The Transitional Programme of the Syrian Revolutionary Left -Translation Part 1
This is my translation of the first part of a document by the “Syrian Revolutionary Left”. I’ve made some of the phrases more idiomatic in English – the original is here . I will get back to finish it when I have some more time
Since the middle of March 2011 our country has been witnessing a revolutionary process, in the context of the revolutions sweeping the Arab region, which popular Syrian revolution aims at the ending of the dictatorship, for the sake of freedom, of dignity, of equality and social justice, progressing along this path with great pain and sacrifice because of the violence and murder upon which the dictatorship relies in facing the peaceful demonstrations and struggles of the Syrian masses. Despite the great sacrifice and the violence of the dictatorship, the popular Syrian masses continue in their peaceful revolution to achieve the aforementioned aim of the fall of the regime of the ruling clique.
It is unnecessary to emphasise the importance attached by the Syrian Revolutionary left to the general alliance of the democratic and social forces in the face of the dictatorship, as required by the struggle at its present stage, in the context of the continuing dynamic revolutionary process: the Syrian Revolutionary Left confirms that it adopts the great slogans of the Syrian popular revolution, for freedom and democracy, dignity and social justice and commits itself to engage in all the mass struggles to achieve these goals. And, seeing that the revolutionary dynamic lies within the context of building democracy from below, it [the Syrian Revolutionary Left] does not hesitate to raise the call, in the present transitional stage, to build a democratic, civil [/secular] and pluralist state. With the confirmation that we raise the intellectual call for the widening of the kinds of participatory and direct democracy so that the majority of people can manage the affairs of their own lives directly. At the same time, the ongoing and interrelated Arab revolutions have demonstrated without doubt the link between democratic mass struggle from below and the struggle for fundamental social change, also from below.
The Challenges of the Revolutionary Process in Syria
The recent assembly in Syria was held under the name of the ‘unity of the opposition.’ It is clear that this has become an urgent issue for many in the Syrian arena, as if it alone would hasten the end of the regime and bring an end to the bloody massacres and terrible crimes committed against the revolutionary people every day. This should not stop us referring to the serious divisions between the parts of this opposition, particularly when we know that the revolutionary groups on the ground, which are leading the movement, emphasise their commitment to the three principles (peaceful revolution, absolute rejection of foreign military intervention and the determination to overthrow the regime and abstention from dialogue with it) we note that a part of the internal opposition to the Assad regime are interested in dialogue with that same regime and more dangerously that part of the opposition, mainly based abroad support the current militarization of the Intifada in order to find a foothold inside. And, most dangerous, they seek and are calling for external military intervention. The effects of this position have begun to be felt inside the country, with emergence of voices in the local co-ordinators calling for international protections, moving finally to demands for a no-fly zone! Or the same thing which led in Libya precisely to the direct intervention of NATO. This should be recalled fully with the slogan of ‘unity’ , especially after it has been seen that the three aforementioned principles, now being violated, may be reduced to wreckage in the following months and weeks, especially because of the anger at the brutality of the regime and its methods of oppression unprecedented in the history of Syria. Know the need, on the contrary to the slander of militarization- which adds grist to the mill of the regime now desperately trying to move matters to this abyss, and especially the sectarian conflict that will in all likelihood accompany it, attempting to destroy the revolution by various means through ugly sectarianism- and more especially to a warning of the dangers of foreign intervention in the revolution, and the fundamental oppositions to preparations for military engagement by NATO, or any reactionary Arab force, or Middle Eastern (Turkish or Israeli or other). This of course, at the same time as not relinquishing the critical position against the Ba’athist dictatorship.
The Building of the Revolutionary Left and Transitional Tasks
In any case, a major cause amongst the causes of this confusion over the issue of the leadership of the revolution, present now for the past 6 months in Syria, is the absence of an organised revolutionary left as an actor, a result on the one hand of the enrolment of the traditional communist movement with the current regime, enabling its brutal repression and on the other the brutal suppression since the eighties of the last century crushing the forces of the left and indeed all political opposition. This puts at the top of the revolutionaries’ agenda in the Syrian arena the production of a revolutionary Marxist left of the workers by engaging on the ground in the struggles now raging and, at the same time, through the tasks of the current transitional period, directly to form an inseparable part of the transitional programme for the historical stage now unfolding in the ongoing revolutionary process, we offer in the following the essential elements which my be enriched later with others according to the evolution of this process. This can be appreciated now that the Syrian masses have risen against a regime standing for more than four decades and armed with all means of repression and oppression, in order to achieve their aforementioned demands, which will not end in a night but may win enough time – in the context of the throes of revolution not limited to Syria but including other Arab countries, perhaps again all the Arab countries – to build an active revolutionary left able to mobilise the toiling and suffering people, and all those who aspire to freedom, dignity and social justice, on the basis of a progressive programme confronting the social and economic programmes of other political forces.
Hence the current direct transitional tasks, which are the following:
1. Dismantling of the State Security infrastructure.
2.The calling of an elected Constitutient Assembly to put a constitution of a civil, democratic, pluralist state, protecting civil liberties and human rights and ensuring the equality of the citizen without regard to religious or ideological affiliation, race, nationality or gender etc. at the same presenting the utmost import of bringing together political and social democracy and a commitment to accomplish national tasks, be they the liberation of the occupied Golan or those relating to the struggle of the Palestinian people to exercise their right of return and self-determination over their entire historic territory.
B. [sic] The building of the revolutionary left in Syria through unity of its individuals and groups and to work to create an active social and political force and the gathering of its components around a transitional programme, which could succeed in the case of a broad mobilisation opening the way for the maturing of the current democratic political revolution to a social revolution in the not distant future in close alliance with the revolutionary forces in the entire Arab region.
The essential elements of this programme fall under four broad headings: first, democratic freedoms, judicial independence and impartiality: second, the separation of church and state in the framework of freedom of belief and ensuring the rights of national minorities: third, the economic social situation and women’s liberation: fourth, national and Arab responsibilities.
One: Democratic Freedoms and Judicial Independence
Since the coming of the Ba’ath party to power in 1963, civil liberties have sustained terrible blows, not distinguishable form the absolute hegemony of the single party over the state and society, expressed in article VIII of the constitution. And this is what continued with increased violence with Hafez Al Assad’s coup in 1970. His coup laid the way for a totalitarian party and the control of the house of Assad. Of course not only article VII but the entire Syrian constitution needs to be cancelled and Syrians need to develop a new constitution with real political democracy as well as social democracy and the various known freedoms: in particular freedom to form and hold opinions, freedoms of thought and assembly, demonstration and strikes, the formation of political parties, trade unions, groups and so on. And to put forward this constitution, a constituent assembly, elected fairly on the basis of proportional representation of all citizens, including soldiers, without distinction between these voters.