I’m Explaining a Few Things — Pablo Neruda



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Guernica, 1937 by Pablo Picasso

I’m Explaining a Few Things

You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?
and the rain repeatedly spattering
its words and drilling them full
of apertures and birds?
I’ll tell you all the news.

I lived in a suburb,
a suburb of Madrid, with bells,
and clocks, and trees.

From there you could look out
over Castille’s dry face:
a leather ocean.
My house was called
the house of flowers, because in every cranny
geraniums burst: it was
a good-looking house
with its dogs and children.
Remember, Raul?
Eh, Rafel? Federico, do you remember
from under the ground
my balconies on which
the light of June drowned flowers in your mouth?
Brother, my brother!
loud with big voices, the salt of merchandises,
pile-ups of palpitating bread,
the stalls of my suburb of Arguelles with its statue
like a drained inkwell in a swirl of hake:
oil flowed into spoons,
a deep baying
of feet and hands swelled in the streets,
metres, litres, the sharp
measure of life,
stacked-up fish,
the texture of roofs with a cold sun in which
the weather vane falters,
the fine, frenzied ivory of potatoes,
wave on wave of tomatoes rolling down the sea.

And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings —
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children’s blood.

Jackals that the jackals would despise,
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate!

Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives!

see my dead house,
look at broken Spain :
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers,
from every socket of Spain
Spain emerges
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull’s eye of your hearts.

And you’ll ask: why doesn’t his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land?

Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
The blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
In the streets!

— by Pablo Neruda


Two interviews with author, academic & activist Joseph Daher on his view of the ‘Syrian Conflict,’ one recorded, the other in print



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First interview:

Quote of the description of the content of the recorded interview:

Listen to an interview with author, academic & activist Joseph Daher, recorded in Montreal in Feb. 2016, speaking on the current situation in Syria. Joseph details ideas on the Syrian popular uprising against authoritarianism under the Assad regime.

Joseph is the author of the recently published book “Hezbollah: The Political Economy of Lebanon’s Party of God” (info : here ).

This interview was recorded for broadcast on CKUT radio @radiockut by Stefan Christoff @spirodon for Free City Radio (info: freecityradio.org). The accompanying illustration is by jana traboulsi, thx to @mostafa-henaway for helping to set-up the interview !

Second Interview:

What Do The People Want?

Source: Rabble

In InterviewsPolitics by Shane Ragbags / 


Joseph Daher, author and activist who has a new work coming out on Pluto Press. 

Syria fills our screens and timelines with the results of sieges, Russian jets and barrel bombs leveling Aleppo and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the far-right is on the rise in many European countries, as they scapegoat those fleeing this hell. Rabble’s Shane Ragbags talks with Swiss-Syrian academic and activist Joseph Daher, author of Hezbollah – The Political Economy of Lebanon’s Party of God. He chats about Syria and the fate of a protest movement that inspired others like the Movement of the Squares in Greece, the Indignados and Occupy.

People see all the foreign powers intervening in Syria and understand it as a “proxy war”, a new Cold War. What is happening?

The majority of observers have analysed the Syrian revolutionary process solely in geopolitical terms, from above, and ignored the popular political and socio-economic dynamics at the bottom. It is important to remember that the Syrian revolution is part of the uprisings which have shaken the entire Middle East and North Africa(MENA) since 2010. Those in Syria have been fighting like people in the other countries of the region; for freedom and dignity – against the authoritarian regimes and the religious fundamentalists who are opposed to these objectives.

Between all powers, there is a near consensus around certain points: to liquidate the revolutionary popular movement initiated in March 2011, stabilize the regime in Damascus and keep at the head its dictator Bashar Al-Assad for the short-to-medium term. Their objectives are also to oppose Kurdish autonomy and try to militarily defeat jihadist groups such as Daesh(ISIS). The assistance of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have been absolutely indispensable for regime survival at all levels : political, economic and military.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are the states that want the most to see the fall of the Assad family, but not of the regime and its institutions. The monarchies of the Gulf have wanted to transform this popular revolution into a sectarian civil war because they fear a democratic Syria and a propagation of the revolution in the region that would threaten their power and interests. As a reminder, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar enjoyed good relations with the state before the uprising in 2011. At the same time, we must denounce the role of Western states, which have never assisted the Syrian people, including when it comes to welcoming Syrian refugees. This has included preventing military equipment, such as anti-aircraft defences, from reaching the democratic opposition. The USA’s aim is to leverage an agreement between the regime (or a section of it) and the opposition linked to Western, Turkey and Gulf elites, represented by the Syrian National Coalition. This “Yemen-type solution”, their lesson from Iraq, maintains the structure of old regimes and guarantees the neoliberal and imperialist order that prevailed prior to 2011.

