The Phantom of Socio-political Change

Culture, History, Politics

August 15, 2016

By Farah K. Yachouhi

Why is socio-political change so rare? Why haven’t we witnessed one in decades? Plagued by inflation and crime, what good is oil if our nation is doomed to shortages in electricity and water? This nation is yet to seek reform. What is it waiting for?
“Food is what moves people”, Carlos García Rawlins, a Reuters journalist, reported from the Venezuela crisis in 2014. Hunger, more so than poverty, have driven people of different nations into protesting against the “old regime”, but that alone does not produce a socio-political change. Going back to the French Revolution, the rise of the intelligentsia, an educated middle class, acted as the main catalyst. They welcomed the “new” ideas of Enlightenment, of challenging dogma and authority.

Members of the educated middle class were the engine of this revolution. They refused the tax exemption privilege the nobility class enjoyed. They inspired an army of commoners through their Enlightened ideas. Armies driven by hunger, dignity and the desire for better living. The constant struggle for hegemony, that was the common European ruler’s mindset at the time, thinned out the fiscal resources and the flawed taxation system could not keep up with the expenses. This eventually lead to bankrupsy.

Members of the nobility class or elites, understood that in accepting reform of the ‘old regime’ they are protecting their existence and they get to share power with the richer members of the middle class who were essentially leading the masses to a revolution. As a result, the monarch was driven out of the country and the Republic was born under the notions of Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity.

The people adopted new ideas, were open to challenging the authority and believed in the power of education. The demand for printing books was constantly growing, until this revolution brought capitalism to town. Making money by owning a business became an honorable profession. With time, it became the number one concern of the nation, making money.

What happened to making art? Writing poetry? What happened to the emotions and the imagination? Isn’t it through an overflow of emotions and an active imagination we are able to conceive new ideas?

Reason and imagination are often perceived as enemies. Are they? Don’t they go hand in hand? Like architects and engineers? One demands imagination and the other demands reason, but together they build the unimaginable!



Read More:

1. Twinning Towns: A Lebanese Dream

2. Primitive Societies Were Not So Primitive!

3. Modern Colonization: A Subliminal Invasion

4. Look Who’s Back: A Political Reality

5. Nation or Nationalism: Which Came First?

6. The Phoenicians Did Not Invent The Alphabet

7. National Unity: An Automatic Response

8. An Intellectual Revolution: It’s Time


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An Intellectual Revolution: It’s Time!

Culture, General, Politics

By Farah K. Yachoui

July 18, 2016

How far are we from feudalism? It is when one is granted an estate in return for one’s service. How is granting any other type of support in exchange for service any different? Some call this Tutelism, from tutelage, which is a form of guardianship that gives one entity authority and power over another. It is an evolved and adapted form of feudalism that dominates our social structure.

Why is it that every public protest turns into a circus of protesters, a sea of little Lebanese flags and of sarcastic signs and posters that serve for nothing but entertainment? How do we become a more results driven crowd? Do we need to revolutionize our thoughts and subsequently our actions? Is it time for an intellectual revolution?

Tutelism is at the root of our long history of political corruption. How is that? Economic hardship combined with poor intellect are what fuel this system. Financial and other types of support are guaranteed in return for loyalty and service to a particular ethnic group or religious sect or political party. Political corruption strives on economic hardship and uncultivated minds.

Theda Skopol wrote in her book, “States and Social Revolution: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China”, that social and political revolutions go hand in hand because one of the main factors for the occurence of either is the existence of severe socio-political conflict along with an inefficient administration, an incompetent military body, constant exploitation of the working class and a challenging environment for raising resources.

All of these elements exist in Lebanon. However, it seems that the people have kissed the dream of socio-political change goodbye a very long time ago. What is inhibiting this change from taking place? The “ruling” political parties do not entierly depend on the people for resources. Rumor has it that, at least financically, global powers of opposite polarities are supporting them. The people became increasingly dependent in seaking support from the parties to whom they believe they belong to depending on the region and their religious sect. Over the years this phenomenon became part of their education: Loyalty and service guarantees support and a decent future!

