The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism

Living Edition
| Editors: Immanuel Ness, Zak Cope

Hezbollah, Communitarianism, and Anti-imperialism

  • Imad SalameyEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91206-6_116-1

Anti-imperialism: National Versus Communitarian

By the turn of the twentieth century, the global composition and relative proportion of Karl Marx’s industrial proletariat was confined to a marginal Western minority. Outside the West, there was no comparable industrial development or concentration of the working class. The vast majority of production forces remained rural and agricultural, while the relation of production appeared to have preserved most aspects of feudalism. Marx has originally predicted that socialist revolution to take place in the most advanced industrial nations where the proletariat is most concentrated. But Marx’s prediction has never been materialized, while Russia, and despite its small working class, was the first to experience the triumph of a socialist revolution.

Vladimir Lenin needed to stir a great deal of agitation to place Marxism in the context of an international revolution. In an effort to justify revolutions in Russia and in undeveloped countries, he sought to transform Marxist interpretations of socialist revolution beyond the strict dialectic of industrial relations.

After all, capitalism was hardly a comprehensive global phenomenon. Uneven capitalist development placed the Western proletariat in and at the center of global wealth. Leninism synthetically advanced the proposition that world capitalism is characterized by fundamental contradictions that pit advanced Western industrialism (imperialism or monopoly capitalism) against mostly resource-based, dependent nations (Third World or underdeveloped countries). National liberation or a democratic revolution is, thus, established as an essential prerequisite for socialism (Lenin 1916; Stalin 1913). The alliance between workers and peasants as well as those of the oppressed nations in the Third World was considered fundamental to the defeat of world capitalism (Lenin 1905), through a permanent (Trotsky 1906–1930) or staged (Stalin 1929) international revolution. Imperialism was set as the highest stage of capitalism whose demise depended on an ingrained cyclical economic crises as well as on the Third World’s national liberation and, consequently, international revolution (Lenin 1917).

However, anti-imperialist national liberation and democratic revolutions in the Third World failed to follow a deterministic or historic inevitability. Throughout the twentieth century, theoretical and strategic differences resulted in opposing perspectives among leftist movements. Disagreements oriented various responses to central questions such as the following: How could the national struggle be linked to the international? What types of alliances were needed to be forged between classes? Which national classes could be considered anti-imperialist? Who should lead the alliances? Which political programs were to be pursued? (Conversi 2017).

Relative consensus, however, remained in attributing Westphalian traits to the nation state. The nation or the national group is thought to be comprised of a population, confined to a geographic territory, and linked by a shared identity. It was a prerequisite for a democratic revolution to be centered around the transformation of state power from bourgeois to socialist. Lenin’s view did not dwell on details in efforts to unravel the determinants of a nation but created space for discussion of the attributes of a national group brought together in a political union against dependency and exploitation. Consequently, the Westphalian state became the target for revolutionary transformation.

A century after Lenin, the national question has yet to pave the way for a democratic or a successful national liberation synthesis. Firstly, it became evident that postindependence nations were territorially constructed and imposed by colonial design rather than through an indigenous awakening. This is exemplified in the 1916 Sykes-Picot secret Agreement that divided the Ottoman Middle East into different spheres of colonial direct and indirect influences. Secondly, and as a consequence of such actions, the affiliation of communitarian groups within national territories was widely disputed by primordial and cross-national affiliations that refused detachments, such as the case of the Kurds or sectarian groups in the Arab region. Some states such as Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine were granted independence through a gerrymandering of national territories to reflect particular sectarian compositions suitable to the preservation of colonial interests. Thirdly, nation states, including those formed following the anti-imperialist liberation movements (and in order to force the unity and assimilation of different groups) soon degenerated to repressive autocratic regimes (Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Syria, Southern Yemen, etc.), inciting anti-nationalist communitarian grievances. Assimilation projects in Iraq under the Arab Socialist Ba’ath party, for example, witnessed a demographic engineering aimed to undermine ethnic Kurdish and Shiite Arabs conglomerate powers. Lastly, post-Soviet globalization trends seem to have deterritorialized geopolitics, revoking requisites that traditionally served as the essence of nation states’ sovereignty and independence (Salamey 2017). Economic liberalization and collective security, for example, increased states’ dependencies on global market and governance.

