to form, and synonymous with the vast majority of western media, Jones begins his narrative with crass revisionism, claiming that Western governments have been “restrained” in their response to what he describes as a “Russian invasion”. Yet, and quite obvious to most, the events in Ukraine did not commence with Russia adding to its troop numbers in the Crimean peninsular. In reality, the chain of events leading to this particular crisis began when state-members of the European Union, led by the United States and its NATO partners, instigated a violent coup d’etat, through the fomentation and manipulation of a disillusioned minority, alongside the overt sponsorship of Nazi-sympathising oligarchs and their fascist shock-troops. This is not to mention the equally relevant economic origins of the crisis, nor the decades of NATO-instigated war, ethnic division, and social antagonism in the former Soviet bloc in the desired aim of militarily “containing” Russia. When viewed in the wider historical context, Russia’s supposed “invasion” of Ukraine is in fact a muted reaction to the aggressive policies of the Western states. Jones and the liberal “lefts” blatant disregard of the historical process in turn bolsters the false portrayal of a “restrained” western Empire competing with an insubordinate lesser state, in this case Russia.

To omit such vital historical context, the consequent processes, interconnections and their correct chronology, and then duplicitously begin the narrative from the falsehood of a “Russian invasion”, is to engage in the most vile form of historical revisionism.

Moreover, by engaging in the semantics of western bourgeois media and falsely portraying Russia’s limited military manoeuvres in Crimea as an “invasion”, “leftists” such as Jones help to buttress western imperialisms false moral equivalence. In actual fact, the two principal geopolitical actors, the Russian state on the one hand, and the US Empire on the other, are nothing close to comparable in the context of the current crisis in Ukraine, or any other modern conflict. To equate Russia defending – arguably warranted – “interests” on its own borders and allied regions, with aggressive imperialism acting as the catalyst, is beyond stupidity, it is purposeful semantic trickery, propagated in order to demonize “them” and “their” actions, while legitimizing “us” and “ours”. Such use of poorly disguised social chauvinism to form bias narratives is but typical of the bourgeois British liberal, intrinsic within supposed “leftist” media.

Unfortunately, Jones’ muddleheaded sophism has only just begun. Having distorted the underlying historical processes and causes of the crisis, whitewashed the culpability of western imperialism thereby equating it to the lesser target state, in turn building a false moral platform for imperialist aggression, Jones now turns to fascist apologia. While correctly pointing out the “AK-47 wielding.. right-wing extremists” and the subsequent seizure of power via illegal and anti-democratic means, Jones then immediately attempts to mitigate their central role, and the equally important role the fascist shock-troops played in the “victorious uprising”, as he now calls it. “This was not a coup,..” claims Jones, “..but a genuinely popular uprising in the country’s western and central regions, if not in its east and south.” The contradiction is evident in this sentence alone; what exactly is a “genuine uprising” that only reaches the “western and central regions” of any state? Furthermore, what is Jones’ material evidence, let alone criteria, for determining an uprising in less than half of a country is “popular”? Further still, what is Jones’ legal, nay, logical reasoning behind avowing a coup with the title of “Government”?

Such slogans and terminology represent nothing more than liberal quackery of the highest order. Jones has no idea just how “popular” the heavily manufactured protests and opposition groups are, or ever were in Ukraine, or whether they amounted to a big enough demographic to be labelled as the crude abstraction of a “genuine uprising”. Contrary to Jones’ rosy portrayal, more than half of Ukraine totally ignored the Maidan anti-government protests, the eastern half of the country is almost universally opposed to the fascist coup regime in Kiev while local authorities are quite literally asking for Russian aid and protection, not to mention the further intricacies of what has for centuries been a Russian-aligned, virtually autonomous region of Crimea.

Does this sound like a “genuine”, or even “popular” “victorious uprising” of an entire state of forty-plus million people, or does it resemble a violent coup, verging on organised ethnic antagonism, orchestrated by imperialism?

Perhaps the (declared) $5 billion dollars the US State Dept has put towards engineering regime change via the fascist groups now seizing power may have helped the “uprising” become a “victorious” one. No doubt the US-EU bourgeoisie doling out cookies and hand-picking the “Governments” new leadership benefitted its domestic “popularity” in Ukraine enormously. Or perhaps the xenophobia, Nazi iconography and overt racism espoused by Svoboda’s henchmen became so “genuine” that there is no longer any room for a dissenting voice; effectively rendering the fascist vanguard and its acolytes “popular” enough to call a Government. Maybe the former Zionist occupiers leading various neo-fascist thugs in Ukraine helped them gain some “popularity”, or the snipers randomly killing both police and protesters – allegedly employed by the opposition – helped to align the disparate factions of dissent into a “genuine” grassroots unified movement. Then again, perhaps not. Regardless of all this reaction, fascism, thuggery, alienation and social antagonism, imperialism can surely rely on the empty phrases and liberal sophism of western bourgeois media to afford their proxies the veneer of respectability.

According to Jones, there have been no “systematic” attacks on Russian speakers, and although the coup regime are illegally seizing power, including every top position in the Duma and what remains of the military and police, they “do not own the whole revolt, and will only be strengthened by Russian intervention”. To suggest that no party “owns the revolt” is a meaningless abstraction. Does Jones seriously believe that no faction is leading, or “owns”, the coup? That no specific faction is currently enforcing its will unabated with the direct support of western imperialism?

