We are now entering a deeply divisive phase in the revolution that began on 17 October 2019. For those of us who were involved in the early years of rebuilding a viable left in Lebanon, the uprising is a vindication of all that we dreamed of: that sectarianism can be defeated through popular struggle; that fundamental changes taking place at the base of society made the old superstructure no longer viable; that the illusion of reforming a sectarian system to make a “fairer capitalism” was simply that, an illusion; that our struggle to rebuild resistance would be long and hard and that there are no short-cuts; that rhetoric could never replace action.
During that time we published Phalastine Hurr, Al-Yasari, Al-Manshour and Thawra Daema as examples, and an expression, of our seriousness and resolution. We did this with few illusions and against all the odds.
We have all been heartened by the new generation that is steeped in the experience of revolution, and the harsh lessons of counter revolution. While many of us struggled against deathly fatalism and small deeds of the 1980s and 1990s, this generation sees what is possible and has the experience of the mass protests and demonstrations that for many us was only a wild dream.
The October revolution showed us what is possible, but has also revealed how much further we still have to go. Now our country is in a spiral of crisis in which any hope of real reform, one that benefits the mass of people rather than the international institutions of capitalism, cannot be achieved within the system, but only through the total transformation of society.
Yet how can this be done? There is no doubt that the movement for reform has reached its limit, that it is easier to convince a hyena to pull out its own teeth than persuade the ruling class to give up its power. The danger now is that these very same forces are seeking to fill the vacuum left by the crisis. It is for this reason that we need to present an organised and viable alternative for the mass of angry and disillusioned people, lest they fall victim, once again to the forces of darkness.
We have to build the institutions of revolution: committees in neighbourhoods; workplaces; schools; hospitals etc that can take over the day to day functioning of society. This can become the foundations for an alternative government, and prove in practice how society can be organised. This is an urgent task, and as the experience of Samidoun showed us, well within our means and experience. As the saying goes “Rome was not built in a day… but it was built!”
But our biggest deficit is that we lack an organised revolution party, one dedicated to permanent revolution, not simply a series of reforms, one that organises the best class fighters, and is not simply a voice for the movement. After the loss of our dear comrade Bassem Chit this project has melted into the sand. And reading and organising all his writings over the past year has convinced me of how correct his strategy was, and how important it is to pick up where he left off.
I have a growing sense of alarm that all we have built since the end of the Civil War will be lost, and this revolutionary generation will also be lost, and with it the hope for fundamental changes that we need at a time when the global crisis is pressing down on us all.
I am writing to you in the hope that you will join me in relaunching a revolutionary party, one that can express the collective leadership and experience of a generation of intellectuals, leaders and activists that has shown us what is possible.
Yours in comradeship,