Tributes to Bassem Chit
More tributes in Arabic and other languages.
Statement by the Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt)
It is with hearts full of pain and sorrow that we mourn our Lebanese Revolutionary Socialist comrade, Bassem Chit, who has died from a sudden heart attack in his 35th year. The revolutionary socialist current, and the revolutionary Left as a whole, has lost a tough fighter and a true leader.
It is no exaggeration to say that Bassem Chit gave his life the cause of revolution and solidarity with the victims of oppression. He gave his life to the struggle against sectarianism in Lebanon and the Arab world, and to solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation, to the cause of the Syrian people and their revolution, and to expose the plight of refugees in Lebanon. He was a genuine internationalist fighter, who saw socialism as an achievable dream and a real hope, not only in Lebanon but the whole world: for humanity free from sectarianism, racism and false divisions.
Bassem was a towering figure on the Arab revolutionary Left. He had the unique ability to co-ordinate the issuing of a statement on behalf of revolutionary organisations in different countries and complete all the necessary discussions and corrections in half a day. He was responsible for the Permanent Revolution journal, a theoretical publication which deepened the understanding of revolutionary Marxism and the understanding of a complex and changing reality. We must ensure that this successful project continues.
We have lost a tremendous fighting spirit. We have lost a keen revolutionary intelligence.
We have lost the theoretical and political contributions we were expecting from him in the long term.
We have lost a comrade who was gentle and accommodating, but stood firm for the truth and for revolution.
We have lost a comrade and a friend, and a wonderful human being.
Yet we will preserve his memory and hold true to the cause: we will keep to the revolutionary road.
By Simon Assaf
The sudden death from a heart attack of Lebanese revolutionary socialist Bassem Chit is a tremendous blow to our movement. Bassem was a man of immense energy and extraordinary bravery, with a sharp tactical and strategic mind.
I first met him in 2001 when he was a student in a university in north Lebanon. I was invited by the Communist Party to address the students on Seattle and the anti-capitalist movement. Bassem told me that since the campus was under the control of a nasty sectarian party he organised a small group of leftists under the cover of a human rights club. He proudly announced that they had staged the first left wing protest for 30 years in the northern city of Tripoli and that he was summoned to appear at a military tribunal, but refused to attend.
It was not long before he rose to prominence among the small and inexperienced group of activists that were emerging out of the rubble of civil war. Bassem was a child of this war.
His family is from Kfar Killa, a village on the border with Israel that was occupied in 1978. He was raised in the Beirut Shia Muslim neighbourhood of Dahia, but unlike many of his friends, was educated at a Christian school. Many of his close relatives were killed in the wars that engulfed the country, instilling in Bassem a hatred of sectarianism and a determination to see it fall.
He studied the experience of Northern Ireland in order to find an analysis that could fully explain the roots of sectarianism in Lebanon. The dominant idea on the left was that sectarianism was a throwback to the country’s feudal past, and that a “revolution” had to free capitalism from its feudal chains. In this case the role of the left was to make alliances with secular bourgeois parties.
He dedicated himself to studying Lebanon’s history and examined in detail the country’s transition from feudalism to capitalism. He argued that far from sectarianism being a counter to “modernity” it was intrinsic to the development of capitalism, and the secret of its success. By turning this question on its head he set out to prove that in order to destroy the sectarianism you had to destroy the system that created it.
He argued that the Arab regimes, specifically those in Lebanon and Syria, were not the bulwarks against “sectarian chaos”, as many on the left argued, but used it to maintain their rule, and to destroy any movement from below. Bassem understood that the sectarian ideas that dominated many of Lebanon’s labouring classes were in direct conflict with their interests, and when workers entered struggle these ideas would begin to break down.
Having developed these ideas he then sought to put them into practice. This was Bassem at his most creative, and at times with a bravery that verged on the reckless. He decided that in order to test what he believed was growing support for the Palestinians he would organise a solidarity protest in the heart of Christian east Beirut, a stronghold of the far-right Lebanese Forces. The criteria were that only local Christian families would be allowed to participate. It was a great success and proved that there were no longer any no-go areas for the left.
He carried this spirit into the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon. As the first bombs began to fall he rallied a group of activists in Martyrs’ Square, along the old sectarian frontlines. As the mainly Shia Muslim refugees arrived, he directed them to schools and parks in Christian (and other) neighbourhoods. It was a stroke of genius. Far from ordinary people chasing the refugees out, they took them in and sheltered them.
