Remarks to share

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.


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