The “ruling” political parties are resourceful and confident that the current social struture and the poor level of intellect of the majority of the population will always be to their benefit. The only way people will start demonstrating resistance is when they become open to reshaping their knowledge, broadening their horizons and freeing themselves from their “tutelary” lords. Our only salvation is an intellectual revolution!

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Read More:

1. Twinning Towns: A Lebanese Dream

2. Primitive Societies Were Not So Primitive!

3. Modern Colonization: A Subliminal Invasion

4. Look Who’s Back: A Political Reality

5. Nation or Nationalism: Which Came First?

6. The Phoenicians Did Not Invent The Alphabet

7. National Unity: An Automatic Response

The Dark Dance

Culture, History, Politics


July 8, 2016

By Farah K. Yachouhi

Internal decay and the rise of radical thinking combined with external invasions are the three main factors that have caused the dissolution of many empires and civilizations. It has been as such throughout history and still is so today. We often hear calls for change, but even change seems to have a pattern. What is there to change?

Let’s go back to The Roman Empire, one among many empires that was caught in a dark dance. It tolerated all faiths, ethnicities and cultures as long as the people paid their taxes! As it gradually expanded, it became harder and harder to protect the borders and to govern the territory as a whole. Can you think of a couple of nation states from today’s age that embrace multi-culturalism and pluralism yet others who are still struggling with it!

Political corruption, economic paralysis, social decay and moral backwardness had long started eating up through this magnificent giant before the Dark Ages dawned on them. The Roman Empire became so vulnerable and frail that external tribal “Barbarian” invasions rapidly flowed into its territory and caused its fragmentation.

Yes, Constantine I while still ruling the The Eastern Roman Empire that servived the invasions and fragmentation almost 1000 years after the fall of The Western Roman Empire, converted to Christianity in the 4th century hoping to restore stability, but doing so only gave the radical Christians __ whom would be called terrorists today__a stronger voice in the ruling class. Constantine I’s fear of losing the Empire to a growing group of radicals pushed him to make a few uncalculated decisions, in an attempt to tame the dragon, but he unleashed it instead.

Following that point in history, Europe entered an age ruled by uncivilized fanatics we now call the Dark Ages, but Rome was already suffocating with overpopulation, poor tax revenue, high unemployment rates, a weak army, xenophobia and an incompetent leadership. In fact, with all of these elements in mind, it is safe for one to say that the Dark Ages had started long before the fall of this great empire! What about these elements? Aren’t they lurking in every corner and under every brick we lift?

With that said, internal decay and radical thinking are two realities humanity cannot escape. Aren’t the repeated stories of the rise and fall of different civilizations enough to admit that living in Utopia is only possible in books and theories of romantic dreamers and idealists? It seems so logical and only rational to accept the truth of this unescapable cycle. If one cannot stop the music, all one can really do is learn to dance the Dark Dance!

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Other Articles you might like:

1. Tolkien’s Five Armies Are Real!

2. Primitive Societies Were Not So Primitive!

3. Modern Colonization: A Subliminal Invasion

4. Look Who’s Back: A Political Reality

5. Nation or Nationalism: Which Came First?

6. The Phoenicians Did Not Invent The Alphabet

7. National Unity: An Automatic Response




Tolkien’s Five Armies Are Real!

Culture, History, Politics

By Farah K. Yachouhi

June 15, 2016

We often say: “I feel like I am in a movie!”, when something out of our ordinary routine happens, not realising that movies or novels are in their turn inspired from reality! Although J.R.R.Tolkien denies this, The Hobbit, seems to have been inspired by The Great War. His writings are not merely tales of elves, orcs and dwarves. They are highly imaginative, magically written political fantasies! Where is Tolkien’s Middle Earth in the real world?


Map of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Erebor or Lonely Mountain is where Bosnia is located on the map below.


Map of conflict zone tilted clockwise to reflect Tolkein’s Middle Earth.

