Introduction to a book by anarchists from Aleppo
From Bordered by Silence
Translated from Tamaroud
The following discussion seeks to reflect the current situation of Syrian individuals who are trying as hard as they can to free themselves from patterns of collective hypocrisy and over-optimistic thinking. Our experiment was still just newly born when it developed the problem of being unable to clearly distinguish the latent authoritarian power in society and in the state, to draw back the curtains that have concealed it. At the start of the revolution, in small gatherings of friends, we predicted that if the struggle lasted longer than a month, then the country would descend into civil war – this wasn't just an intellectual exercise, as it's our current reality.
Revolutionary theory, or even theory in general (any attempt at analysis, extrapolation, or critique) is seen as an aberration when it's produced by a “normal” individual. Theory remains the exclusive domain of a supposedly “elite” political and cultural class in Syria, with its long and documented history of struggle and imprisonment. This class has in the past organized itself into clubs, parties, or groups (such as the Damascus Declaration, the Attasi Club, or civil society groups)...
The vast majority of the people who were trying with all their strength to break free of their imposed social position (such as class, religion, or family) still stayed within the cultural bounds drawn out by the elite. When we're able to do away with thoughts about free enterprise and consider important questions like the meaning of life and of freedom, we'll be able to replace the reactionary mindset that waits for solutions from those few creative hands with a passionate mentality that seizes the knowledge necessary to escape from the prison of the Baathist system.
Concerning the state of discussion among those involved in the struggle at large, the debate plays out between various inherited ideas, such that each individual becomes the ambassador of some ideology or another (Islamism, Communism, Arabism, Nationalism, and so on). After the victory of Islamism, it became the only ideology opposing a modified Baathism nationally. The debate among those various other defeated ideologies continues until the present day, about the exclusion practiced by the Islamists and how they bear sole responsibility for the failure of the revolution and how we would certainly have succeeded were it not for them.
There's a genuine desire to find the idea, course of action, or obstacle that's responsible for the current situation and its consequences. But this impulse is incorrect, in that it claims that there was a revolution on the way to getting from from and destroying a system of servitude, and that a sudden disruption of this path produced the situation we have now and we're still paying its high price.
There was no real attempt to dismantle dominations, to expose them (for example, the tyranny of the family, the policing of gender and sexuality, metaphysical domination, etc). It was the opposite, as revolutionary forces formed an alliance with these structures to confront the greater evil of the state security system and its institutions.
At the peak of the revolutionary movement's momentum and courage, it was able to fully overturn regional systems of governance. “Talk about power” – when we didn't fear to face bullets or any possible threat that the state's security forces could throw at us. But all of this sacrifice was in vain, because of the lack of serious work on building a revolutionary culture, such that the revolutionary movement was plagued by a horrible pattern of encouraging tradition.
It became that most of the cultural work in support of the revolution served just to produce excuses, and not just for the revolutionary movement, but even for the small groups that had begun to carry out disgusting massacres in its name (such as, for example, the justifications for many acts of kidnapping or sectarian murder or theft: “it's not done by the government or the rich, but by the people”). This intellectual position is based on a claim that the will of the people is unquestionable, but it in fact it only serves their own interests and seeks to do away with the existing authority only to install themselves in its place.
Fundamentally, the experience and analysis that we gained through our encounters cannot be separated from the fact of being on the losing side. So many of our problems were linked to the lack of solutions or hypotheses, with the full weight of the situation bearing down on our imaginations. We call for our readers to not remain oblivious to the problems mentioned in the text. Without claiming to have the full truth, we can teach certain lessons to comrades who are in solidarity with our ongoing struggle against all authoritarian power. This account doesn't stray far from the limits of our experience and the decisions we made, with all their errors and flaws.
The source text indicates that this is the introduction to a book that will be published soon and lists Ayhem Diyoubd and Roua Zeyat as the authors.