Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will after the 17 October Protests in Lebanon

In: Middle East Law and Governance
Ibrahim Halawi Department of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy, Royal Holloway, University of London, London, UK,

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Bassel F. Salloukh Department of Social Sciences, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon,

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This field note reflects on a persistent Gramscian dilemma that has haunted non- and anti-sectarian postwar protests in Lebanon on the road to 17 October 2019: how can genuine political transformation be brought about absent its meaningful, context-sensitive, and creative organizational forms and preconditions? We situate the 17 October protests in a long line of anti-sectarian protests that have overlooked the necessity of political organization in the pursuit of political change. In so doing, however, they have missed yet another strategic opportunity to sabotage the range of clientelist, institutional, and discursive practices reproducing sectarian modes of mobilization and identification in postwar Lebanon. We then magnify this omission by presenting the experience of Mouwatinoun wa Mouwatinat Fi Dawla (Citizens in a State): a political party that explicitly departs from the civil society handbook by politicizing opposition to the sectarian system.

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