Lea Bou Khater
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Conclusions and notes for future forms of labour power
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The chapter explores the implications of a muted labour movement for the present and future struggle for change. The trials and tribulations of the labour movement in Lebanon reveal how the struggle of labour against capital deepens when governed by a sectarian power-sharing system. Labour organising is perceived as a potential vehicle for rebellion against the sectarian-liberal system of rule, which put the regime at odds with any ambitious attempts of labour organising. Instead of resorting to repression and persecution, the state co-opted the labour movement and distorted the confederation of unions into a mouthpiece for the ruling elite and bargaining tool in their feuds over the sectarian allocation of privileges and resources. Retelling the story of the labour movement in Lebanon is not about the downfall and defeat of labour. On the contrary, the history of traditional unionism reveals the fear and trepidation of the sectarian liberal system. The state elite’s continuous attempts to undermine the labour movement are evidence that a resilient and vigorous labour movement constitutes an all-important threat to the political system in place. The decline of the organised labour movement does not imply that class struggle is no longer relevant. Rather, it means that, up to now, capital and the state have been winning this struggle. While the labour movement faces enormous hurdles, contemporary forms of a workers’ struggle that appeal to class solidarity and show a different kind of unionism can provide an alternative vision and counteract the Lebanese sectarian-liberal system.

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