Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Walid Jumblatt, Representative Democracy and Feudalism

It is not that uncommon for a politician to reverse his/her position regarding a particular issue, although some might argue that flip flops by Walid Jumblat has made the infrequent very common. I can think of no better defense for the right to change than the eloquent way that Lord John Maynard Keynes confronted the issue head on by saying : “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?”
Of course Walid Jumblatt as an individual has the right to bend with the wind and to transform his whole paradigm by ziging and zaging twice in a period of four years. This might even be a record of sorts since usually paradigm shifts are not common events. But the maelstrom that has engulfed the Lebanese politicians and media organs over the latest shift in positions by Walid Bey has missed the real story. Mr. Jumblatts words carry so much weight and exert so much influence on the entire Lebanese body politic not because he has had a change of heart regarding the legitimacy of the concerns of the Cedar Revolution but because these views that he is articulating are assumed to be the shared views of all the members, supporters and sympathizers of the Progressive Socialist Party, but are they? What is alarming about the recent Jumblatt affair is that no one has dared question the legitimacy that Mr. Jumblatt, the individual, is speaking for the tens of thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands of the PSP. We treat Mr. Jumblatt as being the PSP, as deity and to put it simply as a feudal lord. All what he has to do is declare that the traditional assumption that the sun rises from the east and sets in the west is false and that will be sufficient for his statement to become dogma for many because the Bey said so. The interesting question is not whether Walid Jumblatt has the right to adopt, every once in a while, opposing positions but rather why no one in the press and among the politicians questions whether such unilateral personal decisions are truly reflective of a large segment of the population that he purports to represent. The only answer to this question is that true representative democracy has no presence among us, the Lebanese citizens, and we are a truly feudalistic society of sheeple. We have reversed the role of representation so that the head of what passes for a political party does not represent the views and aspirations of members while they are expected to represent and follow blindly his every utterance. Our democratic institutions are hollow, we do conduct elections, we elect MP’s to a Parliament, we form a cabinet after consultations and we pay lip service to a constitution but alas all of that is for show since we are essentially ruled by the diktats of the few traditional feudal lords.


Marillionlb said...

This is also true of most Lebanese political parties. People (or as you put it sheeple)in Lebanon since independence followed people and za3im, never a political agenda; there never was one. Things haven't changed since and I do not see them changing soon unless by some sort of miracle those sheeple will get educated and become people.

ghassan Karam said...

Unfortunately I share your pessimism about the future prospects.

Mercatoria said...

Good post. Wonder if this applies to the other religions/sects; I am thinking mostly of the Christians. That community has shown that it is willing to move contrary to the will of some, even most of its leaders (2005 elections and again in 2009).
That being said, this is always true in the case of passionate individuals. The solution, as you know very well is to move away from passion towards more reason.
Just got to know your blog, best of success.

Ghassan Karam said...

Of course this applies to all the religious sects.That has been the overriding obstacle for any meaningful progress in Lebanon. As I have often said, the fault is not that of the politicians only but it is the fault of the citizen or the lack of citizenship. Government afterall is a reflection of the peole.


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