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Lebanon's Hell: People of Boats, Slaves to Jobs

Lebanon's Hell: People of Boats, Slaves to Jobs

Thursday, 24 September, 2020 - 11:00

Today, the best success criteria in Lebanon is the ability to leave it and distance one’s children from it; sending them somewhere safer where they can continue their lives and studies without worrying about the obstacles created by the aggravating domestic crisis. Second-tier success is measured by one’s ability to circumvent the crisis’s difficulties by getting some hard currency, especially through relatives residing abroad, which allows for the persistence of their old standard of living, which is a sweet dream to most citizens.

Today, the Lebanese can admit that their country is no longer suitable for living. Others find themselves trapped amid poverty, inflation, disease, and death, without any hope for attaining any of the new forms of “success” determined by the recent developments. The majority of the Lebanese will not emigrate and will not manage to send their youths off to places where they can live a life worthy of the term. Instead, they will suffer from various ramifications of societal and state disintegration. Vulnerable and marginalized segments of society will suffer from the dissolution of the traditional forms of social solidarity, be at the level of the family, neighborhood, or village, which used to provide them a little protection. Society as a whole has been drained by the disaster’s consequences, which are ravaging the population as a whole in a way never seen by “Greater Lebanon” since its inception 100 years ago.

If we adopt the term “public” to characterize the Lebanese whose conditions resemble those described above, then the “privileged’” live in another world. This privilege is not limited to luxuries that the Lebanese had never known in their lives; adopting a different conceptualization of the country’s state of affairs is this group’s characteristics. Their perception stems from being totally out of touch with reality. The crisis, in their minds, does not call for saving citizens from their daily agony and aggravating humiliating oppression, but finding a way to share power in a way that reduces the risk of their regime’s collapse.

With few exceptions that confirm the rule, the Lebanese political class had never been known for being interested in solving ordinary people’s suffering, nor in these people’s hopes for a decent life, their children’s education, and improving their standard of living through genuine work. These are trivialities that do not concern politicians. Crisis, per their customs, call for managing perpetual sectarian conflicts, embezzling public money, and satisfying their foreign funders.

The problem faced by the “privileged” is working out a framework that best allows for the perpetuation of their positions, seated on the necks of their followers and slaves. They work on convincing these followers that some bad behaviors are an inevitable tax to ensure that others do not take the humble jobs and services that the sectarian leader allocates to them. These bad acts are the limits of Lebanese politics.

Meanwhile, the decline of public services, the breakdown of public order, and the increase in violent crimes, while no breakthrough looms in the horizon, after nearly a year since the economic and political crisis started, do not boost people's enthusiasm for popular protests to make a change in the political scene. Paradoxically, the verse in Nizar Qabbani’s poem that proclaims, “the revolution is born out of the womb of despair”, which the authorities recently censored in a festival last month, has lost its viability. The call for transforming despair into a revolutionary drive does not work in Lebanon. Here, misery will only bring about more misery, people are fleeing and letting go of the seemingly futile attempts to change the regime by protesting, singing, and organizing sit-ins.

It is hell, as the president of the republic said in his recent statement, warning against the failure to form a government and the obstruction of France’s initiative. But the dazed and confused president had missed the fact that his citizens are living this hell, despite the alleviation stemming from him and his counterparts’ opportunistic and limited awareness of the limits this hell can reach. With security services either absent or colluding with the smugglers, hundreds of desperate poor people looking for jobs or a morsel of bread jump aboard the rundown boats that are taking off every day. Dozens of them died and did not receive much attention from Lebanon’s politicians and media. The sea is still tossing around their snatched corpses after human monsters deprived them of their right to live.

The Lebanese are divided between two groups. The first group belongs to the “people of the boats”, who are looking for a place in this world where they could survive. The second group embraces followers of angry and armed sects, who see nothing but their sectarian chief’s radiant face leading them to painful bloody days under the banners of pride, victory, and defending gains.

All of this comes amid unanimous agreement among analysts who devote to choosing neckties and falsifying reality on television and in written press, saying that the situation will worsen before the US elections and that Lebanon will pay the price for this fight until the Americans and Iranians reach a settlement allowing the Lebanese to lick their open wounds and prepare for a new dance between graves.

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