Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘chattel mentality

What kinds of a Revolution the Lebanese are Ready for?

Why do many Lebanese let themselves and their country be buried under trash?

Why is the general worldview/behavior – except for few individuals and movements who are trying to deconstruct it – quietist, conformist, and ostrich or zombie like?

Why isn’t there a collective upheaval that would gather all Lebanese?

Is Lebanon ready for a revolution?

These are questions my Lebanese and non-Lebanese students ask, questions I keep on asking myself, questions that do not lend themselves to an easy answer, but engaging with them may facilitate critical assessment of the prospects for a sustainable change.

I will certainly not implicate myself in entrenching the neo-orientalist/neo-colonialist caricature of Southwestern Asian societies as incapable of self-government, and Southwestern Asian populations as uncivilized and backward, with a genetic pool incapable of mutation, stuck in mythical dark ages.

One answer could be the following, as Patricio Aylwin Azocar states:

“Ordinary men and women may often feel unmotivated to exert their citizenship, either because they cannot tell the difference between the different alternatives, or because they have lost faith in the political classes, or because they feel that the really important issues are not in their power to decide”.

A second answer could be the deification of the political party, the sectarian community and the zaim.  (Actually all the Zaims have shrines)

As the well-known poet Adonis described it:

“the sacralisation that colors and creeps into politics, turning parliamentarians, ministers and other public servants into demi-gods, their ideologies into gospels and political parties into sects. Indeed, over the past decades, the legacy of multiple wars in Lebanon, including hypermnesia, and paradoxically the tabula rasa mentality and national strategy, have produced in the minds of a good many Lebanese the illusion that somehow “somebody” – the warlord, the zaim, the political party, the sectarian community/belonging – but not the State (or the embodiment of the common management of our diversity), can provide for ALL needs (if not now, certainly in the future)…”

So why make much effort to fulfill what used to be considered in practice (or are considered in the Constitution) the responsibilities of any citizen?

When human beings become ICONS, such as most Lebanese political leaders and public figures, they cultivate and entrench political iconolatry, and that iconolatry is internalized by the common people.

A third answer could be agoraphobia, or the fear of leaving one’s comfort zone: the home, the family, the job, the religious institution, the past with its glories or painful memories, and even, the trash.

This type of phobia is like a prison of one’s own making with invisible lines that cannot be crossed. People who are afraid become permanently disabled, dependent on others’ assistance.

Where does this fear come from? Non-formal and formal education, media propaganda, traumas in the domestic sphere and war traumas…

Other answers could be easily defined and added.

The outcome would still be the same: a national disaster.

However, the time is not yet for defeatism. “If beyond hopelessness there is hope, I am hopeful” (Elias Khoury).

Hope because even if I believe most Lebanese are not ready for a revolution when this revolution is thought as a general upheaval à la Française or an Arab Spring type of revolution or even a Gandhi style revolution, change-making has already started.

Indeed, agents of dialogue, non-governmental organizations, academics, artists and activists, in Lebanon and in the Lebanese diaspora, have been contributing since the 1990s to raising awareness about the necessity of reforming the social-political system and of finding solutions to numerous crises such as the economic, environmental, cultural…

They have already started the desacralisation process.

(Mainly the militia leaders such as Nabih Berry, Walid Jumblat, Rafic Hariri, Samir Gea3ja3… who are still in control and ruling this rotten system)

What we are witnessing nowadays in Lebanon is one of the many physical manifestations of this desacralisation.

The next step would be to continue on expanding the process, while always keeping in mind the necessity of building dialogue platforms.

Desacralisation does not mean ‘getting rid of the iconodules, agoraphobics, ostriches and zombies’, but building alternatives (ideas and practices) where a unity in a diversity of voices would be reached.

Pushing someone who isn’t ready for change is traumatizing. It is neither successful nor humane. The contrary of building strength within and encouraging exploration that feels wanted and welcome when time arrives.

Street protests are certainly a must, but aren’t enough.

Non-formal and formal education should accompany the demonstrations, and short-term expectations should be coupled with long-term ones.

For the majority of Lebanese to understand what is the value of change, to be able to heal their wounds, to stop cushioning themselves against the rawness of life by staying in controlled boxes ‘safe’ from unwanted intrusion, to choose challenge and the unknown over the known, and to embrace constructive discomfort, time, patience, and multiple continuous knowledge productions and acts for peace, justice and equality are needed.

