Updated Statement and Self-Criticism: No Imperialist War in Syria!

This is a revised version of our original statement condemning the US bombing of the Sharyat air force base.

Our first engagement with the Syrian civil war, and position that came from it, was incorrect. We still firmly denounce the bombing of the Sharyat air force base by Donald Trump and US government. However, we lacked a full analysis of the conditions present in Syria. The original statement was rushed, as we viewed an immediate statement of solidarity with the Syrian masses, and conciseness, over dialectical analysis. 

We were offered criticism by comrades privately, and shown that declaring support of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), even if only on the basis of anti-imperialism, was incorrect. This was wrong because we did not identify the primary contradiction as between US imperialism and oppressed nations (in this case, Syria). Within Syria there is also the contradiction between the Syrian Kurds (an oppressed nationality) and the Syrian state***, this is an addition to the primary contradiction.  In this case we understand that antagonistic contradictions, like that of US imperialism and oppressed nations, can only be solved if the principal aspect within the contradiction (the force with the most power, in this case US imperialism) ceases to exist. We can do this only through a revolution in the US, abolishing the capitalist state completely.

We understand this revelation as a rupture from our previously held position of nominal support for the SAA, upon more careful investigation we’ve seen that the SAA and Assad’s government do not represent proletarian interests. For this reason we have changed our position: the most important political line regarding the Syrian civil war is opposing US imperialism in Syria. The best way to go about this is to build a massive anti war movement here in the US. This is the true way to show proletarian solidarity, rather than nominally supporting a government that, while the unfair victim of US intervention, is being supported by Russian imperialism and does not have the long term interests of the Syrian masses. As the principal contradiction is between US imperialism and the Syrian government, alliances within the civil war show that the secondary contradiction is between inter-imperialist forces, particularly between US imperialism and Russian imperialism, and their proxies. We do not support any US intervention in Syria. An anti-war movement in an of itself will not lead to revolution, but through that we can unite all those who can be united, in the process making revolutionaries.

It is necessary, upon changing such a position, to self-criticize, to understand where the mistake came from, and uproot it so that it doesn’t happen again. Like we mentioned earlier, our objective was to write a piece as quickly as we could. While a genuine attempt at solidarity, this led to a rushed piece with incorrect lines and lacking social investigation. We were under an illusion that we had our position well crafted, but a few members of our collective were formerly part of revisionist parties, and unknowingly we allowed our past revisionism to creep into our analysis. Revisionism, in the most basic sense, is the revising of the revolutionary character of Marxism, as a science, to merely a set of dogmas and reformist politics. The struggle against revisionism is constant, as revisionism led to the collapse of the socialist road in both the former USSR and China. Therefore, today revisionism isn’t simply a fight over the nature of various forces in the world but a crucial piece in determining whether we are on the revolutionary path or not.  

The specific criticism we were given was that we had dismissed atrocities of the Syrian state that have been committed against the Syrian and Kurdish people as simply “nuances of the Assad government”. This was a pretty lazy position for communists to take. We were grateful that we received this criticism from comrades who offered it sincerely and showed us the revolutionary communist line, rather than the rightist line. In this case the rightist line represented bourgeois interests that forgets about revolution, and forgets about the people. We were mistaken to think that refusing to take the side of the SAA would be liberalism. Support against US imperialism doesn’t mean we have to uphold Assad on even an anti-imperialist basis.

Many people in the western left have seen it fit to bestow the title of an anti-imperialist onto Assad. The first thing we must determine is to what degree Assad puts anti-imperialism into practice, the struggle of the SAA against the imperialist agents of the Americans like the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is something well known and we understand that in Syria the primary contradiction is between the United States, its accomplices, and the Syrian people’s right to sovereignty. What about the secondary contraction of the inter-imperialist conflict, between the United States and the Russian Federation? Capitalist-Imperialist nations do not operate out of solidarity; Russia’s entrance into the conflict was purely out of expanding its sphere of influence into the region. This is something that in and of itself is natural of nations of this character such as Russia, but what is not characteristic of an anti-imperialist is uniting with an element who has imperialistic intention over the Syrian nation, and even going so far as to allow a power to use your nation to build military bases. Assad is not an anti-imperialist in general; he only enacts anti-imperialist characteristics to the degree that it can help to maintain the existence of the capitalist state in Syria, even if he’s simultaneously selling out his country to other imperialists with more indirect means if it can benefit the Syrian government.

