Posted by: r.m. | June 7, 2009

— lebanon’s elections —

I know this will be an emotional post. But not necessarily irrational.

I wrote earlier that this is an election of colors. But that was before the results.

What do these results tell us?

Seniora, a man who has shown this country (further) economic ruin, who failed to even present a strong face for Lebanon during the July 2006 war, a man who barely knows Saida, has won in Saida.  Why? Money.

Zahra, a man who fought in the civil war, who killed in the civil war, has won in Batroun.

And then we have more people who have won on the sole reason that their relative was killed. Nayla Tueni – what does she have to offer other than her father’s memory? (hmm – kind of like Saad Hariri). And Nadim?

And then in Zahle, could it possibly be that Zahle has chosen a man who is one of the grandest and most corrupt theives, a man who spent $4 million on purchasing live lions to decorate his palace, a man who is known for destroying Lebanon’s mountains with his illegal quarries while he was Minister of Tourism, could it be that Zahle has chosen the worst candidate – Fatoush – again?

What does it mean when people are willing to sell their votes?

What does it mean when people are willing to close their minds and allow their bodies to be filled with fear? What does it say about them when they so easily accept scare-tactics about fellow Lebanese? To have such levels of fear, there has to be high levels of ignorance.

And here in lies a larger problem. What kind of a country do we have when we continue to look upon ourselves as a bunch of sects forced to live alongside each other, forced to “co exist” – this destructive rhetoric of “ta-ya-ush”? What kind of a country do we have when we continue to live for the short-short-short term, continue to look upon our history as one of defeat, – ‘hayda lubnan, ma beyet ghayar’, when too many leaders fail to present real programs and real visions (not all, but too many): we have a country whose citizens – wait, we have no citizens, only sects — are more willing to sell their vote to the highest bidder.  And what about the political tourism? All those thousands of people that took that free ticket and visited Lebanon and supported their ticket-giver and then turned around and left? What country are they building? A hotel or a country?

The struggle continues.

Or, perhaps, it will begin anew.

wait: i entitled this post “Lebanon’s elections” – but where these elections really Lebanon’s – or where they also Saudi and US and all those other governments that continue to spend millions upon millions of dollars – all in terrible ways

an interesting analysis from Fadi Youssef

“the problem is that people look up to Hariri as an idol as someone who was able to make money which they want to do themselves so they vote for him, the son or the father, voting for the rich person they want to be. To be able to make money, they are willing to sell their souls. Every Lebanese dream of leaving this country and comeback loaded with money. Every Lebanese dreams of leaving this country and comeback loaded with money. It’s our concept of colonialism. It’s a part of our chauvinism”

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Responses

  1. Doesn’t the exact same criticism apply to the other side? Foreign money, sectarianism, the farce of co-existence, cult of personality (and family), za3eem loyalty? I don’t quite see the difference between the two. If March 8 had won, your post could have been kept as is, with some changes in names and places.

  2. okay, but here is rami’s analysis: the economic crisis that is coming to lebanon because of hariri would really fuck up the opposition if they win/had won. so his feeling is have the people who created the problem be in power when the shit hits the fan.

  3. you raise good points.
    but still, i don’t equate the two. Here’s why:

    in many ways, the elections today would be equivalent to McCain winning the presidential election in the US rather than Obama. The difference between the two was – and remains – ridiculously small, but a victory for McCain would have been an acceptance of the Bush agenda.

    on issues of corruption, there is a difference of scale and history. Hard to compare the FPM with the LF. (Much easier to compare Amal with Future).

    My main complaint isn’t so much that March 8 lost or March 14 won, but that specific people in March 14 won. Yes, their victory is because of the overall victory of March 14.

    But – you are right fundamentally. The last paragraph in that post holds regardless who wins: What country do we want in Lebanon? What country do we have in Lebanon? Can we build a shared vision for a future if we do not have a shared narrative of the present?

  4. ah, Marcy, but the shit will be bigger with this larger neo-liberal privatization agenda by the March 14 gang.

  5. Mr. anonymous, we have seen what “el aktariyeh” offered the Lebanese people. Poverty, humility, no security and the list goes on. If you think that this will change then you are mistaken. What did the 14 march group have to offer, they offer a couple of dollars now, but will make up for it when they are in power! And for the people that were payed to vote for a certain group, if there vote is worth a couple of bucks, then they deserve to be ruled by a bunch of greedy thieves, but they are dragging down the rest of the Lebanese with them! so lets objective!

  6. I find it intrinsically flawed, the argument from Anonymous that we are dealing with two equal sides of one divide. Globally, you have a hegemonic discourse and a resistance discourse. They are not equivalent, and cannot be compared as if they are. So this is I think what is being discussed here. The problem, I think, is that the resistance discourse locally does not carry this through to an economic agenda. This isn’t entirely their fault; they are incentivized by a system that favors sectarianism; they are incentivized in the other direction to “know their role” and not agitate. How much maneuver room is there within this system? Not much. It’s the same for resistance movements the world over. I keep wondering what might have happened had March 8 truly put out an invitation for people to vote their class interest. This is what will eventually unite people. First, though, people have to realize their class interest. This goes equally for people who aspire to be rich, as stated above, as well as for the Hamra/Gemmayzeh set, which sees itself removed from the street and local community.

  7. whatever

  8. The debate proves people just can’t be pleased, no matter what the results. The West got the edge and I’m pleased. I have an emotional involvement with Lebanon stemming from roughly 25 years ago. I reminisced twice on my blog about my experiences there: “On Entering Lebanon” and “Who Was Bashir?” [Feb. 20, 2009] at http://www.sonofthecucumberking.com. The election’s over, results are in and so far it’s peaceful. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed.

  9. Have you no shame? At all?


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