This essay frames Lebanon’s October 2019 uprising as triggered by the government’s announcement of a series of regressive taxes. After fifteen years of civil war (1975–90) and three decades of postwar neoliberal policies, people rose up against a kleptocratic ruling class of sectarian leaders and financiers that had captured and bankrupted the state through a nationwide Ponzi scheme. The essay charts the uprising’s demise amid protestor division, mass poverty and unemployment, galloping inflation, palpable insecurity, COVID-19 lockdowns, and external intervention. Hizbullah became the elephant in the room, with sectarian tension and some protestor resentment stoked by Trump’s US “maximum pressure” policies. A massive blast in Beirut’s port prompted French President “Papa” Macron to personally unveil a stabilization plan through IMF neoliberal reforms, a carrot to Trump’s stick. The essay concludes that, one year on, Macron’s neoliberal plan is the only game in town, and protestors need to urgently remobilize for the struggles ahead.
Skip Nav Destination
Karim Makdisi; Lebanon’s October 2019 Uprising: From Solidarity to Division and Descent into the Known Unknown. South Atlantic Quarterly 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-8916176
Download citation file: