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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Stone Age Linguistics

Nobody said...

Anyway. Listen ,NC

I think you take Shavit too personally. I don't think that it's good. I think you need to develop an extra layer of epidermis for the future.
Meanwhile, to divert your attention from Shavit and given that we are basically on hamas, let me offer you to examine its twin. I had a conversation on Hezbollah with one guy. I will repost it here shortly.

It was quite a while ago. But i do think that some points seem to be correct.

Selected Comments:

Unfrozen Caveman Linguist said...

BTW Nobody - I have been loooking for the post that may have led you to believe that I somehow "underestimate" Nasrallah as a "leader of humans." I can't find it. I lived in Lebanon for quite some time and I have visited most of the areas where this man holds sway. The trappings of his influence are everywhere, and I'm not just talking about placards. It is obvious that many if not most Shiites love the man to the point of worship. As for the staying power of his leadership credentials under the extreme pressure that his party finds itself, that is being tested right now and the jury is still out. I think I have made that point abundantly clear since the beginning of the conflict. If that point can be read as underestimating the man, read again. I, like you, believe that only a fool would make this mistake.

Nobody said..

Also technically i don't understand how the lebanese can get him. He got this Aoun to play with against Sanyora. And even without Aoun i bet he knows how to navigate in the lebanese sectarian politics. He would always find somebody who would break the ranks.

I saw yesterday how he and Asad are threatening the Sanyora government from both sides. Now i understand that Aoun has joined the feast. I just don't see where the salvation for Lebanon will come from.

Unfrozen Caveman Linguist said...

The current Lebanese government cannot get him - that is precisely why Lebanon is in this situation now. Nasrallah is Lebanese (in spite of his function as Iranian and Syrian stooge) and he understands the people he is dealing with in the government. To a large extent, it's the same gene pool that has been there since the days of the Ottomans, so there are lots of frames of reference - politically, historically, and culturally, that is. Could Nasrallah have managed his unique position without foreign backing and without weapons? I sincerely doubt it.

As for his brilliance - I still don't buy that this trait extends to the military strategy that he used, especially if he himself devised it (and I don't think he did). Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia employed a similar strategy in Bosnia. That is to say that he deliberately kept the area an undeveloped backwater, and tunneled into the mountains to forge hardened bunkers filled with armaments to be used against a Soviet invasion. Had there been an invasion, his forces would have collapsed back into this mountain hinterland and fought a defensive guerrilla war, combining hit-and-run tactics with hardened strong points. Sure enough, any invader would have had to be willing to demolish the entire landscape to conquer Yugoslavia.

Of course, the difference between Tito and Nasrallah is that Tito never attacked his neighbors. That way, his fearsome defensive deterrent remained a deterrent. It also remained fearsome because he never had to use it. As you know well by now, Nasrallah had no interest in a mere defensive posture, despite the fact that that's all the military capability he had. Nasrallah is very lucky not to have had this strategy blow up in his face (quite literally).

Nobody said...

Forget about LP. Let me reformulate it.

As I understand Nasrallah is running a semi state in South Lebanon and he got control over education there. Whenever i see a photogallery from those places u always see martyrs, khomeinies and similar stuff on every second building and intersection.

Looks like a shiite version of 1984 to me. For sure their young generation is already affected by growing up in such an environment. Or i am wrong ?

In terms of endoctrinating the shiite population in the territories under its control how far the hezbollah has advanced until now ?

Unfrozen Caveman Linguist said...

The pictures don't even show the half of it. I recommend Michael Totten's take on it, as he was there not long ago. Also, having been to the south many times, my take would be just as reliable, but I don't want to get into the details of what I know and don't know, where I've been, etc. etc. Generally speaking, it is as you describe - the obsession with martyrdom and its aggrandizement, the beholden-ness to Shiite clerical leadership - all this is painfully obvious in southern Lebanon.

I would say that Hizbullah attempts to indoctrinate everyone they come in contact with, not just other Shiites. In areas they control it does appear that membership in their organization appears to stratify somewhat the social organization. That is to say that membership in HA is something that young people generally aspire to in these areas, and that not being a member has its disadvantages. Of course, there remain small pockets of holdouts - Christians and Druze mainly.

Nobody said...

My impression is that Nasrallah represents a pragmatic approach. He is not too pushy when it comes to the christians in beirut and their lifestyle which i bet Hezbollah views as totally rotten and corrupted by the western culture.

