National consciousness

Here I just want to throw some ideas around. I have been meaning to write something but the fact that I am trying to produce my miserable thesis does not permit me to invest to many neurones around here. So scattered thoughts here they are:

Let me start with the obvious: Today the Lebanese state is witnessing a crucial step in its formative experience through the war practices of the Lebanese army. Rare are the all-encompassing (non-sectarian) “Lebanese” practices, but the army voice such a discourse, and the people try as hard as possible to claim to abide by it. Lebanese army banners are hanging from many homes from various regions of the country. A lot of people are proud of the army. The politicized side of it comes from those who sends implicit references to Hizbullah saying that “the weapons of the army are the red line”.

In order to do this, the creation of the enemy as a precursor for non-sectarian identification is necessary. The enemy has to be completely alien to possible Lebanese forms. Imported. Not even confessional or tribal. In this case, the enemy is “Sunni Salafism”. Dominant actors try to portray it as having nothing of “lebanese” traits. Just like Hizbullah was or a long time expressed by various ideologues (media, academics, etc.) as being a pure import from Iran.

There is even something vaguely “American” about this way of drawing political boundaries. When the Lebanese army was doing its conference following the end of the Nahr el Bared battle, they were talking of this enemy just like an American general would explain the strategy against al Qaeda. No wonder why the Lebanese are linking Fath el Islam to some Al Qaeda institutional command.

All this said (which opens the door to a lot of inquiry on the practices of Middle Eastern States), it is important I believe not to lose sight of the very important confessional aspect of the institution of the Lebanese army in terms of organizational hierarchy, although we need a close examination of the “anatomy” of the army and see that there are surely differently lived experiences between different confessions fighting together within the army from people who never joined the army (This needs investigation).

At the end of the day, the various “Lebanese subjects” have just added another imaginary to their repertoire. It has not strengthened their national consciousness because not much has changed in their daily social practices. The euphoria following the Lebanese army triumph is ill-founded. The political will not succeed in creating and solidifying new cross-confessional forms of consciousness even if they raise the Al-Qaeda argument for very simple reasons, one being that political actors don’t want that to happen, and two being that nothing changed at the institutional level.

The only problem with such double standards is rising social schizophrenia this population will find itself engulfed in. And collective denials of this sort can breed many political diseases.

Excuse the generalities around the end, but you guys can manage illustrating these.


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