Elias Khoury on the Lebanese political system and the prospects of challenging it

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The following is the transcript of a video interview between Lebanese left-wing intellectual, novelist and writer Elias Khoury and Megaphone, an alternative news platform. The English translation was done by Elias Abou Jaoudeh.

Elias Khoury: My name is Elias Khoury, novelist and writer.

Megaphone: How would you describe the Lebanese political system?

E.K: The precise description of the Lebanese political system is that of a perpetual civil war. An ongoing civil war that depends on two things. The first is putting society on the brink of war, so that its energy is diverted from resisting, demanding, improving its situation and from taking initiatives. The second thing that the rule of perpetual civil war is a system depending on sects relying on the outside. We are today living in a region in flames, and the clashes between regional hegemons are very big. And so Lebanon is constantly on the edge of collapse.

What are important issues that all lists should touch upon?

E.K: First is the involvement of Lebanon in Syria, the military involvement in Syria. Second is the civil war regime and the need to resist it in a radical manner. Third is the struggle for social justice. Fourth is to stop the effects of arms and their influence on the political system. 5th and last is the struggle for freedom and democracy.

How do you assess the alliances of civil society groups?

E.K: I think that civil society doesn’t have alliances with a clear political goal. The alliances aren’t founded on a political basis, they are founded on an electoral basis in the narrow sense of the word and the sense of the system’s recurrence. And they depend on quasi-collusions, or a resemblance of attempts at collusion and on nonsensical partnerships.

How do you envision the political landscape after the elections?

The political landscape after the elections will be same landscape that we have right now. There is no change. Maybe the only change will be an increase in Hezbollah’s hegemony on power structures in Lebanon.

How did we get here?

We got here because we didn’t get prepared to transition from the thought, ideology and practice of what is called civil society to political engagement, because civil society was hostage to limited struggles, and hostage to a perception depending on specialists and technocrats, and that doesn’t lead to political action. Political work if it’s going to be produced, it must worked in social environments, with students, with workers, with neighbourhoods, and a political vision must be built to pave the way for a radical change in the system. And I think that the system’s time has come to change, because the system is crumbling and it’s falling down.

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