Thus, the original challenge in establishing an anti-imperialist alliance formed around a national platform consistently proved problematic. Communitarian affiliations (ethnic, religious, racial, tribal, linguistic) that were rooted in primordial cultural solidarity emerged resilient to modernizations or states’ territorializations. Communitarianism stood robust against the assimilation of the oppressed within a national liberation project. The Jewish question, for instance, presented an early dilemma where leftist disagreements revolved around whether recognizing Jewish communal, national assimilation, or national secession would contribute to the strength or weaknesses of the working class and those of oppressed “nations” (Marx 1843; Lenin 1905–1918; Trotsky 1934).

Thus, when Jewish nationalism sought an independent state in Palestine and assembled behind the Zionist movement, leftist responses split on the issue of whether Jewish separatism served or opposed imperialism (Rodinson 1973; Ben-Zvi 1957). Division was further deepened by the communitarian and religious nature of this nationalist brand. Quarrels centered around whether Zionism enhances or undermines the development of a working-class consciousness. Marxists have traditionally opposed religious indoctrination and mobilization on the ground of having to contribute to dogmatism and false consciousness.

The question emerged equally divisive following the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution, which was founded on religious communitarian rather than nationalist principles. The revolution overthrew the monarchy, stood in direct confrontation with the United States and Western imperialism, and promised the redistribution of wealth and welfare. Despite its wide crackdown on left opposition, Tudeh, the Iranian communist-leaning party, stood in support of the Islamic theocracy. This support proved to be in vain as loyalty to the Ayatollahs did not spare the party from political prosecution. In 1983, the party was disbanded, and its members imprisoned or executed. Thus, religious communitarianism in Iran presented a two-edged “liberation” scenario in the struggle against imperialism: while being largely inspired by the philosophical tenants of Husseinism that rejected global injustice and stood against Western imperialism, it had no tolerance for class politics that stood against perceived unity of the community (Ummah). Twelvers Shiism’s Husseinism served well the revolutionary fervor while metaphorically reverting to the lessons extracted from perceived injustice committed against the Prophet Muhammed’s grandson and his ultimate martyrdom for righteousness.

Still, the Islamic Revolution held another intriguing peculiarity that echoed international revolutions and drove another wedge in the anti-imperialism debate. Its communitarianism recognized no national boundaries and promised liberation of the dispossessed from colonialism and enslavement everywhere. Naturally, the deprived and dispersed Shiite communities within the predominantly Sunni-majority nation states were most susceptible, sparking a region-wide Shiite communitarian awakening to demand emancipation and an Islamic State. Substantial-sized Shiite communities in Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Lebanon were among the most inspired by the Iranian Husseinist fervor, enthusiastically responding to communitarian appeal while moving away from left and national secularism. In Lebanon, for example, and throughout the 1980s, the Lebanese Communist Party and The Communist Workers Organization witnessed an exodus of their majority Shiite members, switching rank in favor of own communitarian parties: Amal and Hezbollah. The latter waged an assassination campaign against leftist intellectuals in the early 1980s.

Communitarian Shiite parties, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hezbolda’awa in Iraq, aimed to reinvent Khomeinism in their own countries, echoing traditional communist parties’ efforts to reincarnate Leninism in national experiences. Their international was thus replicated by a Velayat-e Faqih or the Guardian of Islamic Jurist, providing a forum for leadership guidance and coordination across countries (Salamey and Othman 2011). The evolution of militant Shiite groups in MENA states demonstrated a changing regional environment that favored a communitarian political discourse. To what extend has this shift challenge the political economy of world capitalism and those of imperialism? This paper aims to provide a preliminary response.

It analyzes the experience of Hezbollah in Lebanon as a communitarian political party. It also assesses the extent to which such a communitarianism has provided an antithetical discourse to imperialism. The assessment is formulated within an analytical framework that utilizes globalization’s Double Movement theory, which lays the foundations for a dialectical interpretation of rising communitarianism and the demise of nationalism (Salamey 2017). Conclusions are accordingly formulated to support this analysis.

Hezbollah and Shia Communitarianism

The Lebanese confessional composition gave primary impetus to Hezbollah. The country had initially recognized 18 sectarian groups divided between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The 1943 political pact formed among sectarian elites vested power in the hands of a Christian Maronite President and to a lesser extend a Sunni Prime Minister. The Shia Parliament Speaker and the Shia community, in general, fared the worst in the distribution of power. The Shia had been historically marginalized in Lebanon and in the wider region. Successive rule by Sunni dynasties has subjugated non-Sunnis to discriminatory treatment. French colonial mandate over Lebanon injected secular liberalism and modernization that helped reverse more than 500 years of historic discrimination practiced against Christians; however, it failed to do the same for the Shiites.

