They have no leadership, no recognisable faces of integrity. And – the greatest tragedy of all – they don’t seem to be interested in finding any
Revolutions are like electricity. An electric shock of the most unexpected kind. The victims think at first it must be a powerful wasp sting. Then they realise the entire house in which they live has been electrocuted.
They react with howls of pain, promises to move home or to rewire the entire place, to protect the occupants. But once they realise that the electricity can be tamed – however ruthlessly – and, most important of all, that it has no controlling element, they begin to relax. It was all a faulty connection, they say to themselves. A few tough and well-trained electricians can deal with this rogue power surge.
That’s what’s happening in Iraq and Lebanon and Algeria. In Baghdad and Kerbala, in Beirut and in the city of Algiers – and, once again, in miniature and briefly, in Cairo. The young and the educated demanded an end not just to corruption but to sectarianism, to confessionalism, to religious-based mafia governments of immense wealth, arrogance and power.
But they have all made the same mistake that millions of Egyptians made in 2011: they have no leadership, no recognisable faces of integrity. And – the greatest tragedy of all – they don’t seem to be interested in finding any.
Bring down the regime, the government, the masters of deceit, the cancerous centres of power: that is their only cry. The Lebanese protestors, in their hundreds of thousands, are demanding a new constitution, an end to the confessional system of government – and to abject poverty. They are absolutely right; but then they stop. The cheats must leave forever. Whether these men – for they are all men, of course – are nepotistic, thieving or rely on armed power, their departure is enough for those who must inherit the future of Lebanon.
It’s as if the revolutionaries of Beirut, Baghdad and Algiers are too pure to dip their fingers in the glue of political power, their goodness too heavenly to be contaminated by the dirt of politics, their demands too spiritual to be touched by the everyday hard work of future governance that they believe their courage alone will ensure victory.