Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 26th, 2010

Civil wars in less developed “liberal democracies”

There are major differences between developed and developing liberal democracies.

Before I expand with an example, there are 3 major factors for discriminating various liberal democracies:

First, developed liberal democracies have stable and sustainable institutions to evaluating and proposing reforms based on specific programs.   Developing democracies are skin-deep clones of colonial systems that didn’t match the level of consciousness and awareness of the natives in real applications. Consequently, the lack of institutions to follow-up on any draft program for reforms generated haphazard systems that kept mutating as new “military” leaders came to power.

Second, developed democracies have diversified economic bases in services, industries, and agriculture.  Statistics are kept and serious budgets are presented yearly.  This is not the case in developing “democracies”.

Third, cultural and educational activities are affordable in developed democracies.  Public libraries and community facilities are spread out all over the land.  Thus, learning and culture are not exclusive to the elite classes: Common people have vast opportunities to be learned and free reflecting citizens if they wish and want to.  This is not the case in developing democracies where activities are concentrated in the capitals of States. The other main differences can be explained explicitly with examples.

Let me consider the case of Lebanon. 

Lebanon experienced a savaged civil war in 1975 that lasted 13 years; the war harvested 10% in casualties of the population (300,000 among dead, physically handicapped, and mentally disabled). The wart also affected 30% of the population in the forms of transfer to other localities, immigration, poverty, and family dislocation.

Before the civil war, Lebanon enjoyed a semi liberal democracy that set this State system apart from the surrounding Arab States political systems.  A semi liberal democracy means that the elite class (including the clerics of 19 religious sects) hold the levers for electing deputies and municipal councils that represent their interests: they were grabbing the power and went overboard since major reforms could not be attained without sustained and pragmatic programs from the political movement.  Election laws are fundamentally biased toward the elite class in finance and feudal standing.

Lebanon of 1974, a year prior to the civil war, and particularly the Capital Beirut, experienced extraordinarily cultural, social, and political activities, quantitatively and qualitatively.

First, the number of women writers increased dramatically.  As Georges Rassi wrote: “In the Arab World, every woman writer is worth 100 free minded men”.

Second, many famous authors and poets opted to write columns in dailies; a move that brought them in close touch with the people and the daily difficulties.

Third, artists and thinkers from all over the Arab World settled in Beirut.  Most of these intellectuals were fleeing oppression and persecution for free expressions.  The Egyptian intellectuals flocked in great number as President Sadat had decided to connect with Israel and leave the Arab problems and the Palestinian cause way behind.

Fourth, the Lebanese TV witnessed a big jump in quality of local productions thanks to the director Paul Tannous.

Fifth, many cultural clubs were instituted and Arab States organized exhibitions and cultural events.

Most importantly, women became very vocal and active for women rights and drastic reforms in the laws and social awareness.

Late author Mai Ghoussoub was very young at the start of the war, but she was one of the leaders of “Committees for Free women.”  Initially, men were permitted to join in the discussions until they proved to be elements of heckling and disturbances.  The committees of free women decided to meet among women because their cause must be priority in urgent reforms and not a usual side-show tackled by reformist political parties.

There were plenty of excuses, and still being voiced, laying the blame on regional and foreign powers battling for their interests and differences in Lebanon at Lebanon’s expense.

That may be the tip of the iceberg of material evidences hiding the real fundamental reasons.  Fact is, all regional and international powers had their secret agencies and services, their political parties, their dailies, magazines, airwaves and their representatives in the Parliament, executive branch and directors of public institutions.  In a fragile system based on 19 religious sects playing the role of civil administrators of their caste members.

It is interesting that France and the USA were battling out the Lebanese radio airwaves.  It is reasonable to foresee what happens when reforms are voiced in demonstrations and marches when the rest of the Lebanese were entirely ignored by the central government and the political movements.

Outside Beirut, the Lebanese were living the same traditional culture as during the Ottoman Empire and organized under the caste system of religious sect and feudal landlords.

It was a great opportunity to realizing Ben Gurion strategy:

“The Zionist State has two main enemies:  the religious and ethnic diversities in Lebanon and Iraq.  These two States have to be disintegrated into ethnic cantons”  Kissinger of the US and the Egyptian President Sadat made sure to pull this civil war to its devastating consequences.

It is to be noticed that successful civil wars were realized in developed nations at the time of the upheaval, such as England, France and the USA: There was always a winner.

Note 1:  A sample of authors and theater directors most active in the two years prior to the civil war in Beirut were:  Rahbani brothers, Saadallah Wanous, Nabih Abu Hassan, Dored Laham, Chouchou, Borge Vaselian, Khaldoun Tannir, Nidal Ashkar, Mohammad Maghout, Ziad Rahbani, Chakib Khoury, Maurice Maaluf, Jalal Khoury, Issam Mahfouz, Antoine and Latifeh Multaka, Ussama Aref…

Note 2: A sample of the most active cinema directors are:  Maroun Baghdadi, Jean Cham3oun, Silvio Tabet, Samir Ghossayn, Samir nasri, Berhane Alawiyeh, Heini Srour, Rafic Hajjar, Akhdar Hamina, Nabil Maleh…


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