We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Friday, January 8, 2016

In Syria Petition, an Odd “Left’ Abandoned Concrete Analysis for Demagogy

Click here to access article by Stephen Gowans from What's Left
In May 2013, a group calling itself the Global Campaign for Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution promoted a petition which called for “Solidarity with the Syrian Struggle for Dignity and Freedom.” The petition listed Gilbert Achcar, Richard Seymour, Tariq Ali, Vijay Prashad, Norman Finklestein and Ilan Pape among its supporters. 
It was shocking to read the names Gowans listed in support of ousting Assad, and then I was really upset to read the 2013 petition names which included John Holloway. However, I would award much more respect for Gowans' exposure if he had posted this article much earlier. We all know that hindsight is 20/20, and Gowans by using such a lens seems to adopt a very superior attitude. 

Still, it is a warning to especially all those who are presented with a petition that seems to support a good cause and is supported by others whose judgement we trust. It is also a lesson for activists, who desire the approval of other activists, to maintain as a priority their own critical thinking faculties. Such groupthink is very seductive and can easily lead one astray. 

Truth is the highest virtue and it is a collective effort to strive for the best truth much like everything else. It is no sin to disagree respectfully with other well-meaning activists. A collective effort to arrive at the best truth has been contaminated by living in a capitalist culture whose highest virtues stress individualism and, at the same time, conformity to those who are regarded as "in the know".

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