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The Aounist Elites’ Ethics

The Aounist Elites’ Ethics

Monday, 15 March, 2021 - 10:45

Many hold their hearts as soon as they see any Aounist activist or high-ranking official on TV. Scandal is on its way! Parents would rush to tuck their kids in bed to save them from hearing offensive statements. Facial expressions change...

In such situations, viewers would be expecting one of three things to happen: Either a sexual insult against a woman who has an opposing opinion to that of Aounists, a racist obscenity directed against Syrians or Palestinians, or a sectarian attack against Muslims as a whole. A lack of courtesy and civility is precisely what defines their rhetoric.

Other Lebanese parties and movements could commit actions of this kind, but this remains an exception limited to situations of maximum tension and fury. With the Aounists, it is the rule. It could be expressed angrily, but it is often said calmly, as though it is something normal that one does not need to be get carried away or become infuriated to say. Their television station, OTV, is the most prominent platform for espousing this stuff, though it seeps through to other stations.

In all likelihood, obscenity has never been absent from Aounist elites’ political rhetoric, but it has never been as intense and commonplace as it is today. Behind this, most probably, is a sense of being detached and disconnected from everything. From everything that binds the person speaking to whoever is listening, thus to any form of public responsibility.

The state and institutions? Economic success? “The strong reign?” Combating corruption? Lebanon’s image in the world? These are some of the Aounist headlines that ended up becoming irrelevant. “This has nothing to do with us” is said.

Nevertheless, the disconnection manifests itself most clearly in two headings, the most intimate to Aounists:

Defending Christians’ rights and interests and loyalty to the army, from whose ranks Michel Aoun has emerged.

However, today, after the October 17 Revolution and especially after the August 4 port explosion, the Christians do not associate Aounists with anything but the erosion of their rights and the undermining of their interests. As for the subjugated army, its conditions are no different from that of the people; the dispute between its commander, Joseph Aoun, and the president of the republic has become political life’s major news story.

This disconnection culminates in the fact that the multi-faceted crisis that exploded during the Aounist reign was met with pitiful rationalization and wicked behavior. There is an absolute inability to rationalize what is happening, coupled with interpretations that are filled with conspiracies. In terms of behavior, there is greed that broadly induces disgust because it is impeding the formation of a government, which is a condition for reform, which is, in turn, the condition for obtaining loans and aid.

This allows us to say that Aounism has failed to become anything more than a contingency, a fleeting movement in Lebanese political life, especially Christian political life. Neither is it another Chamounism nor is it another Chehabism. It is neither a new Constitutional Bloc, National Bloc, or Kataeb. It will most likely not last long.

Of course, things haven’t always been like this. Previously, up until the 2016 presidential election, Aounists enjoyed overwhelming popular support, representing over two-thirds of Christians. The Aounists managed to reach an “understanding” with Hezbollah, which was a gateway to changing the traditional Christian attitudes.

The latter, for the first time in their modern history, came to despise the West and fawn over the security regime in Syria. They even came to adore “resistance”, especially since those who were killed pursuing it were members of another religious sect. Moreover, it seemed to many that the Aounists, who had opposed the Taef Accord and had not taken part in any of that era’s governments, had the moral high ground.

Today, all of that has changed. Some observers have begun predicting that Hezbollah will abandon the “understanding” concluded with them because they no longer provide the party with anything substantial.

It is from this dissociation from everything around them that the Aounist elites’ new ethos springs. It is similar to the ethos of those who were fighting in the markets of Beirut during the Two Years War: They would exchange profanities directed against parents and sanctities, while they were isolated from a frightened society sheltered at home; they had no considerations but persistence for the longest time possible in their isolation that exacerbated as the fighting went on.

Fighters, in this case, revert to their most basic instincts, the worst of what they have inherited from their social classes, regions and upbringing. To the lumpen-ness that results from being disconnected from everything alive, productive and mobile. Those fighters would defecate or urinate in public and private places that had previously been hotels, schools, and places of worship. They were doing everything that is not doable.

In this sense, it was not astonishing when the Aounists received the largest share of insults hurled by the revolution’s protesters. What is astonishing is that their milieu considered those insults “obscene.”

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