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.

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

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.