intro’d to Omar here (via rt by Joey Ayoub):
Leila Al-Shami (@LeilaShami) tweeted at 1:57 AM – 20 May 2017 :
To Live in Revolutionary Time: Building Local Councils in Syria
This is the translator’s introduction to a text written by Omar Aziz in 2012. Omar was an anarchist born in Damascus who had been living with his family in the United States for many years when the revolution against the Assad regime broke out.
He traveled back to Syria to help build grassroots, horizontal structures that would allow people to collectively meet their needs as the state was driven back and to act as a check on new authoritarians taking power. This text was only published publically after Omar’s death in prison in 2013 and it is credited with inspiring hundreds of council projects throughout the territory.
The translation of Omar’s text The Formation of Local Councils can be found here, on the website, Bordered By Silence. As well, we have laid out the introduction and the translation as a pamphlet for easier reading and distribution.
His text, The Formation of Local Councils, remains one of the core strategic proposals of the social revolution in Syria. He first published it in late 2011,
We will also share translated excerpts of the introduction to the French translation of Omar’s text by Éditions Antisociales, published in November 2013 under the title *The Revolution of Everyday Life Under Sniper Fire.
Our hope is that by translating and distributing this text to make more visible the Syrian revolution, which has so often been denied or conflated with the armed groups that share its territories. Often leftists who support the Assad regime or anarchists who support the YPG/PYD will ask things like, “Are there really liberatory groups in these areas? What are their names? What are their ideas?”
as if the organization of daily life needed a name, a website, and an English-language spokesperson to exist.
“Omar Aziz stood for the complete break-up [of] the state in order to achieve collective liberation without waiting for regime change or for one ruling power to replace another. He believed that communities are capable of producing their own freedoms regardless of political vicissitudes.” Aziz recognized that the time of revolution was the moment the people themselves should claim autonomy and put in place as much of an alternative programme as possible.
As Omar writes in both introductions, massive combative demonstrations had created spaces and times outside the control of the state. These demonstrations were often pushed forward by small affinity-based groups of revolutionaries called coordinating committees that operated clandestinely to avoid repression. In the space created, many forms of autonomous self-organizing began to emerge as the state withdrew or was driven back.
Omar and his friends believed that the human energy freed up by creating these spaces outside of authoritarian control would allow for the creation of new social forms, which would in turn further erode the state.
At the time, he was mocked and ignored by the very people who would later adopt his idea and take credit for it.
Omar Aziz’s vision of the local council was founded on the premise that revolutions are exceptional events in which human beings live in two parallel time zones: the time of authority and the time of revolution. For the revolution to emerge victorious, it must break free from the domination of the authorities and become involved in every aspect of people’s lives, not just in demonstrations and political activism.
Omar and his comrades were not against power (they wanted to build grassroots horizontal power), they were against authority.
This emphasis on anti-authoritarian practice entered the text in subtle, linguistic ways too. Budour notes: “Omar Aziz avoided using the term ‘The people’ and instead referred to people as ‘humans’. His comrade Mohammad Sami al-Kayal writes: “He did not believe in ‘The people,’ that jargon coined by authority to maintain its power. He saw human beings who live, thrive, and spout their potential.”
We could make a similar argument about the word “society”. Omar is focused on specific projects that are adapted to local context – if he had a vision for all of “Syrian society”, it was of local, autonomous self-organizing. The word “society”, by lumping everyone together, is generally used to erase the diversity and possibility that would grow from the multiplication of these initiatives.
public consensus always oppresses someone
Because what is society? It is how the state sees the collected individuals, milieus, communities, families, political structures, classes, and so on that inhabit the territory it controls. An anarchic break with the state will also be a break with society, this non-free association of individuals held together by the shared experience of being ruled. As with “the people”, we believe avoiding the word “society” is consistent with Omar’s emphasis on “human beings” and decentralization, and so we’ve translated the Arabic word more often as “group”, “community”, or “collective”.
Omar insists repeatedly that what he is describing will vary based on local situations. He is not seeking to impose a model on all of “society”, but he does believe there is space for everyone to build a life for themselves and the people around them outside the control of the state on a non-hierarchical basis: groups of people adapting to local conditions with a shared commitment to collaboration and to not being ruled.