His participation in The Battle of The Somme as a British soldier excentuated his senses of seeing and separating good from evil and light from darkness. In Middle Earth, many stories intertwine and overlap, but there is a bizarre connection to the real world that keeps bringing back the reader to certain events that are believed to have been the pintacle of a series of events that caused W.W.I.

What happened in Middle Earth? Thorin, the last king of Erebor, gathers a company of 12 dwarves, a hobbit and a wizard by the name of Gandalf to claim back Lonely Mountain that was taken by Smaug, a powerful and fearsome dragon. When they finally reach the mountain, Bilbo, the hobbit, sneaks into the dragon’s lair and steals a golden chalice. Smaug, enraged with fury, automatically assumes that the thief is from the nearby town and attacks it. Bilbo is not from that town. He is a hobbit from the shire. How does this reflect the real world events?

In 1908, Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia that was once part of the declining Ottoman Empire when Serbia had wanted to do that as well. Bosnia had a large Slavic population that would have supported the pan-Slavic ambitions of unifying the Slavic people. With that said, the dream of all Slavic people living together was shattered when Austria-Hungary Annexed Bosnia. The dwarves’ dream of coming together to live in the Lonely Mountain in prosperity was shattered when Smaug claimed it as his own. What happened next? What does that have to do with W.W.I?

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the presumptive heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife Sophie were assassinated. Only a month later, Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia. This was not the event that caused The Great War; However, it was the cherry on top of a hot mess! Bilbo stole the gold chalice. His act was not the cause of the growing tension in Middle Earth, but Smaug’s harsh reaction to it definitely sparked the battle of the “Five Armies”.

The “Five Armies” were the dwarves, elves, men and the great eagles who posed as the “Allies” and the goblins, wargs and orcs as the “Central Powers”. They all got involved in the battle for their own gains! They all wanted the dwarves to share the treasures that were burried in Lonely Mountain. They couldn’t care less about who has the rightful claim to Bosnia. Serbia is not to be blamed for the First World War. This war was bound to happen and all it needed was a fertile ground infested with continuous conflict and a story to hide behind!

Civil Marriage: Who Needs It!

Culture, Politics

By Farah K. Yachouhi

June 1, 2016

As wedding season approaches, flights from Beirut to Cyprus do the dance every summer. Yes, couples go there to get married and a common misconception is that only couples who belong to different religious sects go there. In fact, couples who are from the same religious sect often go there too. Why do we need civil marriage? What good is it for?

Civil marriage is more often than not regarded by the bigger portion of our society as a “fake” marriage. What is civil marriage? Why is it not looked at as a legitimate bond? Isn’t it the first step towards building a civic nation rather than an ethnic one?

In the common definition of civil marriage, it is a contract that bonds one person to the other without a religious ceremony. However, in application, it does not really abolish the possibility of having a religious ceremony along with that contract. In Lebanon, today, civil marriages are still viewed by many as illegitimate marriages because they have not been blessed by a divine entity. What if we could bypass that? Would civil marriage be more accepted? What do we need civil marriage for?

A civil marriage does not necessarily mean disregarding spiritual or religious unions. It simply paves the way to a harmonious living and a civic nation rather than an ethnic one. More importantly, it helps in transforming religious beliefs from a system we are born into to a true spiritual journey.

Religious ceremonies performed by priests or sheiks, where such a bond is rendered holy, can still take place in conjunction with a civil marriage. What the latter really does is encourage people to explore their individuality and spirituality away from dogma. It helps break the invisible yet so rigid walls we have virtually built stronger and more stubborn throughout the past few decades. Walls that have separated us as one people and still do to this day. Ethnic conflict lurks within our sleeping nation. When will this nation wake up from its nightmare? When will it realize it is asleep?

Please share this article with all your friends who, like you, are looking forward to living in a civilized Lebanon!

Read more on related articles:

1. National Unity: An Automatic Response

2. Nation or Nationalism: Which Came First?

3. Let’s Commit Suicide (You Get What You Vote For)


Primitive Societies Were Not So Primitive!

