Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the Left

Samah Idriss wrote a long and very good article in al akhbar today on the Lebanese Left. It is too long to translate here, but the article is very interesting. Samah says that the Left in Lebanon is navigating a minefield between the "ideologies" of March 14 and of March 8. He points to the shortfalls of Hizbullah on the social and economic and political agendas (except for the resistance), and to the serious shortcomings of the March 14 movement especially in relation to their affiliation to what I call the "party of money and power".

Reading Samah, I could not help realizing (again) how lamentable is the current state of the Lebanese Left. But I believe that much of this deplorable situation is the Left's own doing: how representative is the Left of people's interests? And even if people's interests are today misplaced, and if the Lebanese are too taken by confessionalism to think about anything else (and this is true) what has the Left REALLY done to counter that? I am not talking about sitting meetings and conferences and writing articles, or about symbolic demosntrations in Beirut. I am talking about action, about long term engagement. Samah reminds us that the Left had initially started the Resistance against the Israelis in South Lebanon. This is totally true. But when the Left was forced out of the Resistance, what did it do? What was its social involvement agenda? How did it serve the people? How many leftist organizations are today practicing what they preach and engaging in grass root development action? There is so much that can be done to strengthen livelihoods in the poor areas, where theoretically one should find the natural public of the Left.

Samah mentions the boycott campaign, and the absence of interest of HA in engaging in the boycott of companies which support Israel. He is again right, but one has also to look at the choices that people have, at awareness, education, options. What has the Left done about that at grassroot level, again? I have not studied or seen studies about who engages in the boycott campaign but my feeling is that it remains primarily limited to occasional engagement by bourgeois middle class. This, of course needs to change. But it won't change if the Left does not renew itself, consolidates from its disastrous atomization and individualization, and engage again in action where needed, in the rural and urban poverty zones.

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