This thesis argues that the existing conflictual tendencies in the Lebanese
social structure have generated long term and continued cleavages and disharmony
in Lebanese society and polity. Many interpretations have been offered to explain this conflict, but previous research on its genesis and outcome has focused mainly on
variables whose main focus lie outside the social structure. This study deliberately avoids an analysis of external factors. It, rather, concentrates on the role played by...[Show more] domestic factors in the aetiology, dynamism and resolution of the Lebanese conflict. It is assumed that the external factors have
played a contributory rather than a causal role in the conflict. The first premise of the theoretical scheme is that the basic causes of the conflict in Lebanon are inherent in its social structure, which failed to generate a change within itself. The objective is to explore the dynamics, in a historical perspective, of this social structure in order to determine the conflictual tendencies inherent in it.
The second premise is that the persistence of conflictual tendencies in the
social structure tends to keep the socio-political order perpetually unstable.
As a corollary to the first premise it is argued that conflictual tendencies are
inevitable in pluralist societies. Some systems have evolved successful adaptive
mechanisms and strategies to contain destructive responses, but the Lebanese
system did not. It is further argued that the endemic nature of conflictual tendencies,
compounded with the failure or even flaws of the adjustment mechanisms are sufficient to initiate and maintain conflict.
The premises suggested here are analyzed in relation to conflict theory as envisaged by Marx, Dahrendorf, Coser and Ibn Khaldun. Marx's vision of the economic determinacy of the conflict process, and the supremacy of the economic factor in the generation of conflict had been contested by Dahrendorf’s vision of political determinism and the primacy of the authority structure in the genesis of conflict.
The argument developed in this thesis is that Marx's and Dahrendorf's models
need to be revised in order to capture the empirical situation in Lebanon. The validity
of the revised model is assumed in terms of its ability to explain the formation and
behaviour of the conflict groups. For this purpose Ibn Khaldun's concept of asabiya is
offered to supplement Dahrendorf's concept of Authority. On the basis of a causal analysis of the conflict in Lebanon it was concluded that Marx's doctrine of economic determinism must be rejected in favour of
Dahrendorf's concept of 'authority' and by Ibn Khaldun's vision of asabiya and its role
in the aetiology, growth and demise of power groups. In considering the resolution of conflict, this study applies a theoretical strategy developed from conflict management to deeply divided societies such as Lebanon. It explains the manner in which Lebanon managed its communal conflict in three distinct settings: The 1860 civil war, the post independence era (1943-1975), and the 1975 conflict. Each of the three settings investigated exhibited similar conflict management patterns; the first setting established the basis for power sharing, involving authority differentiation and marked communal interdependence.
The second setting witnessed a period of relative and apparent stability due to
the implementation of the power-sharing principle within a consociational context.
The third setting manifested analogous conflict patterns and corresponding
conflict resolution strategies in spite of the time lapse involved. Power-sharing and
communal interdependence remain a viable option for the resolution of the existing
conflict. The three settings provide the study with an empirical base to suggest that
pluralist societies are not condemned to continuing conflict as long as they apply
conflict resolution strategies based on flexible, but solid, consociational principles. On the other hand such societies cannot free themselves totally from conflict, basically because conflict is a natural phenomenon in human society.
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