One of the biggest critiques to be made of The Formation of Local Councils and of the local councils themselves is that there is a current that seemingly favours bureaucratic, representative democracy. In a moment where many western anarchists are describing their projects as distinct from or hostile to democracy, it can be difficult to understand what moves anarchists elsewhere to push for local-level representative democracy as a form of governance.
there are fundamental differences between government and the local councils. The local councils as described in this text form by inviting people already doing important work, then slowly expanding to include more people in a wider geographic area as their capacity increases, while encouraging and making links with similar projects elsewhere. Their territories are defined by who participates, not by borders. And, unlike what some militias affiliated with the Rojava project have done, they spread by encouraging self-organizing elsewhere, not by conquering.
self org ness
He, along with many other Syrian revolutionaries, had tremendous faith in the human potential that is unlocked when time and energy are freed from authoritarian structures. .. However, Omar writes that very quickly, time opened up by the revolution was filled up by a desperate struggle for survival — the regime’s ability to impose misery meant that this enormous human potential wasn’t able to manifest.
Although not a pacifist movement as we would usually understand the term, much of the grassroots Syrian revolution does not believe that armed struggle is what will bring about a better life. Rather, it is the dual approach described in this text: destroying the state while producing new forms of life. Neither of those actions particularly require violence, but they must be determined and willing to defend themselves.
The revolution of “local co-ordinating committees” as it has been sketched out in Syria, doesn’t require any terror to reach its goals, it hates and abhors murder. It doesn’t seek vengeance, but rather justice. It is not a desperate attempt by a minority trying to squeeze all of reality into the mould of its ideals. It is the product of the actions of hundreds of thousands or millions of individuals who resolved to take their lives in their own hands and to go as far as possible towards their dream of freedom and dignity. And it is precisely this experience of universal importance that the Holy Alliance of its enemies tries at all costs to bury under ruins and lies. Bashar and Putin, the Iranian mollahs and the American congress, the pseudo-resistance of Hezbollah and the very christian Venezuelan police, the United Nations and al-Qaeda, the Communist Party of China and French know-how… The profiteers of the globalized system would rather transform Syria into a mass grave than willingly surrender their place at the table of those who divide up the world and ‘negotiate’ the future.
This brings up one last note on the translation. we have avoided referring to Omar, his comrades, or all the Syrian revolutionaries as “activists”, an identity that’s defined relative to a supposedly passive majority. ..Their commitment to radically doing away with the old world and dreaming a new one in its place is deeply inspiring,
on first googling.. can’t find anything else w just his name other than these:
Aziz was encouraged by the revolutionary wave gripping the country and believed that “ongoing demonstrations were able to break the dominance of absolute power”. But he saw a lack of synergy between revolutionary activity and people’s daily lives. For Aziz it didn’t make sense to participate in demonstrations demanding the overthrow of the regime whilst still living within strict hierarchical and authoritarian structures imposed by the state. He described such division as Syria being subject to the overlapping of two times “the time of power” which “still manages the life activities”, and “the time of Revolution” belonging to the activists working to overthrow the regime. Aziz believed that for the continuity and victory of the revolution, revolutionary activity needed to permeate all aspects of people’s lives. He advocated for radical changes to social organization and relationships in order to challenge the foundations of a system based on domination and oppression.
There is no one model but they often operate as horizontally organized, leaderless groups, made up of all segments of the society.
The risk lies not in the overlap of the two periods, for that is the nature of revolutions, but rather in the absence of correlation between the spheres of daily life and the revolution itself. So, what is feared of the movement during the coming period is one of two things: humans becoming bored due to the continuity of the revolution and its disruption of their daily lives, or humans resorting to the use of heavy weaponry, causing the revolution to become the rifle’s hostage.
The blending of life in a revolution is an inherent requirement for its continuation and its victory. It requires a socially flexible structure that is based on the collaboration between the revolution and the daily lives of humans. This form of structure will be called: the local council.
As time passes, the course of human life for individuals and families transforms into one of a constant search for safer places to live. This course in time also transforms daily work into tireless efforts to discover what has happened to missing loved ones.
The Topic of Exchange Between Human Beings: The Formation of New Participants
Provide a venue for discussion in which human beings are able to trade and search for solutions to daily issues
Build horizontal links between the local councils of one geographic region and expand to include links between different geographic regions