Culture, History

By Farah K. Yachouhi

May 23, 2016

We are taught that life is linear and that it is a series of our achievements where one leads to the other, but most of us are good at things that are generally not promoted in our educational system! What about walking on your hands just as easily as walking on your feet? What about being haunted by music and constantly having the urge to make noise on counter tops? What about scoring every hoop you shoot? What about loving the smell of lead and charcoal smudged all over your hands?

Our educational system is a result of thousands of years of predominantly patriarchal societies that had adopted logic, rationality, dogma and science but condemned the senses, practicality, spirituality, and art! We live in a world where we are constantly in a struggle for survival rather than in an effort for continuity and progression. As a result, we are constantly being conditioned and reconditioned into liking things we naturally dislike. When did this all start?

Primitive societies that date back to prehistoric times were of a matriarchal nature that promoted prosperity, peace and abundance. Unlike male dominant patriarchal societies, a matriarchal society is not female dominant. It is about the balance of feminine and masculine and a profound connection to nature.

In hunter-gatherer societies or primitive societies, when a woman was skilled in hunting, she could hunt. If a man prefered gathering herbs and plants over hunting, he could do so without being any less masculine than his fellow male hunters. Harmony was key and this was achieved by learning how to balance the masculine and the feminine within each individual. Primitive societies were not so primitive, but how did we end up where we are today?

Civilizations emerged from these societies that continued in the matriarchal trend. Let’s take Ancient Egypt as an example. Countless statues depict the queen and the pharaoh either sitting or standing side by side with the queen’s arm wrapped around the pharaoh from behind. Through their frescos and art we understand that these societies also endorsed the idea of ‘good living’ that was taught to the populace through rituals and ceremonies.

Weighing of the heart ceremony reminded the people of the moment when Anubis, god of the underworld, weighed the heart of the deceased against a feather. If their heart was no heavier than a feather, then they could pass to the after life. With that, the populace learned to be light of heart. Where does our love for material, power, possession and greed come from?


Anubis (with the jackal head) takes the deceased to the balance of justice, where he weighs the deceased’s heart against a feather. 


Later works of art represented this ceremony with a core difference. As priesthood, organized religion and dogma started to gradually rise and gain power, a shift towards a patriarchal society started to take place. Priests started popularizing the idea of paying for one’s salvation.

Paintings from the tomb of Petosiris at Muzawaka (m)

At the bottom left of fresco, Anubis and Horus are holding the balance of justice as the deceased on the top waits for their verdict. To their right, riches are being offered.


History is preserved in art and architecture. As patriarchy rooted itself, all of those who came to power attempted to erase the matriarchal past. Today, art in all its forms is no longer regarded as important. Our educational system gives birth to zombie-like generations that get an education just to fall into a vicious circle of hard work that can be almost called slavery. The human race has been conditioned to become greedy, materialistic, and selfish. How do you feel about what you do? Do you lose track of time while doing it? If not, then know that it is not what you are naturally built for!

Twinning Towns: A Lebanese Dream

Culture, Politics

By Farah K. Yachouhi

May 14, 2016

Nation building stands on two anchors: a shared history and a common “Dream” or philosophy as some like to call it. These two components act like the base pairs that help keep the DNA double helix in a regular helical structure. A shared history and a shared philosophy basically stabalize and bind all the other components of a nation. What is the “Lebanese Dream”? Is twinning towns or cities going to take us there?

Twinning towns is a concept that became largely popular in Europe after World War II. Many European towns and cities support the idea because it mainly fostered rebuilding broken bridges, mending mutilated relationships and restoring peace in the continent. Europe now has a union in its name that might have its disadvantages, but we can all agree that it “contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe” and therefore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of 2012. What about Lebanon? What can we do with this concept? Is it not our dream to have peace and prosperity?

Weaker nations are highly susceptible to foreign ideological invasions and that is because they simply do not have one of their own! Stronger nations have a robust economy and a firm command over both their domestic politics and their international relations. It does not take an architect or an engineer to know that the stronger your pillars are, the stronger the structure that rises on top of them! How strong are our pillars?

