What we see everywhere is that there is just some group. Mao Tse Tung's wife had a group, and so did Mao earlier.
They pretended they were "Marxist." Some peasants actually believed this. There were persons who worked hard for that revolution. There was even some real socialism and solidarity there, but just for a little while. Only for a little while. While the incipient revolutionary struggle was still going on, but in the end there was nothing special. There was just some group and you know what they did to the Tibetan and other groups. They were just some group that wanted their own success.
Bashar Assad thinks the same way. He has a group. He has his own group; and he thinks it is right. When he points to others, he is only pointing to some other group that opposes his. So, you could say that Bashar Assad points out merely that after all those who oppose him are a group. And that they are another group, not his group. And that is true enough. So, his group against other groups. And there is not anything new about that, or even anything very interesting about that. "Oh my," says Bashar Assad, "they are another group, and it is not my own group." Yea, that's true.
In Syria where I know barely anything —I have not done much research work—but nevertheless I think I still get what the groups are that are involved there. Because of the press, the dissemination of information in the society, I can identify the relevant groups in this Syrian affair. I think I see three. There are three that I can identify. Well, what are they? OK, Bashar Assad's is one group. This is Alawis or "Alawite." It looks like we are not talking about it quite so much, but another group of relevance here are Islamic extremists or "Islamists," and the third? Well, maybe I am biased, as we all are, but I feel that they can be identified as the ones who just simply want a free country, a good country, with human rights, democracy...or maybe they'd like some kind of progress or something like that.
OK, those are the three. (As I have created them, by labeling them in my own mind).
But I would like to ask something. As I said, these are just some groups. Still, I would still like to ask whether it is absolutely established that we can really say which one is correct. Really? Can we really do that? How much do we know? Can you really point a finger at one party? How can we really say we prefer one person or another, based on their group identifications? Which one? There is the question here of whether we really have the right to pick an ally.
And I will ask you what good that would do. This is hard for some persons to understand. You can tell that I have also already stated my own preference, as if I knew something, and I tended to like just one of those three.
But we can still ask whether we have any right to really judge. What do I really know? Hence the query, "should we pick an ally?" Because maybe tomorrow we'll change our mind. Because who really can say one kind of person is better than another? I do not want the Alawis to come here and judge me; they probably do not want me to judge them.
So, why should I? I think it is possible that maybe we could wake up one day and find that we switched to one of the other factions. It is a big philosophical question: why is one person better than another? Who are we? Are we just "some group"?
We are beings called humans and I am here in the United States writing this, in a country in the Western hemisphere of the planet earth. Are there groups involved? It is in the temperate part of the hemisphere, for whatever that's worth, and I would say that in this country we get along —somewhat tenuously. We are not killing one another, right?
I live at this time in Chicago. My report from this place is that, no, we are not killing each other. And, as for groups, there are dozens of groups, like the Polish. I say Polish because some of them take care of my building, that's all, so I see Poles. Not all Poles work on my building. Some do.
They are Poles! And even there are Arab people in the next neighborhood south. Which brings us right back around to Syria where groups or factions fight.
Maybe the U. S. is best. That's fine, if I think so. OK, I think so. If the U. S. is best, in terms of living together without fighting to the death, then we should get everyone else to be more like the U. S. How? The very banal answer is that it is to be done (not by picking a faction in Syria but) by setting a better example here in the U. S., and working out our own problems.
This is our great opportunity.
...now after writing the above a few days ago, I went out, yesterday —and what did I see but the N.Y. Times. That was my encounter with the outside world! Anyway, in the New York Times if not in the real world, I saw that, according to the newspaper, the situation is now in the famous "going towards civil war" phase. Whatever that is. But...
Now I want to ask something else. Where does Egypt stand on this? And we find that Egypt has the same groups. Egypt is not one country, or only one group. Or it is only one country, and human like the rest. In Egypt, there is, once again, the military faction, the Islamist faction, and the democrats. This seems similar to what we discussed regarding Syria, where there is the Bashar Assad military fascist faction, the Islamist fascist faction, and then the freedom side of it. (Once again, you can see that those are my biases and I don't hide them. That is the conceptual handle I am working with.)
In Egypt too, there is a group that is not Islamist, although it is nevertheless totalitarian and merely wants power, for itself and no one else.
The U. S. has the task of strengthening the forces of democracy. Yet, too often we just pretend to support that, but without really promoting it here at home.
There is a lot of work to be done and the task to be done is twofold. It is that of enhancing our unity without damaging our freedom. "Freedom" is simply the common and also maybe the best word for the set of ideas Americans tend to promote.
And as I said, groups do exists everywhere. Every group here in the U.S. need to get respected. But they are not "just" groups. We also need unity. What we do not want is that just any old group that considers itself superior tells the others what to do.