Billboarding the constituency

We have to keep in mind that whatever the choices made by a political organization, they are primarily based on its relation with its constituency (i.e. on being able to stay popular). Erecting billboards of the Israeli prisoners in the south of Lebanon are aimed at keeping a symbolic structures of affiliation alive and well. More interestingly enough is when journalists replicate in a gross and more simplistic way the intended effect produced (judging from the only event he picks up):

Chants in support of Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah rang out from a crowd of local villagers who gathered to watch the billboard being put up. “We will sacrifice ourselves for you, Nasrallah,” the supporters chanted.

These fields of compliance/resistance are replicated by the main producers of knowledge, as being exactly the intended effect by the party. Of course in reality the little crowd that gathered to show support does not exemplify the practices of all the population. But the population finds itself a prisoner of these discursive fields so much so that even if they want to voice discontent, they will have to voice it in the same terms posed by the party. So it is also clear that Israel is not the main target of this billboard.

This burgeoning of billboards related to the latest war of july/august 2006 are one of many examples showing that Hizbullah has been meeting a huge challenge to convince the population that it still made sense to support the party, especially after the huge losses suffered. This shows the extent to which the party is in a constant battle to construct its legitimacy, and that constituencies are not monolithic rigid entities that follow just because they’re “brain-washed” by some ideas that are somehow everlastingly marking.

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3 thoughts on “Billboarding the constituency

  1. “But the population finds itself a prisoner of these discursive fields so much so that even if they want to voice discontent, they will have to voice it in the same terms posed by the party.”

    Au contraire, one can easily make the case that propaganda is necessary because the prison bars are so far apart. A truly successful discursive practice would require no billboards — it would be entirely internalized (see the Catholic Church) by its consumers, thus rendering the bullhorn superfluous.

  2. Maybe. but maybe not. because when you find yourself prisonner of these terms, it does not mean you cannot voice discontent. It just means you will voice discontent (if you do) in the same terms. through the same ideas. That’s all. this kind of constrains you, but not completely.

    There is always resistance even if truncated by the structures of language.

  3. by the way good point made on the Catholic church. The degree to which internalization becomes pervasive is when a view becomes ideological.

    But even then, dominant (hegemonic) actors are always thinking their strategies over and over again to continue feeding the same thoughts. in the catholic example i have in mind all the rituals like mass, confessions, donations, reading of the bible, etc.

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