We have a long way to go before twinning with foreign towns or cities, but we can definitely start by understanding more each other. How about twinning within our borders? Wouldn’t this reinforce and reconstruct a long lost national unity? We all know that some Lebanese citizens have never seen the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbeck or the limestone caves of Jeita Grotto or our beloved Cedar forest!

Wouldn’t a local twinning of towns encourage local businesses like that of farmers from the north or fishermen from the south? Wouldn’t this enhance collective security and living in an ethnically diverse country becomes more than mere coexistence? Wouldn’t it enrich our kowledge of our multi-cultural Lebanon?

All ideas count on Iza Fakkarna. Share your thoughts on this below!


You might be also interested in:

1. Twinning: Ten Keys to success

Martyrs’ Day Is Not a National Holiday!

Culture, History, Politics

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By Farah K. Yachoui

May 6, 2016

How is the commemoration of the Lebanese martyrs not enlisted as an official national holiday? Are we losing the battle against social amnesia? This collective forgetfulness is mainly caused by either ignorance or intentionally oppressing painful memories. Sadly, in our case, ignorance is more likely to get the better of us.

Are we even aware of the reason why or how this memorial day came to exist in the first place? May 6, 1916, was the day twenty-one patriotic men lost their lives for promoting and embracing unity. All as one, they sought for reform to obtain autonomy within the declining Ottoman Empire at the time.


Martyrs’ Square Before

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, we started to embrace a new collective memory that highlights sectarianism. Martyr’s Square has transformed drastically from an oasis of national heritage to an arid grave.


Martyrs’ Square Today

Collective memory is a shared memory or knowledge between two or more people. It can be of actual events or of constructed stories, known as legends, told from one generation to the next. These memories are better remembered through images than through words. They are best represented in erected memorials, art and architecture. Public memory is preserved in libraries, museums and monuments or erased by their absence.

Martyrs’ Day should be a day that hosts a state ceremony during which the national flag is lowered to half-mast as a symbol of respect and mourning, giving patriotic speeches and visiting gravestones or memorial sites. It should be a day where all Lebanese citizens stop whatever they are doing and stand in silence at that specific moment in time when all traffic lights turn red and a classical instrumental version of our antheme is broadcasted across the country on national TV and on every local radio station!

It should be a day where families get together and feast at one table with their martyrs. When forgotten, they will no longer be martyrs. They will merely be dead men. A nation plagued with forgetfulness will soon dissolve into a herd of mindless creatures and empty souls. Where do you stand? Where do you feast today?

Let us know what you think. Click on leave a comment to share your ideas below or simply share it if you like it!

Thank you for reading!

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Let’s Commit Suicide

Culture, Politics

By Farah K. Yachouhi

May 3, 2016

In the spirit of the upcoming municipal elections and as the date approaches, the tension heightens between those who seek change and those who claim they do. The truth is, first time voters are the ones who are under the most pressure. With our youth being the main catalyst for change, they are in fact standing before two cruel choices: Political Crime or Political Suicide. Yes, the pressure is on!

Municipal elections in Lebanon occur every six years. The last one was in 2010. Our general elections, that are supposed to take place every 4 years, last took place in 2009. This means that every young citizen aging 21 to 26 is voting for the first time this time around!

With that said, let’s explore the two options they have at hand. Inspired by the realist Machiavellian term criminal virtue¹, some scholars in political science, like Francis Fukuyama and Charles Tilly, agree that most nations are the product of original crime² or organized crime³. The two terms are quite different, but identical at the core. These notions mainly support endorsing crime for profit or power. How many of us can agree that most of the current prominent leaders are a product of such crimes?

