Loyalists tend to answer this question by arguing that the faction they endorse represents the best chance for any transformation amid Lebanon’s confounding political gridlock. The uprising, as they see it, only echoed demands that their parties have long made. Indeed, all parties in power have issued their own calls to abolish sectarianism and transition to a civil state. They unanimously identify corruption as one of Lebanon’s gravest afflictions, and advocate for an independent judiciary. And all clamor for the need to repatriate “stolen assets,” a catchphrase describing the corruption, capital flight, and tax evasion fueling the country’s financial collapse. “The FPM will hold officials accountable,” insisted a member of its youth division. “We are the ones working to reform laws and institutions.” Of course, such narratives systematically overlook—or at least downplay—the degree to which every party is complicit in and reliant upon the very problems they claim to redress.
At the same time, loyalists are quick to invoke myriad obstacles thrown in the way of their leaders’ reformist ambitions. First, they accuse opposing factions of obstruction. On that basis, a committed member of the Lebanese Forces absolved his group of responsibility in the country’s stagnation:
I blame all the parties represented in the government since 2016 with the exception of the Lebanese Forces. Our representatives did everything they could. For instance, we raised many corruption cases in the media and through our MPs and ministers; no one listened. We couldn’t have pushed harder without jeopardizing the country’s fragile political balance.
Second, loyalists complain not only about adversarial politics, but about the behavior of their own allies. An FPM supporter bitterly reproached Amal for derailing his party’s plans to develop key infrastructure, despite being a coalition partner: “In recent years, the [Amal-affiliated] Minister of Finance refused to sign off on several projects submitted by our MPs.” At the other end of the political spectrum, the Lebanese Forces, the Future Movement, and the Progressive Socialist Party similarly indict one another for the country’s lack of progress, instead of forming a cohesive, constructive front.
Third, these self-serving narratives move beyond the political arena to pin responsibility on society itself. The parties still in government conveniently fault the revolution for its own failure: In their logic, the uprising’s broadly defined demands and disruptive demonstrations impeded realistic reforms, exacerbated the economic crisis, and generally sowed chaos. Partisans argue that offensive slogans and road closures entrenched sectarian fault lines—even reviving the specter of civil war.
Many loyalists take this idea still further, insisting that Lebanon’s real problem emanates from an insurmountably backward, tribal mentality that pervades Lebanese society. “We can only achieve change once sectarianism has been abolished from people’s minds,” noted a member of the FPM. “But if we revise the electoral law, for example, Christians would lose seats, and inevitably feel threatened.” Each faction pushes its own variant of the same logic, in which the existing system, for all its flaws, at least balances the rights of every sect. As long as people themselves are hell-bent on preserving these, the narrative goes, no viable alternative can emerge.
Faced with such intractable obstacles, loyalists double down on the view that the only solution to Lebanon’s impasse lies in seeking more power for their own camp. While acknowledging the need for a transition, a journalist close to the Future Movement concluded that the way forward was to double down on the existing system: “The best thing that can happen to Lebanon is for each party to fully govern its own sect.” A Hezbollah supporter painted his own ideal scenario: “This country should be ruled by a single person or party, whichever that is. Of course, my preference would be Hezbollah.”
Indeed, across the political spectrum, the revolution has intensified factional affiliations rather than eroded them. “Our support for the FPM only increased since the uprising,” said a member of its youth division. “We are convinced of our political project, now more than ever.” This hardening of attitudes reverberates across party lines, as one faction’s resolve reinvigorates the others’. Ironically, these mutually reinforcing dynamics only recreate the very stalemate that led to popular unrest in the first place. The absurdity of this cycle is not lost on party followers, who must resort to yet more powerful narrative devices to overcome it.