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Oct17 election plans

mike89

Active Member
Orange Room Supporter
The way I see it, all "civil movement" initiatives thus far have been hugely disappointing.

"Thawraaa" is all well and good in the moment, but it is all a waste of time and energy if it doesn't mature into a fresh, innovative and well-defined movement that seeks to challenge the status quo intelligently. Unfortunately, we never saw that after the 2015 "tol3et ri7etkon" movement. We didn't see it after the 2018 elections, which should have been a launching pad for new parties into the Lebanese consciousness. Even after Oct. 17, as fertile a ground as you're ever going to get, no new parties materialized. Instead, we have crybabies on Twitter and thinly-veiled partisan influencers scheming for a coup. We have directionless anger as a result and an almost complete absence of political productivity from those who should be rallying behind them a people hungry for change.

To be honest, I have very little faith in the so-called "thawra", not because of conspiracies about embassies or whatever, but because those who were expected to emerge and lead have instead proven to be as lazy, incompetent and devoid of vision as the rotten political establishment. The movement, in its current form, has been nothing but an extension of the system, not a challenge to it...

That leaves me in a bit of a dilemma. I am an FPM supporter, but I believe the system needs to be changed. Years of futile work for reforms have gotten us nowhere. I would love to see someone challenge this system. I would happily vote for that someone. That someone could be newcomer, or it could be a revitalized FPM... Alas, it doesn't seem likely on both counts, right now.

As things stand, I might vote FPM again or I might not. I genuinely support Bassil's reformist politics, his work ethic and his determination, but I'm not entirely convinced he or Aoun still have any winning cards to play. I also believe in change and bringing in new blood, but the "revolution" has done nothing at all to convince me of its capacity to be anything beyond an unknowing political tool in the hands of the establishment. I can only hope viable options will emerge come election day... Otherwise, they can all rot in this system of fatal mediocrity without my help.

In my opinion, getting stuck in the civil society corner is a huge blunder. As if evolving into a political party with ambition to rule, in order to make things happens is a bad thing. Screaming around is not gonna get things done, in my opinion. People should organize and strive for governmental power. Things do not change just because of the fact, that someone is screaming around. Get organized, get elected, get to power in order to change the system and through that the people in charge to be able to make things head for the better. Civil society is just like an opposition which is not a goal in itself. The goal is always based on getting to power, to make things change. Concrete change is not words, it's action.
 

Nevermore

New Member
In my opinion, getting stuck in the civil society corner is a huge blunder. As if evolving into a political party with ambition to rule, in order to make things happens is a bad thing. Screaming around is not gonna get things done, in my opinion. People should organize and strive for governmental power. Things do not change just because of the fact, that someone is screaming around. Get organized, get elected, get to power in order to change the system and through that the people in charge to be able to make things head for the better. Civil society is just like an opposition which is not a goal in itself. The goal is always based on getting to power, to make things change. Concrete change is not words, it's action.

If they are going to dip their feet in the political pool, make it at least for one specific goal, which, in my assessment, should be the creation of a new political system and civil personal status and inheritance laws. The problem here is that many want the results without ever having to play the political game, which is their main gripe with FPM. So, many don't understand that you don't need to sacrifice a project while dealing with the obstacles of governing (with the corrupt, especially), and that participating in governance doesn't preclude one from proposing and enacting systemic change in due time. Playing the political game and making concessions doesn't necessarily mean one abandons all political projects/goals/principles.

Using MMFD as the most prominent model for now, I think it's obvious that their goal is to gain some parliamentary presence, as per several MMFD members and officials. That is, they're trying to get involved in the game as much as any other party is involved in it now. If that's the case, their main battles will be, according to the data from the 2018 elections and an assessment of their traction/presence currently, in districts where FPM is the strongest among several weak political actors. This is a recipe for failure for the obvious reason of strengthening more powerful parties with solid electoral bases.
 

mike89

Active Member
Orange Room Supporter
If they are going to dip their feet in the political pool, make it at least for one specific goal, which, in my assessment, should be the creation of a new political system and civil personal status and inheritance laws. The problem here is that many want the results without ever having to play the political game, which is their main gripe with FPM. So, many don't understand that you don't need to sacrifice a project while dealing with the obstacles of governing (with the corrupt, especially), and that participating in governance doesn't preclude one from proposing and enacting systemic change in due time. Playing the political game and making concessions doesn't necessarily mean one abandons all political projects/goals/principles.

