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On Our Almost Non-Existent Anti-War Consciousness

On Our Almost Non-Existent Anti-War Consciousness

Wednesday, 20 July, 2022 - 10:00

When one nervously and tensely says, time after time, that he does not like war but is not afraid of it or that he does not want war but is fully prepared to wage it, what he is actually saying is that he loves war and intends to wage one and that he is perhaps fanning its flames, preparing to set it on fire himself if it doesn’t ignite.

This phrase being repeated tells us only one thing, those repeating it are consumed by the idea of war and assume that it is almost inevitable. They behave like it is the only tool for engaging in politics and subsequently pushing others to live with the fact that war has broken out, thereby rendering predicting it and adapting to it easier on them.

It is no coincidence that this phrase, which Hezbollah’s top brass and parliamentary deputies reiterate on an almost daily basis, comes with an Iranian phrase that operates according to the same logical structure, even if it is framed in different ways: We do not want to develop a nuclear weapon, but we now have the technical capacity to develop one.

The excess capacity to wage war and the weakness of the forces capable of preventing it have left the claims of little appetite for it besieged, creating temptations to grow this appetite. When all is said and done, we are talking about a warlike being whose pride and joy is the missiles it owns and the ease with which it can sacrifice martyrs without limits or hesitation.

Force and war, to the warlike being, are the foundations for everything else. They are the equivalent of Schopenhauer’s will, Marxism’s infrastructure, or Freud’s unconscious… We start off from there and keep coming back to it.

And even if we were to take the party’s claims that it does not want war at face value, the fact remains that the excess capacity to wage it becomes a monster that is difficult to control and contain inside a fragile and small bottle. War’s energy and activity can attune the degree of desire for it far more than the desire for it, or lack thereof, can attune this energy and activity.

The fact of the matter is that the prospect of war poses the gravest threat to the Lebanese people. The potential scenarios that could emerge may be many, with an Israeli-Iranian clash into which Hezbollah drags us- under the pretext of our rights to oil and gas- at the forefront, but the outcome, regardless of which of these scenarios plays out, would be the same: more death and destruction, a deepening of the calamitous situation we are in, and war’s consecration as our reality, eliminating any prospect of an eventual recovery.

Given the weakness of the Lebanese state and the indifference of the outside world, two parties that hinder war in theory, the way Hezbollah thinks and its deep decisions tell us that this outcome is most likely in all cases. Let us remember, for example, how the party moved from presenting its resistance as a matter around which there is a Lebanese consensus to acknowledging, post-2005, that no such consensus exists. Today, however, we often hear its leaders or the entourage of its loyalists cursing our times because the majority of Lebanese have become “undignified” and do not want to resist. Nonetheless, this state of affairs and its recognition has not and will not compel the party to end that resistance. Regardless of the majority’s position, it will continue to “liberate” us against our will and “retrieve our land and wealth,” also against our will.

Such factions are not deterred in the slightest by anything that could result from the war when it seems required and necessary.

Furthermore, the party is not concerned, even in the slightest, by the fact that the way in which its criteria for victory and defeat diverge sharply with the criteria of the majority of Lebanese.

In its entirety, this situation suggests another war might be around the corner. Nonetheless, we may be facing an even more bleak prospect: being driven, like sheep, to such a war and the death it implies, in order not to die, as the party’s Secretary-General has been warning us, fighting each other at the entrances of our bakeries!

The rejection of war, which is the position held by the vast majority of Lebanese, has not turned into a material body. Indeed, we have not seen any crystallization of any form of awareness rejecting it beyond a statement here and a column there. Although we are a country that has undergone many wars and paid their exorbitant costs- and our current crisis is, to a large extent, one of those costs- the anti-establishment consciousness that has prevailed in Lebanon did not explicitly single out opposition to war as an essential part of its program. The opposition cannot conduct its business as usual when the prospect of war looms and the likelihood of it breaking out is high.

One could argue that such an awareness would not prevent war; rather, even the emergence of an anti-war movement would fail to do so. That may be true in light of the country’s sectarian divisions, which are strengthened by the prevailing culture of our region, which is not famous for opposing wars. With that, we can at least make two inseparable statements to ourselves and the world: We are not fooled by traditional pro-war arguments, and if a war breaks out, it won’t be waged in our names, even if those waging it claim to be “liberating” us against our will.

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