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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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)

 

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

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

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!

Sources:

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!