Imperialism is Multiple, So Should be Our Solidarities: On the Need for Post-Post-Colonialism



Often trapped into reacting to reactionaries, our solidarity can suffer from simplistic thinking such as “the friend of our enemy is our enemy.” The understanding of the United States as the only global power practicing imperialism has been denying crucial solidarities with struggles organized against other imperialisms. Sahar Amarir describes this understanding, in particular in its application to the Syrian Revolution, and the need to fundamentally recenter the colonized self to reach a moment of post-post-colonialism.

Amarir Funambulist 1
Raed Fares was a Syrian activist and journalist. Committed to the Syrian revolution and to pacifism, he launched an independent media in his northern city of Kafranbel. He gained notoriety as the mastermind behind the now famous “Kafranbel banners,” regularly posted on social media which provided candid and bold commentaries on the Syrian revolution and solidarity. Fares was a revolutionary and critic of the Al-Assad regime, Syrian islamist factions, as well as the Islamic State. After several failed attempts during the previous years, he was assassinated on 23 November 2018 by unknown assailants.

Whether in the Western Left, or the North African or West Asian ones, the past decades have seen a tendency to reduce imperialism to an exclusively U.S. phenomenon, a tendency that—when reaching the obsessional level—can be called “tankism.” This rhetoric now largely pervades leftist reflections on foreign policy and structures of oppression, systematically centering the U.S. and European colonizers as the sole recipient of action and thought by the formerly colonized. This has created significant obstacles to building, sustaining or intensifying transnational and international solidarities.

One of the many misconceptions when describing tankism consists in saying that it is merely a movement like any other within the Left, coming with its own issues and strengths. In reality, this perspective sidelines essential and important components of the spirit of anti-imperialism by disregarding the existence and many heritages of non-aligned movements. Countries from the Global South correctly identified the U.S. and the Soviet bloc as two competing imperialisms, yet weren’t in systematic antagonism with either as they were more motivated by their own liberation and the agency of their people.

By sidelining non-aligned movements as one of the founding pillars of contemporary anti-imperialism, tankism takes us further from the radical heritage of the anti-colonial and anti-imperial Left and its contemporary continuations.

In parallel to increasingly morally-shattered allied powers, revolutionary movements that are inherently anti-imperialist in their foundations are emerging and gaining in numbers, but are facing growing hostility both domestically and internationally. In that respect, the most telling example remains that of the Syrian revolution. Of all the revolutions that stemmed from the wave of uprisings in North Africa and West Asia from 2011, the Syrian revolution is most certainly one where its progressivist ideals have been the most violently and systematically repressed and disparaged by intellectuals, politicians, rulers, and their militias alike. Its initially peaceful uprising was smeared and described under the false binary of a supposedly reformist and secular regime, fighting against herds of foreign jihadists invading Syria, with the help of the U.S. and NATO. So utterly deprived of any form of political, social or material support, the overwhelmingly peaceful Syrian revolution had to resort to violence out of sheer instinct of survival more than conscious choice, yet still faced a nauseating lack of empathy for it.