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Ghalioun the Academic and Ghalioun the Revolutionary.

Making use of his lengthy academic experience, Burhan Ghalioun has written a study entitled "the Logic of Revolution and Opposition".

As academics usually do, Ghalioun starts by expounding his terminology. He defines revolution as "a kind of natural phenomenon that is not subjected to the normal standards of political rationality, but rather derives its identity from a different kind of logic - the logic of explosion". And after a series of poetic depictions to bestow a metaphysical nature on the revolution and turn it into something sacred, in the religious sense of the term, as if it were a virgin untouched by man, he moves on to say: "in the logic of revolution, peoples thrust themselves in their entirety and place their fate entirely on the line - for either victory or defeat".

In other words, revolution, according to what he says, falls outside the scope of politics and of historical progress, detonated by "peoples in their entirety" - meaning that it is not the climax of class struggle, according to the Marxist definition, nor a fight to confront occupation, nor a struggle for land, but rather "an end in itself, the achievement of which represents the achievement of its goal at the same time".

If any of his students had come to Ghalioun with a study such as this, he would have paused long at the phrase "peoples thrust themselves in their entirety (C*) on the line", and would have told the student to reconsider such generalization. Indeed, people are made up of classes and groups, each of whom has its own interests, as they are made up of sects and tribes, of rulers and ruled. Revolution might be in the interest of this or that segment of the population, or else there would be no struggle nor any need for it. No one people has ever stood in "its entirety" against its rulers or against an occupying force. There are always people whom revolution harms. That is concerning the general notion. Regarding Syria, the discourse of the man who once headed the Syrian National Council (SNC) is at odds with reality. "The revolution there" is not pure - in it overlap class struggle, religious, sectarian and confessional conflict, within and through which wrestle nationalist and imperialist, as well as regional and international. How else could one explain the stances taken by the Turks, the Americans, the Arabs, the Europeans and the Israelis, as well as those taken by Russia, China and Iran? And how could one explain Ghalioun's own meetings with officials of those countries, unless the Syrian people did not affiliate with the "revolution" "in its entirety"?

Further than this, the "revolution" is grand in Ghalioun's opinion because it does not delve into politics. Rather, it is an "explosive popular mass animated by an inextinguishable spirit with a will for liberation and sacrifice which alone holds the reins of initiative on the ground. (C*) it is not connected to any conscious objective vision, premeditation or planned course of action, and is not ruled by any political or non-political awareness - it is the expression of an exceptional state of affairs in every sense"C* As for the opposition, it on the other hand "only works by the logic of politics, which is itself based on dialogue and negotiation to reach settlements or halfway solutions that partially satisfy, at least the parties in conflict. Without such dialogue, the opposition would have no hope of achieving anything".

Cleansing the revolution of politics and dialogue does not serve it, nor does it serve those who have detonated it. And cleansing it of the "pollution" of theory distances it from reality and makes it into an instrument for those who engage in politics, whether they are individuals, parties or governments. This is what every revolution has taught us, and what the Syrian "revolution" confirms every day: those who fund it and arm it are the ones who control the political direction it takes, and the future of Syrians, not any "inextinguishable spirit".

The only thing that concerns Ghalioun in this study is to disparage the value of unarmed opposition "with [its] political rationality" and join the "revolution" which is "not subjected to the (C*) standards of [such] rationality".

Ghalioun, whose previous books we hold in great esteem, was not himself in this study. He has taken "revolutionary" work far away from the rational method - thus becoming neither a gain for politics nor a loss for academia.

2012 Media Communications Group

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Publication:Dar Al Hayat, International ed. (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Sep 8, 2012
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