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#Lebanon: The state of things

Lebanon. Will the confinement and the ceasefire get the better of the Lebanese uprising? Will the omnipresence of security be able to bridge the chasm into which the population seems to sink deeper every day? These are, in any case, the questions that Ghassan Salhab asks from Beirut.

Originally published by Lundi Matin. Translated by Autonomies. Written by Ghassan Salhab.

The explosion will not happen today. It is too soon … or too late.

Frantz Fanon

From the beginning, it was of the order of the impossible; from the first cry, the first song. We knew it. It’s too good to be true, we were warned. And it was indeed, and it was very beautiful and it is that which is most true; the very improbability of our momentum, its magnitude, the conflagration in and of everyday life, the field of the possible that had suddenly opened up. From the beginning, we suspected that the horizon was not however going to clear, that a resignation, however substantial, of one leader or another, was not enough. Since the first cry, we suspected that our wings were threatened, as much by our many and varied enemies, as by ourselves. Our enemies, we knew them, one by one; we had learned to better understand, to decipher, how they work, the cogs and the interconnections of all kinds which animate them. And we knew that despite everything that divides them, nothing unites them more particularly than not losing their various prerogatives (negligible they may be for some). They argue and unite at our expense, always. Nothing escapes their appetite, even the smallest administration, the smallest opportunity. Every corner of the territory is either under their control or completely abandoned, bereft of any service (I dare not say public, as long as this corresponds to no reality in this country). The means of repression, in all of its forms, legal and illegal, are never lacking. There is nothing very mysterious about this association of malefactors and criminals, including in their dissociation, nothing that we do not know by heart from their endless good words to their art of blaming others, preferably foreigners. And as expected, they have largely benefited from this pandemic, both those directly in charge, as well as those indirectly, or even those supposedly in the opposition now, withdrawn into their strongholds, to intensify even further the security mesh, the only real competence of this puppet state and the various quasi-official militias.

This considerable disparity on the side of the powers that be, we inevitably find it in the “ranks” of the uprising of October 17. True fragmentation. And we suspected that when the inevitable times of uncertainty, hesitation, wear and tear came, that the trouble makers who are not directly in control at present, would take advantage of this, to infiltrate and to try to swallow up the uprising, even overwhelm it, divert it, advancing their pawns and their demands which have absolutely nothing alternative about them, which are nothing but the other side of the same, only patched up, local bankruptcy – feudal, capitalist, seigneurial (there are always new contenders, the president and his clique are a perfect example), paternalist, communitarian, clientelist, and so on – of this market economy, whatever its version, which has always been, at least around here, devastating. This confinement, this curfew, obviously contributed a lot, short-circuiting us. However, in the momentum that was ours, we were not able or did not know how to transcend our rage and take the necessary, essential step to project ourselves further ahead. This is not about throwing stones at anyone, except maybe at oneself, surely; this revolution of oneself that we were not able or did not know how to undertake, not yet. We ran out of time, as much because the adversaries pushed us, forced us, to be essentially reactive, as well as because, enslaved to our era and its eagerness, and now to the urgency of our daily bread, we have all the difficulties in the world in not admitting that it was not and still is not a question of answers to be found, even less, immediate answers, but of a deep and permanent questioning, at all levels, by all, fundamentally, both individually and collectively, in a low voice and aloud, as much about what constitutes us, as about our aspirations, without of course suspending our various actions, quite the contrary! Everything is born from action, from the first gesture. Every neighborhood, every village, every town, every region, wherever the uprising took root, still persists, no matter how big, in one way or another, testifies to this.

And this primordial movement which is lacking is not of a strategic order, an alliance of circumstance between the different movements and groups, a tactical alliance therefore, short-sighted once again. The cataclysm is such that we owe it to ourselves to get rid of the certainties and ready-made propositions, our old refrains, in order to arrive at new forms of organisation and different ways of conceiving struggles, assumed in their plurality and their complementarity, without any hegemonism and with the constant concern to defend the whole of life, in its rich complexity. A true alternative project cannot emerge or develop otherwise. Already, more than one suitcase is being packed, more anger is being swallowed up, turning into bitterness, more than one blade is turning against one.

May our only certainty be the identity of our invariable adversaries.

We weren’t ready? Even prepared, we never really are.

But what do we have to lose? It’s still and always now or never.

Ghassan Salhab : Le jour est la nuit/Day is night (Video):

Lebanese director, Ghassan Salhab is the author, among other films, of Beyrouth Fantôme,Terra Incognita and La Vallée.

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