Lebanon’s road from denizenship (chattel mentality in practice) to citizenship is long, winding and full of detours.

We’ll get there eventually!

Note: What alternative worthy values may unite us?

Is Lebanon a Multi-Theocratic State: Are Lebanese that religious?

Nine weeks ago, the clerics of the Sunni Moslem sect in Lebanon gathered in a general session to admonish the newly appointed Prime Minister Mikati to abide by the revised political guidelines.  Is that a form of democracy?

The clerics of this sect were convened by Saad Hariri PM who was fired by 11 ministers from his post.  It appeared to Hariri that being fired was an incomprehensible practice:  He believed that since he is a Saudi citizen then he should be viewed as a Saudi monarch Prince or something…

The clerics and bishops of the Maronite Christian sect meet regularly to remind the President of the Republic and the Maronite deputies in the Parliament of their Church political orientation.  Is that a kind of Republic system?

The Maronite  clerics alienated more than half the Maronites by siding with particular sectarian political parties and getting deeply involved in State politics.

The clerics of the Shia Moslem sect meets regularly to regurgitate the position of Hezbollah political stands.

Actually, it is the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasr Allah (who combines the spiritual and temporal powers under the Iranian concept of “Wilayat Faqih“), who draws the strategic and tactical moves for the Shias in Lebanon.  Is that a new concept of Parliamentary system?

In the 1980’s, the Lebanese were on their knees: Israel occupied most of the south region and Syria the remaining parts.  Lebanon was divided into self-autonomous sectarian cantons due to the consequences of the protracted civil war that started in 1975 and the massive transfer of citizens.

The new Islamic regime in Iran that displaced the Shah extended a fresh Shia religious fervor to the Shias in Lebanon, along with training, organization, and arms to resisting Israeli occupiers.

Israel was forced to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000, unilaterally and no negotiation, after suffering determined resistance from Hezbollah. Hezbollah resistance in 2006, to yet another Israeli preemptive incursion, and winning the war offered Lebanon a deterrence leverage that was lacking for decades.

Should Hezbollah continue adopting religion as the main ideological force to resisting the enemy Israel?  And for how long?  Should Nasr Allah keep his position for life as a religious leader too?  Should Lebanon remains a sectarian State for another century?

There are plenty of disinformation related to Lebanon’s social and political structure.

There is a vast chasm between what is written in the “Constitution” and what is and has been practiced for over 70 years, since the independence of Lebanon in 1943 and recognition as a State by the UN in 1946 (2 years before the recognition of Israel).

Lebanon is a feudal, sectarian, and tribal society governed by feudal, sectarian representatives of warlords, wealthy families and old money class.  The feudal class inherited their titles of Emir, Pasha, Bey, Sheihk…from the Ottoman Empire as heads of tribes sided with the Ottoman invaders and presented another form of “loyalty” to obscurantist caliphates.

France confirmed the rooted sectarian division during its mandated power from 1919 to 1943, and much longer after the independence of Lebanon, by instituting the Christians as the ruling class and enjoying privileges in power and in trade.

Should the Lebanese wait 9 months every time a new Sunni Prime Minister has to form a government in order to satisfy 18 recognized sects, six regional powers, and five superpowers?

This month, the youth in Lebanon started mass demonstrations, regularly, every week, demanding that religious affiliation be cancelled from all official documents.  The youth are engaged in sit-ins in many cities demanding civil marriage and reforming genders discriminating laws.  The youth have been chanting: “We want to change the regime

Are Lebanese that religious?

They are governed by religious appointed “leaders”.  The youth are entangled in a hellish cycle of religious interests, restricted in sectarian enclaves; each sect established its own private schooling system, health and social security facilities…

The youth want to get rid of a century of indignity and chattel mentality.  They want a political system that transform all the private sectarian facilities to the control and evaluation of a civic State, and the dissemination of a civic orientation and education.

The youth of Lebanon are going to maintain and sustain the mass upheavals in the Arab World because their programs for reform and change are linked and rooted to all the in-depth reforms aspired by youths in the other Arab States.

The youth of Lebanon are shouldering the difficult and protracted long-term changes needed in developing countries.




June 2023

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