However, Fukuyama also highlights that nation building comes from within which is where, metaphorically speaking, committing political suicide comes in. An ancient mythological legend best explains this phenomenon. The Phoenix, a magestic bird, in so many different cultures represents rebirth, resurrection and the rise of a new era! Only one of its kind can roam the living realm at a time. When it is time for it to die, it sets itself on fire with a clasp of its magnificent wings allowing a new Phoenix to be born from its ashes. Is it not time for the burdened Phoenix to burn and let a new, young, ambitious and rejuvenated one rise from its ashes?

What is your vote going to be for, more crime or a dignified suicide? Leave a comment below. All ideas are welcome on Iza Fakkarna.

If you like what you just read and want to read some more, scroll all the way down and choose any of the previously posted articles!


1. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

2. The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama

3. War Making and State Making as Organized Crime by Charles Tilly

Look Who’s Back : A Political Reality

Culture, General, Politics

By Farah K. Yachoui

April 28, 2016

Random scrolling through Netflix accidentally ended in watching the German comedy “Look Who’s Back”. Although based on Timur Vermes’s political fiction where Hitler in flesh and bone returns to our modern world, this movie strikes me more as a portrait of a political reality. (Watch the trailer)

What fascinated me about this comedy is how it proposes the idea that a conciderably strong federal republic with a democratic form of government, as opposed to commonly targeted non-democratic unitary states, is presented as a fertile medium for the rise of a charismatic figure with nationalistic pride and possibly a metamorphosed form of totalitarianism. J.L. Talmon called it totalitarian democracy, an oblivious and self-inflicted subjugation where the citizens of such a state support their government even when recognizing its uselessness. Vermes suggests that the people are tired of sedating politics. They are ready for leading politics. It is a popular belief that totalitarian regimes cannot be born from democracies. How true is that?

When interviewed, the author Vermes said, “most people wouldn’t think it possible that if they would have lived back then they would have thought he was in some way attractive too”. How did Hitler become popular again in a world that condemned him a criminal of war?

He studied the situation at hand. He gathered knowledge, toured the country, observed and interviewed the people. He listened to their stories! Among the things he noted were child poverty, old age poverty, high unemployment rates, lack of social harmony, opportunistic politicians, some form of public conformity and a dormant nation that is seemingly sedated by the non-sense that is continuously broadcasted on television and mass media. How many of us can agree that this is a reality we are more or less all living in? Is modern politics paving the way for a new Hitler?

In “Look Who’s Back”, Hitler shifts focus from investing in the military body to invading the minds of the people, mainly our youth. They are the future of the nation. Any nation! He becomes an overnight TV sensation! They mistake him for a comedian, but it didn’t matter. He only needed the raw minds of the people who have been in the dark for so long, who have been washed into forgetfulness and who are willing to listen. Who is the modern world Hitler? Is Hitler an individual, a societal force, a non-profit organization or a political institution? Or is he all of the above?

let us know what you think? What are your thoughts on the modern world politics in relation to totalitarian democracy? Is the Forth Estate an independent body that is spiraling out of control?  Click on leave a comment below.



Nation or Nationalism: Which Came First?

Culture, History, Politics

By Farah K. Yachoui

April 25, 2016

Pause for a moment and try to answer this question. Which do you think came first? Does a nation give birth to nationalism or the other way around? One of the reasons why Iza Fakkarna is born is to encourage you to question things and not take them as they are at the surface layer. Things rarely are what they seem to be. Dig deeper, and discuss your ideas.

It is said that it is the elites who define nationalism; thus, allowing them to build nationalistic communities where they guarantee the continuity and survival of their influence and power on the masses and subsequently on the nation! Others say that it is the nation, as an entity, that leads to the birth of nationalism. It can be quite tricky to decide which comes first. Their existence depends on one another just like the chicken and egg complex! Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Let’s go back to the basic definition of a nation. It is a significantly large population that has common ancestry, culture, language and history concentrated within a vaguely defined geographical boundary. Seldom does a nation make it through history and maintains its existence without nationalism. The latter is a feeling of devotion and vigorous support for one’s nation. Now, it is easy to say that nationalism cannot exist without its prerequisite, the nation.

