Absent leadership

Illustration by: Ivan Debs

The new taxes that were finally codified into law late last month have me seriously worried. Not only about the taxes themselves, but the way the issue was handled, and what it suggests. Only upon publication in the Official Gazette was the detailed list of new tax measures made public. It was too late for any well-informed input from journalists, economic analysts, citizens, and businesses. This is absurd. And no sooner did the tax measures officially come to light, when a last minute freeze by the Constitutional Council left us in the dark once again.

This can’t continue. The taxation mess only overshadows in how things can go wrong or be made to go wrong in our country. We’re approaching parliamentary elections that many hope will bring about transformational change. However, for that to actually happen, the reformist groups in this country must find leaders who can rally followers around a coherent, and well-defined vision for saving Lebanon. Today, such a leader remains elusive.

Revolutions tend to come about in forbidden ways, rather than through orderly manners by dedicated reformists that plan and convert followers publicly. Revolutionaries often endure prison and abuse. They stick their necks out, no matter how likely they are to lose their heads in the process. Meeting publicly in luxury hotels to plot the overthrow of the establishment, or quitting at the first sign of pressure, suggests our chances of winning are slim.

Even though members of civil society, journalists, and intellectuals have been assassinated, threatened, beaten, and jailed, the inconsistent push for change makes it absurdly easy for the establishment to ignore. Civil society has indeed seen some sizeable wins; producing a Member of Parliament, pricking the conscience of another parliamentarian into quitting, and even appointing a minister, albeit with too short a term. It also produced two movements; one that shook the streets, while the other convinced us all that change just might be possible. Yet, we haven’t been able to build on these wins and turn them into something bigger. Instead the establishment manipulated them to its advantage each time.

What we need is a full-time, competent hero. Someone honestly willing to live, and die for the cause.

We don’t have that today.

And we are running out of time.

*

Top