Culture as Politics by: Yassin Al-Haj Saleh
The renowned Syrian thinker and political writer Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, who is currently living in Turkey, has released his latest book titled Al-Thakafa K Siyasa (Culture as Politics: The Intellectuals and their Social Responsibility in the Time of the Monsters) with The Arab Institute for Research and Publishing in Beirut.
The book tackles the role of intellectuals in the time of tyranny and beasts who are fighting for power and then monopolising it.
Saleh, who spent over 16 years in the prisons of the Syrian intelligence services during the 1980s and 1990s, says in his book that "Culture as a culture, is a political power, and as a form of public work it has its own character and dignity and it is the duty of intellectuals to interfere in politics at all times, and especially in our bloody times, and say clear words about prison, torture, discrimination, killing, racism, and bigotry."
Saleh says in the book that what is worse than an intellectual becoming a practical politician, is when the intellectual claims that his field of work is art -- or thought -- and that he will not contaminate himself with politics and its affairs, refraining from engaging with politics and the problems of the real world. In our current state, this strategy justifies the status quo and nothing but the status quo.Saleh is a regular contributor to various Arabic newspapers and periodicals, including the London newspapers Al-Hayat and Al-Quds. He has published two books after he was released from prison in 1997- Syria from the shadow: Glimpses Inside the Black Box and The Myths of Successors: Criticising Contemporary Islam and Criticising its Criticism.
After the Syrian Revolution broke out in March 2011 he published Walking on One Foot, with Al-Adaab in Beirut.
The books is a collection of 52 essays written between 2006 and 2010. It explores the social, political and economic circumstances in which Syrians have had to live and work under Assad, which it presents as the motives behind a revolution after 40 years of Baath Party rule.
In 2012 he published his Bilkhalas Ya Shabab (Salvation O Boys: 16 Years in Syrian prisons), where he narrates his years in prison.