BEIRUT: We've had enough, a Lebanese tells a local TV reporter. "We've had enough of electricity cuts, water shortages, garbage odor, polluted air and beaches, rising living costs, higher tuition fees, disregard for the law, rampant corruption....we've had enough!"
But when is enough, really enough?
This week, the private generators’ cartel plunged tens of neighborhoods across Lebanon into complete darkness for a few hours. Why, you ask? To send a clear message: we are in control and you shall pay what we deem is a 'fair' price.
But how come only a few hundred had the nerve to make good on their threat to punish the Lebanese after authorities proceeded with a decision to slash the cartel’s hyperinflated profits over the past three decades? Well, because they see in the state a partner in crime for failing to provide round the clock electricity some 30 years after the civil war ended.
A state that has equally failed at providing other important basic services such as water supply or waste collection and management; a state that has failed to uphold the rule of law across the board; a state that has failed to exercise monopoly over weapons possession; a state that has failed to provide employment opportunities for its youth; a state that seeks to oppress freedom of speech; a state that continues to bleed billions of dollars due to the corruption and negligence of our de-facto leaders who have cost the treasury over $40 billion since the 90's for failing to fix the electricity sector.
Simply put, a failed state that reflects our own failure to hold our de-facto leaders to account. De-facto leaders who are prioritizing their interests or those of their foreign sponsors--as evidenced by the six-month government paralysis--over national interests, and therefore our interests. The fact that we have become so numb to this harsh reality is alarming.
When will we rebel?
Jack Goldstone, the award-winning historian and sociologist, defines revolutions as the forcible overthrow of a government through mass mobilization (whether military, civilian or both) in the name of social justice, to create new political institutions.
In other words, if people choose to start a revolution, they are rebelling against injustice, though injustice alone rarely fuels a revolution or ensures its success in the absence of other key conditions.
The path that Lebanon has taken in recent years could only lead to injustice: a failed state that will inevitably suffer an economic collapse and financial meltdown; a scenario that appears more imminent than ever. No matter how painful and ugly, such a collapse may serve as the wake-up call for the Lebanese to rebel; a rebellion that is likely to carry a hefty price tag for a country marred by deep sectarian divisions.
Truth is, I'm not sure a revolution will ensue. Chaos seems more likely, I'm afraid.
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