The world social forum is a ginormous gathering of people thinking creatively together and sharing ideas to create a more just, equal world.
Or so they’ll have you believe. Participating in the opening march, I found myself severely thorn. The march was aimed, as all marches, at reclaiming the streets but also , on a more specific level, at demonstrating to governments preaching austerity measures, oppression, discrimination and neo-liberal policies than another world is possible, that standing in solidarity with all people of the world was possible, and that us, the people, were to become one and fight the capital back.
Oh sure, you had more Comrades than your eyes could handle, you had your usual Che Guevara wanna-bes (I almost wrote lookalikes here, but then thought better of it) and you had your various flags and banners, all calling for more solidarity, more self-determination,more peace).
Among which, flags and banners of Pro-Bashar Syria, with pictures of Bashar to match, with ‘we’re all with you’ slogans to boot.
Now Oxfam marching away as if they owned the place (which they probably do, given than they’re one of the main donors of the world social forum, along with the French Institute and Bread for the World (imperialism? Neo-colonialism? What? Where?)) I could probably stomach, regardless of the fact that the irony of the presence of an organization feeding a 100% into the neoliberal paradigm of NGOs slowly taking on the economic and social duties of the state at such a march was apparently lost on them. I could even stomach, albeit with some difficulty, the countless people wearing Hugo Chavez T-shirts and his pictures, calling him Commandante as if he fought alongside Lenin in the Russian Revolution, even if these people seemed totally oblivious that the world social forum was taking place in a region that has direly and is still direly suffering from the catastrophic effects of dictatorships and that aforementioned Commandante was one of the closest and fiercest supporter and friend of Gaddafi and Al Assad. I can understand Venezuelans value Chavez for the improvement of their socio-economic conditions he brought to his country. I do. What I don’t understand is the very basic anti-imperialism rampant in the left that makes every little middle finger extended to the USA and Israel a supreme act of anti-imperialism that deserves reverence by all.
It is this minimal and quite limited understanding of anti-imperialism that leads some leftists to remain staunch supporters of perpetrators of monstrosities such as Gaddafi and Al Assad. I won’t even bother to go into the details of how much considering Al Assad an anti-imperialist is wrong. News update my comrades, imperialism and neo-colonialism can also be performed by other states than the US, and in the case of Syria, I don’t recall Al Assad opposing the imperialist tendencies of Iran and Russia. As for neo-liberal policies, I will only refer you to this article, explaining at great length how much Al Assad’s policies created a greater class divide, how much whatever economic ‘improvement’ and integration within the globalized economy only benefited a small clique of big cities bourgeoisie. Surely that’s not how Comrade Marx intended socialism and communism, am I right?
As of those still living in the delusion that Assad is opposing Zionism and will free Jerusalem, kindly inform me what he has done to free his own territory, the Golan, before he takes on freeing Palestine. Apparently there are plenty of ammunition to kill and slaughter his people but there are none available to free the Golan.
It is for all these reasons that I do not get the enormous pictures of Al Assad within the world social forum March. It is because war crimes are happening, it is because mass slaughters are happening, it is because peaceful resistance and opposition were met with ferocious repression, torture and unlawful use of force that I do not get, my sweet Comrade, how you can smoke your oh so not subversive weed, look me in the eyes, and tell me that we’re all with Assad, the great anti-imperialist.
Surely, my Comrade, this is not how Comrade Marx intended it?