Major historical events – depending on their relative weight – are usually a turning point, pushing in different directions. It does not only lead to “outputs” that break with the foundations that led to these events, but it also redraws the shape of the world and its moral, human and philosophical content.
Perhaps I am not exaggerating if I say: At the forefront of these “events/turn” is the student movement in France in 1968, which shook the world and reunited it against the “one-dimensional man,” in the words of “Harbert Marcuse,” and his consumerism. His anxiety worsened and he created imaginary needs all the time.
This movement paved the way for the largest workers' strike in France – “11 million workers” – after which former French President Charles de Gaulle fled to Germany secretly.
Its impact extended to Vietnam, and it became a source of inspiration for young people in China. (Cultural Revolution), anti-Soviet Union, United States (where anti-war movements grew in Vietnam), Italy, Japan (Red Army), Czechoslovakia (reformist uprisings), Palestine (Palestinian Intifada), and also inspiring the Arab left in the face of oppression Authoritarian.
Until it became “May 1968,” as the leftist French philosopher Alain Badiou described it, as “the French variation of a global phenomenon,” and it overthrew all the social, moral, and political hypocrisy that had prevailed in the years after World War II, and laid bare – as Florence Gauthier says – The ideological falsehood that prevailed at the time in the two camps: Eastern and Western.
In its context, it separated the two elite classes: the “progressive” that supported it – (Sartre, Michel Foucault, and Gilles Deleuze) – and the “reactionary” that it considered “mass childishness.” (Claude Lévi-Strauss), or social drama. Raymond Aron insisted on the need to desacralize it, and a new generation of avant-garde critics and creators took the lead in the creative scene: (Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, Kristeva, Philippe Sollers, and Jean Ricardo).
Collapse and self-abandonment
A year before the Parisian student movement, the Arab world witnessed the worst earthquake in its modern history – the defeat of 1967 – which did not result in a “movement/division”, and what resulted, of course, was a different political, cultural and creative product than before the setback, as intellectuals organized into the same narrative. of the defeated political forces, with a margin of critical narrative texts, skillfully employing projection, symbolism, safe allusion, and suggestion, at the group level.
While the defeat severely and harshly affected creative people, some of whom fell into depression leading to suicide, and some of them abandoned their “absurd self” to completely transform – alone – into a protest movement that directly attacked the political leaders that caused the defeat.
Before the June defeat, Nizar Qabbani was called “the poet of women and love.” At that time, he published three collections of poetry: “The Brunette Told Me,” while he was a student at the Faculty of Law, then “Nahd’s Childhood,” and “Painting with Words.”
Just as the defeat of 1967 crushed Salah Jaheen in Egypt, it also left the same impact on Nizar Qabbani in Damascus, but with a difference in awareness of the role of struggle poetry among the two poets.
Jahin in Cairo has almost become a broken person, burdened with a conscience besieged by feelings of remorse, not giving him the opportunity to emerge from the darkness of depression to cling to the straw of hope, even if it is far away. After he wrote “A Picture,” “My Children of My Country,” and “By God, it is a long time ago, my weapon.” He fell into vulgarity, so he wrote the scenario “Take Care of Zoz,” “The Princess of My Love,” the song “The World is Spring,” and the song “ The world's color has remained “Bembe”, arousing pity for him on the one hand, and ridicule and sarcasm of the revolutionary intellectuals on the other, until Naguib Sorour said to him: “Bombay, Salah? Bumpy, and the country is still in ruins? Bumpy, and the blood of our sisters is still not flowing in Sinai?” The quarrel ended with Salah Jaheen leaving Al-Fishawy Cafe, crying, where they met.
Jahin collapsed with the political collapse of the Nasserist project and the defeat of the July officers, but – on the contrary – the pain of the setback and the bitterness of defeat prevented Nizar Qabbani from devoting himself to “liberating love.” As he once wrote: “Love in the Arab world is a prisoner and I want to liberate it.” Defeat made him unable to do so. From the “philosophy of love” to the pioneer of the struggle with poetry for democracy and the flogging of dictatorships that led to the cultural decline of the nation.
The inevitability of a crack in the international system
On the margins of this text, there were cases that perhaps did not enjoy the same fame and tragedy as the end of Jaheen, such as: the suicides of the Jordanian novelist Tayseer Al-Saboul, the Egyptian leftist Arwa Saleh, and the Lebanese poet Khalil Hawi; The product of political and social oppression and, in the latter case, the entry of Israelis into Lebanon.
As a result of the lack of maturity and fermentation of a new creative/intellectual current, it plays the role of containment and presents a new code that is a departure from what came before, and is convinced that it has been organized into a reform and renewal movement that restores hope that there is benefit from its presence and the value of what it adds to a person after major historical crises.
No event has occurred in the Arab world that could divide the Arabs – and the whole world as well – into what is before and what comes after, such as October 7, 2023, and the scenes that followed in Gaza, which shook the world and shattered its image, which was a legacy of the post-World War II era.
Meanwhile, there have been sober analyzes that confirm that the recent war will inevitably lead to the collapse of the current international order, and will bury under the rubble of Gaza, the system of Western and American values that were usually a source of inspiration and fascination, especially in the Middle Eastern countries that are suffering extreme difficulty in breaking free from security and intelligence control. And crushing human rights there.
In the context – of course – the intellectual and cultural spectrum and its accessories, including creativity and others, in all their diversity and breadth, are now being sorted out.
Just as the student uprising in May 1968 in Paris produced a new movement and progressive critical and creative schools – they “despised” the concrete blocks of thinkers and creators who stood against them… and sided with pre-1960s modernity that confiscated “meaning” within Western man, and reduced him to a mere “thing.” In the shield of brutal capitalism, it is expected – as an “inevitability to acquiesce” to the new reality – that the pre-10/7/2023 elites will disappear.
Especially those who failed the resistance, either by remaining silent; To satisfy internal political calculations, or to secure “personal” dreams, gains, and longings that are devoid of conscience and belonging to the nation’s issues.
Not to mention those who trivialized their history and organized into what resembled electronic brigades spread on social media sites, adopting the same content as the Israeli military media.