Even more so it’s not in any anti-imperialist character to actively work against national liberation struggles as is seen between the uneasy and many times antagonistic relationship between Rojava and the SAA. Our rallying point should be the Syrian masses and the goal of dismantling capitalism-imperialism; not a man who would sooner stand in the way of that goal, once the goal of the masses and the Syrian government’s becomes a conflict.

Aside from the forces of the Rojava Revolution, there is no revolutionary force inside Syria. Once again we mistakenly attributed the SAA to the role of an anti-imperialist force, therefore by revisionist logic—a revolutionary one. Regardless of whether there are any revolutionary forces fighting inside Syria, our goal as communists in the US must be to build a broad anti-imperialist movement while preparing the ground, and the people, to make revolution.

Internationalism is a duty, not an option. The international proletariat’s fate relies on each other, our liberations are intertwined. A victory for the Syrian people against US imperialism and the Russian backed Assad government would be another historic moment for the masses of the world. Much like when the Chinese people, led by the Chinese Communist Party, seized state power in 1949 this signaled the era of liberation struggles all over the world, their victory would be monumental for the world proletariat. Moreover, in the imperialist centers, particularly the US, our victory in establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat (the transition between capitalism and socialism, where the proletariat seizes power and exercises an all around dictatorship over all former ruling class elements, qualitatively shifting power from the bourgeoisie to the proletariat), smashing imperialism and paving the road for communism—would mean a lot to the masses of the world. Our country is the biggest terrorist globally, thus destroying the foundation for capitalism-imperialism is paramount.

What is the road we take in the US today to end imperialism in Syria? We must discard all binary thinking regarding this conflict. We are fighting against US imperialism but we are not fighting for Assadist capitalism. The path to ending aggression won’t come from our shallow support of supposed anti-imperialists like Assad or the FSA. We must be vigilant and united against US aggression in Syria. We must build a revolutionary people, raise the consciousness of the masses to see the atrocities of the US government while building our class for the seizure of state power, and our historic mission of destroying capitalism-imperialism on the path towards communism!

End US Intervention in Syria and the Middle East now!

Here is a link to more information regarding the Syrian Civil War, please feel free to share and post as you’d like! Solidarity.

QCMC logo BW

*** we originally stated that the Syrian state is an imperialist force against the Kurds, we decided to change that position, because it was ambiguous what we exactly meant, our goal was never to tokenize and uplift the Kurdish people solely. We are totally opposed to both the Syrian military actions against Rojava as well as Rojavas cooperation with the US, the position of the Syrian state as being an “imperialist force” was not quite accurate. So we changed it. 

7 thoughts on “Updated Statement and Self-Criticism: No Imperialist War in Syria!

  1. Stop with the Rojava crap please. https://en.rnp-f.org/2015/03/24/pkk-and-imperialism/ Also Russia is not on the level of amerika and nato because it does not have the same relationship as the First World does to unequal exchange. Also, like you keep contradicting yourself about contradictions. If u$ imperialism is the primary contradiction, the primary fighting force against it in the conflict – the Syrian Arab Army supplemented by Russian forces – should be supported, and not Kurdish leaders attempting to shackle the Kurds to amerikan imperialism. Do you even know what Syrian communists think? https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/statement-of-syrian-communist-party/
    The Assad regime with the aid of Russia is the only force a united front can hope to ally with to work towards a free Syria. The Balkanization of Syria will support amerikan interests in the region.


  2. Do y’all have evidence regarding Russia being imperialist? This is coming from a Maoist comrade in the US, but — seeing as how Russia is one of the poorest states in finance capital in the world — I don’t see any reason to agree that Russia is imperialist.


    1. Russia is at least a semi-imperialist country. We define imperialism as, according to a comrade who helped develop this definition,

      Imperialism: The export and global movement of concentrations of capital and the creation of the necessary social and productive relations for the creation of super-profits to be returned home. An imperialist country is one which a significant, determinant amount of its capital must be exported in order to maintain social stability.

      Furthermore, this is how we define capital:

      Capital: The wealth (money, land, buildings, machinery and hired labor) that is devoted to the production of more wealth. All capital originally comes into creation through human labor. It only can exist as a social relation involving the dialectical unity of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Capital is self-expanding value, or a value which generates surplus value (and hence more capital)
      as the result of exploitation of wage labor.

