This needs to be thought over more clearly, but it seems to me that “Lebanese” history could be read as divided into four phases:
1- Before and up to the national pact of 1943 that established Maronite predominance and Sunni ambivalent pragmatism. Bear in mind that up until this point, there is much opposition to the creation of this narrowly defined State, whether from the Syrian Nationalist party, pan-Arab groups, and last but not least, ultra-Christian pro-French groups that preferred a constant colonial protectorate, etc. Lebanese nationalism is Maronite/Christian fantasies.
2- Tensions till ‘civil’ war period: This is the period I would call colonial remnants euphorias and pitfalls. Most colonial and post-colonial societies witnessed these characteristics of horrible economic and social inequality, crony liberal capitalism, unequal share of power, euphoria and social-distinction practices of the ruling class and its projected constituencies. A lot can be said on this part, and if you need more detail let me know.
3- The Ta’if agreement that settles ‘civil’ war scores by giving equal voice to Sunni Muslim elites, and to some extent Shi’a, and consolidate the sectarian character of the political system under Syrian security-related supervision but not occupation (The system resulting is a complex interplay of crony politicking and cross-national alliances). During this period we witness the slow rise of an unconscious Sunni ‘nationalism’, that culminates with the assassination of Rafic Hariri. Harirism is Sunni ‘nationalism’ meaning the discovery that this institutional option “The Lebanese State” is actually a useful tool for managing resources. Pan-Arabist fantasies are knocked down on the walls of the actual State edifice.
4- Post-Ta’if, insuring that most power factions have what they want. At this point, Hizbullah is pushed out of its closet. The Syrians are not washing their laundry anymore, they have to do it themselves. The perception of the State changes once more. Lebanese players try to restructure the rules of the game to no avail. The institutional efficacy of the sectarian power-sharing approach remains the best for everybody, as exemplified by the Doha Agreement. The Doha agreement is in a way the realization of this fact by all Lebanese players once someone found the way to explain: Royal hospitality in a several star hotel in Qatar.
My point(s) here are:
1- that the more we advance in time and we consolidate the term “Lebanon” (which acquires an abstract empty feel, compared to first phase of explicit Christian national ideological constructions) the more Sectarian practices enter the most minute aspect of life. It is important to understand this symbolic dynamic as a two-level inversed movement. More on this later.
2- the resiliency of the institutional system in place. I’m not saying they are efficient, but as long as there is no drastic occupation, toppling of powers, etc players bend their initial enthusiasm to the demands of the institutions in place. Here the post-colonial State and its affiliates (army etc) even if so many parallel structures have emerged since then. Also, more on this later.