The movement he helped to launch and coordinate, known as Samidoun (Steadfastness), grew to become one of the most important in the war. With no foreign funding, or rich backers, Samidoun relied on the solidarity of ordinary people. The organisation reinforced the feeling among the young activists that they could have a substantial impact on events.
Bassem sought to shape these activists into his long-term project, to build the foundations of a revolutionary party. He began to contact trade unions and give voice to the small groups of workers that were going into struggle. Part of his strategy was to combine the comrades of the Fourth International in Lebanon with a new generation of activists and supporters of the Intentional Socialist Tendency. The organisation is known as the Socialist Forum.
He helped to found revolutionary publications, including the monthly magazine Al-Yasari (The Leftist) and the Al-Manshour magazine and website, as well as the Arab Marxist theoretical journal Al-Thawra al-Daema (Permanent Revolution). At the heart of all his work was a rejection of empty rhetoric, and that all ideas had to be proved in practice.
The tremendous events of the Arab Spring gave him this opportunity. Bassem argued that the movement in Lebanon had the chance to embed itself in working class neighbourhoods. He won people to the strategy of local demonstrations rather than a traditional march to parliament. The marches wove through the neighbourhoods drawing thousands of people out of their homes. It proved that revolution was not a pipe dream, but a real possibility if we intervened in events and took initiatives.
On the day he died Bassem was due to address students on Marxism and social classes. He never made the meeting, but his legacy and work continue among the groups of young revolutionaries he inspired.
A collection of Bassem Chit’s articles in English are now available at Marxists.org.
One of Gabriel García Márquez’s novels is called Chronicle of a Death Foretold. And sometimes deaths are like that – however painful, they are expected and perhaps (though not in the case of the García Márquez story) mark the conclusion of a fulfilled life.
But sometimes a death leaves you quite unreconciled, raging at the injustice of the world. This was what I felt when I heard on Wednesday last week of the death of the Lebanese revolutionary socialist Bassem Chit. He was only 34 when a heart attack struck him down. I had known Bassem since the early 2000s. It was a time of political renewal, in Lebanon as elsewhere, as a new generation of activists sought to confront capitalist globalisation and George W. Bush’s war drive in the Middle East.
Bassem was one of a group of young socialists in Beirut who gravitated around the politics of the International Socialist Tendency (IST) – the international revolutionary current to which the Socialist Workers Party belongs. Politics is necessarily complicated in Lebanon because of the sectarian carve-up between different religious denominations. Always in the background is the memory of the terrible civil war that devastated Lebanon between 1975 and 1990.
The civil war ended with Lebanon being reduced almost to a dependency of Syria (from which it had been carved out by French imperialism). The most powerful domestic political force is Hizbollah, the Shia Islamist movement closely aligned to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. When Assad reacted to the popular revolution that exploded in Syria in 2011 by launching a sectarian civil war, huge numbers of Syrians fled to Lebanon. Many fear this war could spread to Lebanon, igniting another bloody confrontation.
Given Hizbollah’s active support for Assad, speaking up for the Syrian Revolution is a dangerous thing to do in Lebanon. But this didn’t hold Bassem back. He didn’t flinch from showing practical as well as verbal solidarity. Bassem brought to all the perplexities and intricacies of Lebanon and Syria a lucidity that came, not simply from clarity of analysis, but also from firmness of principle.
His opposition to sectarianism was profound, with deep personal roots. His family came from a village close to the border with Israel, where sectarian divisions were exploited by the colonial powers, by Lebanon’s rulers, and recently by the Syrians and the Israelis.
When Bassem spoke – as he did, for example, at the SWP’s Marxism 2014 festival last summer, he always wove together a grasp of factual detail with his command of broader theoretical and political perspectives. One always learned from him. There was a quality about Bassem that I can only describe as sweetness. I don’t mean this in a sentimental sense – he was unrelenting against the class enemy, comparing Assad to the Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot. But there was something exceptional about the serenity with which Bassem approached concrete issues that reflected his confidence in himself and in his politics.
This serenity shouldn’t be confused with passivity. Bassem was an activist, who worked relentlessly to unite workers in Lebanon across the sectarian divisions. He was one of the founders of the Socialist Forum, where supporters of the IS Tendency and the Fourth International in Lebanon are united in a common organisation.
