Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lebanon's Cycle Continues

The obsession between the government and opposition to appear victors in this race has led this country into a stagnant stalemate without any chance of progress. There wasn’t any local, regional, or international initiative to allow both bourgeoisie camp leaders to reach a mutual face save deal, and hence the country is trapped in a time frame while the Proletariat suffer.

Last year, when Pierre Gemayel was assassinated, the emotions of the duality reactionary camps were exploding to the extent riots broke up with Christians belonging to the Pro-Opposition and Pro-Government almost beating each other. One week later, on December 1st, the opposition launched the largest protest in the history of Lebanon, and the government remained standing. By late January of 2007, tension was high, the country almost entered a civil war. Two separate events broke out in January that almost dragged the country to immense bloodshed. The first was when the opposition decided to perform civil disobedience and swore to remain active till the government resigns, and the second would be the Arab University incident whereby one unknown sniper shot students whereby riots broke out (which caused Hassan Nasrallah to issue a direct fatwa telling the Shiites to remain home while Saad Harriri begged his audience the same).

We can consider January 2007 the verge of a civil war which the sect leaders clearly didn’t want to enter, nor their sponsors. The media played a massive role in igniting the masses into sect mobilization against each other (Shiite – Christian versus Durzi – Christian – Sunni coalitions). Yet, the leaders didn’t want a civil war, which I would definitely consider a good thing. However, this deadlock between the government and the opposition didn’t change anything, instead it made things worse for the people.

While the media remained charging the different groups against each other, the leaders remained failing to achieve what they promised their sect herds. A large faction of the people, just as anticipated, has lost hope with the future of their country. This means more and more people see their future outside Lebanon. The government and the opposition has disgusted people more and more just as collisions remain standing. Actually everything that happens, the government and the opposition try to take credit for. When the war with terror broke out at Nahr el Bared, the opposition and government remained accusing each other to the extent each called the other bluntly: “of funding Fatah Islam”.

The cycle became so monotonous that even the political assassinations seized to do any impacts because again people are simply fed up. The crowd for Pierre Gemayel, George Hawwi, and Samir Qassir for example were much larger than Antoine Ghanem, Walid Eido, and General Francois Hajj. The mobilizations in the earlier assassinations were more powerful than this year. This year though, towards the middle of it, witnessed media blackout in different location. Whenever riots broke out between the two camps, media didn’t emphasize on them as they used to in December/January. Now of course, we always have the exceptional comical figures like We’am Wahhab threatening the government with annihilation whenever he wants.

Hence, we reach the political void we all anticipated, the deadlock without a way out. The opposition insisted on having head of the army Imad Suleiman as head of the nation state, only to be rejected by the government since they insisted that anyone is welcomed to be a president as long as he/she are part of the 14th of March coalition. When the Syrian installed president Lahoud declined, and Michel Suleiman refused to comply with the president’s orders of imposing Martial Law in a case of emergency, the next day suddenly the government wanted him as a president. Actually, the opposition switched logic that “since you want a military figure, why don’t you choose Aoun (!)”. Hence, the cycle never stops. When the opposition and the government agreed in general on Michel Suleiman, suddenly Aoun adds more rules, such as he has to decide on key positions on the government. In fact, Aoun still holds the optimism of attaining the presidential chair. Last week, everyone thought that Aoun was abandoned by his allies, when they started to put a mechanism of “flexing” the constitution to elect General Suleiman with the Aounieh not attending (despite the fact that Aoun’s close ally Michel el Murr was there), suddenly people started praying that let it any president be a president, just end this fiasco. Suddenly, Aoun bombs the political arena that the Opposition appointed Aoun to spearhead the negotiations with the government. This makes the talks between Saad Harriri and Nabih Berri as a waste of time, and the people have to wait more for positive results without having a choice in the matter.