Thus, throughout French rule and postindependence periods, relative deprivation among the Shia community incited radical appeals. Its population was predominantly made of poor peasants, agricultural laborers, and a newly formed proletariat brought to urban centers in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. The community was denied fair access to jobs, public services, and public offices and, hence, excluded from the process of liberalization, while its bourgeoisie had difficulties developing along Lebanese national lines. Shia youth were highly recruited by revolutionary secular Arab nationalist, Palestinian, socialist, and communist parties.

The 1975 Lebanese Civil War witnessed the mobilization of Shiite youth by left-wing parties assembled under the Lebanese National Liberation Movement, demanding reform and access to the Maronite-dominated nation state. The defeat of the left by the Syrian and Israeli military incursions and the triumph of the Iranian Revolution brought the Shiite closer to recognizing their strength through the community. Initially, the Shiite Amal movement gained grounds by forcing the communist party out from Shiite strongholds before cleansing the Palestinians. Later, Hezbollah presented a radical and transnational communitarian alternative. It distinguished itself from Amal by rejecting the entire Lebanese national arrangement, calling for its replacement by an Islamic State. Its aims were first articulated in its 1985s “Open Letter to the Oppressed” (Hezbollah 1985). Both groups clashed for a short period of time, and Hezbollah gained significance following from those who had lost faith in the “national project.” Many of its new recruits had fought in the past alongside leftist and Palestinian organizations for democratic state reforms. It was Hezbollah’s well-orchestrated armed campaign against Israeli occupation in Southern Lebanon and radical challenge to the state apparatus that captured popularity among the community (Salamey 2019; Salamey and Tabar 2012).

Practically, the rise of Hezbollah in the 1980s and its expansion throughout the 1990s signified a turning point in Lebanese and regional politics. Not only did this phenomenon coincide with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of left-opposition discourse in the region but also signaled the beginning of an overarching transnational communitarian paradigm challenging Arab and Lebanese nationalism.

The Double Movement and Hezbollah’s Communitarianism

Two major coinciding and interdependent historic developments can explain modern communitarianism. The first is an intensification of globalization that featured the integration of post-Soviet states with the rest of the democratic world through ultra-capitalist expansionism. Liberal views describe the phenomenon as a third wave of democracy (Huntington 1991). It features a movement of many states toward capitalism while global economy being revolutionized by modern communication technology with production, investment, and commerce flooding Third World markets. Second, and consequently, a phenomenal decline of nation states undermined states’ relevancy in the protection of their own productive forces: bourgeois and labor alike. Liberal literature characterizes this development as a decline in state’s sovereignty and independence (Axtmann 2004). Evidently, international laws regulating the world economy and trade removed essential states’ barriers and undermined the ability of underdeveloped nations to stand against global capital, particularly those centered in industrial nations. The national bourgeoisies, long considered protectionists, were turning into cronies (such as the case of Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and Yemen).

However, globalization’s interconnectedness of countries and its exposure of Third World national economies to a vicious and predatory ultra-imperialism incited transnational communitarian resistance and region-wide protectionism. By the turn of the twenty-first century, national debts brought many world’s nation states to the verge of bankruptcies. By 2018, Lebanon’s public debt reached 152% of the country’s GDP. Thus, a Double Movement was unleashed where globalization paved the way for market integration and deterritorialization, on the one hand, and communitarianism mobilized groups across countries for protectionism, on the other (Salamey 2017). Most communitarian movements in the Middle East, including Hezbollah, manifest these Double Movement dialectics.

Communitarianism, inspired by the Iranian and Afghani models, claimed protectionism within local and across regional politics. On the state (Israel, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia) as well as non-state level (Hezbollah, ISIS, Qaeda, Nusra, Houthies, Kurdish parties, etc.) politics turned bluntly communitarian and often transnational. The post-Arab Spring politics witnessed a spectacular rise of communitarian movements throughout the Arab region, demanding rights and empowerment (Salamey 2018).

