In 2015, when the garbage crisis erupted in Lebanon, we found ourselves in a strange situation: all Lebanese, without sectarian or regional affiliations, were suffering from the problem. At the same time, many villages and towns shouted: do not bury “foreign” garbage in our region. The “foreigners” were none other than the sons of the villages and towns adjacent to the villages and towns that oppose them.
Today, with the great collapse, similar sentiments are being shouted at gas stations: “foreigners” fill their tanks in “our” stations, using “our” gas.
The resurgence of micro loyalties, after the decadence that hit the state and politics and left the economy withered, has become larger, more global and stronger than it was in 2015. There is a For example, during the Beirut era one year anniversary of the port explosion, retaliatory clashes erupted between Hezbollah and “Arab tribes” in Khaldeh, south of Beirut. Several were killed and injured as a result.
At the time, it was said that the armed face of sectarianism had become evident because of the clashes between two factions Shiite and Sunni. However, the last few days have shown that the issue goes beyond sects, also encompassing intra-sectarian conflicts. In Akkar, in northern Lebanon, medium and heavy weapons were used in clashes between the Sunni towns of Fnaidek and Akkar al-Atika, with the death of one man from each of the villages. Clashes erupted over logging in an area disputed by the two towns.
The An-Nahar newspaper described the situation in Tripoli as follows: “Tripoli has entered a new phase of chaos and insecurity that is rampant in all its neighborhoods, especially in its poorest neighborhoods, where we can hear the noise. hand grenades exploding. at night, especially around the Abo Ali River, where neighborhoods have turned into arenas of armed clashes.
My colleague Youssef Bazzi wrote about the “gas station war” which could at any time become a free armed battle for all. He described it this way: “The thugs are going to come and try to cut the line. Young people on motorcycles are sure to storm the station. The powerful, with their huge cars and tinted windows, will also take our place in the queue with explicit insolence and garish insolence. The security patrols that will organize and control the queue will also accompany the cars of the privileged and give them priority, and it is moreover the gallons (loaded in plastic containers) that they will fill for them before leaving. get into our cars… ”
Although its current eruption is more severe than it has ever been, this type of social atomization is nothing new. The elements that nourished and perpetuated it are numerous: a policy based on a sectarian distribution of the spoils based on quotas, a service economy which neither integrated the population nor reduced the gap which separated them, and an electoral law which required voters to return to their hometown to vote …
The official solutions, meanwhile, were also trivial: even Chehabism, which had made serious progress, was deluding itself into thinking that the sectarian problem would be solved for Muslims once the country’s foreign policy was entrusted to Gamal Abdel Nasser. . This has exacerbated the sectarian problem of Christians, especially after leaving some of their most high-profile politicians in failure to win their seats in parliamentary elections. He also imagined solving the tribal problem by wresting the tribes from the Syrian security services and linking them to the Lebanese apparatuses.
In general, whatever the solutions proposed, the capacity of war to destroy has remained greater than the capacity of the State to build. Grudges and fears on the one hand, and the division of areas along sectarian lines on the other, the purity of entrenched areas and demonization on the other. Later, Hezbollah’s weapons reinforced the Lebanese sense of needing autonomous protection.
Nevertheless, the scandal of ideas was no less scandalous than that of the state. The Lebanese have experienced a Lebanese awakening telling them: be Lebanese and unite, become one like the teeth of a comb. They then saw an Arabizing awakening telling them: unite to liberate Palestine or at least fight Israel. Finally, they saw an Islamic awakening promoted by Hezbollah telling them to unite behind our arsenal of weapons protecting you. On the fringes, there has always been the class awakening which told them: unite according to your interests against class enemies.
Those who supported these revivals, preaching a form of unity that would put an end to atomization, all bet on a common cause that would encourage the masses to unite: the Lebanese saw in it the construction of a country whose achievements ‘would express in a folkloric way. . Arabists and Islamists have seen it in Israel. Leftists have seen it in the bourgeois compradores or the financial junta, alongside Israel. However, all have asked broad layers of Lebanese, if not the majority, to forget the things that are dear to them, religious, confessional or cultural. This demand that they forget culminated with Hezbollah, which called on Sunnis, Christians and Druze to stop being Sunnis, Christians and Druze and join a Shiite project.
The only awareness that has been clear and genuine is that of sects and clans when it is not embellished by ideology: it has said and continues to say: “Remember we hate each other, don’t do not forget that no cause unites us. “
When the state deteriorates, as it is now, remembering your sect and clan becomes the only memory of something tangible that offers tangible returns. The state, on the other hand, is hell, and ideologically-tainted revivals are mere illusions of heaven.