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Liberal Iranian
Liberal as in Liberty and Freedom. Iranian as in Cyrus and Ferdowsi.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Hezbollah Is Not Loved; It Is Feared
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It is heard quite often these days that since Hezbollah spends some of the money it receives from Iran for constructing schools and hospoitals, and because it has fought the Israeli army, it is loved by the Shiites in the south as well as the rest of the people of Lebonan.

As much as this line of thinking is apealing, it is however irrational and completely false.

It is irrational because it conflates two opposite concepts: a dictatorial regime would have to spend some money for the welfare of its subjects so that it is not hated to the extent that would end it. What these subjects feel is not love, but a controlled hate. On a more intimate scale, a dictatorial father, for instance, evokes two sorts of feelings in his children: a natural love for father; and fear and frustration with his dictatorial ways. Hezbollah cannot be attributed such an intimiate relationship with the ordinary people of Lebonan. In the absence of a natural (biological) feeling of love, all that remains is just the feeling of fear and controlled hate.

This is not just a philosophical point. In the tangible world, one should not look hard to find many examples. The regime in Iran also builds schools and hospitals (and much more) and fights aggressors to the land, because it has to. All such regimes do is to keep their population content to the extent that they survive. In fact, more often than not, a library built by them is to be used for, say, propaganda purposes. The statements about Hezbollah being an indigenous force is also of no relevance. Most tyrants are.

The truth of the statement, on the other hand, can be tested this way: let Hezbollah put down their arms; if they are loved, they would be able to command their current power without resorting to the power of their guns. But the answer to the test is known: Hezbollah rejects being disarmed, since it feels threatened. The threat is not from Israel, which withdrew from Lebonan completely in 2000, but from the power of other ideas in the Lebanese political scene, if they are to freely and peacefully compete with those of Hezbollah's. And Hezbollah knows this better than most of us do. Were they to lose their guns and compete freely in the marketplace of ideas, they would also lose their position of power sooner that it might now seem.

UPDATE: arthemis has directed me to an article by Mona Fayyad, a Lebanese professor, 'To Be a Shi'ite Now…', which gives evidence for the arguments put forward above. 
You might be interested in reading this article:

Thanks arthemis, this is really helpful!
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