Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘youth Movement for Change

Is Lebanon political system immune to radical non-violent revolts?

Posted on June 24, 2011

Has anyone seen a swan (baja3) physically? In the flesh, or even flying or walking? 

If you are asked “what is the color of a swan?”  I bet your answer is “White, obviously”. 

Actually, a black swan was identified a few years ago.  Is it possible to eventually identify a multicolored swan?

You might say that finding a black swan, or even a tribe of black swans, or a mixture of black and white swans stand to reason, but is it feasible to have a green, blue… swan?  You might respond that genetic engineering can produce whatever colored swan you desire as a pet…

Why do you think all of us believed that a swan must be white, and nothing but white?  Most of us have not seen a swan, except in pictures, movies or documentaries; we might not even be able to identify a swan from a duck if the bird is not named…

Even nature, which changes slowly and its trends can be mostly predicted, has the potential of surprising us with rare events, a few of them catastrophic.  

We got in the habit of expecting frequent disasters from man-designed and man-made systems, within a few years of their applications and usage by people…

The variability in living creatures and the behaviors of users are a thousand folds more numerous than variability in nature.  Wouldn’t you be appalled in total disbelief to hear any designer of systems claiming that the product is definitely designed and manufactured to be entirely controlled and managed according to users’ satisfaction, safety, and health?

The teams of designers of many professions such as scientists, engineers, psychologist, legal professionals… are aware of two things:

First, there will be frequent minor malfunctions to the system in terms of financial loss, safety and health causalities, but these malfunctions can be controlled and fixed.

Second, any system contains rare catastrophic malfunctions that will eventually occur (doud al khal minho wa fih) and predicting these rare events is very challenging and out of control and management. 

When you hear of economic-safety analysis trade-off of a system, bear in mind that the study concerns the number of casualties and the financial cost that owners (more frequently the State or the tax payers) will have to set aside for these calamitous eventualities.

The funny part is that:

First, no money is ever set aside by the private shareholders for these catastrophes and the States or tax-payers will eventually cover up the expenses.

Second, transparency and full disclosure to the general public is never disseminated widely, if ever published.

Third, the public and communities in most countries have No Say in the design and decision-making processes of vast man-made systems.

Fourth, no man-made system has instituted an independent specialized and dedicated team responsible of gathering data and analysing statistics of the various malfunctions.  Most malfunctions are barely reported and serious hazardous events are dusted-off under the carpet:  No read, never happened!

Do you know that the UN agency for health is forbidden to collect and report statistics on nuclear disaster consequences?  That the atomic UN agency is not to share statistics with other UN agencies concerned with health and safety of world population?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a mathematician by formation wrote  “The Black Swan:  The power of the unpredictable” and “Savage hazard”. 

Taleb was initially trying to explain the financial crisis since he is in the financial business.  The theory is fine and explains many fluctuations in man-made designs, for example the international financial system.

The problem emerges when Taleb ventures to extend his theory to the current “Arab” revolts and Arab political systems.  The is no doubt that political structures are essentially man-made designs and that the current acceptable varieties as within the realm of “How a democratic political system satisfies the criteria of the Western system democratic types.”

Taleb contends that since governments in Lebanon take turn, for example representing “opposition alliances”, as in Italy, the inherent and natural fluctuations in the system instability are resolved naturally.

Basically and literally, Taleb claimed that Lebanon political structure is immune to drastic revolts , on the ground that dictator regimes fall badly because the system try hard to control minor legitimate discontents, and consequently, the system is fragile when any major revolt strikes unexpectedly.

Either Taleb (Lebanese of origine)  is using selective memory, or he is faking not to be that familiar with the history of Lebanon’s political structure.

I suspect that Taleb confused catalysts with causes in the case of Lebanon, a confusion he frequently warned against, in analyzing the cases of the “Arab Spring” revolts and the financial crisis.

First, since independence in 1943, Lebanon officially recognized two failed internal coup d’etats, one in 1949 and another in 1961 (both done by the Lebanese-based Syria National Social party).  Lately, Lebanon witnessed a minor failed coup d’etat at the ministry of communication, because a private interest wanted to conserve its mobile communication business.

Second, Lebanon witnessed two officially recognized civil wars, one in 1958 and another one in 1975 that lasted 17 years.

