Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

The Lebanese After Being Expelled to… Nature

The Lebanese After Being Expelled to… Nature

Sunday, 7 August, 2022 - 09:45

Last Thursday, the day of the second anniversary of the Beirut port blast, was the day that it became conclusively certain that the Lebanese have been expelled to nature and that they must manage their affairs there, not in a state of laws or through socialization.

The scale of the protests in solidarity with the victims and in condemnation of the disaster spoke to this clearly.

This does not mean that solidarity and condemnation were scarce or tame. It means that hope in imposing change is scarce. The despondency has become patent.

The clique running the country has pressed forward with their actions to expel the population from politics to nature, that is, evicting them from where public issues are discussed, decisions are taken, and public opinion matters to a place where “the strong are so by their strength,” (al-qawi bi quwatihi), as the popular saying goes.

This means, among many other things, the perpetuation of the conception of the calamity at port as an action no one had taken. It was blind nature that did it, and it should be conceived as a natural event, that is, a non-political event. Its chronological proximity to the advent of the coronavirus pandemic may have contributed to consolidating this notion.

Natural events do not leave traces except for that of removing traces; they only erase. They take it upon themselves, with total impartiality and no goal or purpose, to wipe out everything standing. The timing of the collapse of four of the port’s silos, the day of the second anniversary of the blast, spoke volumes. It wanted to tell us: this is also a neutral act with no goal or purpose.

No one is held accountable or punished after a natural event. It is because of a will that we cannot perceive and have no control over that the local judiciary, represented by Judge Tarek Bitar, has its hands tied and is being hit with one lawsuit and accusation after the other. The international judiciary, in turn, is forbidden from playing a role under the pretext that we have a local judiciary.

Moreover, the fact that the October revolution erupted before, not after, the blast probably contributed to entrenching the conviction that “things will never be better than they have been.” The blast is thus an event to which no response can emerge because, like acts of nature, no one is responsible. No one brought the Ammonium Nitrate, nor did anyone send it to us. It came out of nowhere and chose to settle among us. The Ammonium just came, as do the storms that come from faraway places every now and then.

Here, we are speaking as though we were discussing the weather we cannot control or earthquakes and floods that occur whether we like it or not.

However, even when, by some miracle, some of the truth comes out and we get a clearer understanding of who was responsible, as in the case for the bombing that targeted Rafik Hariri and his companions, justice remains far-fetched. This is because real, genuine justice lies in the natural act itself: some obscure wisdom is behind the assassination of Hariri or the port blast!

Nature, by definition, repels justice to the same extent that justice repels nature. In nature, might is right; the jungle is a natural environment after all.

As we are pushed to nature, what remains of the meanings and bonds that socialization prides itself in and politics expresses are dismantled: the country is being stripped of everything domestic created by people and their ties to one another. Residents are separated from their properties seized at the banks. The state is separated from its judiciary. Change is separated from what needs to be changed. Children are separated from their education. As for inter-communal relations, they can be summed up by saying that as one community weeps over the tragedy at the port and its victims, another takes in the breeze of what it calls its victories over Israel. Memory and erasing memory? That is a cliche that has become dull and boring because each of us remembers different things, placing our recollections against those of others.

The crime of the port blast is among the most horrific acts perpetrated by this regime that produces victims and then elevates the reasons they were turned into victims to the realm of natural divinity. There are two major junctures in the course taken by this culture that kills politics with the weapon of nature: the first took the form of glorifying the sectarian configuration of Lebanese politics, which was not presented as a necessity imposed by a moment in history that can be removed by another, but was transformed into an ingenious romantic solution for the suffering that ensues from it, a message and model to be adopted by other nations. However, as soon as the credibility of this formula subsided, another far more sinister one emerged. The latter formula has an immeasurably greater capacity to give rise to evil: it is the ‘resistance’ for which dying is easy and that must not be questioned or revised because it is the most divine and most inevitable of natural acts.

What good would protesting do, in this case, against a natural act that no one had perpetrated? While many refrain from extolling it, they extol its consequences, voting for the candidates that should be questioned about the blast and for the resistance protecting the regime behind the blast.

To the jungle, march. That is the order of the day in Lebanon.

Other opinion articles

Editor Picks