'..to rethink and to rebuild a culture where there are open channels between feeling and understanding..'

Posted by ProjectC 
'..The regime was built on isolation, and preventing people from meeting, and in the end they were successful.

..Maybe this experience is more important than politics or religion as a source of a new humanist culture.


It is to rethink and to rebuild a culture where there are open channels between feeling and understanding, and meaning, and knowledge.'

'..It shows how politics is severed from values and a sense of justice. “Stability” is considered the goal, not “freedom” or “justice.” The Syrians struggled bravely, for seven or eight months peacefully, and then with arms. But since mid-2012, it has not longer been Syrians against Syrians. The national framework of the struggle collapsed, and we have all the world in the country now.


..Even though some of them are thinking about Islam on the basis of modernity or secularism, there is nothing radical about their critiques — they are not interested in human dignity, equality, freedom, or justice. Islam is not only interesting because of questions of values, it is important also because of its relation to identity in our society. So you have to deconstruct this, and to rethink it, to open this identity to criticism and ethical thought. This is what I am trying to do.

Culture is also an important strategy against the Assad regime, because this is a regime that has suppressed intellectuals, suppressed critical thinking, has not allowed people in the universities or the media to discuss issues of religion, sectarianism, of tyranny. Though the regime is modernist in a way, and Assad is the fascist with a neck-tie, it is against culture, no less than the Islamists of Da’esh. Actually we have three monsters in Syria, three inhuman creatures. One, the Islamic monster, second, the monster of Tyranny. And third, the Western Imperialist monster. And culture can be our weapon to remake these monsters into human energies, human politics, human actors. Culture is a humanizing field to transform these monsters to human-scale powers.


You’ve said in the past that Syrians for the last half century have been in solitude, and that the monologue has been the default mode of interaction. How do you now open this up to dialogue?

Well, now we must open up to the international community. It has always been true, but it is even truer after the war. The regime was built on excluding and isolating us from the world. Any of us who had, especially Western friends, was under the suspicion of being a spy. The concept of nationalism in Syria has always been used to install high barriers between Syria and the world, and we need to break this. But first of all the dialogue must be among Syrians. Because under Assad it was impossible for us to even be in a private house like this and discuss public issues. Is it strange to you? I mean it literally. It was impossible for ten or twenty people to meet in a private house — of course you can do it in secret, but then this is a monologue. It only becomes a dialogue when you can make it somehow public. We need a dialogue between ourselves to meet and rebuild our society. Society is composed of these interactions between people. When they are isolated from each other, in many ways, even from discussions, you don’t have a society. You have families, you have sects, you have local groups, but you don’t have a society. The regime worked hard to isolate us from each other. It worked to separate those who are interested in public issues from the public. The regime was built on isolation, and preventing people from meeting, and in the end they were successful.

..Maybe this experience is more important than politics or religion as a source of a new humanist culture.

When you say a “new humanist culture” do you mean for the world? That the horror of what is happening in Syria necessitates a reconsideration of the culture of the world, not just of Syria? That what is happening is Syria requires a radical reimagining of the way the world functions?

..My feeling in relation to Europe and the West now is that for seventy years they have been living in good conditions, there were no tragedies, big tragedies. Of course they caused big tragedies for others, but no big tragedies for themselves..

Finding meaning from suffering — how do you do this?

It is not only a matter of knowledge and experiences. I think they are centered on concepts a lot in the West. There is a logic of practices, and a logic of feeling. They know a lot, but they feel nothing. It is to rethink and to rebuild a culture where there are open channels between feeling and understanding, and meaning, and knowledge.

First of all, we have experiences. You know that I was in prison for a long time, that I was tortured. But I don’t mean that one should suffer himself to know. And even when you suffer yourself, it is not easy to transform your experience to meaning and to culture. And this is a challenge to me, because I’m trying to do things that I don’t have reference for. But at least you have to, in your writing — I’m a writer, so I’m not speaking about film-makers or painters — you have to at least describe your experiences, to give examples about the suffering of the people. To give some information about what is happening. You can find a lot of information, photos, footage, maybe not a lot of written materials, but I am interested in this because the meaning of cultural revolution — Syria is a part of the Arab world, and a part of the Muslim world. And I feel that this world is in need of cultural revolution that challenges religion, but is not only obsessed with religion, in a way that you can see in the West every day. Not like this. In an emancipatory and liberatory direction. The cultural revolution is necessary. It is important for us to liberate the minds and imaginations and memories. But this applies also to the world. We, Arabs, Muslims, are 1/5th of the world. And we participated a lot in making the world bad. So we need to also participate in making it better. And to do this, cultural revolution, suffering, the experience of those who have been killed, crushed, suffered, are an important basis for this. And you can challenge the religious authorities, the powers, in the name of this suffering. This is the real basis for a new humanity, and hopefully a new thinking, a new culture. This is what I am trying to do.


To those outside Syria, how do you transmit these experiences of the horror? In the news we are given the horror, but without meaning. The enormity of the horror leads to inaction.

This is what is happening now. I don’t know what to do. We are overwhelmed. Because the experience, the scale of these experiences is horrible, and the organizing efforts are limited. So, I don’t have an answer to this. But, as a writer, I still have some metaphysical hope, that some day this suffering that I am an agent in expressing and transmitting to others, will have some effect. The problem is I write only in Arabic. Actually, that is not true, I want to write in Arabic. My addressees are Syrians and those who can read Arabic. But I feel we are trying to do has a human need, and it addresses the people in Chile, and in Japan, and in South Africa, and in New York. I don’t have systematic solution. We cannot build a new International for instance — although I think there should be something on this level. I mean, a new global movement to develop a new sensitivity, a new imagination, new theories and new thinking. Maybe.

The enormity of what has happened and is happening seems to call for something of an equal enormity in response. If Syria is a global metaphor, then the fact that something like this can happen in the world means there is something fundamentally wrong with the world.

Exactly, and no country is so far from the other as not to be neighbors. You are not isolated, we are not isolated. You think you can build walls around your castle. Maybe. But someday someone stronger than you will come and knock them down, and we are back to barbarism. So I think we must imagine a new moment, a new global movement. If we are not extremely mistaken in what we’ve been talking about this evening, then others are thinking the same way in India, in Brazil, and I hope so and we will find each other in the coming years.

- Armed Words, November 24, 2015

Context GIN - The Elders - Bazaarmodel

The Garden of Forgiveness

(To Heal)(Management innovation) - '..Teal Organizations to start healing the world..'

‘…life, liberty, and progress .. cultivating peace.’

(Towards Global Peace) - '..to help schools in Pakistan or other developing countries create their own peace curricula..'

(Bazaarmodel - Teal) 'The movement for reinventing organizations and its companion-movements..'

Why Economics Is Crucial for Ethics - By Art Carden

'..ethics in particular .. absolute principle of ethics..' - '..deze fundamentele ethiek..'

(Haptopraxeology) - '..We have lost three centuries as a result of ignoring our scholars!'