The Non-Aligned

Funny how Lebanese don’t lack creativity to come up with solidarity movements, petitions to sign, political stands, etc. that glorifies their independence of affiliation. The “non-aligned” movement is the most interesting of all, because in reality, it slides inadvertently towards one side (the government, 14th of March). I’ll explain why in a minute.

I have been receiving, since the end of the July-August war, a series of forwarded emails about websites to check, created by either advertising company employees (who happen to have the creativity required to come up with new brands), or some random well to do Lebanese who thinks his point of view could reach any where further than the Gemayze street.

Check for example the “Awareness campaign on sectarianism“, clearly an elitist title in the first place, as if people did not know that sectarianism exist and needs to be corrected. They seem to say: “Let me tell you about sectarianism, I got enough money from the World Bank and the UNDP, to tell you the obvious”. What they do, is they choose a village that’s really poor like Akkar, and then they

aim to encourage youth participation in local governance, reach remote and marginalized communities and react to the non-existence of municipal authority in the target region. The approach also advocates democratic values through education and training, empowering local communities & encouraging sustainable development.

So what does this have to do with fighting ‘sectarianism’? All they do is incite student (a selected few) to get involved in public matters of organization (whatever that means). Then the rest
of the campaign is subcontracted to Leo Burnett and the like in order to do cheezy ads like “I am english, je suis francais, ana shi3eh, ana sunneh”. I really love it when banks, and media companies want to teach political lessons!

It gets even trickier when you learn that I received this email by a guy who always sends me anti-Aounist forwards and actually declares to be a huge Samir Geagea fan. For those interested in conceptual frameworks and the social sciences, this is a pure instance of ideological behavior. The distortion of representation in the face of a socio-economic reality (I am simplifying the definition of course). Although Aoun on the ground has presented an effective mode of action to fight confessionalism, he hates the guy, and when another guy is clearly being sectarian in all his actions (Geagea), he loves him. yet he boasts about ‘awareness against sectarianism’. Socio-economic environment? He works for Leo Burnett and belongs to the upper strata of Beirut’s population. Meaning that there are no reasons to relate to a movement like Tayyar or like Hizbullah.*

I give you one final example: Another guy sends me his ‘cced’ deep thoughts on the Lebanese situation. He also works in advertising, so you can tell that he’s a shrewd political commentator. His emails are the most naive texts I have ever read in my life. In any case, Here is his latest thing: “Resove it. Solve it”. So they come up with shiny slogans, that are completely empty of content. They’re used to it because their job is about creating unnecessary needs with shiny slogans, creating meaning from complete emptiness. In this case, they want you to sign a petition that you’re sick of conflicts and war and you want the ‘politicians’ to ‘resolve it’. This is the stupidest thought I have ever heard uttered. As if, first of all, you signing this useless petition will change anything, second of all, as if change has to do with them ‘resolving’ things. I mean don’t these people understand anything about power, interest, rivalries, regional situations, etc?

Now why are phony intellectuals who claim to be non-aligned are actually mostly in line with government policies? Simply because by saying you reject American interference in Lebanon in words doesn’t make you REALLY reject it. You have to reject it factually, on the ground, in reality. If you oppose yourself at the only force capable of rejecting it (namely Hizbullah), then you’re off from a very bad start. Living in denial of how reality actually is makes you a tacit apologist of what you reject in words that are not verified by practices. It does not mean you are with Hizbullah, but at least you understand, comprehend the fact that they are the best entitled to confront US Middle Eastern destructive foreign policy.

If you think Hizbullah is an Iranian import and you cannot understand the mechanism behind affiliation with Hizbullah (as a genuine social process of change) than you’re already being biased in the way you think your political affiliations. In the “resolve it, solve it” case, the fallacy is thinking that you need these people (the Lebanese political factions) to agree, when actually you need to have one party (the government, and the ‘majority’) to accept that the other has an important role to play in the affairs of the country (Hizbullah). So go scream at the destructive governmental policies instead of acting hip and elitist and thinking you’ll be interesting acting “different” because you’ll only be pushing for the preservation of the current oppressive status-quo. Unfortunately, because it never oppressed you (Harirism was a gold mine for the service sector), you’ll never understand shit about things.

* I will soon post on how sectarianism in Lebanon is closely related to the phony liberal system, that actually has created a militia economy and culture among the service sector of the country.

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6 thoughts on “The Non-Aligned

  1. Maybe all this non-aligned crap comes from the fact that we are the Swiss of the M-E.

    I had posted an eternity ago on Salim el-Hoss who had also started a “neutral” movement. The last thing we need are non-aligned neural gutless parties. We need strong and articulate alternatives.

    The current non-aligned come up with nice slogans and cute ads. We need to address fundamental problems, not superficial issues. It will take more than cosmetic iniatives to change things.

  2. interesting timing for this post. i just got an email with around 8 petitions to sign declaring a “non-aligned” approach to solving our problems …

  3. Yes very good point. I especially like the very common contradiction of people who want to be anti-sectarian but hate Aoun, so neglecting the powerful stance of the Tayyar on this subject. This is very widespread and one more beacon of Lebanon’s lack of political thought.
    They don’t even take the Tayyar as a “least evil” choice on the question of laicism, and are even capable of siding up with the 14th of marchers christian parties…

  4. well, just put yourselves in their place… what would you do when your first and only aim is to weaken the tayyar ? its strength and popularity haunts them night and day… its sincerity and transparency obliges them to react by lies and awkwardness…
    sometimes they me laugh
    sometimes i am sorry for them

  5. thank you phil. Interesting blog you have.

    ms levantine, I don’t criticize non-alignment for the sake of criticizing non-alignment in general. Some form of non-alignment can be very worthy of consideration, when non-alignment would avert a catastrophe.

    But in the case of today, non-aligning is accepting the neutralization of Hizbullah in a way that will shake the region upside down and create more harm than good.

    Now along with non-alignment is useless initiatives. Look at this new one. Kind of depressing… They think that public voice is an idea you can make into a brand with a complete denial of the real state of affairs.

    Also, I don’t want this post to be interpreted as me being pro-Tayyar. I have never been a great fan of Aoun and will never be. But historical circumstances made Aoun become part of a socio-political change – bigger than himself most probably – that has to be recognized by all Lebanese to the very least.

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