Using MMFD as the most prominent model for now, I think it's obvious that their goal is to gain some parliamentary presence, as per several MMFD members and officials. That is, they're trying to get involved in the game as much as any other party is involved in it now. If that's the case, their main battles will be, according to the data from the 2018 elections and an assessment of their traction/presence currently, in districts where FPM is the strongest among several weak political actors. This is a recipe for failure for the obvious reason of strengthening more powerful parties with solid electoral bases.

Can you maybe elaborate why what mmfd is trying to do is a recipe for failure and what they should be doing better?
 

Nevermore

New Member
Can you maybe elaborate why what mmfd is trying to do is a recipe for failure and what they should be doing better?

It’s a recipe for failure because it sets up the parties that have not been entrenched in the system (non-establishment parties, let’s say) to become very fragmented, which will empower the corrupt establishment parties that have a solid, reliable base of popular support. What exactly will running for elections and working through the parliamentary system help them achieve (with a bloc of max 5 MPs) that hasn’t already been tried by FPM, Paula, Kataib, and other independents, for example? The fundamental question remains: how do you plan on navigating the corrupt (since we’ve all agreed that on this point) system to get better results? It’s fine to claim to want change and to create a prescription on how to change it, but then you also have to have the means for creating that change, it doesn’t just come from a proposal. So, that’s what’s missing and is setting them up for failure. I’m making an assumption that the problem for me is the same problem that MMFD and others have defined. That is, we notice that the Lebanese state, by nature of its (esp. post-war) power-sharing arrangement, has devolved even further into a hub of corrupt politicians and their crony mafias that control each wing of decision-making and patronage. Therefore, not only do the politicians need to be removed, their cronies need to be removed, and the system needs to be changed.

In practical application terms, taking the representation argument further, we know the strength of sawra parties is concentrated largely between parts of Beirut and Mount Lebanon. What’s become obvious is the systematic targeting and demonization of FPM might decrease FPM’s popularity. While there might be many policy similarities and crossover between FPM and MMFD on many issues, MMFD has completely ruled out the possibility of coalition building just by adopting the “killon” slogan. Whether or not this slogan applies to all parties or not is not the issue. The issue with making your enemy the entire political class is your ability to effectively mobilize popular support against this political class, because, as we’ve agreed, the system, not just the individuals, is also rotten, so any chance at reform is effectively crippled by the system. You can’t just craft policy, throw it at the current policy makers and expect change to happen. Nabih Berri has been calling for the elimination of political sectarianism for years, do we trust him enough to make that change in the shape of MMFD or in the shape of Nabih Berri? You cannot expect the system to fundamentally restructure itself. Kingdon’s policy window theory is a key concept here that may help us understand the importance of knowing when the political conditions allow for policies to be adopted.

Therefore, your only option is to mobilize support. How exactly does MMFD plan on doing that? There are two problems here: 1) The political parties overall still have solid bases entirely based on the sectarian power balance, with some slight changes in FPM and possibly FM; and, 2) MMFD has to understand that at its essence is a problematic conundrum that conflicts with the reality of Lebanese politics. It is a liberal party that claims secularism and non-sectarianism in an illiberal, sectarian political system. How exactly will it navigate the delicate balance, between Shia seeking more “rights”/state in the state, Christians’ fears of losing “rights”/stake in the state, and Sunnis attempting to hold on to gains achieved after Ta’if. Therefore, the system cripples any attempts at the fundamental reforms that they claim to promote. MMFD is operating on the assumption that sectarianism isn’t a factor in determining popular demands/grievances, but also that sectarianism explicitly should not be their motivating factor in political choices. This is a flawed, top-down logic that defies the nature of the Lebanese political system and does nothing to address it at its root, but simply seeks to do away with its existence for nothing other than we’ve determined that it’s bad (why exactly is never explicated properly). Additionally, their formation around western, secular, liberal principles makes them 1) more approachable in the Christian community, 2) suspect among crowds that are sensitive to signs of westernization, mainly leftists, who might have been natural allies.

My assessment: what they’ve done is rode the sawra’s wave to promote a non-grass roots movement that now is based around the person of Charbel Nahhas and the advocacy of some AUB-educated, professional class secularists who operate entirely within the narrow Beirut bubble.

TLDR: They need to explicate a theory of change and how they intend to navigate the system to change it, otherwise keep advocating outside the system and try to become an effective opposition. Side note: FPM didn’t do a very good job at this either, which is why you see so many people upset with their performance (“Christian rights” battle often being one of their main talking points, even though I think it was and remains absolutely necessary for various local and geopolitical reasons, even if the rhetoric should be adjusted).
 
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