Lebanese Politicians Suffer from 'Dissociative Amnesia'

LEBANESE POLITICIANS serve as a classic case illustrating a more "notorious" style of politics. As someone who has taught political science for decades, I searched for cases which functioned better than abstract theoretical definitions in order to illustrate the different types of politics for my students. 

Lebanon has a cabinet, though it functions in a caretaking capacity following its resignation eight months ago. To some extent, it is supposed to be a cohesive government. In fact, this government is far more harmonious than many national unity cabinets, though its performance has been ranked as one of the lowest.

However, if you happen to watch Lebanese TV stations and read Lebanese newspapers on a regular basis (as I do), and if the newsfeed consists of reports about members of the Lebanese cabinet, you may only recall the attacks on the government leveled by its own members, targeting each other with every imaginable and unimaginable charge. If you do not happen not to be Lebanese or interested in Lebanese politics, you might conclude that the country is a healthy and functioning democracy with a "loyal" opposition trading charges with a sitting government over policies or proposed laws. If instead, you are interested in Lebanon (like myself), you can expect a surreal experience: students and scholars alike will find these politicians to either be mentally disoriented or to comprise a dysfunctional group suffering from "dissociative amnesia," a state described as  an inability to remember important personal information. In the case of those politicians, particularly those serving in the cabinet of Prime Minister Najib Miqati, their selfish interests and power-hungry needs have unleashed the type of conduct which functioned as  the equivalent to "traumatic experience," causing to forget their identity as members of a supposedly cohesive group in the service of "beloved Lebanon!"

 

--Elie Chalala

 

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