Friday, August 17, 2007

How Many "لا"...

How many flghts will it take him to see that too many people are gone?

The Answer, my Friend

…Is nowhere near the slow minds of those politicians of ours.

This is a worrying sign as the stakes in Lebanon have never been so high. The level of political discourse is underwhelming, the arguments all centred around the Arabic negative;


The best example was the recent bi-election. For all the ink spilled, one only needs to look past the passions to realize that all candidates were still stuck in a similar negative mode. The mood was best summarized by one election poster, for what’s-his-name who was running against the FM candidate.

The “Right” Look

The candidate had the raised finger, the stern look, and no tie.

His raised finger, showing the “1” sign, meant to emphasise the uniqueness of God, Islamic unity, Arab unity… you got it; unity! Setting aside the fact that this is overused myth used by dictators, “Unity” or “Arabism” can hardly be a political program.

And he is not alone in this; other sides have their own version of the raised finger; March 14th has “opposition to Syrian hegemony” (OK, so do something about it), March 8th its “opposition to corruption” (But EDL didn’t get the memo yet), Hezb has “Holy weapons” (God must be grateful), Aoun has his “I just wanna be president” (the rest is details)…

The “Right” Flags

The candidate was posing in front of two flags; one Lebanese, in the background, and one “Islamic”. So he is a Moslem. Duh. Setting aside the fact that are many others, this too is hardly a political program.

And he is not alone in this either; Geagea has his knife-cross flag, Hezb has drafted “Allah” in their party…

The “Right” Slogan

The poster displayed the usual line; “No to America, No to Israel”. Setting aside the implicit “Yes to Syria”, the MP-in waiting implied that he alone could oppose America and Israel… Other than that, no policy statement.

And he is not alone in this as well. The slogan of Itani, describing Beirut as a “Red Line”, was no better; by itself, opposition to Syrian hegemony is no policy. No matter how laudable nationalism is, it is only a “default” position, and it should be used in moderation.

The “Right” Policies?

In their lack of meaningful “content”, Lebanese politics are not that different from the rest of the Arab world. Given half the chance, most of the Panurges that claim to lead us would cater to the braying masses with such slogans.

It used to be they “brayed” when they’re older, but now the moron brigade is recruiting them at an ever younger age… After all, they do not need much to hurl stuff at the “other side”… Back in high school, we had a name for those sheep claiming to lead the flock;

Jama3at Abou-“ لا


ghassan karam said...

One of my favorite schools of environmentalism is that of Social Ecology that was started by Murray Bookchin. Mr. Bookchin was essentially a Marxist scholar who was adamantly opposed to Communism as practiced in the Ex Soviet Union. What he dis was to apply Anarchism to the analysis of environmental degradation. His conclusion s differentiated his school from all others. He refused, as any good Marxist will agree, to blame individuals for the sad environmental mess in the world.
I believe that the same kind of analysis is appropriate in the Lebanese electoral system. What is very badly in need of change is the whole architecture upon which this sorry system is built. This implies an exoneration of the individual to some extent. This analysis says that no single individual can single handedly affect any meaningful change by agreeing to operate within the confines of a corrupt system. What this argues for is a major paradigm shift that will erupt as to replace the current paradigm which is the problem. It simply argues that if the outcome of a system is not acceptable then what is needed are not band aid efforts but major ones that will redesign the whole system in such a way as to deliver a different outcome.
If we are to apply the above to ,say, the last by elections of the Metn we will find out that no individual could have mounted an effective campaign that would have drwan any meaningful support if the candidate in question was not to be closely allied to one of the two major political blocs. Even getting out the vote does become very costly since people are asked to vote in their places of birth and not where they reside. Remember that a very large percentage of the registrants reside far away from their assigned electoral stations and as a result getting back and forth is both expensive and requires a very smooth and well run machine. I have a freind of mine who is very well educated and very social and active in the community. He and a few other very well qualified individuals decided a few years ago to run as a slte in the municipal elections against the local "Zaim" and his cronies. They ran an excellent campaign, held rallies, conducted lectures, visited community centers, distributed campaign literature, challenged the policies of their opponents etc... I am sure that you have guessed the results. They received less than 10% of the vote and to make things even worse the talk of the town for awhile was about the stupidity of those that go as far as to question the policy of the local Zaim. They were labelled as nuts.

We are in agreement that elections in Lebanon, amongst many other things, is rotten to the core but what I am trying to emphasize, I guess, is that the whole system is rotten. Unless we find the courage and the common sense to adopt a completely different way of doing things then we will be only postponing the inevitable. I do not believe that the parable about acorns will ever work.

I loved the paper about the distribution of virginity and IQ among the teens. It sure makes sense. The most popular students in High schools are the athletes and the gang members. No one wants a "geek" and no one wants to be associated with those that are not sharp. I read during the summer a wonderful paper that explains the sharp divergence of income in the US by looking at sexual activities of females. It turns out that college students are just as sexually active as non students and at times even more so. But college students take precautions in order to prevent pregnancy while non college students are less likel;y to pay attention to preganancy. The result is overwhelming. Most of the single parent households headed by women are usually poor and less educated and thus they and their children find it extremely difficult to break through the vicious circle of poverty.

Anonymous said...


By basing their campaigns on "no," these politicians are avoiding committing to DO anything for their voters. They are thus absolved of any requirement to accomplish anything on their voters' behalf.