Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘caste

Is Democracy a panacea for every social ill and for change? (December 9, 2008)

 

Bush Junior and his Administration claimed vociferously that all their pre-emptive wars were meant to enforce democracy in world political systems.  Democracy is a social method to permit the citizens to select representatives to the legislative body; this is a huge step forward since enacting laws confer power to the State to regulate life and think up ways to maintain order. Many political orders do not require democratic elections to reaching the same objective of accumulating power and regulating lives.

When democracy is extended to selecting representatives to the executive and legal institutions then regulated chaos is officially admitted. How could you hire people to run your future and economic stability if the voting electorates are not versed or interested in the multitude of problems that do not concern their immediate and restricted wants and desires? How could we have separation of the branches of the legislative, executive, legal, and control institutions if they emanate from the same voting electorates?

Let us take cases of a few social institutions.  Suppose that you have a political party with strict structure, tight dogma and hierarchy, and coupled with symbolism, sort of a Church-like ideology for homogenizing the people, then how democracy is capable of venting stagnation in this civil caste and transforming it into a reflective body of individuals?  Isn’t democracy then meant to psychologically satisfy the members of the caste, a reminder that they are still considered valuable entities but not necessarily eligible to think freely outside the premises and restrictive laws of the caste?  How many political parties, regardless of their principles (socialism, communism, capitalism, racism and so on), that satisfy the criteria of caste system, have managed to elect a representative body not tightly linked to historical lineage of accumulated myths and aberrations?

Even the political parties in the developed States, with loose conditions to registering and no ex-communication orders for the members who jumps ranks to other parties, election results favor historical lineage.  The rare times when the voters select an “outsider” to the recognized class of preferred representatives are periods of utter disgust of performances or unusual catastrophes.  The voters select an “outsider” because they need a scapegoat to their frustrations and not because they do not like the known figures.

President Obama must have realized that fact; he is enlarging his popular base to include the factions that voted for the other candidates by including them in his administration team.  No, it is not because of the candidates’ expertise or experiences but because they are still liked by many voters, who might be feeling sorry for their rash, uncalled for decisions of the moment.  The power of the US system is not in its brand of democracy, that is terribly flawed, but because the magnitude of loss in dignity, well being, arrogance, and illusory dreams is too irritating to voting for the same class of representatives, even within the same party.  The US could have had any alternative democratic model and the result would not have changed this time around.

            The alternative variations on the democratic method are not that serious fundamentally: any democratic system is as good as any other.  What count is the level of education of the voters (in politics, economy, finance, geopolitics, and internal affairs).   What counts is the free-minded level of the voters, as a society and as philosophical tendencies that encourage individual reflections, free opinions that are not punished once expounded, open discussions and open communication among the groups and associations.  What count is to instituting independent governing bodies for check and balance among the powers of the legislative, executive, legal, and control branches. Then, and only then, do alternative models of democracy become viable to match the demand of the people for more control over their destiny.

The State of Lebanon: A string of exclamation and question marks (November 11, 2008)

 

I need to state my position on the socio-political structure of the State of Lebanon.  Isn’t it enough that the individual is living a lie that I have to swallow a bigger lie concerning my “nationality”?  Lebanon is a State recognized by the UN and it has endured for over 65 years after many civil wars and countless invasions by Israel and a long Syrian mandate for over 20 years.  Is not this fact legitimate enough for us Lebanese to unite and reach an understanding of common denominator that would protect us from further senseless divisions?

Let me recapitulate.  The Lebanese society is structured around 19 self-autonomous castes.  The various religious castes may be grouped around three larger religious tribes: the Christians, the Moslem Sunni and the Moslem Shiaa.  Let us expound on the smaller castes.

The small Druze caste is fundamentally in its inception a Shiaa “fatimide” sect but had found it more advantageous to obey the Sunni Caliphates for several reasons.  First, when the “Fatimide” dynasty in Egypt was replaced by the Sunni Ayyubide and then the Mamelouk dynasties then physical persecution of the Druze and the Shiaa was common place. Thus, to survive, the Druze had to pay allegiance to the Sunni monarchs; actually, the Sunni Ottoman Caliph empowered the Druze families of Maan and then the Chehab to dominate the political life in Mount Lebanon for over three centuries.  Second, in the State of Lebanon it was far lucrative for the Druze to take umbrage under the larger harmless militarily but powerful politically Sunni tribe since the Shiaa constituted a menacing immediate neighbor for their autonomy as a caste.

The Christian tribe encloses at least a dozen castes. The Maronite sect is presently barely more numerous than the Greek Orthodox. It is said that the State of Lebanon would not exist without its Christians; that might be true.  But to state that the State exists because of its Maronites then it is incorrect.  The Greek Orthodox are by far the most numerous Christian sect in the Near East region and spread throughout Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine (Syria has more than 5 millions).  If it was not for the heavy presence of Greek Orthodox (and supported by Imperial Russia) then the State of Lebanon could not be imposed no matter how and the Maronite caste would not have enjoyed the supremacy of its administration for over five decades.

