A Revolution to Restore the State

A Revolution to Restore the State
4 min read
04 Apr, 2015
The absence of the state in "modern" Syria has been deliberately engineered to serve the interests of the regime's apparatus of repression.
The Assad family has ruled Syria since 1971 [AFP, Getty]

Since its inception, the Ba'th party has considered itself a revolutionary movement. It adopted an ideology that competed with that of the Communist Party, which aimed to smash the old order.

The Assad regime cancelled the state and its legitimate and legal institutions

However, this quickly turned into a complete destruction of the state, either through monopolisation of its organs or through a refusal to submit to the state on the pretext that it was either based on class, or "reactionary".

The Baathists also degraded the state by undermining the mechanisms for public participation, which were based on the state being a supreme entity that expressed the unity of society and worked towards its higher interests, transcending any private or party interests.

Political logic calls for subordinating the part to the whole, rather than the opposite. It also dictates the impossibility of one part including within itself the identity of the whole.

When a party or a partial entity takes sole control of public affairs, this leads to general ruination. Moreover, it is impossible for a party to share the characteristics of the state which render it responsible for its citizens and qualify it to express the entirety of their interests and their public will.

The Ba'thist regime abrogated the state by cancelling the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of the press. They spread a degree of corruption that destroyed civil society and employed a degree of repression that removed it from the political sphere, causing it to regress into a more primitive structure of conflicting fanatic identities.

All this caused society to deteriorate, showing that no society can exist without a state, nor can a state exist without a society of free and productive citizens.

When civil society is destroyed and the ruling authority becomes all-powerful, it builds its own society, whose "citizenry" consists of its soldiers: those who work for its security services. They fear that the development of a society that is linked to higher commitments will threaten them with extinction. The Ba'thist soldiers fought such higher commitments mercilessly.

The Assad regime cancelled the state and its legitimate and legal institutions so that Syrian citizens could not feel empowered or benefit from legal guarantees in their dealings with one another. This meant that citizens would not overstep certain political, social and cultural limits that the ruling power considered as red lines. The authorities hounded and punished anyone who approached those red lines or overstepped them.

When the Syrian people launched its revolution, the ruling power had already destroyed the state. It was impossible for the rebels to aspire to destroying it, as the regime accused them of doing. The political destruction of the state had been long since completed.

The revolution demanded that the regime reform public life and restore the state. Its main goal was the establishment of a state that would not be subordinated to the ruling power, and that would not turn into one of its arms, as is the case with the Assad regime. It targeted a state of institutions that would observe the law and guarantee and strengthen freedom. The revolution demanded this by means of peaceful demonstrations.

It formulated the most beautiful of slogans to demand such a state, and announced that freedom would be incomplete unless that state was established, and unless an end was put to the regime that had annulled the state and had squandered the rights of the country and its people.

It is no exaggeration to say that the state is what the Syrian people have missed most during their long ordeal, and that its revolution was launched to regain it. The revolution's only goal was a democratic regime based on freedom for every citizen without discrimination or exclusion.

Anyone scrutinising unfolding events in Syria will find that they reproduced a national society that was the antithesis of what the Assad regime imposed on the country. The revolution was civil and peaceful before it was hijacked by extremists and terrorists, with catastrophic results. The hope and dream of the revolutionaries was that they would win a state that would protect them from despotism and whimsical rule.

The absence of the state caused Syria to be subjugated to the violence of a tyrannical authority that threatened the people's very existence and repressed it during every day of its rule. Reconstructing the state will revive an atmosphere of coexistence amongst the Syrian people, which has adhered to its dreams of a better future in spite of everything. People have sacrificed their lives for a state in which they can enjoy freedom, justice and equality.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.