The revolutionary animals in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, once they have evicted the tyrannical farm owners, slip into the status quo, one that sees the leaders, in this case the pigs, emerge to perpetuate a system similar to the very one they worked to overthrow. In an earlier age, the arch-schemer Machiavelli might have smiled: getting others to do the dirty work would have met the approval of the Florentine thinker.
It may be premature to suggest that the situation in Lebanon is heading towards such an Orwellian nightmare, or that the people who took to the streets earlier this year have been duped, but the ease with which many of the heroes of the Cedar Revolution appear to be slipping into old habits is cause for concern.
We are not saying that our politicians will behave like Squealer, Orwell’s head pig, whose pact with the farmers ends the tale, but many Lebanese may have been alarmed at the sight of General Michel Aoun getting into bed with former Syrian lackeys to shore up an electoral dilemma. It is only one of many examples of how principles are quickly shed in the pursuit of power. They are all doing it, including Walid Jumblatt, who is no stranger to the gray zones of Lebanese politics. On the bright side, at least all these vulgar alliances are free of outside interference.
But then again, maybe we expect too much. Despite riding a genuine wave of national feeling, the Lebanese people may have to face up to the grisly reality that nothing much has changed. A cynic would certainly see it that way and you would see his point. The Syrians have gone, but many of those who lived off their scraps are still plying their trade.
A case of plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose? We hope not.