Open Democracy, Karl Marx and Hezbollah
Posted to www.marxmail.org on August 15, 2006
Opendemocracy.net can best be described as Harry's Place for the cognoscenti. With lavish funding from such sources as the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation and the Rockfeller Fund and editorial guidance by such wretches as Todd Gitlin and Danny Postel, Roger Scruton (the British philosopher who got caught taking surreptitious payoffs from the tobacco industry in exchange for writing pro-smoking articles in the Wall Street Journal), the website maintains a steady drumbeat for the war on terror and against 'Islamofascism' and the Bolivarian revolution, etc. Unlike the spittle-flecked Harry's Place blog, Opendemocracy tries to maintain a certain kind of scholarly detachment, which arguably makes it far more insidious.
One of their recent articles is making the rounds on the Internet. Titled "How the European left supports Lebanon" and written by Hazem Saghieh, the editor of Al-Hayat--a British newspaper hostile to Arab and Muslim radicalism, it has the dubious distinction of invoking Karl Marx in support of a reactionary agenda: "The left's embrace of an Islamist movement supported by Iranian mullahs would have appalled Karl Marx."
To support his left flank, Saghieh begins by saying:
are supporting us Lebanese against
But that's just a warm-up for his real act, which is to cast
Hizbollah as a reactionary intrusion into
[F]or all its
In 1972, the year of
the last elections before the war, the general-secretary of the Communist Party
stood in the parliamentary elections; members were also elected for the Ba'ath Party and the Nasserites (who called for a pan-Arab
union in which
This social democratic
At its outset, members of the movement in the Beka'a valley, accompanied by Iranian 'Revolutionary Guards', used to spray girls' legs with acid, because their skirts did not cover their knees and their faces were not veiled.
A cursory look into Lexis-Nexis will reveal no such behavior on the part of Hezbollah. Indeed, commentators have frequently noted that Hezbollah *has not* forced strict Islamic codes on the men and women who live under their rule.
In a NY Review of Books article by Adam Schatz titled "In Search of Hezbollah," we learn:
In a country mired in
patronage and back-room dealing, Hezbollah is respected for its lack of
corruption. Although the party's yellow-and-green flag--depicting a fist
brandishing a Kalashnikov, posed against a globe-- still advocates "the
Islamic Revolution in
On a more fundamental level, one has to question Saghieh's invocation of Karl Marx, which strikes one as only
slightly less disingenuous than Christopher Hitchens's
defense of the invasion of
Although Marx never wrote in great detail about the problems
of colonialism and imperialism (a task left to a later generation of Marxists
like Lenin), he was alert enough to the problem to champion Irish
self-determination. In a letter to Engels dated November 2, 1867 Marx wrote: "I
have done my best to bring about this demonstration of the English workers in favour of Fenianism.... I used to
think the separation of
Marx's criterion was based on class. The Irish were victims of national oppression which had a dual character. Their religion and culture was held in second-class status and they were treated as second class citizens. How else would one describe the Shi'ites of Lebanon?
In a July 1 1985 Newsweek article, they were described as follows:
For as long as anyone
can remember, the Shiites have been Lebanon's bottom dogs, a downtrodden
underclass of poorly educated farmers and villagers virtually without a voice
in running Lebanon. Maronite Christians have
dominated the government. Sunni Muslims, better placed and better padded,
prospered in business and politics, looking down on their Shiite brothers. The Druse, a secretive Islamic splinter, excluded them.
Palestinian exiles took over Shiite turf in the south, behaving like an
occupying army. Elsewhere the Shiites have been geographically scattered, some
living in the slums of
Whatever else one might say about Karl Marx, he always took the side of the underdog--despite specious arguments to the contrary by opendemocracy.net.