But,say, among his followers and young generation for sure there are less tolerant people.

I can tell you why i am asking you . I gew up in the Soviet Union and i know what is to live in a society which is based strongly on ideology and endoctrination.

My intuition that they are just beginning. My feeling is that in terms of radicalism they would peak out only in the next generation or after. When the young people who grew up under their control would come to take their places , it is at that point that their idologocical and endoctrinating work would come to full fruition.

Unfrozen Caveman Linguist said...

It appears that Nasrallah is remaining more pragmatic right now. He might even try to marginalize more radical elements if indeed such elements exist (as the party has had to do in the past when it decided to join the Lebanese government), as long as doing so improves the party's chances at getting stronger. With HA's impressive party discipline and message control, it does not appear that extremist elements are having their say right now.

The question that you ask is not answerable until Hizbullah more fully consolidates its position vis a vis the Lebanese government. In areas that the party firmly controls this tolerance seems to be less than, say, that of Hamra West Beirut or in Ashrafieh. It seems natural to predict that tolerance will ebb even further if HA makes further gains. We shall see.

Nobody said...

. . . Basically I see Hezbollah as a fundamentalist movement that perfectly fused its ideology with social and political structures in the South Lebanon.

Thats why Hezbollah reminds me greatly of communist movements in their best moments. I see Hezbollah as a mini Iran. I think they succeeded to achieve something that Khomeini failed. Hezbollah is not a rotten and corrupt entity with hollow ideology like Iran.

The combination of personality cults, ability to endoctrinate its population and the fact that they have Israel as an external enemy helped them to create something that i would call islamo-comminism or islamo-fascism (not islamo-nazism). I think they are really close to creating it.

I feel like the ideological drive and motivation of hezbollah looks incredibly fresh. They are apparently not corrupt. They are not losing their zeal. I think that in terms of idealism and radicalism they are not at their peak yet. The worst is yet to come.

Charles from the LPJ finally woke up today and got the idea how coffee smells. Of course they can t compete with a movement that acts as one block with total discipline, whose members are ideologically motivated. I am still amazed that the lebanese are not getting the idea.

What misleads the lebanese, in my view, is the Hezbollah sectarian origin. But Hezbollah long time ago outgrew its sectarian mentality. Its a full scale ideology, total ideology. Its a structure with a totalitarian potential.

To remove the danger its not enough to disarm Hezbollah. It should be dismantled as a state. And even this i doubt would work. The hopes that some wellfare handouts would break the shiite loyalty to hezbollah are illusions in my view. The lebanese underestimate the work hezbollah did in terms of indoctrinating its population, esp. young people. Much of its support base is no longer a turncoat nation as the caveman once called it. I think people tend to see Hezbollah in familiar terms but i think its something new. Its not something we know from the past.

I dont know what would happen to Hezbollah eventually but i see a potential here for something quite bad and something that many people wouldn't recognize in the end.

I am not lebanese, never been to lebanon and never saw a live lebanese. Neigher i ever saw a dead lebanese. So its all my intuitions and i admit i may be talking nonsense.

Nobody said...

Basically i would say they are creating a new type of society based on ideology, that reminds me of comminist movements. This society has a totalitarian quality because of its deep penetration into all aspects of social life. Thats why i said its a sort of islamo-communism and apparently right now quite functional and efficient.

Unfrozen Caveman Linguist said...

Just to clarify - when I wrote the post entitled "turncoat nation" (which is the only time I used such a phrase) I was referring to two things. One was the South Lebanese Army. The other was the ease with which many Lebanese will sell out their fellow countrymen. I was not referring to the Shi'a. You do have it right in one respect, though, Nobody. Hizbullah has found out how to keep Lebanese Shiites loyal - indoctrinate the living daylights out of them. What makes Hizbullah so dangerous is that it is the antithesis of the Lebanese consociational system and therefore cannot work well within it. Its nature is to grow towards eventual domination, even if it appears to be tolerating those consociational characteristics for the time being.

Nobody said...

I can t really pinpoint what is this that makes me feel this way about Hezbollah. Is it the fact that they are on one hand a one party system , on another a semi state and all these together plus authority of the shiite clergy? Or maybe their 100 % discipline that i don't see among Hamas and others? Or the fact that they are dynamic and efficient?