Since the end of the civil war in 1991, Lebanon experienced a major military coup d’etat in 2008 that started in the Palestinian camp of Nahr el Bared around Tripoli:  The army needed 11 months to overcome the uprising of the Islamist salafists Jund al Sham, and hundreds of fallen martyrs and handicapped soldiers.

Beirut experienced a quick military coup in 2007 by Hezbollah, as the government attempted to control land communication lines.

The war of 2006 against Israel was actually a military coup perpetrated by the Lebanese government to control Hezbollah’s military might.

Third, Italy has true political parties with programs and policies.  The election laws in Italy are among the fairest and most equitable in the western States.  Frequent changes in governments didn’t prevent Italy to continue being among the leading economic powers in the world.

Italy is very generous in investing in the poorer nations and its grants are relied upon in most States around the Mediterranean Sea basin.  Italy has many contingents in the various UN peace-keeping forces…

Where as, for example, Lebanon is practically a Non-State country or a pseudo-State since its independence.  The 18 religious sects represent the main de-facto powers and also by law to exercising political influence.  Civil status of every “citizen” is run and administered by the officially recognized religious sects that own more than 50% of the land.  Every religious sect is backed by over three confessional “political parties”.

The two historically secular political parties, the Communist and the Syrian National Social parties, were denied participation in the Parliament via biased and tailored-made election laws and procedures.

The Syrian National Social party was recently permitted to enter the parliament, carried on the shoulders of other main confessional parties. 

The multi-theocratic system, backed by the financial institutions that lend Lebanon governments to cover budget deficit, have vested interests in prohibiting the constitution of any viable and sustainable modern State governing system.

Fourth, Lebanon lacks sustainable public institutions and any long-term programs and policies.  The only benefit the citizen enjoys is a mere passport.  There exist no serious governance for the people to march against and demand reforms.

Was Taleb aware of the actual conditions and situation in Lebanon for him to categorize Lebanon as falling in line within the “stable” political systems and immune to radical revolts as Italy?

The hot season has started in the northern hemisphere, and the Spring Revolt might cool off a bit.  In Lebanon, we missed the spring upheavals that swept the “Arab” world, but we planted the seed of a fresh drastic non-violent revolt for the next spring season.

The youth in Lebanon organized five marches in various cities in Lebanon demanding change in the confessional political structure.

Next Spring, the revolt will still be non-violent, but the target and purpose of the revolt will not be a matter of a reform here and another there.  The traditional “leaders” have demonstrated that they refuse to establish a functioning State for all “citizens”:  Lebanon has been run by Non-State governments, or care-taker governments.

The Youth Movement for Change must be ready for the dawn of the next spring season: It must start doing serious due diligence. For example,

1.  Specialized teams have to dig-up and dust-off the policies and programs stored in the basements of ministries.  The goal of reviewing and revising already studied programs is: “A political system from the people to the people”.

2. The Lebanese have to feel they are true citizens with equal rights under the law.

3. The Lebanese have to enjoy fair and equitable election laws that allow common people to accede to decision-making positions.

4. Laws have to be revised for citizens, regardless of genders, race, or religious affiliation, to have fair opportunities to all political positions and job opportunities in the public and private institutions and enterprises.

5. The Constitution has to be re-written to separate religion from civil power and responsibility…

Radical changes are possible: There are no other alternatives to patching up a rotten political and social structure.

It is not feasible to move on with small incremental reforms under the power of the ferocious religious and financial oligarchies that have been dominating our lives and subjugating us to constant instability and indignities.

We have grown up to be mature and responsible adult “citizens”.  Lebanon is Not immune to drastic revolts, and the next revolution will be successful!

Note 1: Nassim Taleb, a mathematician, was a trader and worked for 20 years as consultant to large investment banks in New York and London. He created Empirica LLC for trading.  He is engineering professor at the polytechnic institute at the University of New York.

Note 2: This article was posted 9 years ago. Currently, Lebanon is under a total bankruptcy at all levels: State, banks, Central Bank, financial and economy. Lebanon is going through drastic calamities: the electric-magnetic atomic pulse devastation of the Port of Beirut, and a lingering Covid-19 pandemics. 75% of the Lebanese are poor and no government is to be agreed upon.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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