Evidently, under intensive globalization, Hezbollah’s communitarianism had many advantages to offer compared to leftist and national bourgeois parties. In contrast to nationalism, its communitarianism has been rooted in primordial cultural bonds rather than disputed modern territorial, and largely colonial, national constructs. Such affiliation has moved beyond class emancipation that was promised by leftist ideologies. The common destiny that binds the community together is extracted from centuries old of unbroken history, compared to a highly contested modern national or class consciousness. In Hezbollah’s narrative, it began throughout Shia plight for justice against universal subjugation and inspired by Imam Hussein’s martyrdom (680 AC). The oppression against the community that was carried out by successive “false Islamic” rules, mostly Sunni, has been extended to contemporary times through colonial and imperialist Western-backed regimes. The community has been entrenched in an existential struggle, threatening its entirety with collective prosecution and extermination. Thus, Hezbollah’s community is expanded beyond the confinement of national boundaries or class economy to express a holistic inclusion of all its productive forces being attached by a common destiny everywhere (Hezbollah 1985). An irredentist ideology evokes historic rights to restore justice through a “cultural-identitarian” political movement (Elsenhans et al. 2015).

Therefore, Hezbollah established itself as a protectionist for Lebanese Shiites, not only in confronting external threats and global dominance but also in containing domestic rivalry presented by competing communitarian groups, Sunnis and Maronites alike. Communitarian struggle in the Lebanese context is projected as existentialist, and the stakes in the confessional politics are heightened on the account of national or class consciousness. Despite the limited and short-lived experiences of secular and cross-confessional worker unions and syndicate organizations during the 1960s and 1970s, intra-class competition has consolidated the fragmentation of the working and middle classes along confessional loyalties. This rapture has been interlocked by competition for jobs and services. Hezbollah along the Amal Movement have, thus, provided the Shiite community with means to assert own interests in the confessional bargain and, ultimately, to be charged with an unprecedented level of empowerment (Salamey and Tabar 2012).

Distinct from most nationalist and socialist political practices, the party awaited neither reform nor the capture of the state’s institutions to act on its promises. Since inception, it enforced its program within the practices of own community and among followers, thus acting as a state within the state in proximity to a dual power arrangement (Sharara 2008). It ran a voluntary communitarian economic networks that relied on local Islamic informal Shiite system of taxation (Al-Zakat and Al-Khums) that collects approximately one-fifth of individual income. Charitable and religious services constituted additional sources of income. Activities, tied to the formal economy, established and managed by the party, were expanded to include construction, community services, education, medical, security, investment, commerce, banking, telecommunication, and housing sectors. Illicit economic operations incurred important revenue directly benefiting the community while being protected and facilitated by the party. In addition to the harvesting and exporting of hashish, these activities included cross-border transactions such as the smuggling of weapons, oil, drugs, food, and merchandize as well as money laundering. A comprehensive communitarian governance system complements economic activities to include a political, judicial, and enforcement institutions (Salamey and Pearson 2007).

In short, a communitarian economy, or what can be labeled as “economunitarianism,” captures the modes of activities immersed within the community. Religiously rooted traditions of taxation, as well as funds gathered through donations and nongovernmental organizations, financial institutions, semiformal as well as nonformal and illicit economic activities, cross-border transnational networks, and conglomerated sectarian trading zones, are among the variety of functions consolidating the foundations of a welfare-based communitarian economy, thriving on rentierism (Salamey 2017).

Globalization further enhanced the party’s ability to maneuver national boundaries and expand the strategic relevance of the community across countries. It provided the party with unprecedented access to technology, communication networks, and financial markets. Technological advancements expedited its capacity to utilize sea, air, and land transportation systems. The liberalization of global markets, despite US sanctions, undermined restrictions and loosened scrutiny against its financial operations – including cash transfer.

Regional interconnectedness elevated its security relevance in the contestation of power. In addition to liberating Lebanon from occupation, the party’s historic armed resistance against Israel has served multiple strategic purposes. It placed the party among the favorable proxies to both Syria and Iran. Backed by local Shiite community and relying on a low military budget, it demonstrated effectiveness in asymmetric warfare against Israel, the region’s most advanced and equipped army. Following Hezbollah’s well-orchestrated and organized military operations, in 2000, Israel was forced to end a 25-year occupation of the predominantly Shia Southern Lebanese territory. The victory strengthened Shiite’s domestic advantages, restored Syrian influence, and invited Iran to play a prominent role in the country’s balance of power.