I dont know. But there is something in the Hezbollah story that just does nt make sense when u think it in terms of older categories borrowed from Iran, or Hamas, or Saudi Arabia.

Nobody said...

Let me put it this way . Its politically incorrect and is not for people with heart problems.

If we , israel, want to defeat them , military victories even, quite decisive, won t work.

They achieved some sort of cohesion and ideological self sufficiency and stability that even our most decisive victories would be reinterpreted by them as their greatest achievements. Its not easy to knock out such a society.

If we really want to remove this danger from our border, we need to go to south lebanon , expell the people and bulldoze everything to the ground. Together with their schools and social services. To make the south uninhabitable. We should smash their world completely without giving them any chance to reorganize and regroup.

Nothing short of destroying their whole world would convince the Hezbollah support base that this ideology does nt work.

And if Hezbollah would continue to demonstrate this dynamism and efficiency and would refuse to start stagnating and rotting in itself like Iran , i am afraid this is the only way.

Unfrozen Caveman Linguist said...

I highly recommend this book to help answer some of the questions you have. That said, you will probably find your suspicions to be right on target. HA's organization mirrors old Soviet structure in miniature (and even borrows from terminology), adding just enough Shiite Islamic window dressing to make it look as if the movement's ideology springs naturally from Shiite Islamic texts.

Unfrozen Caveman Linguist said...

In spite of the time I spent at the American University of Beirut, I am not leftist-educated enough to be able to split hairs on the heads of Marx and Mao. Honestly, I don't know the difference, and I could not care less either way. That said, Hizbullah has definitely injected revolutionary ideology of some kind into its Islamic doctrine.

Kifaya, when Nobody says that HA is not corrupt, he appears to be referring not to ideology but implementation. Due to its small size relative to the Islamic revolutionary government of Iran, HA's message discipline and tight structure (as well as Nasrallah's charismatic leadership) indeed HA has been able to avoid the negative effects of extreme centralization (so far). Also, HA is undergoing a golden age of sorts and still finding its potential. It does not have the authority of a full state. If and when it does, maybe then we can expect to see the party behave more like what you and I believe to be a totalitarian regime.

There, I just put words in Nobody's mouth. Hope I didn't hit too far off the mark.

Nobody said...

You hit the mark. This is what i was saying.

I by the way agree with you when you say:

"What makes Hizbullah so dangerous is that it is the antithesis of the Lebanese consociational system and therefore cannot work well within it. Its nature is to grow towards eventual domination, even if it appears to be tolerating those consociational characteristics for the time being."

I am surprised that they were so smart until now and played well within the system. Somehow i was hoping that they will start keeping themselves busy with harassing the christians and sunnies.

Nobody said...

In fact Nasrallah is doing the outmost effort to bridge the sunni shia divide. The most ridiculous thing would be if in the end he will succeed to achieve it. I was reading about an egyptian preacher who was beaten by his listeners when he came out with an anti shia anti hezbollah stuff. I was even reading the Big Pharaoh or Sandmonkey saying how one of his friends said that he wants to be a shia now.

If Nasrallah would indeed succeed to break out of his sectarian cage and reach out to the radical sunnies persuading them to adopt some of his techniques and methods and to join forces with him then it would the most extraordinary thing. I bet he got a lot of usefull stuff to teach them.

Unfrozen Caveman Linguist said...

Diana - I am not an expert in Lebanese elections. I am also not a Lebanese census taker - these people don't exist, as Lebanon has not had a census since the country received its independence. Official demographics simply do not exist (thereby eliminating whatever causality of median ages and so on and so forth), so it is not really responsible to speak as if they do (something that many Lebanese just go ahead and do, throwing around numbers based on unofficial projections and estimates made by aid agencies and stuff like that, jumping into the fray with their fully-formed political agendas and all). That said, if any sort of mis-representation existed that somehow skewed representation against whatever imaginary population numbers are the order of the day, it is probably due to the gerrymandered voting districts that keep certain strongmen in power. Lebanese still do not really vote their opinions, after all. I am speaking about this in general terms, because I am too lazy right now to go looking for precise information. Someone like Anton Efendi at Across the Bay may have more on the top of his head than I do on the subject.

Also, with Hizbullah's bizarre alliance with Michel Aoun's FPM, it appears that the party found a way around their relatively small representational numbers and now have the largest voting bloc in the parliament. I would not exactly call them under-represented.

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