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Sunday, June 13, 2021

A Scholar Rebuilds the Archives of Lebanon’s Left Before the Civil War

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“The war was the only life I knew since my childhood, and the experience of the left was outside that life and its struggles.”

Fadi Bardawil   Author of “Revolution and Disenchantment: Arab Marxism and the Binds of Emancipation.”

Bardawil’s upbringing during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) and the development of his political consciousness at the height of its events gave him a personal motivation to follow the rich partisan experience of the symbols of the Lebanese left as a pattern different from the roles played by other political forces in the war.

“The war was the only life I knew since my childhood, and the experience of the left was outside that life and its struggles,” he said. “Their view of the world was more spacious, and they were gathered by ideas and political identity, rather than regional and sectarian identities,” he added. His research experience, he said, is an attempt to keep the memory of the past struggle alive, and to enrich the intergenerational dialogue.

In his research journey, Bardawil got acquainted directly with most of the symbols of the Lebanese left, followed their roles in decisive events throughout the history of contemporary Lebanon, and re-read their intellectual books and biographies, to understand how they were brought together under the banner of socialism in the mid-1960s.

In his book’s second part, he reviews the pitfalls faced by the Lebanese leftist intellectuals, with the decline of talk about the possibility of a revolution at a time when sectarian divisions were increasing, leading up to the outbreak of the war.

Another factor that prompted him to choose this topic is related to his seeking to know the leftists’ perception of the role of the intellectual in society, and the discrepancy between politics’ reality and practice.

Scarcity of Archival Materials

Bardawil searched several archives that preserve the memory of political organizations in the 1960s, besides examining secret party bulletins that disappeared during the war, and discovered that many events did not attract researchers’ attention due to the scarcity of the available information.

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