Opportunities

Everything I’ve read about Lebanese citizens’ “support” for Hezbollah indicates that it’s tempered with a great deal of ambivalence. From what I can gather, most seem to recognize that it was Hezbollah’s political ambitions that started the latest Israeli aggression (or, better, gave Israel the pretext it has quite publicly been seeking), and a great deal of Hezbollah’s support is tactical, situational, a default position due to the impotence of the broader state. In other words, Lebanese popular reaction to being bombed, killed, and terrorized is the same as most attacked people in the west and the rest of the world: to seek the protection from the (domestic) force seeming to best offer it, without necessarily submitting to its political program tout court.

But this sort of equivocal stance is denied to populations in the periphery by western leftists, or at least certain opportunistic factions of it, who see in Lebanese “support” an unambiguous fealty to Hezbollah. So for the anti-imperialist western leftist, the complexity that, for example, allowed 90 percent of Americans to “support” George Bush after 9/11 while largely rejecting his larger agenda is specifically not available to subaltern subjects. “They” all support Hezbollah unreservedly, and western leftists had better offer similar fealty by honoring and lining up behind “their” devotion. Any other stance amounts to collaboration with Israeli-American aggression.

The (party) politics behind such a view are becoming more apparent. As this makes clear, Hezbollah is less a terrorist organization or resistance force than a political party, and a quasi-Keynesian, nationalist one at that. Just the sort of thing a SWiPer frustrated at his [sic] lack of influence on Labour and on western states can get behind.

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5 thoughts on “Opportunities

  1. Eric,
    I agree with Matt, great post. One quibble, though: “for the anti-imperialist western leftist, the complexity that, for example, allowed 90 percent of Americans to “support” George Bush after 9/11 while largely rejecting his larger agenda is specifically not available to subaltern subjects.” I think a lot of folk on the left also deny this complexity re: many people who live in the US too. Hence the need for parachuting into the working class to build their deficient consciousness.
    take care,
    Nate

  2. Thanks, M and N. Nate, yes, I agree about the consciousness thing. But I think consciousness arguments, at least when it comes to domestic populations, really tend toward tweaking the consciousness and prompting the correct action. Not sure that such leftists would assume that westerners completely agree with the aims of the security regime; which is to say, it seems to me they are given the benefit of the doubt and are assumed to disagree on the fundamentals while perhaps occasionally and on some issues agreeing. “Third-worlders” don’t get such a benefit.

    Not sure that makes any sense.

  3. hi Eric,
    That’s fair. How about this: a similar thought goes on (about ‘those people’) but that it’s held more flexibly for folks in the US and more rigidly for Those those people. Does that make sense?
    take care,
    Nate

  4. Yes, and I like it. I’ve been noticing recently how this sort of thinking gets cashed out in the language of understanding and tolerance: “we” (westerners) must accept “their” (mostly Arabs) decision to elect illiberal, authoritarian governments. Of course this tolerance only gets applied to support for anti-imperialist/anti-American governments and movements, but it’s near-comical to see it at play.

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