Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah’s charisma and widespread popular support have been a source of mystery and consternation for Israel and the West, whose officials and pundits often attribute his far-reaching influence to his oratory skills or his ability to deliver on his promises. While both qualities are integral to his—and by extension Hizbullah’s— popularity, the moral authority that he wields has as much, if not more, to do with the fact that he is not merely a religious or political leader, but the prototypical counter-hegemonic “organic intellectual” that Gramsci called for in his writings; a non-traditional intellectual and thinker who arises from the people and reflects the aspirations and needs of the people. Nasrallah’s relationship with the people is a dialectic one—he both guides them and is guided by them. What makes Nasrallah’s words so powerful is that he does not bring consciousness “from without” nor does he indoctrinate a politically passive people with the resistance culture, but he harnesses the people’s pre-existing sense of justice and channels it into action, effectively synthesizing theory with praxis. As a critical pedagogue, he raises the people’s level of critical awareness, enabling them to recognize injustice and to discern the most strategic means of confronting it.
Nasrallah represents not merely a new discourse or political line, or even a new political culture or identity, which pre-existed his advent to power as Hizbullah’s Secretary-General, but a new rationality with its own alternative understanding of reality, its own discourse and epistemology— hence my blog’s URL, “resistance-episteme”. And it is this Moqawama rationality that enables those who have it to intuitively KNOW where to stand on given political positions like Syria, and to KNOW, as opposed to merely believe, that Israel is doomed to collapse.
When we call Nasrallah our leader we do not mean it in the narrow sense of a following, but in the sense of an oppressed people who chose from among their ranks the person who best personifies their sacrifices; who best articulates their passions; who best communicates their position to the outside world; and who best guides them because his deep connection with the people has granted him the unique ability to be guided back by them. And that is why we call him the Leader of the Resistance.
A couple of friends have tagged me on Facebook this week in article/book links by that comprador intellectual, Hamid Dabashi. I think it is important you all know that the author of “Brown Skin White Masks” is nothing but a brown-skinned, white-masked House Iranian himself. Not only is he an ardent supporter of Iran’s Empire-backed “Green Revolution” but he is also very sympathetic to Syria’s “revolutionaries” and not in a “Third Way” type of manner either. Some excerpts from an article he wrote last year which exposed him to be the imperialist stooge he is: “Nasrallah, who could not care less for such revolting behavior by his patrons, now for second time in a row, was siding with brutal, vicious tyrants and their criminally insane security forces against the democratic aspirations of their people - once in Iran and now in Syria. A “freedom fighter”? Really? What kind of a “freedom fighter” is that? Forget about the Shah, Hassan Nasrallah now sounded more like President Franklin D Roosevelt (FDR) who once famously said about the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza (1896-1956) that he “may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” Hassan Nasrallah too did not care if Khamenei and Assad tortured and murdered their own people - so far as they kept him in business…. Hassan Nasrallah would have none of this, as he had no patience or sympathy for the kidnapped, tortured, raped, and murdered bodies of scores of young Iranians during the civil rights uprising of 2009. The only language that Hassan Nasrallah understands is the language that keeps him in power, condemning the US, the EU, Israel, and the Saudis - all hitherto truisms that have, thanks to the Green Movement and the Arab Spring, lost their grip on reality even more than Nasrallah…. Hassan Nasrallah is now outmaneuvered, checkmated, made redundant by history, by, of all things, a magnificent Arab Spring, in which he has no role, no say, and no decision….” You vile little man Hamid Dabashi. Nobody is outside of history but you and your imperial masters.
"And another thing that really irks me is that job description the “Middle East expert”, aka all-purpose pundit who purports to know what the Arab “street’s” pulse is from the confines of his (it’s usually a he) sterile office in some Western capital, most frequently in the US but also in Europe and GCC countries where he is equally oblivious to events on the ground. And no, his occasional Arab identity doesn’t make him more qualified to speak about all things Arab. Whether he speaks the Arabic language or not, he still belongs to the same western liberal episteme and sees the region through its worldview."
"I will never forget how these same Third Way leftist types who now compete over who is more valuable to the resistance, were once fierce critics of Hizbullah in the mid 1980s and1990s. Their rationale was pretty much the same as it is now—despite its resistance activity, Hizbullah was too authoritarian for their liking and too Islamic for their secular tastes—imposing an Islamic lifestyle in regions under their control, repressing its leftist and other opponents etc. In short, they had the same liberal rights centered grievances that they now have against the Assad regime. All my friends who know me from my youth can testify that as a teenager growing up in England and then a university student in Lebanon, I supported Hizbullah way before it became politically fashionable to do so. In fact, I was often ridiculed for supporting the movement given my un-Islamic appearance and mannerisms. And I know that history will once again vindicate me and all my amazing comrades who have the courage to go against the tide of politically correct discourses and support the Assad leadership against this imperialist-Zionist onslaught against Syria."
My friend and fellow blogger, Atlas Egbe, wrote this very perceptive note on how some Arabs view Palestine and hence, Syria:
The lack of Arab solidarity on the Syrian issue and by default the Palestinian issue is primarily perhaps due to lack of belief in the eventuality of an actual liberation of Palestine. Therefore, most don’t think of the Palestinian issue in practical terms (as they apply to an end vision that in their minds would be achievable), but rather as Dr Saad-Ghorayeb said in terms of rights issues or even moreso as a cultural duty or expression. A cultural duty or expression, in the same way, that patriotism is a cultural duty in the United States, for example; or even in the same way that a kiss on the cheek is a cultural expression or expectation of greeting. In many instances, I think, this may be a subconscious unacknowledged thought.
