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.

 

 

Advertisements

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.