      Okay now we have definitions for what we mean, how does an of this apply to Russia being imperialist? Other than simple, rather basic fact that since 1971 there has been a Russian naval base (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/20/world/middleeast/russia-turkey-syria-deal.html?_r=2) in Syria, that by communist definition is not imperialism, the export of capital to create super profits is. Russia reaps huge profits from Syria. Particularly in the arena of petroleum, case in point the corporation: Stroytransgaz, which is a Russian construction company that helps to build pipelines, including the Arab gas pipeline(http://www.stroytransgaz.ru/en/projects/oilgas_engineering/2606/) and with estimated $1.1 billion spent on this project. Here is an article that explains most of Russia’s investment into Syria: https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/billions-of-dollars-of-russian-business-suffers-along-with-syria-9298. Syria also owed a significant amount of money to the Russians, which Moscow ended up paying off 73% of all of Syria’s debt to the Russia (http://www.dailystar.com.lb//News/Middle-East/2005/Jan-26/71201-russia-writes-off-98-billion-of-syrian-debt.ashx), in response the Syrian government has allowed the continued opening of the market for Russian imperialist profit. Though according to the definition above, Russian is not fully an imperialist country but has imperialist ambitions in the middle east, here is a link with the export of capital from Russia (http://www.tradingeconomics.com/russia/capital-flows) and here is the link to their GDP(http://www.tradingeconomics.com/russia/gdp) their export of capital doesn’t provide for the majority of their economy or social stability, mind you this is a very crude analysis, but their aspirations are to continue their imperial conquest. From arm sales to profiting off the oil industry, (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/opinion/why-russia-supports-assad.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss) on top of the military intervention, I think it is fair to say that Russia has semi-imperialist motivations in Syria, and therefore is not a progressive force in that area in the long term. In the short term, they do provide much needed aid against the might of US imperialism and its proxies, but is there long term interest in helping the Syrian masses to overthrow their government to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat? Or is their interest solely vested in providing profit for their own homeland, through a certain degree of exploitation of the Syrian masses? We say the latter.

      As a side note, we are not trying to replicate the US capitalist-imperialist narrative on Russia, instead we have no interest in demonizing the Russian government or the people, we just think that the facts end up showing that Russia has imperial interests in Syria. We simply see Putin as another capitalist who needs to be overthrown by the Russian masses, not someone who needs to be defended, we have a less critical opinion of Assad, we think he is no saint by any means but he and his government in many ways are a legitimate ruling entity, insofar as he is popular among the Syrian masses, but he is just another capitalist who is the unfair victim of western imperialism, we don’t support him or his ideas of governance since we are communists but we never want to see a regime change occur from the biggest terrorist force in the world, the US.


  3. Here are some thoughts on the Syrian civil war:
    The fighting in Syria is characterized by an inter-imperialist
    proxy war on all sides.
    On one side, the Assad government, the Syria Arab Army
    (SAA), Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Iraqi Shiite militias and
    Hezbollah are all supported by Russian imperialism.
    On the other side, the Free Syria Army (including
    supporters of Al-Quaeda), Saudi Arabia and other
    Gulf states, and the Syrian Kurds (YPG) are all
    supported by US imperialism.
    By stating that the primary contradiction in Syria
    today is between the US and Assad’s government
    (even if one states that Assad and the SAA “do not
    represent proletarian interests”), this provides
    lets the pro-Russian/Assad imperialist side in this
    proxy war off the hook.
    The second statement notes that the original position
    on Syria was influenced by former members of
    revisionist parties. This probably refers to the
    Workers World Party, which has a long-standing
    and developed line of support for
    imperialist states (Russia and China) and reactionary
    countries (e.g. Iran and North Korea) that oppose
    U.S. imperialism.
    Another point: Providing support for the Syrian people does not
    require making revolution in the U.S. During the war
    in Vietnam, support for the Vietnamese people in the
    U.S., while the NLF and DRV played the primary role,
    played an important role in the defeat of U.S. imperialism
    in Vietnam without overthrowing U.S. imperialism in the U.S..
    Both the U.S.-led and Russian-led forces in Syria have
    committed war crimes against civilian populations.
    According to the non-profit AirWars, U.S. and “coalition”
    air strikes in Syria and Iraq have killed over 3,000 civilians,
    including at a school and a mosque, from 2014 to 2017. Most
    of these deaths have taken place in Raqqa, Aleppo and Mosul.
    Russian and Syrian air strikes have killed even greater numbers
    of Syrian civilians during the same period of time, mainly in Aleppo
    and other areas controlled by opponents of the Assad regime.
    Assad’s strategy has been to block aid and starve civilian populations
    in these areas. And Assad’s forces have repeatedly used sarin gas
    and other chemical weapons against civilians in these areas.
    Both imperialisms and their proxies are enemies of the Syrian people.
    William James, a revolutionary and internationalist since the late 1960s.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s