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One Revolution is Enough for Everyone..

One Revolution is Enough for Everyone..

Wednesday, 24 March, 2021 - 11:30

Obviously, Hezbollah, as a religious party, is conservative socially. However, as a political and sectarian party, it is also conservative politically. This becomes increasingly clear as time goes on: those who did not believe that it defended the status quo in Lebanon against the October 17 Revolution and prohibited the Shiite community from participating in it should believe their ears as they listen to the party leader’s latest speech. In it, Hassan Nasrallah gives “advice” which suggests forming a government that includes the politicians who are responsible for the current situation in Lebanon.

This stance is an eloquent and exemplary lesson in conservatism: things cannot be better than they are.

These matters no longer need to be debated. They draw a line of demarcation between the original Khomeinism in Iran and its offshoot in Lebanon: The former is extremely socially conservative, as is particularly evident in Ayatollah Khomeini’s well-known positions regarding women, agrarian reform and Western ideas. But it is politically revolutionary, as shown by its leadership of the 1963 uprising against the Shah and the subsequent overthrow of the Shah and his regime 16 years later. The latter, on the other hand, is both socially and politically conservative, bearing in mind that being Lebanese imbued this conservatism with particular features: It is less socially conservative than its Iranian mother. And, politically, it is constrained, to this or that extent, by considerations imposed by the country’s sectarian plurality.

Per the Khomeinist narrative, then, “God’s will” encompasses “the people’s will,” which the nonreligious speak for, and thus the will is to “bring down the regime.” As for “God’s will” per Nasrallah’s narrative, it is for the regime to be maintained, especially since “the people” in Lebanon are fragmented and broken down along sectarian lines. Here, in Hezbollah’s case, “regime change” does not go beyond making discursive demands for leaders to be honest and rise above corruption and sin or, at other times, reexamining the distribution of shares among the religious sects, which is used to blackmail certain sects when the need arises.

In any case, there remains an unresolved problem on the margins: a theory that the party’s secular and pseudo-secular supporters believe in tying the act of resistance against Israel- with its organic links to Iran- to a political position that is not conservative by definition. This theory has a history in leftist and nationalist political activism, which has always coupled “radical social change” with “the struggle against imperialism and Zionism.”

We thus find ourselves facing a game between hypocrites and the naive: The former, Hezbollah, does not want anything but the status quo’s solidification; while the latter, its nonreligious allies, ascribe the energy to revolutionize the status quo to the party’s resistance, and some of these allies really believe that.

The fact is that Hezbollah’s political conservatism has been particularly useful for allowing the party to play its role. The emergence of a modern non-clientelist state in Lebanon would make it impossible to abuse the state’s sovereignty and seize back the decisions on war and peace from it. Regardless of the difference between the Khomeinists in their two countries, they are the the same in their political conservatism on the regional level. In Syria, Iran fought alongside Bashar al-Assad, and Hezbollah defended his regime, sacrificing scores of dead and wounded casualties in this vein. In Iraq, the two sides did not hide their disappointment with the Iraqis’ revolution and their protests, nor did either of the two conceal their suspicions, especially when the Iraqis chanted: “Iran get out.” The bottom line is that the establishment of democracy in Syria and the rectification of democracy in Iraq would allow “the will of the people,” rather than ideological rhetoric and sectarian drives, to determine the two countries’ contributions and positions regarding the region’s affairs and conflicts.

In other words, the 1979 Iranian revolution is the only exception to the general rule of Khomeinisms and their followers’ political conservatism. This, to say nothing about this revolution having risen to serve objectives that can only be described as extremely socially conservative.

Once we put naivety aside, this is what remains important at the end of the day: One revolution, the Iranian revolution, suffices for the entire Levant. The Lebanese, Syrians and Iraqis are required only to deal with it as the event that satisfies every desire for change. As for their revolutions, their page should be turned, especially since they are at odds with the interests of that one revolution and the regime that emerged from it.

Something similar is seen in the communist experience. After the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, the communists’ orchestration of revolutions in the other countries became contingent on these revolutions’ impact on Moscow’s interests; revolt here, the Comintern would tell them; there, adapt to the status quo.

Now, while the domestic and regional priority is the Iranian regime’s position in the global system, the Lebanese Khomeinists, following those of Iran, find that one revolution is enough for everyone until further notice.

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