On Syria as a Personal Choice
I have not written in a very long time. The only interruption in this long hiatus came as a result of a (very) short-lived resurgence of hope. And a very misguided one at that. But I am who I am, I cling to the straws in face of reason.
Since then, the popular movement for freedom in Syria has turned into a crisis. Its central theme is no longer freedom, or reform, nor is its conclusion guaranteed within these elements. It has turned into a crisis of a Watan (homeland), a crisis on every level that used to define this place. A crisis of the social, the political, and down to the very personal.
Despite the hope, it is plainly clear now that no one in the country or beyond has the kind, or form, of power needed to find, let alone, force, a solution. However, there should be no mistake of who is the sole and direct responsible party for this. After almost 3 months, the moral prerogative was/is clear to see, and I will not delve further into that discussion. The reality, though, hardly ever corresponds to our moral dispositions. Certainly never in the context of monumental, and traumatic changes.
I told a dear friend yesterday that it is at times like this, not ones of personal tragedy, that I deeply wished there were a God. At least, I wished I believed in such a God. I wished, nay, longed, for a salvation from this cruel and devastating reality that is my own freedom. The freedom to make one’s own choices, and take absolute responsibility for them, and their consequences. But there isn’t such salvation, and I don’t believe in God.
What we have in essence is the implosion of these last 40 years. 40 years of a process of systematic dismantlement of society as an entity formed by the positive dynamics of power (be it, progress, war, production, etc.), into smaller ones defined by a zero-sum of negative power (interdiction, staleness, silence, etc.). 40 years of enforced alienation over a society that was already, at its infancy, a very ill one.
Marxist thought holds that capitalist systems, by their very nature, rather than by design or intent, apply the proletariate to the forms of suffering and alienation that will bring about their demise. A similar analogy could be made here. The raison d’etre of the Baathist rule in Syria (Baathi, is no longer used in the ideological sense, but rather in the historical one, and to differentiate it from other forms of totalitarianism) was certainly not the destruction of the social dynamics of the state, rather the reshaping of these dynamics in order to preserve a favorable status quo in time and space. But nevertheless, the new dynamics that were established brought, within them, the demise and eventual implosion of this status quo. That much is clear.
While the implosion of a capitalist society under the slow (or explosive) advance of the proletariate, will bring about, in the short term, a sort of inversion within the same society, the implosion we’re witnessing now will only burn the once-fragile competing clay entities into hard stone. The fire raging in Syria is much like the fires that raged through the palace cultures of the Bronze Age, and left us with the fire-hardened clay tablets that provide the only historical evidence of that period.
Whether we (or anyone, really) can stop that fire, before society is completely ossified along its fault lines, or not, is a question I should leave to the better informed amongst us. But to venture a little into the realm of probabilities, I personally do not think so. Barring, of course, another traumatic implosion within the four active principles at this stage (namely, the regime, the protestors, the silent observant majority and the outside world). None of these elements seems vulnerable, at this stage, for such a possibility.
Needless to say, I am not a historian, nor a political or a social scientist, and these are but my own personal readings on the situation. I do not write them here because I claim any objective quality to them, rather the exact opposite. They are here because they reflect the moral choices I have made, and how and why they came about. They can be interpreted, based on what will come about in the future, as either an admission or an escape.
Since March, I have asked myself many times, what is it that I have left in that place? Why is it that someone who has admitted many a time to his complete disillusionment, and alienation from that place and its people, why is it that he feels, so much more than any other time, as part of this present, and the future to come? How has this not completely burned down any dogmatic and childish residue of this place inside of me?
The only rational answer I could find (as of yet) is one of —dangerous, one has to say— curiosity. For better or for worse, I have a chance to be part of this history for the first time in my short life, and for all I know, that chance may never come again.