Friday, March 21, 2008

Alpha Patrons in Oceania

It is a worrying spectacle to see our local politicians travel the globe, scurrying around to meet the great and (not so) good of the world, and earn their support. The worry has to do with our country's current dynamics...

Political Campaigns

In normal countries, all this travelling and visiting is carried out “in house”. In their quest to reach ultimate “Alpha Male” status, politicians jaw-jaw with local power-brokers, shake a few hands, talk up some ravenous crowds into frenzies of support, or smooch a few uncooperative babies.

In Lebanon, their traveling and visiting is carried out “extra muro”. In their quest to reach ultimate “Alpha Male” status, Lebanese politicians jaw-jaw with regional power-brokers, kiss a few hands (or worse), bribe some local ravenous crowds into frenzies of support, or display a few dead babies.

Welcome to Oceania

The reason for all this is simple; more than anything else, politics may really be about a game aimed at the pursuit of "power equilibriums"...

In George Orwell’s 1984, such equilibrium was “internal”. Oceania, one of the world's three intercontinental totalitarian super-states, used its conflict with other super states, Eurasia and Eastasia, to maintain control over its population. The “Telescreens” kept the population in a state of “internal” torpor, its vigilance mobilized by the Ministry of Truth’s reporting of conflicts and wars.

Lebanon’s 2008 is not much different. Yes, we are spared the two-way surveillance of “Big Brother”, but the “Inner Parties” can deploy much media manipulation. With this “noise”, they can control countless “Little Brothers”; those intellectual zombies form the phalange of many “Outer Parties”, who patrol our daily life to kill any semblance of intelligent discourse with regurgitated blabber.

“Fund” Raising

In the absence of a stabilizing effect of the state, someone has to pay to maintain the country’s internal power equilibrium. Yet, since the Zombies of the “Inner Parties” have little value economically, the “Proles” cannot afford to fund such social parasitism.

So the support can only be external, and each leader has to find patrons to support this political addiction. To a certain extent, all our politicians become pawns in the regional chess game. They can at best try to be opportunistic.

With all the patronage pouring in from outside Lebanon, polticians such as Geagea have to find patrons somewhere; Israel is courting Syria, Iran feeds Hezb'O, Saudi takes care of Hariri... So it is no wonder they went to Bush’s United States.

But there is no magic pill, and someday, all those different patrons will ask for payments for the “services” they rendered. And then;

What will happen when all those bills come due?

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