However, let us examine the broader sense of a nation. What is a nation? How did it come to exist? The concern for the security and survival of oneself is the root of this dilemma. Very early on in history, we realized that living within a group guaranteed higher chances of survival. This dates all the way back to the Old Stone Age. Later on, a shift from hunter-gatherer societies to agricultural societies, allowed for the rise of elite groups who believed that the survival of the whole depended on their task of storing the surplus of the agricultural supply.

At the time, natural disasters risked destroying years of crop supply leading to famine and possibly extinction. These groups gradually became more powerful over the masses as they developed a system of writing to keep record of the goods they managed. They developed taxation, took on divine roles and influenced the beliefs of the masses. Soon after, obligatory military conscription was required to protect the vicinity from outside threats like other nomadic tribes. Thus, the first civilizations or nations were born!

How is it any different in the modern world? Why do we assume that the nation is the prerequisite to nationalism? In the modern world, nationalism is achieved by implementing a mass common schooling on national content, obligatory military conscription and tax duty. We simply modernized the ways of the ancients, nationalism is the precursor of the nation!

Thank you for reading guys. Don’t forget to leave a comment!



The Phoenicians Did Not Invent the Alphabet

Culture, History

By Farah K. Yachoui

April 24, 2016

Taking pride in our roots, mainly in what our ancestors have achieved, is one of the factors that brings us together and is a basic elements in creating a philosophy we can build a nation on! Everything is becoming more complex and without clear and strong heritage, survival is becoming almost inconceivable. Many of us Lebanese take deep pride in  our Phoenician roots and our forefathers’ accomplishments. However, we seem to think that they invented the alphabet! Our false sense of pride only highlights our ignorance!

The Canaanites, popularized as Phoenicians by the Greeks, did not invent the alphabet. They simplified the complex forms of writing they had adopted from other civilizations. They used Cuneiform first developed by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia. Then, they started using Proto-Sinaitic script originating from Sinai. This script is influenced by the Hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt, and it is among the first consonantal alphabets. This script evolved locally into the Phoenician script. Then, it spread through trade, thus becoming the precusror of modern alphabet.

 So, my friends, our ancestors did not invent the alphabet. They did something greater than that! They simplified the existing complex scripts at the time and rendered writing and reading accessible to everyone! Literacy was no longer a tool for power used by religious, royal or elite figures to place themselves high in the societal hierarchy and devise laws based on their own individual interests to stay wealthy and in power. Let’s dare to go further and be proud of paving the way to civil liberties and increased political participation and thus contributing to the quality of public policies issued and possibly to democracy!

National Unity: An Automatic Response

Culture, Politics

By Farah K. Yachoui

April 23, 2016

What do politicians mean when they call for national unity? It is unclear whether the Lebanese politicians are asking the people to reunite or are lecturing themselves on creating national unity, but let us assume they are reaching out to the people and asking them to come together to reunite. It seems that our leaders do not fully understand the depth of this phenomenon and rather expect an automatic response to this demand, like shivering when a chill goes down your spine! To unite the people of a nation, they must first and foremost identify with the same national identity.

Former President of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic said, “The loss of national identity is the greatest defeat a nation can know, and it is inevitable under the contemporary form of colonization.” What is national identity? People often mistake their cultural identity for their natural identity. Sharing the language, traditional dishes, folkloric dance, national flag and anthem are all great treasures but are not enough to create a strong national identity.

Territorial, religious and cultural identities are sadly much stronger today than our national one because we simply do not affiliate with the same history. A national identity is a little more than speaking the same language and sharing the same culture. It is identifying with the same descent and history and more importantly, believing in it!

Former prime minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher  said, “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy”. A unified history is not our only hope for redemption, but it is a step closer to legitimizing our claim of being a true Lebanese nation! Studying it from a secular perspective creates a sense of pride in our Lebanese roots rather than in our religious ones.

James Madison, the fourth U.S. president, said, “the purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.” The Lebanese people are divided into three main groups – Christians, Muslims and Druze – that are in turn subdivided into two or more groups some of which are Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Protestant, Shia Islam, Sunni Islam, Alawit and Ismaili. If each of these groups identifies with a different history based on the adoption or conversion of their ancestors from one religion to the other and where they migrated from then a national unity is less likely to be formed.