The Nahr el Bared Fiasco for example witnessed the Future Movement rushing to the streets with their flags in order to cheer for the army because they dominated Nahr el Bared (despite Hassan Nasrallah saying: Nahr el Bared Khat Ahhmar). When Francois Hajj was assassinated, 14th of March and the Opposition competed whose martyr it is. When the Matn elections occurred, both camps attempted to emerge victorious while in fact both lost drastically: 14th of March’s most powerful candidate lost, but he lost in the face of a coalition that swept Matn two years earlier. And now the presidential void…

The only people who would probably envy Lebanon’s position are our fellow Egyptian comrades who wrote to me: “You mean to tell me, comrade, that in Lebanon, there is no President? Wow, I wish we can switch situations if that is the case!” The face save deals are not appearing because none of the camps want to appear declining to the other what they promised to their followers as “all the way victory.” Hence, 14th of March cant step down because they convinced their people that they will block permanently Iran and Syria from touching Lebanon’s sovereignty, while the opposition convinced its followers that they will stand victorious against Condi’s puppet government. Hence if someone approaches to be a victor in their negotiations, the other will blow out everything. Even though Michel Suleiman did appear as the reconciliation president, he once even visited Hassan Nasrallah, then Samir Jaajaa in the same day: two leaders of two opposing sect parties.

As for General Michel Suleiman, several people I know started speculating that he will be the president following President Shehab’s logic of “the third force” (or non-alignment policy). His name started to appear in the July War when the army sent down 15,000 reservists to the South in the middle of the war with Israel and for the first time since Israel’s Litani operation in the 1970s, took perfect “control” symbolically of the South. Eventually, he remained neutral from all political fiascos. When the Down Town demonstration series broke out, he kept the army neutral. When the Civil Disobediance fiasco broke out, again he emerged as the neutral one. With Nahr el Bared exploding to new dimensions, he became the primary candidate. From one side, he simply obeyed what Elias el Murr (a 14th of Marcher) commanded him through the Ministry of Defense (mainly sending the army to Nahr el Bared to save Prime Minister Seniora’s face, plus disregarding ex-President Lahoud’s final orders). While on the other, he always advocated a resistance policy to Israel and made sure it was part of the Lebanese Army policy, which puts him on a positive side with Hezbullah.

In anyways, the economical situation has gotten worse. The prices of Gas, cheese, and basically a lot of day to day consumption commodities are higher. Taxes on the phone and electricity aren’t helping the middle and lower class either. With every assassination or political instability hitting Lebanon, the economic situation would shrink in size more and more. The only foreign investors interested in Lebanon these days are those foreign politicians and international institutions who want to see this camp or that one gaining an upper hand (or sustain their local allies in the face of the others). The gulf, the US, Iran, the World Bank, France, and others have different financial interests to see Lebanon exploding into raging fire. In any case, this leaves the Proletariat dangling in the open air. The rise of gas for example would decrease the purchasing power of the middle and lower class, which again would cause the overall market system to shrink in size. With the assassination of Francois Hajj prior to the seasons’ greetings, another blow came to the sector of tourism. In any case, the ones who remain visiting Lebanon are the already immigrants who don’t care about the situation and want to catch up with relatives/friends, foreign students, and business men (whenever that requires a visit). The bogus parliamentary meetings to decide when we will have a president also shuts down businesses and hurts those who are still struggling to continue with businesses. The on-going demonstrations in Down Town do not help also as clearly their job to oust a president, but of course they proceed to do a statement to wound the people instead the government.

One thing for sure, once a president is agreed on, several people expect re-alignment between the major political parties. Politicians get greedy, and the poor get poorer.

MarxistFromLebanon

29 comments:

beatroot said...

Apart from the antiquated language these posts are written in I find the posts too long to take in on your blog, Ren.

Saying that, there is nothing in the above that tackles the central problem – a lack of political alternative in the region to religious and ethnic based conflict. The post is also ahistorical in that it fails to trace the roots of the latest conflict in Lebanon….all these coming from realignments after the end of the cold war and the decline in left wing and national liberation politics.

