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Pan-Arab News TV Station al-Mayadeen

The New Regressive Leftist Media

Series:

Christine Crone

This book is the first comprehensive research conducted on the pan-Arab TV station al-Mayadeen – an important representative of the post-2011 generation of Arab satellite news media. Likewise, it is an investigation of a growing political trend and ideological discourse in the Arab world, which the book identifies as The New Regressive Left. The book sheds light on overlooked parts of the Arab population, which neither identified with the vision of the young activists initiating the uprisings, nor with the ambition of the growing Islamist tendency that followed. Rather it voices a grouping of Shia Muslims, religious minorities, parts of the Arab Left, secular cultural producers, and supports of the resistance movements brought together by their shared fear of the future.

Drawing on a wide variety of programmes from the station’s first four years and on interviews with staff members, the book captures how a TV station can play a role in the production of ideology through e.g. its composition of programmes, collaborations, events, iconization of cultural figures, choice of aesthetics, as well as through its recycling of cultural heritage and already existing ideological concepts. Overall, four ideological core concepts emerges, namely: the support of the resistance, the rejection of Sunni Islamism, the acceptance of authoritarianism, and the challenging of neoliberalism. Taking seriously a media outlet such as al-Mayadeen and the worldview driving an ideological discourse such as The New Regressive Left seems more acute than ever if we want to grasp the developments in a post-2011 Arab world.

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1. Exploring Ideoscapes Surrounding The New Regressive Left

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This chapter and the following one, “Exploring Mediascapes Surrounding al-Mayadeen”, together draw the outlines of the contemporary Arab ideo- and mediascapes, which al-Mayadeen is a part of and manoeuvres within. After a brief discussion of Arjun Appadurai’s concept of -scapes, the focus of this chapter is the Arab Left broadly understood. I present a short historical outline of the formation and development of the Arab Left as an overall ideological frame, followed by a discussion of four specific actors, namely the Syrian Ba‘ath Party, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), Hizbollah and Iran. I have chosen these four actors, which I believe together offer central ideological core concepts to al-Mayadeen and The New Regressive Left alike. Thus, the ideological discourse taking form at al-Mayadeen is not coming out of nowhere; rather, it is a re-composition or re-organisation of already existing ideological concepts, as Freeden has drawn our attention to. I conclude the chapter by zooming in on the post-2011 Arab leftist ideoscapes, trying to sketch a typology for the contemporary Arab Left.

The concept of -scapes was originally introduced by Appadurai in Modernity at Large (1996), in order to capture the “the fluid, irregular shapes of these landscapes” in a globalised world (Appadurai 1996, 33). In accordance with Appadurai, mediascapes refer both to “the distribution of the electronic capabilities to produce and disseminate information (newspapers, magazines, television stations, and film-production studios) (…) and to the images of the world created by these ←25 | 26→media” (Appadurai 1996, 35)...

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