Hanin Ghaddar on “Hezbollah going corporate”
Unfortunately, Hanin’s latest short missive for NOW LEBANON makes broad claims that are supported by little evidence, constructed on a purely polemical framework:
I know this may be expected, but several of her pieces over the years have been useful for serious analysts despite the polemical bent. This one does not count as such.
— “You eventually realize that money plays a major part in their involvement.”
Her core claim is based on several interviews. Unfortunately she jumps from a few anecdotes to then wildly claim unambiguously: “The “resistance” has gone corporate and the old beliefs of liberation and freedom are now replaced with ambitions for promotion and better status. It is going to be extremely difficult for Hezbollah to come back from this.”
She then falls in the related trap of extrapolating “many” from her interviews with a “handful.”
“In fact, many Hezbollah members and supporters have realized in the past few years that they have become the mercenaries of Waliyat al-Faqih in Iran’s war in the region. They will have to go wherever they are required, be it Lebanon, Syria, Iraq or Yemen. The new rhetoric of sectarian regional war has cost Hezbollah its depth in the Arab world. But most importantly, Hezbollah lost its narrative.”
— In the end, though, the structural framework is always Hanin’s second weakspot (alongside polemicism): She says,
“Hezbollah’s power did not come from its weapons alone. Nor was it primarily founded on social services and Iranian money. These were tools to maintain its control and influence, which grew through decades of building a narrative of allegiance. Hezbollah prevailed because it has won the narrative, by linking three pillars of a Lebanese Shiite identity: the resistance, the collective memory of the battle of Karbala and Iran’s Wilayat al-Faqih.”
— Hanin’s thinking unfortunately has no space for understanding the importance of results, of good performance – which goes far beyond the merely discursive. And she has no time for entertaining people’s rational capacity to base allegiance and respect on concrete gains, on long term interests, on rational values or simple moral perspective.
In this, as always, she therefore fails to satisfactorily resolve the old marxist debate about false consciousness. She takes the marxist line fully it seems, saying, “Although this narrative was imposed on us by the Party of God, people accepted it.” So were they duped? Where is the agency for people? And how can one call a narrative “imposed” when in the next breath you say it is “accepted,” implying an openness or positive willingness?