Bassem was also an animating figure of the journal Permanent Revolution. This brings together revolutionary Marxists throughout the Arab world, and has had a significant impact in the couple of years since it was founded. I was looking forward to working with him in the cooperation Bassem proposed with the theoretical journal I edit, International Socialism.
Bassem’s death is a tremendous blow to his friends, and family, and comrades. But it’s hard to overstate the political loss the revolutionary left in the Middle East has suffered. He was just entering his prime and beginning to exert his talents for intellectual analysis and political leadership.
We are going to miss Bassem terribly. But all we can do is continue on the road that we shared with him for a while. He would expect nothing less.
Bassem Chit is no more, and with that the radical left, and the Arab left in particular, has lost a great comrade, friend and teacher. It is hard to imagine how his comrades and family in Lebanon are coping. He was ripped out of many lives so unfairly, so soon and unexpectedly.
One thing that stands out in the many on and offline comments I have seen and heard is an acute devastation that we have lost one of the very few principled voices in what is becoming a quagmire.
Bassem spoke out very harshly against the growing racism towards Syrian refugees and the army’s recent violence. The sadness is fuelled by bitterness because his voice in particular is needed more than ever.
Here in Oxford, we were blessed to spend time with Bassem during the Oxford Radical Forum (ORF) in spring. When he was around, the discussions never ebbed and he would elevate them to a higher level.
It wasn’t always strictly serious, for Bassem had a witty sense of humour and he sure knew his punchlines. Yet what distinguished him was an ability to describe and explain the most complex and unpleasant of issues with a paradoxical combination of drama and clarity.
It was this that led to him being invited to speak all over the world, and to the tributes pouring in right now from Brazilian trade unionists, from North American comrades, from Turkish, Egyptian and Syrian activists.
Bassem could capture your imagination with a passion that forced you to rethink many existing explanations, or simply reject dominant paradigms altogether – and his dry-mannered examples often led to roaring laughter.
I asked him why he hadn’t applied to do a PhD and he jokingly replied, “Oh never, what a waste of time.” He was the most unpretentious person, who could easily have had three doctorates. A title wasn’t his ambition – struggling for a better world and the freedom to act on his own revolutionary terms was his objective.
His writings have increased in importance since the outbreak of the Arab revolutions, and the shameless exploitation of sectarian divide-and-rule in the region as a counter-revolutionary strategy. His work is widely read online. He really did shape the debate.
Wherever he went, his interventions and contributions left a mark. He told his audience at ORF that the Shia-Sunni hype is largely false and that sectarianism is the child of the present-day contradictions of modern Arab capitalist societies. And then, because a mere opinion wasn’t enough, he proceeded with empirically based arguments to underline his simple statement.
Many students left with a sense of awe, and told us it was the first time they had heard such a persuasive analysis of a situation that had seemed too complex. It helped them to take side, and some of them joined our campaigns in solidarity with Syria. That is part of his legacy.
I have many memories of Bassem in Beirut, where he was one of my main educators during PhD fieldwork more than ten years ago. I remember seeing him chant and organise in the years after. One recent memory was here in Oxford. We chatted over dinner about how strange it is that young people are currently growing up with revolution and counter-revolution as a fact of life, and how awkwardly and quickly humanity adapts to bizarre circumstances.
I asked how it was for him growing up as a kid in Beirut, and he told us a funny story about how he and his friends would play “war” on their way to school, while navigating the streets and blocks that were controlled by competing factions.
It is a funny image to evoke: Bassem chasing from door-to-door between East and West Beirut with a bunch of other kids. Perhaps this is the root of his deep commitment to revolutionary socialism, his hatred of sectarianism, his rejection of nationalism, his love of life and freedom, and his willingness to give his life for equality.
As one comrade commented online, “Why do the best go first? Salamat rafiq Bassem – we will try to continue where you left.” A special salute for Bassem’s family, and his comrades Ghassan, Walid, Farah, Helena, Rima, and many others in Lebanon whose pain is currently immeasurable.
“Peace be upon your soul, Bassem Chit in Lebanon. A comrade in a common struggle.” – tribute message from the Syrian Leftist Revolutionary Party.
By Yusef Khalil
The left lost a dedicated fighter last week with the death of Lebanese revolutionary socialist Bassem Chit of a heart attack at the young age of 34. Fearless and full of energy and excitement, Bassem left an impact on everybody he touched.
