I was talking to a friend who lives in the Shouf and apparently there are training camps near Moukhtara. Friends of my friend are going there to learn how to butcher Shi’a meat and then come back to tell him transcendental experiences (so believe me, the story is real). The “Shi’a” come to exemplify the most horrible enemy. It reminds me of another story of a doctor friend who was invited to a lunch in some village in the Shouf where a majoritarily Druze table explained to him how the “Shi’a” and the “Druze” don’t share the same ‘values and tradition’, and that the Shi’a are “really something else”.
This symbolic conceptualization of the “something” else is the ideological (the amazing thing in Lebanon is how quickly signification slides from one ‘something else’ to another). Anyway, the doctor was amazed and retorted (I quote): “Yikhrebaytkom sorto te7ko metelna el Massa7iyeh!” ([assumingly god] destroys your homes, you now talk like us Christians!). Indeed, if only they knew that other Christians thought that although the Druze new ideological representations involve condescending feeling towards the “Shi’a”, they (Christians) still thought they were different from the Druze, the Shi’a etc. I love this rich stratification of ideologies! Of course the doctor example involves the representations of a specific social class so we cannot generalize but you get the feel of the different semiotic activities in the “Switzerland of the Middle East”. It is just that, the more you’re upper class, the more you elaborate the doctrines of your ideology (because from an economic point of view, you have the time required to do that).
Now on another level, I know many people would retort by saying that from the Lebanese Forces to Jumblatt’s so-called ‘progressive’ socialist party – I have no problem with the distortion of the word ‘socialist’, many people have distorted this term before, but it is the use of ‘progressive’ in such a context that is historically unprecedented! – these training camps are insignificant to start a proper civil war. Well, the important thing is that the potential (and the intention is there. The point is that it is still the same old story where masla7a-driven elites are guiding people towards certain useless death. Imagine Jumblatt would have decided that actually the Americans are not strategic allies but say keep closer to Hizbullah like he used to pretend to be. Horribly enough, the choice of the partner to cover your ass may involve some useless discursive imagination and some slaughtering in the process.
Update: Jean Aziz in Al-Akhbar wrote yesterday that Jumblatt is trying to massively buy land in Jezzine (Christian dominated village towards the south) after some Shi’a investors came to buy some parcels. According to Aziz, the lands that Jumblatt has an eye on would secure a strategic passage between the Shouf and Wadi al Tim (To Druze dominated region separated by a Shi’a enclave).