After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the leftist forces in the world witnessed a major intellectual shock that led some thinkers to believe that humanity had reached the end of history with the victory of the capitalist model. However, other voices still believe that the left is a non-ending idea, citing the mass protests that have swept several regions across the globe in the last decade, especially the Arab Spring revolutions.
Fadi Bardawil, a Lebanese academic, is one of these voices’ most prominent examples. Bardawil spent 15 years investigating the history of his country’s leftist organizations, and carefully collected and documented their rare archives of political thought during a critical period extending from the 1950s until the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war in 1975.
Bardawil documented the details of his scholarly expedition behind the scenes of Lebanon’s political and cultural life in a book published by Duke University Press in the United States in 2020, titled “Revolution and Disenchantment: Arab Marxism and the Binds of Emancipation,” of which the Arabic translation will be published in the coming months.
“The first edition of the book was released late in 2010, but the mass uprisings that took place in some Arab countries in 2011 prompted me to work again on issuing a new edition that included additions related to the political changes and developments that took place in the region,” Bardawil, who is an assistant professor of Middle Eastern studies at Duke University, said in a phone call.
Bardawil believes that following the paths of Lebanon’s leftist organizations’ symbols and intellectual transformations over almost half a century highlights the nature of political work, how it was practiced, and the ways in which it interacts with the surrounding events at home and abroad. This helps to understand the experiences of the Arab uprisings in their historical contexts, says Bardawil. (See a related article, “In Lebanon, Sect Vs. Sect Turns Into People Vs. Politicians.”)