Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘State

A Nation, a State, or a Redundant community? (November 17, 2008)

 

There are over 190 States recognized by the UN.  How many of these States can we establish to constitute Nations? Since the 19th century till today the world experienced “Nationalist” ideologies and most of the resistance movements to foreign invaders claim to be national resistance.  I will attempt to define the elements that characterize claim to a Nation by first enumerating what I consider to be Nations and then fine tune the progressive synthesis to capture the main characteristics.

Since antiquity and going strong till now I have in mind the following nations as category 1: China, India, Iran, and Egypt.  From the Medieval Age till now we have category 2: Russia, France, England, Sweden, Mexico, Morocco, and Turkey.  From the Renaissance till now we have category 3: USA, Japan, Germany, Italy, and Spain.  In the last century we accumulated the following nations in category 4: Brazil, Australia, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, Norway, and maybe Canada.

The recent list of nations suggests that size of the population and then the size of the land are big factors.  I listed Canada for two reasons: the size of the land and the fact that the USA is guaranteeing its independence and economical prosperity.  The nations in category 4 are large enough in human and natural resources that they may survive blockades or natural calamities for an extended period if no external assistance is offered.  The large islands such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia are self contained and managed to form a rather homogeneous population in culture and tradition.

The nations in category 3 have earned their status as nations through arm struggle and reconstitution based on language and common culture.  The nations in category 2 have proven their endurance as entities through arm struggle and countless battles and revolutions to unify the population under one banner and one language.  Nations in category 1 are prime nations that constituted the foundations for all cultures and civilizations.  Ancient Iraq of the Babylonian, Assyrian, and Acadian civilizations could not hold their empires (which included the “Fertile Crescent” City-States in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine) long enough without serious interruptions to be included as a nation.  Present Iraq had the potentials in human and natural resources for being inducted a full nation if it had avoided the invasions of the USA through democratic processes.

Thus, what are the elements that enhance the constitution of nations?

First, the geographic location with natural borders (such as deserts, high mountain ranges, large rivers) that limited foreign incursions, until our modern times.  (Islands such as England and Japan are prime examples)

Second, the construction of transport infrastructure to encourage trade and communication among communities.

Third, a formal and central language even if not all the population speaks it.

Fourth, a formal and central religion within a diversity of religions and sect.

Fifth, frequent arm struggles that unite the population under one banner and one central government.

Sixth, size of the resources in population and land that permit renewal of the energy after calamities and warfare.

 

If I missed a criterion, please remind me. For now I have listed 23 nations and I can foresee nations in the making such as Ukraine, Argentina, Poland, Viet Nam, Thailand, Mali, Philippines, and Malaysia which might enlarge the list to 31 nations. Yes, we have rich European States such as the Netherlands, Denmark, and Switzerland.  Yes, we have a few oil rich States such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Sudan, and Algeria but the stability of these societies for the duration are doubtful for now.  Maybe Algeria is a strong candidate with the guarantee of the European Union for its stability.

In short, I decided that we have 23 nations and 8 more potential nations and 6 super Nations (USA, China, India, Russia, Brazil, and the EU). The European Union is definitely a new type of generalized nation based on common culture, a culture that the “other people” would have the task of defining explicitly through the actions and policies of the EU.  That is fine and dandy; how to reach World Peace and Stability?  How to secure a viable and durable future for the next generation? Check my article “Sabbaticals for thinking”.

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.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2021
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