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

 

Featured Image: http://m.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-difference-between-romanticism-and-realism.htm

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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!

Featured image: http://dark.pozadia.org/wallpaper/Dance-in-the-Dark/

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?

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

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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!

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?

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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!

Martyrs’ Day Is Not a National Holiday!

Culture, History, Politics

Featured photo:

http://www.alexhoffordphotography.com/node/2189

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.

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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.

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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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Rached Bohsali – Kalam Ennas – 5/5/16

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!