I always looked forward to catching up with Bassem every time I was in Lebanon. I sometimes found it challenging to understand the prevailing sectarianism in Lebanese society and to counter it in my daily interactions. Every struggle, every movement, every demand for change seemed to be dismissed on sectarian grounds: the minister belongs to this sect; the workers are from this other sect; these key positions are held by this sectarian party; this union is under the influence of this secular party, which is today allied with that sectarian party; the demands of this movement may sound legitimate, but it would upset the balance with this other sect; and on and on.
But Bassem had a remarkable ability to break down complex issues and shed light on them in a clear, accessible manner. He would patiently, yet very passionately, explain that sectarianism is a product of capitalist relations in Lebanon; that all struggles of the oppressed deserved our support; and that to overthrow this capitalist sectarian system, we need a revolutionary party. Indeed, the day he left us, he was scheduled to give a talk to university students on “The Marxist analysis of social classes in Lebanon.”
Bassem’s conviction was contagious. His sharp analysis was indispensable to figuring out a perspective and the next steps for the left. As his friends have said, he was a reference point to many of us. He gave us hope.
“Bassem could capture your imagination with a passion that forced you to rethink many existing explanations, or simply reject dominant paradigms altogether,” wrote Moroccan activist Miriyam Aouragh for RS21. “Wherever he went, his interventions and contributions left a mark.”
Bassem was a consistent opponent of imperialism, sectarianism, clientelism and everything that weakens and divides the working class. He fought for his ideas tenaciously. This put him in conflict with other leftists/nationalists/secularists, who opportunistically compromised with sectarian Lebanese politics.
He also disagreed with those who saw that any of the Arab regimes were allies in the liberation of Palestine. According to Bassem, Zionism would not be defeated without the overthrow of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, the monarchs of the Gulf and the rest of the regimes that the Arab revolutionaries rose up against in 2011.
It was these relations of geopolitics, patronage and limits of what is permissible that Bassem himself rebelled against. He stood on the side of the oppressed, no matter how difficult or dangerous that position was. As one of his friends said in a tribute, “Bassem won the hatred of some and the admiration of many more.”
Sawt Al Niswa (Voice of the Women), an independent feminist webspace, thanked Bassem for generously giving his time and support for their project. They remembered him with these words:
“In a country and region increasingly sectarianized, segregated and besieged, and in dire need for radical action against racism, economic and political oppressions, Bassem continuously helped fight for the rights of the oppressed, the ostracized, the disenfranchised and the marginalized – not out of charity, but out of solidarity. For Bassem believed that the struggle for economic and social justice and the dismantling of the capitalist system and its neoliberal agenda were integrally linked to the claiming and defense of personal and political rights for everyone, everywhere.”
With a sharp intellect and boundless energy, Bassem was an adept Marxist activist, as highly effective in theoretical debates as in concrete organizing. He worked tirelessly to ensure the continuous production of Permanent Revolution, the collaborative Arabic-language theoretical journal of revolutionary Marxism, which features analysis from across the region: Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, through to the Gulf and Iran.
His comrades in the Socialist Forum in Lebanon mourned him, saying that Bassem dedicated his life to the “liberation of humanity from all forms of hegemony, occupation and oppression. With his sudden departure, we lost more than a rare revolutionary activist. We also lost a unique leader with very creative initiatives. It will not be easy at all to fill the huge vacuum of his absence.”
That absence is felt beyond Lebanon. The Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt paid tribute to Bassem, writing:
“It is no exaggeration to say that Bassem Chit gave his life [to] the cause of revolution and solidarity with the victims of oppression. He gave his life to the struggle against sectarianism in Lebanon and the Arab world, and to solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation, to the cause of the Syrian people and their revolution, and to expose the plight of refugees in Lebanon. He was a genuine internationalist fighter, who saw socialism as an achievable dream and a real hope, not only in Lebanon but the whole world: for humanity free from sectarianism, racism and false divisions.”
“Bassem was a towering figure on the Arab revolutionary Left. He had the unique ability to coordinate the issuing of a statement on behalf of revolutionary organisations in different countries and complete all the necessary discussions and corrections in half a day …”
We have lost a tremendous fighting spirit. We have lost a keen revolutionary intelligence. We have lost the theoretical and political contributions we were expecting from him in the long term. Bassem will be sorely missed. He was taken from us way too early. To his family and his comrades, we send our deepest condolences.
