The Syrian Uprising

During our discussion our group felt that the ideas of Gramsci and Williams were very applicable to the events currently taking place in Syria.  As Gramsci states in his work a social group’s power is established through two ways: “domination” as well as “intellectual and moral leadership.”  Essentially what Gramsci is saying is that social groups are able to become dominant forces because they constantly press their ideologies onto others until they are widely accepted.  Furthermore these dominant social groups are able to keep their power by maintaining leadership.  This explains how a corrupt leader such as Bashar al-Assad or even his father Hafez al-Assad can maintain political control for significant periods of time.  Hafez had an authoritarian rule over Syria for 31 years and his son has currently been doing the same for the past 13.  However starting in 2011 the people no longer remained passive, they were beginning to become active resulting in the Syrian uprising.

Williams would describe this uprising as a change in dynamics between the base and the superstructure.  As we have learned in class Marx theorizes that our society consists of two parts, the base and the superstructure.  However Williams believes that there is so much more that goes into this concept and that the base is not a state but a process.  It consists of the social and economic relationships that can in turn influence the superstructure.  The Syrian uprising is a prime example of how the dynamics between the base and the superstructure are changing.  The people want change and are pushing their new ideologies throughout the base.  Obviously the rebels have a solid ideology that has appealed to the base because they have created this power struggle and have been able to carry out a revolt for so long.  But considering the fact that Bashar is still in control it’s obvious that his old ideology still has significant pull among the masses.

We also thought it was interesting how the United Nations is trying to get involved and push their ideologies of democracy and peace onto the country.  Other countries, like Russia, are also getting involved in this conflict to keep their own interests and power alive.  After discussing the readings we found it interesting that in so many situations outside parties (generally first world countries) try to fix a conflict/problem by pushing their own ideologies onto others.  We were wondering if anyone had another example of a similar situation currently taking place?

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