When politicians call for national unity, they must be aware that what they are actually calling for is rewriting our history under one Lebanese identity. We are not born Lebanese. It is not inherent. It is learned.

Lebanon’s Revolution is Not a Revolution

General, Politics


Photo from The Washington Post

Written by Farah Khalil Yachouhi – October 28, 2019

In Talk of the Nation (2011), Simon Schama, a professor of History and Art History in Columbia University, couldn’t have said it any better: “If you are too carnival-like, and you actually don’t redirect and harness all that popular energy strategically against the institutions of power, you end up, actually, sitting in your own prison. It looks like a carnival, but actually, life goes on around you, and you become a kind of museum of failed revolutionary energy.” Some are referring to the Lebanese Revolution as the biggest revolution the Middle East has ever seen. Let’s be realistic here and look at the facts. What we are witnessing in Lebanon is definitely a phenomenon the Lebanese people has not seen before, but this uprising despite its new record in scale is not a revolution.

What does it take to have a successful revolution? First, let’s define the term revolution. The classical definition in any English dictionary is the overthrow of a regime to replace it with a new one (Oxford). Second, we should understand the components of a revolution. History has recorded many uprisings of peoples against their ruling class, but not all uprisings are revolutions. Among the most famous revolutions in history are the French, Russian and Iranian revolutions in 1792, 1917 and 1979 respectively. The conditions that produced the three mentioned revolutions are very similar. They set the baseline for having a successful revolution. In her book State and Social Revolutions, Theda Skocpol (1979) argued that the conditions under which a revolution usually occurs include an extreme disconnect and ever growing gap between the social and the political, inefficient administration, crippled economy on the brink of bankruptcy and weak military capabilities.

In Lebanon, the people are expressing a sentiment of disconnection between the political elite and the citizens that took to the streets twelve days ago. The alarming lower voter turnouts one election after the other was ignored, when it was a clear sign of the increasing dissatisfaction of a growing portion of the Lebanese population towards the candidates running for office. The number of Lebanese citizens who do not identify with the ruling class has been growing for the last few decades. Another factor that produces a revolution is inefficient administration, where the elected government is too divided and consequently too slow in delivering solutions for reform and executing them. This tarnishes its credibility in governing the country. Also, it is no secret that Lebanon has feeble military capabilities. Lebanon ranks 118 out of 137 countries considered for the annual Global Fire Power (GFP) review that measures the power index (PwrIndx) by considering more than 55 individual factors.

Now that we have established that all three elements that create a fertile environment to spark a revolution are present, we can go back to ask the question: What makes a successful revolution? Revolutions require both a philosophy, and a clear understanding of the current system and tactics. The idea of a revolution cannot materialize without a clear course of action lead by a committee of educated citizens, who have sufficient pragmatic knowledge about the mechanisms of governance. Educated does not simply mean having a degree in some higher education, but a real knowledge in the functioning of the governmental engine. This knowledge will simply allow the many to zoom in and target specific gatekeepers to apply pressure on the current government in order to achieve the desired results. It will also allow the Lebanese people to transition from the current governmental structure to the new one in a more efficient way. In Lebanon, we see that the idea and the desire for a new regime is there, but no “intelligentsia” is leading the revolution strategically.

Lastly, in a revolution, the people must have a single unified voice. That is not what we are seeing in today’s protests. Less than 25% of the population, gathered to protest against the current government. Although some opportunists tried to ride the wave of the people’s uprising, anger and misfortune. However, what is clear is that the momentum of the Lebanese revolution is slowly but surely decelerating and the initial seemingly unified energy is now dispersing. Some citizens opposing the fall of the regime took the streets in the last couple of days of the so-called revolution to express their support for the current government. With that said, The Lebanese so called revolution is not a revolution. It is a spontaneous protest that has gained momentum and on the road to going rogue.