And in the memory of Bassem, we renew our commitment to revolutionary socialism and to the realization of his dream and vision of a world where humans live in dignity, free from oppression and exploitation.
by Sara Mourad
Sara Khatib died on 5 September. The last time I saw Sara, she was lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by a worried and loving grandmother, a selfless mother camouflaging her sense of helplessness with a comforting smile, and an older sister who was silently battling a feeling of impending tragedy. Sara had undergone surgery to remove a recurrent tumor in her arm. A post-operation infection had brought her back to the hospital where doctors were unable to diagnose the cause of infection. Less than a year later, Sara died of cancer. She was twenty-two. Approximately two weeks before her passing, she gave a speech at a Tedx event at the Lebanese American University where she shared four lessons she learnt from living with a painful disease. She ended her talk with a call, and a promise, to create a support group for amputees in Lebanon. Sara’s right arm had been amputated shortly after her diagnosis. Hers was a sober, humorous, and excruciatingly hopeful account of living with disease. It was about everyday resistance to pain–both physical and psychic–as well as the tactics of living with disability. It was also a future-oriented account of what needs to be done to make such a life less exceptional and more livable.
Bassem Chit died of a heart attack on 1 October. On that day, Bassem was supposed to deliver a lecture on the Marxist analysis of social classes in Lebanon to a group of students at the American University of Beirut. He did not show up to class and his body was later found on the floor of his Furn al-Shubbak apartment. Bassem was a revolutionary Marxist and co-founder of the Socialist Forum in Lebanon. His published articles and essays, in English and Arabic, reveal a complex and grounded theoretical grasp of power and the mechanics of domination. Though only thirty-four, Bassem was a fine thinker and a prolific writer whose future theoretical and political contributions were highly anticipated by those who knew him. This was a common belief that was expressed in the many eulogies published since his passing. Bassem’s friends and comrades are mourning the past, but also a future that they now know will never be. And perhaps this is the most tragic element of Bassem’s death: the realization that there is, indeed, no future. In the words of his close friend and comrade, “There is no other life, no encounter, no goodbye, no greeting, and no extensive discussion between us. Nothing but this futility that we have tried to change, and that we always will.”
How do we deal with senseless loss? Indeed, are there losses that make sense? How do we deal with loss at a time where everything seems to have been lost already: nations, revolutions, hope. At a time of perpetual war, of spectacular mass death, how do we mourn those who die because their hearts simply stop?
The unspectacular, private deaths of Sara and Bassem have decidedly different publics. But both are stamped by the optimism that characterized their brief lives. Faced with knowledge of her imminent passing, Sara decided to make the imminence of her death public. She wanted to share the meaning of her experience with others, to leave a trace that would outlive her material body. Her talk, now available in an online video, preserves her memory and gives meaning to her death. It therefore also renders our loss less senseless. Sara passionately wanted the ones who loved her, and the millions of strangers she would never meet, to learn something about living with, despite, pain. With the little time she knew she had, she wanted to make disability an issue of public concern.
But Sara knew what Bassem did not. His was an unexpected and sudden death. As a public intellectual, however, his trace could be found in his many published fragments and essays, and perhaps most notably in the monthly magazine he helped launch, Permanent Revolution. Bassem`s passing, the way he is being mourned and remembered by those who loved, thought, worked, and protested with him, captures a glimpse—and promise—of alternative lifeworlds at a time of counter-revolution. The local and global network of leftist individuals and collectives that has materialized online since the news of his death gives hope. And perhaps this is why his untimely death is itself an act of optimism, as it reveals, through his disappearance, all those who are still here.
How do we deal with senseless loss? We start by giving it meaning, understanding the sense that has been inscribed onto those brief lives at the moment of death. Loss is productive when it creates publics. But this is as far as Sara and Bassem can take us. Now, we are on our own. Now, it is up to us to take the meaning and allow it to move us, change us. Allow ourselves to be transformed by it. To recognize that we are not the same, and that we will never be.
A Public of Death
What has prompted this joint tribute to two very different individuals is a realization that we have become a public of death. The “we” here is highly specific yet heterogeneous and differentiated. It is highly specific to a time and place: An imagined contemporary Arab geography that is being transformed by state-managed, militant-perpetrated, disease-caused, and naturally-occurring deaths. The feelings of helplessness and hopelessness in the face of such a colossal force of destruction transforming our region are compounded by the individual, unspectacular losses of those we love. Are we doomed to be the witnesses as everything falls apart?
