I just finished reading an opinion written by Diana Mukkaled in Asharq al-Awsat No revolution in Lebanon. Ms. Mukkaled was giving her opinion about the recent hacking of Lebanese governments sites and how this online negative action will not lead to a revolution in the country. For those who didn’t hear the news about the hacking, last Tuesday, 16 Lebanese government ministries were hacked by a group calling itself “Raise Your Voice”. The group posted the following message on the hacked sites:
RYV actions will not lead to any major mobilization in the streets in order to force a change in the country. First of all, RYV posted message that missed a major point. By doing so, The group will not be able to gain supporters from all sides and factions “to break the silence”. The message says“We will not stop until this government’s self-made problems are solved, like the power shortage, water shortage, rise in gas prices and rise in food product prices.” It is true we have all these problems but RYV committed a mistakes in this message. These problems are not “self-made” by “this government”. It is fair to say that this government doesn’t know how to solve these problems in a decent way or some of its elements are part of the problem. But it is totally wrong to say that these problems are made by “this government”. The problems are made by corruption, wrong planning, negligence … you name it … of previous governments. If we look back from the first Hariri government in 1992 to this current government, we will notice that in 1992 the National public debt was 4382 billion Lebanese pounds and in 2011 the debt reached 80.496 trillion Lebanese pounds. You do the math. Now, can anyone tell us where these trillions Lebanese pounds were spent? What did previous governments use this money for? Shortage of water, shortage of electricity, shortage of jobs, shortage of public transportation, shortage of infrastructure, shortage of sewage plants, shortage of garbage plants, …. in 2012 and yet 80.496 trillion pounds are no where to be seen. RYV message is wrong while the intentions might be good. Due to the divisions in the country, people who side with this government will not join RYV in their call. Even though these people are also affected by the crimes, corruption, injustice, … In order for a group to raise support around noble causes, it needs to be politically neutral and doesn’t side with a political group against another. Lebanon economic, infrastructure, …. are not new and for sure not the works of only one government. What is holding the country form improving and finding solutions is the politicization of the problems by political leaders to use against each others in order to gain public support and few voters.
Ms. Mukkaled ended her article with “Weapons, sectarianism, corruption, and the fears of minorities are all helping to divide Lebanon. These divisions will not allow online activists to do anything more than celebrate their sporadic hacking operations, and thus Lebanon will remain outside the revolutionary flock.” I do agree with her opinion but I will add to it “IGNORANCE”. The ignorance of the Lebanese people is the major problem. It is the one that produces weapons, sectarianism, corruption, and fear. Lebanese, on individual level and if left alone, they can produce amazing things. Put them in their environment next to their feudal Lords and they become a bunch of ignorant. They stop analyzing, looking at things in different prospective and presenting good solutions. All they do is rally behind their feudal lords and clap for them even if they turn 180 degrees several times per day. Richard Shenkman said once that political ignorance is often conflated with “stupidity.” Fifty plus years before him, Anthony Downs demonstrated that it is rational to be ignorant: if it’s costly to learn something and there are no personal benefits from the information gained, then ignorance is the best strategy. For those who study Rational Ignorance, they need to change its definition: “Deliberate choice of a person not to acquire (not to pay attention to) a certain kind of information because of its cost in terms of time and effort that yields little or no benefit.” If they study Lebanese Rational Ignorance they will come up with the following definition: “Deliberate choice of a person not to acquire (not to pay attention to) a certain kind of information because of its cost in terms of time, and effort that yields little or no benefit to the political leader.”
“Ignorance is the mother of all evils.” Francois Rabelais