I really implore what’s left of the left to get real and admit that the project has failed. You will never be relevant again until you do so.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

this is a continuation of other posts... the current one sums up 5 5 monthes of chaos...

and if you find this post too long, how do you expect to read the posts that do tackle the historical roots... and mind you , the only time in Lebanon's history the left was strong, it was in a stalinist form, led by Kamal Junblatt...

Tom Cleland said...

If you're tired of reading, here's a YouTube video of Cynthia McKinney's announcement speech:

troutsky said...

I agree with beatroot that a little editting would be helpful, none of us can keep track of all the players. Having said that , it sounds like a totally dysfunctional society, religion and liberal government are like oil and water.

As for beatroots suggestion to"admit the project has failed", does that mean acceptance of the status quo or development of a new project for justice? Critic without a proposals are thick as fleas and about as annoying.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

actually this article was intended for my blog and for the readers there...

Renegade Eye said...

If I didn't want this post on my blog, I wouldn't have it. The holiday season is a slow period for blogging. MFL hasn't posted in several months, so this catch up.

Beatroot: The alternative for MFL is to join some reactionary formation. In some situations it is about ones and twos, who at the right time, have the knowledge and savvy to change things. Objective conditions combined with human leadership, have made a difference.

Tom: Interesting that some six candidates are trying to get the Green presidential nomination.

Troutsky: You know better than anyone the difference a small group can make, being in MT.

beatroot said...

As for beatroots suggestion to"admit the project has failed", does that mean acceptance of the status quo or development of a new project for justice?

New project. The status quo is very bad. A political zombie with the ruling class grasping for a project of its own to appear meaningful to the rest of us.

And they are fucking up, big time.

I was always taught, rightly, back in my lefty days, that the state was oppressive, exploitative and needed to be resisted. At present, because the left lost the economic argument, liberals have tried to use the state for what's left: social issues. And that has become very authoritarian. If you want even the possibility of radical politics then first you have to tackle that authoritarian mentality.

And that also goes for foreign policy. It wasn;t the neocons who made 'humanitarian intevention' fashionable - it was the left liberals during the Balkans war.

Conservatives are exhausted: the liberals are the problem.

CAMINO INCIERTO said...

FELICES FIESTAS . Feliz año 2008

MarxistFromLebanon said...

beatroot, what do you mean the left has lost its economical ideas... in fact Marx's economical ideas havent been so relevant , heck more relevant since the 19th century. This is of course not to exclude Alan Woods, Samin Amin, Suzan George, Immanuel Wallerstein, and several others. Face it, free market accelerated poverty through out 3rd world nations. If anything, the left's economical arguements are more relevant than ever (unless you are refering to stalinist models or degenerating social democratic equations)

MFL

MarxistFromLebanon said...

the left liberals in the balkans were stalinists in general, if you consider how they went frenzy after Tito passed away (a quasi stalinist who was the first to open his markets among the "socialist" camp, which wasnt that socialist...

Mad Zionist said...

What Beatroot said.

Dave Marlow said...

Merry Christmas, Ren.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

Merry Christmas everyone.

Marx Leb
beatroot, what do you mean the left has lost its economical ideas...

I didn't say they lost their ideas I said they lost the battle of ideas. Utterly. It's off the agenda. The right have won, hands down.

If progressive politics is to be put back on the agenda then you need to tackle the feeling that progress is no longer possible. The new green orthodoxy suggests that progress is not desirable, in fact humans are the problem, or so say they tell us.

So it's time to get real and go back to basics.

Progress is good. capitalism is good at pushing forward the forces of production (read Communist Manifesto). We also need to tackle the liberal and conservative use of the state as an oppressive force designed to change people's behaviour.

We also need to fight against the humananitarian inteventionists...and they come in neo-con and liberal versions.

You also have to challenge the 'anti risk' culture that has become orthodox in western nations. How can you persuade folk of the necessety of revolution when they are scared to death of risk?

Once you get back the idea of self determination, at home and abroad, then you might have a chance of reviving the left project.

But not until then.

Here is to a Libertarian New Year. Cheers!

