I am trying to summarize what is always in the back of my mind when I think of political issues in the Middle East:
1- How do social movements emerge in this region and do we have cases where they succeeded in changing the status-quo? To what extent are Hizbullah and other movements a manifestation of social contentions, and through which disciplinary and organized mechanisms did they voice their grievances?
2- What lies behind the statement that it is sectarian divisions that mostly inhibit the possibility of having cross-sectarian political mobilization? What are the institutional structures in place (State or lack of State, or religious and/or clan-based institutions) that makes it harder for the poor in a part of a given country to join forces with the poor of another part (Lebanon is an excellent example, but also Iraq, Sudan, etc.)?
3- What are the dynamics of ideological formations and their institutional hosts (media, pseudo-journalists/intellectuals, political organizations, family and other social groups, cafes, etc.)? How do we come to represent our social reality as remote from its social grounding? How do we come to forget that Hizbullah or Hamas are the result of extreme social marginalization of specific segments of the population? How does the public frame its perception of these groups according to static and fixed ideas?
4- Why do students, and politically interested people seldom have a clear perception of how social and political change occur? What is it in our socially constructed perception of reality that inhibit us from understanding things in a more dynamic way?
5- What is the relation between ‘external’ political interests pushing for specific compromises, and ‘internal’ political struggles? Why do people often confuse these two?
6- Why is the “Left” the biggest loser in the Middle East? What can we learn from this defeat? To what extent are ‘Islamic’ parties an expression of ‘leftist’ concerns and demands? Should we revise our whole understanding of Leftism as too Eurocentric?
The list is long and these are just a few examples. I would like to invite everyone to add questions, amend those questions, and try to answer some.
German infamous Catholic pope hopes that “democratic Lebanon will survive” according to Naharnet. First, note what Naharnet decided to lead its article with: out of everything the pope said on this glorious Christmas day, it may have found the biggest stupidity uttered.
Seriously do these people think (Naharnet and the Pope) that all these people in downtown are “undemocratic ” forces? Do they think that keeping Seniora in with his mafia clique is being democratic?
Now if you want to play the “democratic card” I would say that it’s quite the contrary. It is Seniora that is being undemocratic, as he and his acolyte represent a minority of views in the country while the majority is represented by the people in the streets.
Now another thing: How ideological can you get when you think that the people in the streets are are working against better democratic rule of conduct? Doesn’t this echo what American policy view as being “democratic” and “undemocratic” in the region? Some time ago, Angry Arab had an excellent comparison of ideological distortions done to the concept of ‘democracy’ and his friends (the concept’s friends) by taking as a case in point Palestine and Lebanon.
And the media wags the tail, the pseudo-journalists think they understood it all (when actually they live in their twisted fantasies) and the pope and the people follow suit.
My favorite holiday — call it a messianic complex:
If anyone thinks that I amn’t divine,
He gets no free drinks when I’m making the wine …
I hear it (from a seriously reliable source) that Druze MP Walid Jumblatt is unrelentingly trying to get in touch with our sister (sourya el shakika) next door. But to no avail, it seems that the Syrians are really fed up this time.
7aram Jumblatt… he was close to winning everything (the climax was the 14th of March 2005) but instead he may have just lost everything… The history of the Druze community will unfortunately contain this black dot for decades of confessional narrative to come.
That’s it, ask any Irish he would have told you long ago that the Palestinians would end up in this situation once occupation last so long that parties once opposed to such occupation would end up finding common grounds with the occupation because of vested interests at stake. There are no secrets to understand Aristotle’s political animal. Just look at what happened to other animals before you.
By the way, notice how the article calls Abbas “moderate Palestinian President”. The crystallization of concepts such as “Arab moderates”, that many denounced as the mere facade of a political agenda (i.e. of the ideological kind), are now a given for the press suckers.