Is there still popular support in Syria for the revolution and its aims?

From the beginning, the regime specifically targeted activists and groups with democratic, progressive and secular positions opposing sectarianism and racism. They targeted those who had initiated demonstrations, civil disobedience and strike action. They undermined the propaganda of the regime that denounced the rising as a conspiracy of armed fundamentalist groups. The resulting militarization of the uprising and increasing power of Islamic fundamentalists, further repressed democratic forces and the objectives of the revolution. Continue reading


My debate with Tim Anderson on Syria: Reflections on the collapse of solidarity — Michael Karadjis | Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis



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My debate with Tim Anderson on Syria: Reflections on the collapse of solidarity

by Micheal Karadjis / July 11, 2017

Source: Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis

On the evening of June 29, I went up against Dr. Tim Anderson, Australia’s most well-known and prolific propagandist for the murderous Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, at the Gaelic Club’s Politics of the Pub evening. A packed house, and, as might be expected at a drinking gathering, stormy enough, the evening highlighted the severity of the challenge of reconstructing a viable, credible, emancipatory political left able to confront today’s neo-liberal capitalist disaster.

Some may well say the issue is “only Syria” and we shouldn’t generalize about the bad politics that some people have on only one issue. That is a valid enough point. Nevertheless, confronted with close to the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of our era – not just “any issue” – a dogged section of the western left has thrown overboard the politics of elementary human solidarity, without which, the bigger task I outlined above would appear to be a very long way away.

As usual, I had too much to say and didn’t get round to making a number of important points, particularly about the role of US imperialism, though I did get to it a little at the end, and in discussion. Some might say that is the most important issue, but given that the US has had very little to do with the dynamics of the Syrian revolution and counterrevolution, it quite simply is not – therefore I believe I was correct to focus more on the actual dynamics of what is going on in Syria rather than abstract geopolitical schemas and prejudices beloved by many western “analysts” who often couldn’t care less about what happens to real people.

Yassin al-Haj Saleh: Syria’s “internal First World” v the “black Syrians”

Before going on, I will first produce the lines I opened with, quoting Syrian Communist dissident Yassin al-Haj Saleh (who spent 16 years in Assadist torture chambers for holding an opinion), because he so eloquently sums up the political method I support on this issue:

“That Syrians have been subject to extreme Palestinization by a brutal, internal Israel, and that they are susceptible to political and physical annihilation, just like Palestinians, in fact lies outside the clueless, tasteless geopolitical approach of those detached anti-imperialists, who ignorantly bracket off politics, economics, culture, the social reality of the masses and the actual history of Syria.”

“This way of linking our conflict to one major global struggle, which is supposedly the only real one in the world, denies the autonomy of any other social and political struggle taking place in the world.

“The anti-imperialist comrade is with the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt for the same reason that led him to “resist” alongside the Syrian regime. Whether in Tunisia, Egypt, or Syria, people are invisible, and their lives do not matter. We remain marginal to some other issue, the only one that matters: the struggle against imperialism (a struggle that, ironically, is also not being fought by these anti-imperialists, as I will argue below).

“The response to this discourse need not be to point out the truth, that the Assadist state is not against imperialism in any way whatsoever. First and foremost, the autonomy of our social and political struggles for democracy and social justice must be highlighted and separated out from this grand, abstract scheme.

“A better starting point would be to look at actual conflicts and actual relationships between conflicting parties. This could involve, for example, thinking about how the structure of a globally dominating Western first world has been re-enacted in our own countries, including Syria. We have an “internal first world” that is the Assadist political and economic elites, and a vulnerable internal third world, which the state is free to discipline, humiliate, and exterminate. The relationship between the first world of Assad and the third world of “black Syrians” perfectly explains Syria’s Palestinization.

Only then would it be meaningful to state that there is nothing within the Assadist state that is truly anti-imperialist, even if we define imperialism as an essence nestled in the West. Nor is there anything popular, liberatory, nationalist, or third-worldly in the Syrian regime. There is only a fascist dynastic rule, whose history, which goes back to the 1970s, can be summed up as the formation of an obscenely wealthy and atrociously brutal neo-bourgeoisie, which has proved itself ready to destroy the country in order to remain in power forever.”

