Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘structure

What socio-political reforms for Lebanon? (Part 1, November 31, 2008)

Note: This essay is of three parts.  The first part would investigate the facts and current realities of Lebanon’s socio-political structure (without delving into the details).  Part 2 is my version of Lebanon’s Republic and Democracy.  The third part develops on programs, processes, and resolutions.  Reforms have not taken place in Lebanon after 65 years of independence and these essays are screams for action.

Let us state the facts and realities of Lebanon’s socio-political structure.  Socially, Lebanon is an amalgam of castes enjoying self-autonomous structure, tightly related to religious sects.  Many would label these castes as tribes, feudal clans, oligarchy and so on, but caste is the correct name because it satisfies all the criteria for our communities. The successive Lebanese governments recognized 18 political castes with legal civil status laws and the right to administer their respective members from birth, to marriage, to inheritance and then death; they are to be represented in the Parliament and the higher State’s administration jobs according to what the latest civil war engendered in the power struggle among the castes.

It is obvious that this caste system has never appreciated a strong central government ,and the successive governments never tried hard to impose any serious reforms to unite a people under central civil laws, or modern citizens.  The “ideal” copy of our Constitution has never been applied since Lebanon’s “independence” of France in 1943.

The gross-brushed picture was that for the Christian sects (as a pool) and the Moslem sects to split the numbers of Deputies in the Parliament fifty-fifty, as well as their representations in the State administration offices.

Since the independence, demographic changes favored the Moslem sects ,which outnumbered the Christian citizens by a ratio of 70/30.  A civil war that started in 1975 till 1991 lead to the Taef “Constitution”, supposedly giving the Moslem sects firmer and wider executive powers; a constitution that was not actually applied as the original Constitution was not also applied.

The Dawha agreement in 2008, after a long stalemate in the government following the quick military coup of Hezbollah in Beirut, brought us back to the 1963 legislative election laws, which legally consecrated our socio-political caste system.  Up till now, the political process relied on a verbal agreement or consensus by the Maronite and Sunni caste leaders in 1943.

Many would like to embellish our political system by attributing to it a European notion of “conconferedracy or something of that kind”, where several communities speak different languages such as in Switzerland, Belgium, or Canada.  These communities in the developed States are open groups and communicate liberally and have no trade or social barriers, they obey to central government laws and have a unified civil status laws, and have developed into modern States.

This is not the case in Lebanon: we have closed communities with self-autonomous civil status laws that still refuse to have civil marriages, not even an optional one under a unifying civil law; Lebanon belongs to the under-developed States where juntas of theocratic castes dominate the political and economical spectrum.

Stupeur et tremblements by Amelie Noyhomb,  (Book review, October 30, 2008)

French author Amelia Nothomb, in her fantastic book of 189 pages “Stupeur et tremblements“, describes her experiences for an entire year at the Japanese Import/Export large company of Yumimoto in 1990.  The title was extracted from the behavior and acting of any Japanese in the presence of the Emperor.

As a matter of fact, the entire story is mostly a long series of stupor and quavering by the Japanese employees in front of their superiors, and how they dealt with the culture of a western girl. As I recall, Amelie was born in Japan when her dad was the Belgian Consul.  She loved her first 5 years there, and felt that Japan was her homeland, after so many transfers to other countries.

Amelie returned to Japan with fresh recollections of her sweet and unforgettable years there as a child.  Amelie will discover at her expense that she was not to exhibit in business meetings, with other friendly Japanese companies, that she understands the Japanese language!

Amelie had a life after her 10-hour work day, but she decided to focus her autobiography of that year on the enterprise. Nothomb described in details the strict hierarchical structure of the company, its unwritten rules, the behavior of the employees, and the status of women in society.

With or without a contract, an employee at that period was not expected to be fired. The initiative for leaving a company was left to the employee who would have to meet personally with each boss in the higher levels in the hierarchy and present his resignation.

A sample of the verbal resignation should be stated is what Amilie memorized the formal sentence for resignation:

“We are at the end of term of my contract and I would like to announce to you my regret for not being able to renew it.  The company of Yumimoto offered me multiple occasions to prove my potentials.  I will be eternally grateful. Unfortunately, I could not satisfy the expectation of the honor accorded to me.”