I look for a politics of hope that emanates from loss, both individual and collective.
Hope, to be sure, is not something to be found. Rather, it is something that emerges through the very act of searching. Hope resides in the search for alternatives, and is not in itself the alternative. We must look for alternative forms of embodiment, alternative intimacies, alternative collectivities, and alternative lifeworlds because what we have now is not enough. In Bassem’s words, “It is a comprehensive and ongoing struggle for a better world to live in . . . and we will live in it!” I like to think that this is the common legacy of Sara and Bassem: a tireless will to change their respective realities. Is this not a politics of hope?
Bassem Chit died last week. He was thirty four years old. His heart attacked him while he was in his apartment. He died alone.
Perhaps the important thing to dwell on is that he did not live a lonely life. Or at least, he made the world a less lonely place. For sure, he made being political in Lebanon a less lonely, less hopeless and less alienating way of being. This is no small feat in context where “being political” is most often equated with being partisan to one or another corrupt political party.
Perhaps a life, even one as short as his, can be measured by the words that are written upon death. If that is the case, the record is clear: letters, obituaries and condolences have poured in from across the radical socialist international and from the international left more generally—from Brazil to England, from Egypt to the United States to Paris and Peru, Bassem is mourned. He is being read and thought with at this very moment. He was as prolific as he was committed to various interrelated subjects; domestic violence and institutional sexism; political sectarianism; union organizing; imperialism, colonialism and cronyism; neoliberalism and its ravages; racism and xenophobia as it articulated locally, regionally and internationally. These are only some of the lenses through which he engaged with the world. More than most, Bassem put his body where his brain, his conversation and his writing, was. He was intersectionality not only as a theory or as an identity, but as praxis. He would probably laugh at this last sentence. He would say I was mixing metaphors.
When I think about Bassem, I think about two great passions that we shared. One was the love of a good, fiery, well informed and passionate argument. The other was a love of food. The first time I met him we shared a common friend’s delicious rendering of brisket in Beirut, and we argued at the dinner table about Lebanese politics and its legal system, and about secularism and class politics. We both got angry in the way one gets when your brain is awakened to the presence of another and the room suddenly gets smaller. It was exciting. This was years ago.
Since that meeting we shared many meals and many arguments. Thinking together is an intimate thing, and Bassem inspired this desire for intimacy in many. We were not the closest of friends, but we were comrades. We protested and debated protesting together, we cooked (mostly watched others cook) and we ate, we lamented the dwindling space of independent radical politics in Lebanon and we tried to stretch and widen that space. We cared for friends and causes together. Bassem mentored many younger radical Lebanese activists—and demonstrated what optimism and change could be in a country politically, economically, and socially polarized. He inspired so many, across borders and generations.
I don’t use the word “comrade” often, and I don’t use it lightly. Bassem and I disagreed on this. I find it hard to use “comrade” without thinking of the semantic and historical baggage that travels through those overburdened seven letters. But that is what Bassem was to me, and to many others. What I mean is that I could count on him, on his thoughts and his writing and his body on the line—as I hope he knew that he could count on me. I could take his solidarity for granted. Not because taking for granted implies a passive acceptance of another’s political framework; but precisely because in this context it implies an active commitment towards empowering others. It also implies trust in another’s core political orientations—a politics not confined to “Politics.” These acts— empowering others and trusting—are radical and they are political. This is why Bassem is (was) my comrade: I trusted him.
Mourning is not a passive state. It is not simply being sad for those that have ceased to be or feeling more alone and small as one more person is swallowed into the past tense. Rather, mourning is actively trying to reconstruct your world in the absence of someone dear. Mourning is a commitment to continuance—both to life itself and to the shared projects, desires, and battles that make up a life like that of Bassem Chit.
Goodbye comrade. We will continue arguing, fighting, empowering and eating until we join you in that active past tense. We are at a loss at thinking about your heart attacking you there alone in your apartment at the age of thirty-four. We are at a loss thinking and sitting here with your death.
But we are not lost.