Continue reading via: Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis


The Western left and the Syrian war — Corey Oakley | REDFLAG: A VOICE OF RESISTANCE


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Norm’s note: what follows is a sample of the kinds of effusions from people that Will Morrow has described as “the Australian pseudo-left.” I’m not going to tell you what to think about it.  But I’m obviously inviting you to read it so as to be able to make your own assessment of it.  But before you once and forever and preemptively dismiss that a revolutionary movement could ever have broken out in Syria in 2011, you really need to read this masterful piece of analysis by Dr. Raymond Hinnebusch, Professor of International Relations and Middle East Politics and Director of the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St. Andrews: “Syria: from ‘authoritarian upgrading’ to revolution?” Because ‘facts’ ought really to matter, right?

(And parenthetically, because, as but one example, this relates to what Oakley in what is to follow underlines as the core hesitancy by many on the left, namely “. . . to accept the legitimacy of the revolutionary movement that broke out in 2011:” Self-Organization of the popular struggles in Syria against the regime and islamist groups? Yes, it exists!  bywhere have I heard this name before? Oh, yeah . . . “pseudo-leftist”. . . Joseph Daher.)

The Western left and the Syrian war




The Syrian war is not just a tragedy. It is a crime of immense proportions. And it is clear as day who is culpable.

First, the Assad regime, which in 2011 met the demands of a protest movement for social justice and democratisation with bullets and torture cells, and when that failed, and protesters began to call for Bashar al Assad’s overthrow, decided there was no price in blood it would not pay to stay in power.

Second, the Iranian regime, which, as the rebellion grew and the resources of the regime were exhausted in the face of a nationwide uprising, deployed its own military forces and proxy militias to keep the government in power and prolong the war.

Third, Russia. While Putin backed Assad from the outset, it was only in September last year that Russia, fearful the regime was on the brink of collapse, intervened decisively, unleashing the terrible power of its air force on rebel-held cities such as Aleppo. John Kerry’s assertion that the Russian plan for Aleppo is modelled on its campaign in Grozny in 1999, when Russian forces laid waste to the entire city in order to wrest it from rebel hands, is likely to be a correct, if hypocritical, assessment.


Then there is the West. It deserves its share of the blame too, but not for the reasons many claim. The predominant narrative on the left is that the US and its allies have pursued a strategy of “regime change” in Syria, and are responsible for fuelling the resistance to Assad.

In fact, the opposite is true. Despite expressing, at various times, sympathy for rebels and hostility to Assad, the US has at almost every stage hindered efforts to overthrow the regime.

CIA officers in Turkey, nominally in place to assist arms supply, in many cases in fact prevented the flow of weapons, particularly heavy weapons, to rebel forces.  US and Israeli pressure has been key to the ongoing refusal of US ally Saudi Arabia to provide crucial anti-aircraft weapons to the opposition.

While there are significant elements in the US security establishment who argue it is in the strategic interests of the US to support the overthrow of Assad, the prevailing view thus far, and the actual policy pursued by the Obama administration, has accepted the need to keep the regime in place.

After the September ceasefire collapsed, there was renewed talk that the long-enforced US ban on the supply of significant numbers of Saudi surface-to-air missiles to Syrian rebels would be lifted. But by mid-October it was clear that these plans had yet again been shelved.

This has been the recurring pattern of the war. While Russia has intervened decisively in defence of the Assad regime, US promises of “support” for rebels have repeatedly failed to materialise or been so conditional (eg insisting that in exchange for weapons, rebel groups agree to fight only ISIS, rather than Assad’s forces) as to be of no actual help to the struggle against the regime.

This seeming paralysis is not simply the result of political ineptitude. It reflects the fact that while Putin has a clear policy of defending the regime as a means to entrench Russian influence in Syria, the US has no clear strategic orientation. It has no particular love for Assad, especially as the regime’s ties with Russia have tightened over the course of the war. But the US is equally hostile to a decisive victory for the revolutionary forces, precisely because – counter to what many in the pro-Assad camp assert – there is scant evidence that the removal of the regime would serve US interests.


The divisions on the Western left over what attitude to take to the Syrian war have been bitter and wide-ranging. At the core of the problem has been a hesitancy by many on the left, or in some cases outright refusal, to accept the legitimacy of the revolutionary movement that broke out in 2011.

At the extreme end of this are those like University of Sydney academic Tim Anderson, who consider the Assad regime to be a secular, socialist government that is part of the “axis of resistance” to US imperialism and Zionism, and therefore to be defended at all costs. For them, the entire revolution was a CIA plot from day one, and the well-documented crimes of the regime are all fabrications concocted by imperialists and their lackeys.

Continue reading