I have been paying attention to the developments of the Syrian revolution since it started as a protest movement in March 2011 sometimes with great intensity and but more often with a feeling of resignation and powerlessness. I generally feel that ordinary persons such as my self who have minority views are generally ignored by the government particularly regarding foreign policy issues involving genocide or crimes against humanity. The brutal coflicts that developed in Rwanda, Darfur and now Syria are examples.
The recent renewal of news regarding Syria over the issue of President Obama’s famous ‘red line’ and the development of some internal debate within the Social Democrats USA regarding Syria has rekindled my desire to do what I can to help in spite of the odds against success. Part of the process involves a more serious study of the issues. Recently on National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) “On Point” I listened to a discussion between Josh Landis, Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies who opposes any meaningful United States military aid to the Syrian opposition and Shadi Hamid, Director of Research of the Brookings Doha Center, who does favor decisive US military involvement in the Syrian civil war. I was very impressed by Shadi Hamid’s well considered arguments that the United States must support the Syrian opposition much more strongly than it has. I also admire Mr. Hamid’s articles in the Atlantic magazine such as his recent “Why is There a ‘Red Line’ on Chemical Weapons but Not on 70,000 Deaths?” Note. I would also add that in spite of my strong disagreement with the position of Josh Landis on Syria his blog Syria Commentis an excellent source of information regarding the conflict as well.
Recently as a result of reading the Syria SupportGroupnewsletter I have come across the writings of Ammar Abdulhamid a Syrian pro democracy activist who was exiled from Syria in 2005 by the Assad dictatorship. The writings of Ammar Abdulhamid, who lives in the United States now, are full of the details of the inner workings of the important players such as the Alawite militias, the Moslem Brotherhood, and the Islamists in the current civil war. His writings, which also present great analysis, are a must read for those wanting to understand more about what is happening in Syria today. The link to Syria Revolution Digest, Abdulhamid’s site is http://www.syrianrevolutiondigest.com/
Center Socialism is a term I coined myself to name my particular way of being Socialist. Of course that has never been the only name possible. I could also call myself a Socialist Centrist or even a Conservative Socialist. I have some respect for the old European conservatisms of men such as Otto Von Bismark and Edmond Burke, however, given the barbarism and moral decadence of the modern conservative movement that would be highly misleading.
Of course historically socialists have almost always described themselves of being on the political Left either on the liberal left in this nation or in the Marxist Leninist totalitarian left. There is also of a very small libertarian / anarchist left as well.
Why a Center Socialist? Well I am a socialist. My vision of a just society is that of a cooperative socialist society in which the dominate means of production is in the hands of the majority population of worker / owners of cooperative property. The very large modern Mondragon Cooperative Corporation is, I believe, the best successful model of what a future socialist economy might look like. Carl Davidson a Co-Chair of the “Committees of Correspondence for Democrasy and Socialism” has written a very good article “Eleven Talking Points on a 21st Century Socialism” which is close to how I would envision a socialist future. This is the case even as I suspect my politics deviate significantly from Carl Davidson’s more Marxist orientation.
So much for the socialist vision. However socialism to be a real ideology must include more than a plausible vision. A socialist world view must also have a concept of long term strategy and tactics . It must answer such questions as “how do we get from an unjust capitalist society to a just socialist society and which social forces might carry us forward. It also includes many practical questions such as what attitudes should socialists take toward cultural forces such as religious institutions, the family, concepts of gender, morality and general cultural production.
In most of these areas as my life continues I find myself increasingly on the side of what can be called the cultural center. In facing the realm of practical national politics I generally find my self supporting the pragmatic “left of center positions” of the pragmatic Hilliary Clintons and the Barack Obamas of this nation. Of course there is a place for the advocacy of the best positions such as that of a national single payer health insurance plan. However in the end I am with those who choose not to reject good but not perfect policies in the name of the ideal.
I am an officer in the Social Democrats USA, though few members of that organization would describe themselves as Center Socialists.
Most of my political involvement and writing during the last several years has been connected to my participation in the Social Democrats USA. Therefore this blog has suffered. In an effort to remedy this situation. I am going to start by re-posting a post that I recently published on “Socialist Currents” the website / blog of the SD.
While the Social Democrats USA does not have a position regarding the quality of the Obama Administration’s performance in regard to ongoing war in Syria, I do. I believe that the administration’s commitment not to intervene under any circumstances is morally bankrupted.
Enclosed is a link to “Syria Is Not Iraq” an article published in the Atlantic Magazine by Shadi Hamid, the director of research, for the Brookings Institute Doha Center. The article explains extremely well some of the reasons why I believe what I do about this subject.