Yet, in 2006, Hezbollah demonstrated another strategic depth during a renewed conflict with Israel. It bombarded Israel’s northern borders with short- and medium-range missiles, forcing hundreds of thousands of Israelis to flee. The confrontation elevated the potential of the party to prove relevant in any regional showdown, particularly in a hypothetical Israeli-Iranian conflict. Since then, Iranian financial and military support to the party has intensified to include advanced precision and long-range missile systems (Kenner 2018).

Hezbollah’s regional depth continued to deepen while playing a central role in strengthening Shiite alliance across the region. In 2012, it was called for the rescue of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad who was threatened by an armed Sunni Islamist insurgency. Hezbollah responded by sending waves of fighters across the borders to help defeat the armed opposition and restore the well-being of the largely Alawi regime (The Alawi is a subsect of Shiism and controls major military and power posts in Syria, including the Presidency.). In coordination with the Iranian, Syrian, and Russian military forces, Hezbollah’s fighters demonstrated a stunning success that awarded them strategic role and increasing Iranian support. The party is also believed to have extended logistic and training assistance to Shia fighting groups in Iraq and Yemen.

Whether Hezbollah’s Communitarianism Is Anti-imperialist

Leninist conceptualization of anti-imperialism deviates from those offered by Hezbollah’s Communitarianism. Important traits assert the party’s anti-imperialism in the age of globalization. To begin, it has successfully staged a liberation movement against foreign Israeli occupation and as part of a region-wide resistance rejecting foreign imposition. It promoted itself as the party of the oppressed fighting the US-Israeli alliance, accused of attempting to dominate and subjugate the region against the interests of the local inhabitants. It vowed to continue the struggle until achieving the full liberation of Palestine from Zionist occupation. Its social welfare network, financed by local and diaspora contributions as well as Iranian foreign backing, provided a safety net for the poor amid degenerated state services (Hezbollah runs a pseudo rentier economy, where its areas of control are “deregulated” and turned informal while receiving social services in return for support). In this sense, it laid the foundations of a dual power, where the community appeared relatively independent from state’s apparatus and jurisdictions (Salamey and Pearson 2007). Also, the party’s clerical and populist orientation helped establish and complement a socioeconomic solidarity or “economunitarianism” that diffused the rigidity of strict class stratification, typical of most industrial societies. A mutuality of class interests provided through a protectionism role offered to both local bourgeois and labor within the framework of communitarianism. Thus, while the party helped improve the Shiite bourgeois position in the confessional share of national market and state power, it offered the working class and the poor a protective umbrella against state and global capitalist incursions deemed harmful to lower classes. This duality was demonstrated in its activities throughout post-2005 Syrian pullout from Lebanon where it played a pivotal role in restructuring the Lebanese confessional balance of power in favor of Shiite’s elite. At the same time, it rejected the state’s privatization and regulations that aimed to strengthen capitalist economy, often imposed by the World Bank and conditioned by local and international lending institutions (Salamey and Pearson 2007).

For these reasons, Hezbollah shares important attributes with “progressive” nationalist movements in the Middle East that were characterized as anti-imperialists (Nasserism and Baathism). Its communitarian solidarity for self-preservation echoes national unification and self-determination. Nonetheless, distinctions differentiate its communitarianism from those that called for the defense of the fatherland. Its irredentism defies territoriality and evokes a wider regional and global movement opposing imperialism.

Limitations to the party’s anti-imperialism echo those of “progressive” nationalists. The party, after all, is not an anti-capitalist party nor does it aim to end the monopoly of global capitalism. It is rather a Shiite Jihadi party committed to the doctrine of Velayat-e Faqih and Islamic justice. It tolerates no otherworld religious views, including what could be its own Shia deviations. Despite tactical alliances formed with non-Shiites, it ultimately seeks the primacy of its own sect. Hence, Hezbollah’s Shiism is like nationalism, confined to a community of adherents with evident chauvinism. Such a characteristic contributes to the consolidation of communitarian false class consciousness and undermines the unity of the poor across divides. Thus, when the Arab Spring against autocratic rules culminated in a Sunni Islamists’ empowerment across the different Arab countries, Hezbollah stood critical and dispatched its own fighters against Syrian Islamist opposition groups. The party even praised Russian military intervention and joined the Iraqi-Syrian-Iranian-Russian defense alliance to crush Syrian Sunni Islamists.

