I don’t know if this has gone unnoticed, but there has been something strangely disenchanting about local Christian politics in modern day Lebanon.
I will list a couple of disjointed points:
1- The Loubnanouhom paradigm is gaining institutional currency. Once a remote petty reactionary movement led by the son of a disgruntled leader followed by a plethora university followers, now the leader of Lebanon-old party, the Kataeb, and a parliamentary member, Sami Gemayel may well be the representative of Christian isolationism for the decades to come. As this article makes clear, Gemayel will still brandish the federalist option as a suitable system for the Lebanese tiny hell-hole of 10452km2. I remember having this discussion with a friend who said that these guys will always be marginal to the Lebanese political system. That was without counting Christian betise. In a matter of a bit more than a year, Sami Gemayel is now at the top of the most reactionary and elitist political organization of the country. Today Loubnanouna is the Kataeb party: Young, re-energized, very elitist, anti-Muslim, and ready to impress.
2- The Tayyar/Hizbullah is not just being undermined in the economy of texts, meaning, and knowledge, but is most probably the one trigger of the winning of more radical Christian right-wing brands. Basically, Christians were not prepared to understand such rapprochement, it is just anathema to their different cultural viewpoints. I won’t cite here the multitudes of media propaganda that kept on bashing this very unusual political step judging from Lebanese historical practices. From my own experience, I felt that whether coming from Tayyar or from Hizbullah, both parties had a very strong interest at keeping a solid alliance that reached down social networks and localized activism. But what is scary here is to see that Christian chauvinism has trumpeted the culture of this agreement, and has actually rejected. Hizbullah is still a weird and unknown beast for many Christians from Tayyar who if anything do bear the marks of historical Christian isolationism. This is not a condemnation I insist. This is the very core of Lebanese first national narrative: the Maronite re-writing of history of geography and community. It just cannot be otherwise, unless you do away with On what parties like the Lebanese Forces and Kataeb are betting by allying with Hariri, I still can’t figure it out. But I find it hard to believe that they could have found an admiration for Sunni politics, even though Sunni politics has dramatically change throughout the years, going from a form of contesting the very existence of the Lebanese state and its Maronite dominance to adopting a virulent the concept of Lebanon, change the national mythologies.
3- One of the reasons why Hizbullah is hardly accepted is because they present new national stories that are quite different from the earlier Christian even though quite dependent on them. Hizbullah’s weapon is not really an issue in itself because it is the way one perceives these weapons that changes the picture: Hizbullah is seen as contradicting actual (sanctified, official, etc) Lebanese national priorities. Whereas Hizbullah supporters and allies find it very logical that Hizbullah has weapons for ‘national’ reasons, whatever the reasons it makes sense to them, in the same vein others are truly scared of that. But the scary aspect of it is caused by a cultural factor. Countless times did I have discussions with Christians (when I say Christian I talk of people belonging to a specific social ‘niche’ like me for example), who after showing the rationale behind the weapons (Israeli threats, resistance, etc) would quickly revert to the argument, “but we don’t want to live in an Islamic state” or “we want to still be able to drink alcohol” etc. That is the frightening part, even if baseless.
4- But still Hizbullah will have to come to terms with that. If they want to be part of the Lebanese game (i.e. nation), which is surely what they want, they will have to accept Christian petty fears. But as I already mentioned here, the biggest competitor to Hizbullah is Tayyar at the end of the day. This may be exacerbated now that the Tayyar/Hizbullah alliance is being shaken from its foundations. I don’t think thought that this alliance will fall apart, but will surely assume other priorities. Maybe more interesting ones. Let’s see.