Further proof of how liberals and progressives fall within Empire’s parameters of acceptable critical discourse and hence serve to legitimize imperialism and Zionism with their policy-confined critiques:
“The Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank with connections to the Israeli government, recommends in one of its reports: “Broadening the tent to include liberal and progressive circles: Reut maintains that in order to effectively challenge delegitimization [of Israel], the pro-Israel community must broaden its base by increasing its tolerance for legitimate criticism of the country’s policies and seeking the support of progressive and liberal circles….
Reut contends that broadening the tent is the pro-Israel camp’s opportunity to drive a wedge between those whose ultimate goal is Israel’s demise and those who principally support the legitimacy of its existence regardless of policy disagreements. In this context, we specifically emphasized the need to harness the support of liberal and progressive circles. Their denunciation of delegitimization is particularly potent because they hold the banner of universal values and human rights –the same tenets that delegitimizers falsely claim to defend.
Critically, a broad tent is not an open tent. There are boundaries between legitimate criticism and acts of delegitimization. For this reason, becoming part of the tent should require a commitment to an acceptable code of conduct regarding discourse on Israel, delineated by ‘red lines.’ “
Franz Fanon’s strikingly prescient words which so aptly describe today’s political and intellectual fallout from the “Arab Spring”:
“History teaches us clearly that the battle against colonialism does not run straight away along the lines of nationalism. For a very long time the native devotes his energies to ending certain definite abuses: forced labour, corporal punishment, inequality of salaries, limitation of political rights, etc. This fight for democracy against the oppression of mankind will slowly leave the confusion of neo-liberal universalism to emerge, sometimes laboriously, as a claim to nationhood. It so happens that the unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps…….This traditional weakness, which is almost congenital to the national consciousness of under-developed countries, is not solely the result of the mutilation of the colonized people by the colonial regime. It is also the result of the intellectual laziness of the national middle class, of its spiritual penury, and of the profoundly cosmopolitan mould that its mind is set in.”
"Bell Hooks on the relationship between the western/ized academic and the subaltern subject, and how only the former is qualified to explain the suffering of the latter : “No need to hear your voice when I can talk about you better than you can speak about yourself. No need to hear your voice. Only tell me about your pain. I want to know your story. And then I will tell it back to you in a new way. Tell it back to you in such a way that it has become mine, my own. Re-writing you I write myself anew. I am still author, authority. I am still colonizer the speaking subject and you are now at the center of my talk."
Not that we have any illusions any more about where Norm Finklestein stands, but it’s vindicating to read him virtually admitting that supporting the armed struggle in Palestine was little more than a fashion statement for him, and well lets face it, Intifada Chic is so 2010 (pre-Arab Spring 2011 craze). Excerpts:
“Yet if you happened to walk into one of his lectures, you might be surprised to hear him say he is “not going to be an Israel-basher anymore.” It’s not that he’s changed his mind on the conflict, he just says blaming Israel has become too easy….I was bashing Israel in the past because nobody else was exposing its true record. Many people are doing it now, so I switched hats from a critic of Israel to a diplomat who wants to resolve the conflict. I have not changed, but I think the spectrum has moved.”…. While BDS is a legitimate tactic to force Israel to accept the two-state solution, it has to have a just goal, which means it has to include recognition of Israel as a state. … “I do not see other reasonable basis for resolution of this conflict other then the international law. What else can you use? To say, I have the rights, and solve it by force?”
"Antonio Gramsci: “The popular element “feels” but does not always know or understand; the intellectual element “knows” but does not always understand and in particular does not always feel….One cannot make politics-history without this passion, without the sentimental connection between intellectuals and people-nation."
“The left wants a more attractive, ‘inclusive’ imperialism with a strong neo-colonialism that would keep the terroristic extraction of the resources of colonized peoples hidden from their view. The right likes a more hard line, war-mongering, blatantly imperialist imperialism.
“Any leftist who is arguing for a “third way” solution to the Syrian crisis is engaged in self-delusion. This is not a political solution but an intellectual one which grants him/her the luxury of moral consistency which ultimately only serves personal interests like one’s career and groupie followings—not the interests of a sovereign and secure Syria. The geo-strategic balance of power and the political exigencies at hand give us very little room for such irresponsible, “I- reject -both -sides” type anarchism. Where is this legitimate and powerful “third way” force that you speak of which champions resistance, individual freedoms and Socialist economics and which can successfully thwart the US-Israel-Nato and Arab moderate axis agenda for Syria in one fell swoop and reclaim your “hijacked” “revolution”? In the wishful thinking part of your mind, that’s where. Do the rest of us a favour, choose a side of the fence to sit on and stay on it. The situation at hand doesn’t permit wishy-washiness.”
There is a difference between liberalism and democracy; a difference between human rights and people’s rights; a difference between freedoms and Freedom; a difference between Intifada Chic and Intifada consciousness; a difference between revolution and insurrection; a difference between hegemony and authoritarianism ; a difference between serving the interests of the oppressors and an intersection of interests with the oppressors; and if you still don’t get these differences, you still don’t know the difference between a progressive mind and a decolonized one—that’s right, you may be politically opposed to imperialism but your rationality continues to operate within the liberal imperialist paradigm.