As the Syrian revolution remains locked in civil war for a third year, regional powers have begun to use the conflict as an opportunity to advance their own imperialist agendas. Syria has become a battleground for a proxy war between Iran, Israel, and the Arab states of the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Although there had been some concessions to private capital under the old Assad, what was to rapidly accelerate the process and lead to a qualitative change was the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989 and the Soviet Union in 1991. The system the Assad regime had modelled itself on collapsed like a house of cards. And just as the Soviet model attracted the young officers who carried out the coup in 1963, now its collapse shook their confidence in that same regime. [Part one][Part two]

The false idea that the Assad regime is somehow progressive, is rooted in the events of the 1960s, which were eventually to lead to the setting up of a centrally planned, state owned economy, very similar to that in the Soviet Union. However, a long drawn out process has changed the nature of the Syrian economy from what was fundamentally a planned economy to one where the private sector dominates and this has to be understood if one is to make a correct appraisal of the nature of the regime headed by Assad today. [Part two] [Part three]

The Syrian revolution that broke out in March 2011 was part of the wider wave of revolution that spread across the whole of the Arab world. The International Marxist Tendency supported the revolution without reservations in spite of its shortcomings. Since then, however, due to the lack of a revolutionary leadership, what was a genuine expression of the masses, has now been hijacked by reactionary elements that have a very different agenda.  [Part two][Part three]

As fighting has spread into the two main Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo, generally speaking, the mass movement has greatly ebbed in the last few months giving way to a guerrilla-like armed struggle lead by the militias of the Free Syrian Army. So, where is Syria going and what is the revolution, or, quite arguably, what remains of the revolution, going to produce?

Much confusion exists on the left as to the real nature of the Syrian regime because of what it was in the past. In the 1960s after a Ba’athist coup, the economy was transformed, adopting the model of the Stalinist USSR. Although progressive in terms of the measures carried out, it was never a regime based on workers’ democracy. Power was in the hands of a bureaucratic elite, and in this lay the danger of a reversal of the progressive measures and a return to capitalist relations.

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Revolution 2018 - a three-day festival of Marxist ideas
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