باسم شيت الثوري ابن كفركلا …. رحل
الاخبار – محمد همدر – 04-10-2014اصيب باسم شيت، اول من امس، بنوبة قلبية، انهت حياته الكثيفة (34 سنة). من بلدة كفركلا الجنوبية. كان اشتراكيا ثوريا، تشهد له ساحات النضال الكثيرة من اجل الحرية والعدالة والتقدّم. لم يهدأ باسم شيت (34 سنة) منذ عشر سنوات. كان في كل مكان، يناضل ويحاضر ويدوّن ويمشي ويعتصم ويشارك في كل مناسبة تنادي بحقّ، بدءاً مع جمعية «صامدون» التي انطلقت بهدف دعم صمود المدنيين خلال عدوان تموز 2006، وصولاً إلى مشاركته مع مجموعة يسارية شابّة في «التجمّع اليساري من أجل التغيير» وإصدار «المنشور»، وهو نشرة ماركسية ثورية، علماً أنّه المدير التنفيذي لمجموعة «دعم لبنان» منذ عام 2007، ويحمل شهادة في المعلوماتية من «جامعة البلمند» عام 2002.
تحوّل «المنشور» أو «المنتدى الاشتراكي» كما سُميّ في ما بعد الى نشرة إلكترونية. كانت آخر مقالة لباسم على الصفحة بعنوان «اليسار الميكانيكي والثورة» وختمها بجملة تشبه الوصيّة أو صارت تشبهها بعد رحيله، قائلاً: «المهمة الاكثر ضرورة اليوم هي الابتعاد من الثرثرة الشعبوية، والعمل على بناء التنظيم الثوري وتجهيزه سياسياً وفكرياً وعملياً لمواجهة الواقع الذي نعيشه والتحضير للمواجهات القائمة، وليس إلى تحويل الطبقة العاملة إلى جماهير من المصفقين لرجعية وتطرف البرجوازية الصغيرة، وبطش وفاشية البرجوازية الحاكمة!».
آخر ما نشره على فايسبوك آراء يشترك مع أصحابها برفض الحرب الجديدة على العراق وسوريا، وبرفض منطق أنّ صانع «داعش» أتى ليخلصنا منها، وتذكير بأن كل طرح يدعو الى تحرير فلسطين ولا يتطرق الى ضرورة اسقاط الأنظمة العربية الحاكمة هو طرح كاذب.
أول من أمس، وصل الخبر الأسود. تسرّب طبعاً على صفحات الشؤم، على فايسبوك، «توفي باسم شيت منذ قليل بسكتة قلبية». بالرغم أنه لم يعدْ مستغرباً أن يرحل أحد باكراً في هذا البلد، خصوصاً إذا كان السبب ذبحة قلبية، إلا أنّه لا بدّ من وقع الصدمة. بعض الأصدقاء أعادوا السؤال أكثر من مرة: كيف ومتى؟ لا يريد أحد أن يصدّق، انطفأت تلك الطاقة الكبيرة وذهبت معها الحنجرة التي لطالما صدحت في مسيرات بيروت.
لماذا كل هذا التعب يا باسم؟ لماذا أتعبت قلبك؟ هل كنّا نستحق منك كل هذا الجري؟
لا مكان ولا مناسبة إلّا وظهر، كان بعضهم يتضايق من راديكاليته، لكن التطرّف في الآراء لا يعني أن تكون الآراء خاطئة. نحن فقط تعوّدنا التسويات والحلول الوسطى والمسايرة التي لا تنتج إلا من تراكم مشاكل أكبر وأضخم.
هل كان يستحقّ هذا البلد وشعبه كل هذا التعب والصراخ؟ تارة من أجل إٍسقاط النظام الطائفي، وأخرى من أجل دولة مدنية وانتخابات حرّة، وحقوق مدنية وحقوق المرأة وحقوق المثليين وحقوق الشعوب العربية في أن تقوم وتثور.
منذ أيام وتحديداً في 12 أيلول (سبتمبر) الماضي، احتفل باسم بعيده الخامس والثلاثين. وأمس رافقه أصدقاؤه ورفاقه الى مثواه الأخير في كفركلا. وغداً ستفتقده جلسات النقاش والجدال الحامية وساحات الاعتصام، ولكن لن يتغيّر شيء، ربما لو عرفنا أنه سيرحل باكراً، لكنّا طلبنا منه أن يستمتع بدنياه أو أن يهاجر، أو أن يعفي نفسه من النضال من أجل أي تغيير، مع أنّنا على يقين بأن باسم العنيد لن يقبل ولن يرتاح.
محمد همدر – 04-10-2014