MarxistFromLebanon said...

it amazes me when beatroot says we. Mate, there wasnt a we over here, we are the ones building the we from scratch, you cant just issue fatwas and expect that is how things go? Over here a Marxist is threatened by both reactionary camps. For example, we believe civil marriage is one short run solution to Lebanon's problems whereby you open doors to seventeen sects to have the option of getting married (yes , I had my skull cracked for that).

I read the Manifesto, but it seems you need to read the German Ideology, what you said is what Marx attacked over there...

here is a red cheers to all hibernating left-wingers to wake up....

MFL

beatroot said...

Oh, and the balkans. I think you misunderstood. The call for bombing Serbs (civilians and all) came not from the right in the US and UK but from the left. They saw the Serbs as 'fascists' and wanted a new Spanish civil war to make them seem relevant again.

So they got what they wanted - NATO planes bombing Serb TV stations etc...and then they moved on to Iraq, Afghanistan etc.

The liberals are the problem, not just G Bush.

beatroot said...

On Marx

marx saw capitalism as progressive. It destroys earlier more primitive forces and relations of production. That is exactly what you need in your part of the world, comrade.

Everything that is solid melts into air...

MarxistFromLebanon said...

dear comrade beatroot

If I read it correctly, the balkans rotated around 3 countries: Serbia - Croatia - Bosnia. With the JNA forces taking 70% of Bosnia in the first week (practically prepared even before the break out of the war in Bosnia) Clinton used part of his candidancy campaign to lift (the embargo) & Strike (Serbian forces), while overlooked the Croatian side till Peter Galbraith (then ambassador to Croatia and diplomat to diffuse the crisis) started threatening Croatia. I found it silly to slap Serbia and not tackle bluntly the concentration camp of the HVO (Croatian Defense Council) in Bosnia. The airstrikes were preached since 1992 by Clinton. In fact the airstrikes wouldnt have occurred if Croatia didnt have their famous Operation Storm to enter Bosnian heartland after expellig Republika Srpska (Serbian autonomous region in the Krajina area) within Croatia. Which allowed the US and the UN to be more aggressive with the Serbian side.

Marx saw Capitalism as an end result of previous eras. Marx in the german ideology was clear that the entire markets will become one, henceforth paving way for real workers' unity throughout the globe. Capitalism wasnt progressive, rather a medium to inslave the workers. Personally, when I see how the multi-national corporations decide everything for the world, I still see Marx as relevant as ever. Besides, Marx has different perspectives and different issues that are also important...

best regards
MFL

beatroot said...

Of course Marx saw capitalism as exploitative. But he certainly saw it as a massive leap forward from what had gone before. He also saw it as a prerequisite for anything better to follow.

German ideology is early middle marx. You would do better to read some Capital.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

already did my friend :)
the late Marx was the final outcome of experiences which again praised workers' unity through out the world, and re-inforced by Engels after 1883...

beatroot said...

Forget Engels...

Renegade Eye said...

Beatroot: Do you think Marxist from Lebanon should lobby for nuclear power and civil liberties?

It fascinates me that Living Marxism evolved to a lobby group for the energy industry. It's also libertarian. They never denounce their Trotskyist past.

How is it that scientific thought is so balanced away from your position?

How does everything fit together, energy, civil liberties etc?

beatroot said...

nuclear power and civil liberties

Nuclear power is the future of energy. Period. The history of getting energy from mass has been from very carbon intensive (coal) to gradually less carbon heavy (gas) to the ultimate of getting energy from mass - nuclear fission. It's a no brainer and nothing to do with politics. It's just a technology.

And civil liberties? In Lebanon? Oh, yeah...

politiques USA said...

Here is a presidential test:
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote2008/page?id=3623346

MarxistFromLebanon said...

personally I cant forget about Engels, the author of Origins of the Family , and damn straight I cant downsize Marxism to just that. Marxism is a field whereby each great marxist thinker expanded one idea or another proposed by these two great comrades.

MFL

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