Annahar al shabab: Contradictory ideological claims

This post is complete. Just added the italics under Tueni’s part

Between the ideological traces of a haunting Gebran Tueni that crystallizes a definition of the enemy (the Syrian, the other) and the isolationist, culturally essentialist Huntingtonian claims (there a different values and traditions in Lebanon) of a disgruntled Christian elite, it seems that the “Shabab” have a long way to go before reaching political maturity.

Sami Gemayel (son of ex-president Amin, brother of slain minister Pierre), leader of Loubnanouna (right wing Christian party), has a detailed interview in Annahar al Shabab where he calls for a federal system in Lebanon. Nothing new I know, but I would like to review this article, and actually comment on the whole initiative of “Annahar al Shabab” in this post.

Little parenthesis: I see that Loubanouna’s website has withdrew Bachir Gemayel’s (Lebanese Forces founder, slain president in 1982) picture from the front page, a thoughtful gesture.

Update: (1) Something to forward to Angry Arab: the Annahar al Shabab has a little article on how a ‘very important’ doctor (a certain Abbas Shamseddine) has won some medical prize in the US and that there was an article on him in a prestigious american magazine. Horribly enough and this is what the Al Shabab article say: the magazine forgot to mention that he was Lebanese, and thus show that Lebanon is the “Lebanon of civilization” (Lubnan al 7adara)! I will kill myself…
(2) There is a huge article arguing that demonstrating in public places ‘that long’ is not acceptable (or even legal) because violating access to public goods. Let me remind the historically amnesiac woman (Manal Chaya) writing this article that the whole project of downtown is a blatant violation of private and public property, and an ignominious farce in the face of the petty Lebanese!
(3) Rare investigative moment of the Mul7ak: A distinguished psychologist has very deep thoughts on why people follow leaders. Explanation (literally this is what she says…): because they need to identify to some form of authority. Thank you, I now can sleep.
(4) One need to read the ‘tawsiyat’ of Gebran Tueni to the ‘shabab’. It basically says: Syrians are your primary enemy. Don’t let them divide you (you the christians of course). There is no entity called Israel. There is no south of Lebanon for that matter, no contentious business over there. All in all, be good and brave little compliant subject following the principles i’m dictating, and you’ll be rewarded. What I say is not really that clear but what the hell, it is just marketing, plus I want to issue this newspaper to show that there is a facade of intellectual inquiry.

Update 2: I would not be exaggerating if I said that Gemayel’s party is an upper class version of the Lebanese Forces. His detached tone, his reluctance to engage politics betrays an elitist understanding that “we don’t mix with the petty politicians” that are present today. If the Lebanese Forces are a version of popular Christian upsurge (albeit a minority, I have already analyzed the difference in populism between LF and Tayyar, will try to find the link), Loubnanouna is its little sister, made of elites (or wanna be elites) with a far-right understanding to how societies are structured. In this sense, Loubnanouna is not made of thugs like the LF, i.e. people ready to go and shoot other people. they are the ‘tete chercheuse’ of the right. They want to think of what should be discursively permissible in order to create the ‘Lebanese’ subject. Gemayel’s statements replicate a lot of the ideas of a friend of mine (also part of Loubnanouna), that there is something undeniably and unbridgeably different between the different sects, or Majmu3at as would call them Gemayel in Lebanon.

Interestingly enough, Majmu3at (literally ‘groupings’ in arabic) because it can enable him to strategically lump-sum Christians across sects (maronites, orthodox, catholics, etc.), a depiction that is a political aberration, as orthodox and catholics were mainly affiliated to leftist or just ‘pro-arab’ trends, whereas maronites were more involved in isolationist ‘pro-western’ camps. But even this classification breaks down if we look at it through regions, as it was really the result of specific tribal or clan-based political choices that a specific political trend was followed. Anyway, this can be a long discussion, the idea I wish to go from is that one should always deconstruct our perception of social entities as embedded in political structures and opportunities as well as social change that is historically determined.

The main problem with the political Right is that it confuse political social and economic structures and practices with values, beliefs, and other more elusive terms when it come to understanding reality. Confusing both is in itself a political program as it permits the crystallization of monolithic entities that are pitted against each other because presumed to be inherently and innately different. Whereas in reality, practices, ‘cultures’, are much more shifty, built and reframed by the political actors in places, remolded by the dominant powers exporting the discursively permissible, and thus creating the different Lebanese subjects through the formation of new and the fixation of old institutions.

If students studied the creation of a national subject in the different known countries today, one should reserve a special part to Lebanon where different national subjects are being defined by the confessional system. A federal system aims at crystallizing these (deemed to be) heterogeneous entities, and thereby foreclosing the possibility of molding the national Lebanese subject (it also invite foreign powers to be indispensable safety nets to the various ‘majmou3at’). One should not rely on federalism in the US or in Switzerland (the favorite example of Lebanese, especially because of its ‘civilizational’ symbolic undertone, plus the ‘banking’ elements) to push for the Lebanese federalist case, as the federalist case here will be based on the perception of difference at the ‘cultural’ level. It is built along these premises.

Whereas in the US and Switzerland, there are no perceived ‘cultural’ (as defined in the political sense of rigid systems of values and beliefs) differences, the federal system being simply a technically useful tool (there are other huge differences like the existence of a strongly centralized security system and a vibrant economy, two things Lebanon lacks completely, I advise everyone to check how powerful the Swiss army is and how stringent are its demands on its population, just do a google search). Basically, the Lebanese federalists are playing a dangerous game, and it is the “I’m Christian and I have a security dilemma” game. But that is a long story, and I shall post on it soon. Peace out.


8 Replies to “Annahar al shabab: Contradictory ideological claims”

  1. you know ,bech. Such a content works well with jobran’s famous “sa nabqa mowa77adeen” ;). It is a good first step for nahar ashabab with nadia toueni who didn’t figure yet how to write, maybe by experience she will.
    “منكتب قد ما بتسترجي تقرا؟؟”
    i feel like laughing.

  2. yes good points hilal. I was actually going to ask you to provide me with a link to the ‘al shabab’ moul7ak in Assafir, just to draw some comparisons in content.

    I’m still working on this post, so I’ll have more to it soon.

  3. Considering we invented the alphabet and discovered America, all the rest is a layup. I think we should patent the alphabet and ask for royalties from anyone using it. That will make us rich without having to work (the Lebanese dream). I am going to suggest it to Nahar al chabab.

  4. Great points Bech – I wonder, are they being hopeful or cynical in flogging federalism based on the Swiss model… Been reading about the 70s roles of Holy Spirit & Kaslik Universities in propagating this idea of partition as the only solution. The Lebanese Front, headed by none other than Renegade Gemayel V.1 himself also packaged its plans based on the existence of a monolithic “Christian Lebanon” bloc. Isn’t Loubnanouna’s federalism just a re-branding?

  5. Nahar El chabab is the most superficial and ridiculous publication in Lebanon (including tabloids). And I am not even talking about political views here. They have never had anyone with a modicum of talent there. Comparing it with Assafir’s Chabab page is a travesty. It was instigated by Joubran Twaini, what do you expect?

  6. On Federalism and the banking industry in the US (obviously for comparative purposes here): I suspect that the latest compromise regarding state banking regulation points to the influence of large corporations on the Congress as a culprit in the on-going eclipse of federalism. I have just posted on this, in case you are interested.

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