A round of student elections has just ended in Lebanon.
Every year, the same debate occurs around the question: Why don't Lebanese youth rebel against the political system? Why do they become coopted functionaries of political parties?
So this post doesn't go too long, here are a few quick reasons:
1. Sectarianism - students feel the meta-struggle between the sects and think they need to join a particular cause to advance their personal interests as opposed to those of members of other sects. The grand irony is that one always remains a part of one's sect, thus it could be argued that a Maronite (who will always be identifiably Maronite by name, region, accent, etc.) should have no problem joining the Communist Party or Amal. [I'm well aware that there are many Maronite members of the SSNP and Communist Party, but that is not the norm unless you're from Koura or Dhor Shweir].
2. Lebanese culture - we live at home until we are married. Our entire lives depend on our parents. They subsidize everything we do, and our marital opportunities are somewhat (and often times very) dependent on our parents' occupations, social status, and family name.
Also, in universities like AUB and LAU, there are many children of affluent parents. Politics is a major part of Lebanese culture, and many wealthy individuals aspire to seats in parliament. Given that the actions of the child reflect on the parents, the student does not have the freedom to join an opposing political party. His rebellion will undermine his family and his own future. It's a big decision to make.
3. Wasta - Lebanon is not a meritocracy. Your parents will be leading the charge to get you a job (your proper employment reflects on them). Your sect will often times determine which jobs you are SOCIALLY qualified for.
However, political organizations can also help you get a job. Party leaders often own businesses.
4. Rebellious concepts are the norm - There are so many different ensconced political groups in Lebanon that some group will represent your views. Lebanon is not like the West when it comes to politics. It's okay to be Communist here. It's okay to promote anti-semitism. It's okay to worship Saudi Arabia. It's even okay to be gay (although that's not normally discussed in public).
If you want to rebel against your parents or society, there's someone ready to accept you in Lebanon. There are people here who love Lebanon and people who publicly advocate that it should not exist. Where is the opportunity for true rebellion?
Oddly enough, the biggest form of rebellion would be to convert religions, but that would completely destroy you since you would be giving up your entire community.
We, the Lebanese youth, are not blind. You can never disappear into the fabric of Lebanon because this country is so closely woven together. It's not like America, Canada, Australia, or Brazil where you can change location, identity, and occupation frequently. In Lebanon, the same guys work at McDonald's for years.
We know our political situation is messed up. We are not in the position to change it, but we are trying. Sadly, many of us who work in independent groups like No Frontiers and Pablo Neruda end up leaving the country to seek employment.
There are no major national leaders who have not been tainted by war or have the charisma and zeal to lead a political party. Nassib Lahoud, Mosbah Ahdab, and Muhammad Safadi are not attracting students and youth en masse to their cause. Rafi Modayan only attracted students because of his step-father, Communist leader Shaheed Georges Hawi.
What do you think?