As the world burns. We are long removed from those utopic socialist ideals of revolution, the magna cartas of romanticism, where naive complacency was quickly subjugated by a new variant of the exploitation of nature and of the proletariat it was supposed to serve. Walter Benjamin saw in revolution signs of the messianic zero hour, that small opening, the little vessel that could be filled, the slim chance in the struggle for the suppressed past. The burst of now time that would decimate time out of its preordained trajectory, hitherto governed by the mundane laws of gravity, the homogenized course of history. In the Arab Spring, the various “rebel” oppositions would be the wiser to Benjamin’s own perception which led to an abandonment naive revolutionary demand for justice, which could be sated satisfied in stripped down form by substituting the present laws with others designed and idealized as being more just. To Benjamin, these styles of demands appeared as a mythical, destructive contentions, antagonistic to the divine.
It was pure violence. The sanctity of chaos, but far from the reality of boots and corpses on the ground. Walter Benjamin: The French Revolution viewed itself as Rome incarnate. It evoked ancient Rome the way fashion evokes costumes of the past. Fashion has a flair for the topical, no matter where it stirs in the thickets of long ago; it is a tiger’s leap into the past. This jump, however, takes place in an arena where the ruling class give the commands. The same leap in the open air of history is the dialectical one, which is how Marx understood the revolution.
For Hannah Arendt, she differentiated between American and French revolutions, albeit or in spite of her own condescending bourgeois bias, through an understanding of the ensuing reign of terror in the latter. Talleyrand as the piece of shit in the silk stocking. To Arendt there was a distinction between liberty and freedom, the upheaval supplying the energizing juices to create a pluralistic system that would provide functional governance. Essentially, she asserted that liberation is the freedom from tyranny whereas freedom is a more arduous pursuit, a winning of the peace, the active engagement in public affairs through uncensored free speech,free thought,free association, and assembly.Theoretically then, this expanded and comprehensive concept of freedom, charged with the revolutionary drive, is then enacted and manifested in the public sphere; the creation of a new, out of the box structure, in which individuals are active in political life….
(see link at end)…Fear abounds, too. “The security forces have always been so strong here that many people just don’t believe Assad will go,” says Mustafa Ahmad, a local village leader. Having seen the violence tearing nearby Aleppo apart, with Raqqa city now home to thousands of displaced people, many here on the vast swathes of bronzed, sun-parched land do not want the battle to be brought to their doorstep. “Bashar Assad is a dog, a murderer,” says a mother of eight. “But we don’t like the fighters either. We are tired and want peace.”
Opposition leaders have little truck with these concerns, however. They are focused more on making pacts with other rebel groups than with mollifying the local civilians, and are pushing on down to add villages, towns and fields in Raqqa to the list of liberated areas. “Revolutions are messy,” admits Abu Azzam, the local rebel commander, with a shrug. For Raqqa, things may get far messier yet. Read More:http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21565249-war-has-spread-fertile-region-east-aleppo-next-battlefield
(see link at end)…As Syria’s civil war intensifies, Abdelke reflects the feelings of much of the country’s intelligentsia. Strongly critical of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, they deplore the way the peaceful uprising—which they eagerly supported last year—is being transformed. Its character has become increasingly religious, and foreigners rather than Syrians are driving the change….
“More and more weapons are coming in, and not just basic ones. The Gulf states are paying enormous sums to provide arms, and they have a completely different vision from most Syrians. Even worse, groups of Salafis linked to Al Qaeda are arriving with an outlook on life that is even more closed than that of the Gulf states,” Abdelke says. “We’re moving toward a war between Sunnis and Alawites [the minority offshoot from Shiism to which the Assad family belongs]. We could be facing a real danger of Syria’s fragmentation.”…
Abdelke is a longtime critic of the Assad regime. A member of a left-wing party, he spent two years in prison from 1978 to 1980 before leaving for Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1983 he was told he could not come home. His exile lasted a quarter of a century, but in 2008 he returned to Damascus with dreams but no real hopes of change. On his studio wall is a Parisian slogan from the anti-Sarkozy movements. “Rêve générale” (general dream), it says, a pun on the more familiar call for a general strike (grêve générale)….
Abdelke blames the Syrian government for the escalation of the crisis. It was Assad who provoked the switch to armed rebellion and violence by rejecting dialogue with the opposition when the protests began. But the issue has gone way beyond that, in his view. “The situation is no longer in Syrian hands. The conflict has become regional and international. We are pawns in a big game,” Abdelke says. He hopes Russia and the United States can reach some sort of agreement to end it, but he has little optimism.Read More:http://uslaboragainstwar.org/article.php?id=26531 a
Hannah Arendt: No doubt this form of government, if fully developed, would have assumed again the shape of a pyramid, which, of course, is the shape of an essentially authoritarian government. But while, in all authoritarian government we know of, authority is filtered down from above, in this case authority would have been generated neither at the top nor at the bottom, but on each of the pyramid’s layers; and this obviously could constitute the solution to one of the most serious problems of all modern politics, which is not how to reconcile freedom and equality but how to reconcile equality and authority.”
(see link at end)…Arendt attributes the loss of the spirit of the revolution – what she calls the revolutionary treasure – to one overriding cause. The problem is that the republics that the revolutions created – one after another, whether in France, Russia, or America – left no space for the very freedom that constituted part of the revolutionary treasure. The question Arendt asks is: what kind of institutional spaces could, potentially, preserve a place for the revolutionary spirit of freedom within a republic?
I mention Arendt’s double characterization of the revolutionary spirit now in the shadow of the Arab Spring, the Israeli Summer, and the American Fall. In Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, rebellions liberated the people from oppressive regimes, and rebellions continue to seek liberation in Syria, Sudan, and Bahrain. Around the globe, however, revolutionaries are struggling with Arendt’s question of how to find a revolutionary spirit of freedom within a political order. Amidst the sense of utter disenfranchisement and powerlessness that gave birth to these movements in the very heart of democratic states, we need to work to restore spaces and possibilities for the experience of freedom. Read More:http://www.hannaharendtcenter.org/?p=2659