But major deviation from nationalism lies in Hezbollah’s social indoctrination. From a leftist or a liberal perspective, it stands for ultraconservatism. Not only in its gender outlooks but in its entire religious indoctrination that submits to supernatural forces and cultist collectivism while rejecting liberal individualism and social egalitarianism. Having abandoned the immediate demand for an Islamic State, it has continued to oppose state secularism and flex its maximum tolerance to co-opting with Lebanese multi-confessional state (Hezbollah 2009).

Beyond its conservative ideological complex, the regional political economy deconstructs the party’s anti-imperialism. Hezbollah is tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and commanded by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei through a Velayat-e Faqih regime. Though it projects Shiite empowerment on regional level, the Guards’ fundamental role is to protect the Islamic Revolution of Iran. As previously discussed, Hezbollah’s communitarianism has presented a mutuality between Lebanese and Iranian Shiism on a strategic as well as political levels. But the expansion of Iranian power in the region has been essentially linked to its efforts to secure an important share of the world oil market. Its rivalry for regional dominance with oil-rich Saudi Arabia has been a major driver of conflict, thus further awaking and deepening Shia-Sunni feuds. Hezbollah has joined this struggle in confronting and undermining Saudi influence mostly in Lebanon and Syria. From this perspective, the Iranian plight for the share of the oil market, to supply advanced capitalist industrial states, detaches Hezbollah from a fundamental anti-imperialism discourse.

Prospects of Communitarian Anti-imperialism in the Age of Globalization

In summation, globalization’s Double Movement has simultaneously unleashed two political forces with each aiming to reconstruct post-Soviet global order: one that seeks the integration of economic markets and political systems (mostly global financial and capitalist institutions centered in the North) and another that sets in motion a transnational communitarian power contestation (mostly regional powers along associated non-state militant groups in the South). The first searches for the deconstruction of market barriers and the universalization of global regulations, and the second mobilizes associations and alliances across borders to assert respective power relevance and protect own resources. As globalization advances, the world appears as a union of communitarian associations brought together by multiple constructs that encompass interests beyond territoriality. While the EU represents an early manifestation of an economic conglomeration in the North, various communitarian associations have been brought together by primordialism across Southern nations. In the MENA region, communitarianism expresses transnational primordial affiliations while being polarized along sectarian Sunni-Shia camps and led by regional powers (Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey) but also along ethnic, provisional, and tribal lines (Salamey 2018). Major regional states, such as Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, have attempted to improve their respective global relevance by expanding their power along transnational communitarian trajectories.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, sectarian-communitarianists in the Third World, such as Hezbollah, have come to dominate the political arena, some posing as viable alternatives to communists and nationalists in rejecting imperialism. The rise of Hezbollah, formed on the eve of collapsing Soviet Union, represented a direct challenge to Lebanese nationalism, the Left movement, and the Israeli occupation and captured the complexity of new communitarianism. Despite distinctiveness and multiple military successes in resisting foreign occupation and in opposing the dictation of world financial institutions, Hezbollah’s experience attests to the fact that it has aimed to improve communitarian power position on the national and regional levels.

Like nationalism, Middle Eastern communitarianism invites divergent assessments over its transitional and anti-imperialist orientations. Evidently, by altering and restructuring the MENA regional spheres of influence, it presents a revisionist movement against the twentieth century’s postcolonial order. By mobilizing the community against historic subjugation, it displays anti-imperialism and liberation tendencies. Yet, its political economy seems to synchronize with rather than to antagonize global capitalism. Regional resource-supplying states (Saudi Arabia and Iran) aim, through regional communitarian mobilizations, to improve their respective bargain in the demand-side market. Oil- supplying states thrive on the well-being of industrial capitalism. Undoubtedly, industrial states help infuriate contradictions and competition among suppliers to maintain open access to resources and control of prices. There are also aspects of compradorialism where communitarianism provides intermediary states with strategic role relevant to global powers (Turkey and Israel). Thus, while communitarianism rises to provide stronger protectionism compared to those offered by territorial nationalism, its primary purpose is to improve own stands in the global capitalist economy.

This analysis suggests that Middle Eastern communitarianism, particularly its revisionist type (Shiite), reduces class contradictions in the context of a rent-based welfare economy. However, at no point does it help formulate a class consciousness or spark an anti-imperialist transitional revolution of the Leninist type. Under communitarianism, the ability of the proletariat to establish an independent anti-imperialist movement is significantly curtailed.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social SciencesLebanese American UniversityBeirutLebanon