As if we're not already overwhelmed by mediocrity and suffocating from stagnation, the censors' scissors in
Fewer resident Syrians are reading blogs because it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. My normal browsing day starts in my own private office from 9:00 to 10:00 before I move to another location and work till mid-afternoon. This personal time, enjoyed with my second cup of coffee is one of the highlights of my day. I read my favorite "updated" blogs one after the other. I absorb, reflect and sometimes comment. No matter what their content is, they have become a part of my reading conscience. I don't have to agree with everything I read. There are certain blogs I have been frequenting for over a year without ever commenting. Yet I follow them regularly because I appreciate their underlying message. I used to sail effortlessly between them and in the process find new harbors to add to my calling list. Then came the blocking of Blogspot and my "surfing" agility was hit hard. I have to carefully tread my way through proxies and anonymizers now and instead of this wonderful morning hour being a source of serenity and pleasure it's increasingly becoming a source of irritation and frustration. But wait a minute, isn't it exactly what the censors want? To get "us" bored so that eventually we eliminate blogging (reading, writing and commenting) from our surfing habits. The same line of thought applies to Youtube, Facebook and ultimately to Amazon. Thus the purpose behind this draconian type of censorship becomes all too clear: to sever, to slash, to disconnect and to exterminate the exchange of opinions, ideas, jokes and photos between resident and expatriate Syrians.
We can still access any site on the Internet albeit much slower than before. Is it a coincidence that the growth rate of resident Syrians accessing the Internet is one of the fastest in the world and that their speed of access is among the slowest? If you follow the local IT news you'll find out that the number one issue over the last five years has been the matter of "speed", or more accurately the lack of it. I am having my own serious doubts now and am developing my own hypothesis. It seems that official policy is to extend Internet access to all and at the same time to keep it ridiculously slow. Quantity versus quality. Keep the Internet static so that it loses its interactive role and merely simulate the television experience. Let resident Syrians read and only read whatever they want on ephemeral screens without their input and more importantly without feedback from their expatriates. Official policy doesn't give a damn about what the rest of the world is saying or has to say about us. It's beyond control anyway. Let expatriates express whatever come to their minds (it's beyond control anyway) BUT let there be a divide, a buffer, a no-man's-land, intellectually at least, between expatriates and residents.
Let us not oversimplify reality. Not all expatriates belong to what is vaguely termed the "opposition". By the same token, not all residents are the "sheep" many expatriates believe us to be. Yet it is safe to assume that a large proportion of the Syrian Middle-Class I once lamented live abroad. Apparently, this dispersed class on the outside and its remnants on the inside present the only clear and present danger to the censors. Together they make the Bourgeoisie, that's what they have been pejoratively called by both the more and less fortunate. These are ordinary people whose status was acquired often by hard work, high education and specialized employment. Although they are the majority in any normal society they are not well-liked by the upper echelon and by the lower stratum. Historically, it might be argued that censorship in third world countries has been implemented by those who climbed to power from the ghettos and/or fields of poverty. I don't believe this supposition holds a grain of truth today. All over the third world, in the Arab world in general (both freaky republics and caricature monarchies) and in
Art, literature and science grow in the fertile soil of the middle class. Change, advancement and even rebellion are also conceived in the womb of the Bourgeoisie. Therefore this social group is potentially dangerous no matter which road its members choose to follow, right, left or in the damn middle.
Let dispersed Syrians abroad follow their own dreams of riches or sink deep in shit holes. Let them give up their heritage in exchange of being accepted as equals in their new-found homes or let them forever remain second class citizens. The most important thing is to let them stay out, as the less of them in, the better.
For any real change to happen it must start from within. If we're ever to achieve authentic democratic reform, the Syrian Middle Class is the only hope. To prevent that, block the free exchange of ideas between individuals belonging to this group. Isolate them, break them apart, bore them to death… Block the bastards!