The duplicity of democracy and the paradox of the soapbox/ Tracy Chamoun

When a certain TV network was funded to keep their airwaves open and broadcast the recent demonstrations live, they inadvertently contributed to trivialize the revolution into an ongoing reality TV show. This constant media access gave birth to the Lebanese soapbox where everyone and anyone had their 15 seconds of fame delivering impromptu speeches to vent their honest and valid discontent. This had the adverse effect of turning the promise of a revolution into a cacophony of conflicting objectives instead.

It unfortunately showed that democracy at its best, in the form of the airing of free speech, is like a sieve, which allows for pressure to be released through unrestrained expression. But in this way it also diffuses the intensity of the message by giving it many voices. This is what happened over the last month. Instead of a laser like revolution we experienced small bulbs lighting up here and there.

Nevertheless, how many times can the same serious subjects of discontent be raised on deaf ears? Corruption – mismanagement – abuse of power – stealing public funds – lack of transparency – discrimination – nepotism – clientelism - all these complaints fall like rain on dry land. In no time at all, these sound bites are swallowed in the Lebanese process of digestion and neutralized in its metabolism of absorption.

Initially, the oligarchs were visibly ruffled by the accusations and huddled together to entrench in their seats of power, but as the days progressed and the soapbox replaced the popular tsunami of revolt, all the Zaims settled back into the comfort zone of their fortresses.

These fortresses have been erected over 20 years of manipulating all the state apparatuses to ensure their institutionalized feudal hold on power through the cultivation of serfs instead of citizens protected equally under the law.

Therefore peaceful demonstrations cannot breakdown their walls of smugness. If violence is not an option 
( and yet even the simplest omelet is not made without breaking eggs ) then what are our choices to maintain the pressure on the establishment cartels to force them to change?

 The only option we have is to return to basics. The principle of Ockham's razor states that if you have two equally likely solutions to a problem, choose the simplest. Ironically, the simplest solution in Lebanon under the present seemingly paralyzed circumstances, is to elect a new credible president, which will in itself launch a chain of predictive events including a new government, a new electoral law, and a new parliament (obligatorily).

Though the Presidency in point of fact, is not strong in and of itself, it has proved to be strong in its vacuum. It is the only mechanism, which still has elements of leverage. These must be applied domestically and internationally to break the stalemate, otherwise, the closed system of self-prorogued governing will perpetuate itself hermetically sealed by the tyranny of the institutionalized oligarchs.



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