All these civil wars in the State of Lebanon was basically the need of this caste system that viewed the establishing of a strong central government as anathema to survival of its petty interests: their respective free float interests would be jeopardized and those two dozens warlords, small feudal leaders, civilians as well as religious, would lose much of their powers over their subjects.  Sure, the various foreign State interests played a catalytic factor but the civil wars would not have been so frequent or so enduring without our caste system. Thus, Lebanon is meant to experience a civil war every 25 years or so in order to destroy and exhaust any accumulation of energy and good will for instituting a strong government.  All the foreign powers and regional powers know these facts except the Lebanese citizens who prefer to survive on chimerical dreams of a full fledged “nation”; sometime referred to as Phoenicia, or Canaan or Arabia or Nation of Islam, or even Switzerland of the East.

Lebanon is not a “Nation”; it is a State recognized by the UN. Can we live and unite within this definition?  Switzerland is not a nation: it is a State and its sovereignty is protected by an agreement among all its strong neighboring nations.  Among the over 190 recognized States in the UN maybe no more than a dozen could be legitimately considered as full fledged, self-autonomous and independent Nations.

The calls for defining our origins as a “Nation”, (be it Phoenicia, Canaan, Arab, Fertile Crescent, Islam or even Switzerland of the East), benefit only the regional leaders in their respective cantons; simply because they have no viable programs to entice their youthful “subjects” but to offering them chimerical fictitious national sentiments.

 

Tiny Lebanon needs to unite under a State strong central government in matters of defense, finance, foreign policies, national civil register, and general planning and control.  Tiny Lebanon needs decentralized administration and State economic incentives on performance. Tiny Lebanon needs a fair and equitable electoral law; variations on the proportional system should be seriously considered for a feasible and lasting electoral law; with minor reforms every now and then as the central government affirms its responsibilities for providing security and opportunities to all its citizens.  The State of Lebanon needs to vigorously obtain the long lasting support of its regional powers to securing its stability, sovereignty and neutrality.

October report on Lebanon (November 2, 2008)

 

Politics in Lebanon is like the weather condition in Southern California: all you need is a brief report by the end of the month stating “sunny clear skies, but hot hot hot!”  Go figure, hundreds upon hundred of politicians, deputies and ministers leading the high life for being totally redundant.

October witnessed a heavy schedule for all kinds of detours. The President to the Republic Michel Suleiman visited head of States around the world; from France, to Syria, to Saudi Arabia, to Italy, to the Vatican, to Canada, to the USA, and the UN. The Prime Minister Seniora would not be outdone but his visits are mainly for private business representing the Hariri clan interests in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait. General Aoun visited Iran for a week.  Samir Geaja was hosted by Egypt.  Saad Hariri is sleeping in his private jet and barely visits Lebanon.

The second kind of activities relates to a caste system scheme of dual (peaceful understanding meetings) “mousalahat” between the various political caste leaders.  The purpose of these dual meetings is to reach a comprehensive plan for rigging the next parliamentary election so that the two alliances (government and opposition) obtain equal numbers of deputies (60 deputies each) and so that the President of the Republic be allotted 8 deputies; the undersecretary to the Egyptian secret services came to Lebanon to confirm the agreement of the regional powers to that deal.  The most ridiculous drama is that all these leaders still claim that the next election is the crux of the matter: it should be most crucial for Lebanon because it will guide the strategies of this tiny State for decades to come!

For the time being, the leaders of Hezbollah (Shiaa) and The Future Movement or Mustakbal (Sunni) have finally met face to face.  The second line leaders of Hezbollah and Druze Walid Jumblatt met several times.  The real difficulty is among the Christian political leaders of General Michel Aoun, Suliman Frangieh and Samir Geaja.  The main problem is not related to the dogmatic stands of their respective Parties but mainly to the figure of Geaja.  Geaja had already served over 11 years of prison terms for assassinating a Prime Minister, the father and mother of Suleiman Frangieh, and for waging a brutal war against the Lebanese army.  Without Geaja leading the Lebanese Forces Party there would be no problems on meeting and reconciliation.

What about the hundreds upon hundreds of political “leaders” and small political parties?  Well, they are stooges (comparses), including the leaders of the clergies of 18 sects.

What about the ministers in this “National Coalition” government?  The main figure is the Minister of the Interior so that he may appose his stamp proclaiming fairness in the election process and that it was conducted in due form according to the new laws.

            The third kind of activities is defining the responsibilities of the Vice Prime Minister so that the Orthodox Christian sect would enjoy some kind of standing among the five prominent sects/castes. 

For November expect news of the the general meeting of all the main leaders of the castes. The secular and oldest political parties are discarded: Saudi Arabia and Egypt (through their mouthpiece of Saad Hariri) do not like this idea of a rejuvenation of the political system.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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