It only takes a cursory glance at the tons of reports and prior documentation (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) that expose Ukraine’s “uprising” as being both led and dominated by reactionary fascists sponsored by imperialism. Yet Jones is either too stupid to see this vanguard long in “ownership” of the revolt, or he is deliberately marginalizing them from the reality of the situation to afford Empires’ proxies with unwarranted moral platform. Whats more, the insinuation that Russian “intervention” against said fascist proxies, will inevitably increase their power is completely bereft of the context of who actually empowered and sustained them up until, and no doubt beyond this very moment! In Jones backward narrative, it is as if these fascists came to power entirely of their own volition as a result of Russian provocation, forget the direct aid and sponsorship of western imperialism. Again, the historical context of the initial causes, and the western actors responsible for the ascendance of fascists in Ukraine has been erased, and replaced with the anachronism of a Russian reaction.

In the western liberal “lefts” moral equation, killing millions through decades of western Imperial aggression and Russia’s bloodless “invasion” of Crimea “are all symptoms of the same phenomenon”. There is of course some concrete truth in that, but for Jones to use the comparison in the Ukrainian context is fraudulent and deliberately misleading, it distorts the historical and material causes of this specific conflict. To then further posit the simplistic notion that “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine… would have undoubtedly happened anyway” in turn bolsters the skewed perspective of western imperialism, neglecting cause and effect and vital historical context that expose real culpability. It is to demand Russia’s hyped “invasion” should be judged minus the imperialist provocation that instigated it, while further neglecting the decades of western imperialist slaughter, expansion and provocation preceding the latest violent upheaval. Russia is therefore deemed equally, if not more so, culpable for the Ukrainian crisis, while the perception of the predatory western imperialists has been sanitized, and their massive culpability reduced dramatically from the equation.

A further example of the sophism and superficiality so inherent to the modern liberal media class came in the form of a pseudo-moralistic rant from RT “Journalist” Abbey Martin. Immediately lauded by western media liberals for her “principled”, yet ahistorical, and uninformed outburst denouncing the Russian Governments “military intervention” in Ukraine, Martin went on to explain that although she knew little of the situation – why would she? – she opposed “all military intervention”. Well, how principled one might say, but what exactly is the “principle” of non-intervention other than a utopian liberal absurdity? Moreover, what is the worthwhile principle behind denouncing a military manoeuvre you know little of, or can even attempt to explain? Such pandering to empty humanitarian slogans and simplification of complex sociopolitical processes can only be explained by the commodification and subsequent self-gratification that petty bourgeois liberals crave when chasing their individualist desires. Fight the man, doesn’t matter who, or why, just make sure people see you doing it.

Dumbing-down media coverage of complex issues and historical revisionism within all “sides” of the bourgeois media gamut is of course not exclusive to the recent coverage in Ukraine, precisely the same deceptive methods are employed on an endless scale for the same reasons listed above. Libya and Syria provide two further recent examples of how the media’s supposedly “left” and liberal outlets and pundits often fulfill a vital role in legitimizing imperialist aggression; western media’s almost overwhelming support for the imperialist plunder of Iraq arguably provides us with the definitive modern illustration.

Critical historical processes and the chronology of events have been manipulated, misinformed, diverted through false moral platform, or omitted entirely to form western-friendly narratives that remove imperial culpability. Demonization campaigns that effectively “other” peoples, governments and targeted leaders are commonplace in the liberal “left” spectrum of western media just as they are in the “right”. Perhaps the greatest example of the liberal media’s subservience to corporate power is provided by the Guardian newspaper. Its lurid role in promoting religious fundamentalist proxies of western imperialism in Libya and Syria, and the masses of misinformation and bias narratives propagated on their behalf, again exposes the almost complete lack of disparity between the “right” and “left” bourgeois western press. In both cases, and increasingly in Ukraine, media manipulation of timelines, and liberal apologia for what are essentially reactionary proxies of imperialism became critical tools in maintaining western public acquiescence, or worse still, ignorance and support of aggressive western provocations and covert war. Bar a few dissenting voices in the opinion pages, the Guardian’s supposedly liberal “left” coverage of western imperialism is now virtually indistinguishable to that of the shameless right.

No longer can overt militaristic imperialism be forced upon the western masses as it was in the immediate post-9-11 era, hence, covert proxy-war has taken center stage. A most crucial tool of the western bourgeoisie in achieving the concessions and acquiescence of the masses during this current period of covert imperialist violence, has once again exposed itself in the form of the petty bourgeois opportunists, the “social democrats”, the liberal “lefts” of the modern epoch and their corporate media lackeys.

Ominously, and without a shred of self-awareness it seems, Jones warns us: “there is a frightening tradition of conservatives and liberals helping fascists into power.” Indeed, here, Jones is almost correct, but curiously fails to analyse the definitive classes currently aiding fascists into power in Ukraine, ie: the petty bourgeois western liberal class and its bourgeois neoconservative counterparts, both essentially factions of western imperialism. Neither is there any attempt to analyse or distinguish the class which has played the pivotal role in aiding fascists into power in the service of the bourgeoisie throughout modern history, perhaps the result of such an analysis would be too close to the bone.