Sunday, September 6, 2009

Has The Lebanese Experiment Failed?

It is practically never the case that societies, institutions, business groups or nations are so aware of what is right, efficient and just that they utilize their resources and opportunities as to always operate at the theoretically optimum combination of the alternatives facing them. To ask for that is to ask for a dream world and a theoretical state of bliss. We all know that this is never the case. Yet it is our duty to adopt policies and champion ideologies that would move us as close as possible to that ideal path. Those who neglect to promote institutions and general governance that would promote the common good would end up in the garbage bin of history no matter how determined their misguided leaders are. Where are the colonial powers, the Nazi and Fascist regimes, the Soviet inspired statist systems and many of the personal dictatorships that ruled through discrimination, exploitation and fear mongering? The answer is rather clear, the world that we live in is not perfect but it will not tolerate for long those that are not willing to learn, adapt, admit their mistakes and attempt to correct the past failures; those that insist on being stuck in an unjust, undemocratic and unresponsive past will not survive. They will whither away.
Unfortunately Lebanon has not absorbed the above lesson from history. The Lebanese politicians, on both sides of the aisle, see no problem in perpetuating their petty differences and carrying on as if Lebanon is a modern democracy only because they claim it to be. The Lebanese experiment has been an utter and total failure by any metric. The head of the state, the President of the Republic, is unconstitutional but both sides pretend that they have not breached the law in electing a president that the constitution clearly forbids from holding that office. Then there is the Orwellian game of calling things by what they are not. The Progressive Socialist Party is neither progressive nor socialist. It is in reality a gathering headed by a feudal lord whose ideas about personal freedom and liberty are best described as being backward. Then we must not forget that the majority bloc is headed by a thirty something whose political experience and ability to lead are totally based on the strength of his bank account.
The opposition is not any better. In a sense it is far worse because its major strength comes from Hezbollah who has yet to pay an unconditional allegiance to the state. The other major group in the opposition is lead by a delusional megalomaniac who wants to be “king’’/”president”. Each of the other minor political parties in the opposition represent at least as much of a feudalistic system as that of the PSP. Then of course there are the Christian parties that are in essence disguised supremacists run by traditional feudal lords. What a deadly combination to lead a country?
It should be clear that no country whose political structure is as ill-conceived, as backward and as out of touch with modern times as the above is to be expected to rule effectively or even to survive. Well the charade has been going on for over sixty years with occasional violent eruptions interrupted by periods of aimless drifting and personal squabbles. This condition cannot be tolerated for much longer. The Lebanese politicians must show that they are mature enough to govern otherwise the privilege would be withdrawn with catastrophic results for all of them. But is the above merely a wish or is there any chance of transforming this group of political dinosaurs into responsive and democratic political leaders?
Lebanon can be saved provided that the President admits openly that he was elected unconstitutionally, provided that the feudal lords give up their inherited power, provided that the leader of the majority has the courage and determination to act as a majority leader, provided that the opposition will decide to fulfill its hugely constructive role of being in the opposition instead of demanding to be in the government and in the opposition simultaneously. But most important of all the Lebanese citizen has to show clearly that she cares about the quality of governance and that she has had enough of all these shenanigans.
Realistically, can any of the above happen, say within a few months or even a few years? If the answer is in the negative then it is time to come to grips with the sad reality that Lebanon stands for a geographical area but does not represent a state, not a modern or democratic one.

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