It is unheard of that an employee could take the initiative without the permission of his immediate boss or even complains to a higher level.  In general, the higher levels would refrain from undercutting the responsibilities of the immediate boss, although they could and had the total right to curse, lambasted and humiliate any lower level employee in front of all the employees for no specific reasons.   The cadre was not permitted to defend himself or speak; all that he should be doing is to lower his head and show respect until the verbal storm is over.

For example, Mori Fubuki, a most beautiful and classy lady of 29, boss of Amelie, was subject of such a scene.  Mori hurried to the toilet to cry her eyes out and Amelie followed her to express her compassion as western custom is preponderant.  Mori was greatly furious that Amelie dared to see her crying and she vowed to humiliate her at the extreme.  Fubuli thus decided to relegate Amelie to cleaning the toilets for seven months at the 44th floor of the building or the accounting department.

Fubuki selected the boring task of classifying receipts by company names and ordering them by date of receipt to punish Amelie.  Amelie ordered the names of the German companies called GMBH in one file on account that any additional prefix can only mean to be an affiliate to GMBH; it turned out that GMBH stands for Ltd in German.  The accounting cadre laughed very hard and every employee shared in the merriment.  Fubuki was humiliated because Amelie was her responsibility.

Fubuki then endeavored to find a task for Amelie that does not require “intelligence”.  Amelie was assigned to verify the accounting of business charge trips.  The genius of Amelie was that for an entire month, not a single number matched!  Calculating and accounting was the worst job that could be asked of her.  Fubuli knew that Amelie will never finish the job, but she waited patiently for Amelie to concede defeat.

The way I see it, the President of the company (not necessarily the owner) should be considered as God; as such, he should be handsome, tall, soft-spoken, and no one except the Vice-President is permitted to visit him or a cadre he summons to see.  The job of the Vice-President is to play Bad Cop; as such, he should look ugly, an ogre, and should be trained to curse, and his powerful voice should transmit far away; basically, the Vice-President is to keep all cadres to their proper place in the hierarchy and remind them that no one is above the unwritten rules.

Once, Amelie took the initiative of aiding a cadre from another section without asking permission of Fubuki.  Fubuki wrote a complaint to Omochi and the cadre, and Amelie had a thorough wash down.  Fubuki would not allow a new comer to be promoted quickly when she had to suffer for ten years to get her present promotion.

Nothomb explains why the Japanese society comprehends and admit crazy people in their company: this authoritarian society with strictly controlled morals at work and in families, has a high rate of males cracking down and losing it.  The women are more controlled than men in society, but they manage not to reach the act of committing suicide, an act viewed within society as the ultimate in honor for a woman.  May be the only honorable decision that a woman can make beside marrying before the age of 25.

Working and breeding are the only tasks for a woman:  she should not expect much in promotion or eccentricity or compliments. Children are treated as God till the age of three; from 3 to 18 they are sent to schools with “military” discipline; from 18 to 25 offspring have the only break in their lives to be free in university settings; then, they are back to concentration camps in their enterprises and strict duties and responsibilities to their institutions.

The Japanese fathers have an inkling of giving infinitive verbs for names to their boys such as “Work”; whereas females receive poetic names such as “Snow”, Rain”, or “Flower”.

Here is a list of prescriptions that women have to follow to the letters:

  1. If you are not married by the age of 25, then you have good reasons to be ashamed.
  2. If you laugh then you will not be considered distinguished.
  3. If your face shows feelings then you are vulgar.
  4. If you mention that you have a single hair on your body then you are vile.
  5. If a boy kisses you in public on the cheek then you are a whore.
  6. If you eat with pleasure then you are a sow.
  7. If you experience pleasure sleeping then you are a cow.
  8. If you go to the toilet for body releases, then make sure nobody hear anything.
  9. You should never sweat  Thus, avoid voluptuous love-making.
  10. You should not marry for love.
  11. If you fall in love then you were not well-educated.
  12. Stay thin because males do not appreciate round shapes.

All the sufferings in sticking to these precepts have the sole objective of preserving your honor and nothing else.

In 1993, Amelie had published two books and Fubuki sent her a brief letter in Japanese saying simply “Congratulation”.




June 2023

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