Executive Magazine - - Leaders -

As ev­i­denced by the protest move­ment of this sum­mer, the new gen­er­a­tion is fi­nally in town and it as­pires to its rights. When com­pared to Le­banon’s pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, namely those from the civil war and prior to 1975, the un­der 30s of to­day have the ad­van­tages of a broader ed­u­ca­tion, fewer ex­pe­ri­ences of vi­o­lent ex­ter­nal dis­rup­tions, and ben­e­fit from the mil­len­nial tech troika of com­put­ing power, con­nec­tiv­ity and so­cial net­works. What’s more, they are act­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment that is ripe for change.

Cer­tainly, not ev­ery­one to­day feels the need to craft a new so­cial con­tract for Le­banon. How­ever, the vast ma­jor­ity has been wak­ing up to the daily re­al­i­ties of their in­creas­ing pow­er­less­ness in terms of both po­lit­i­cal and elec­tri­cal power, wa­ter short­ages, in­un­da­tion with waste and not enough money to get chil­dren to col­lege, let alone through it.

These fail­ures of the Le­banese state and of tra­di­tional power fig­ures have caused des­per­a­tion which in turn has de­stroyed a lot of ver­ti­cal trust and hor­i­zon­tal so­cial cap­i­tal. Viewed pos­i­tively, this is a fer­til­izer for change. Thus, based on the im­pulse pro­vided by the protest move­ment and with buy-in from the im­por­tant stake­hold­ers – aca­demic, eco­nomic, civil so­ci­etal and even gen­uine re­form-will­ing po­lit­i­cal and tra­di­tional change mak­ers – the rewrit­ing of our so­cial con­tract be­comes a real pos­si­bil­ity.

Although a con­tract evokes the im­age of pen and pa­per, this is sel­dom the case save for a few dec­la­ra­tions made through­out history. The “writ­ing” of a new so­cial con­tract is a multi-tiered en­ter­prise and done through mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion. From the per­spec­tive of Ex­ec­u­tive, this would in­volve mo­bi­liz­ing ev­ery avail­able hu­man re­source and em­bark­ing im­me­di­ately on an ar­ray of projects, of which we em­pha­size three for starters.

As a polity, Le­banon needs the rule of law and the guar­an­tee of con­sti­tu­tional rights. At the present time, this re­quires rec­ti­fy­ing the dis­as­trous fail­ure of the elec­toral and rep­re­sen­ta­tion sys­tems, be­gin­ning with the def­i­ni­tion of a clear elec­toral law and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the con­sti­tu­tional man­date to abol­ish po­lit­i­cal con­fes­sion­al­ism.

As a body so­cial and eco­nomic, the Le­banese can­not dis­pense of know­ing who they are, how they live and what they are ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing. This re­quires a com­plete and de­tailed cen­sus of rel­e­vant de­mo­graphic, so­cial and eco­nomic data. Public and pri­vate es­tab­lish­ments, and all cit­i­zens, must have ac­cess to com­pre­hen­sive so­cial and eco­nomic in­for­ma­tion to op­ti­mize their abil­ity to plan and per­form.

As a com­mu­nity, Le­banon needs to pre­serve the re­sources of its his­toric di­ver­sity and at the same time de­velop its in­clu­sive­ness. In re­gard to the mul­ti­ple in­fra­struc­ture emer­gen­cies that the coun­try is fac­ing, and es­pe­cially the waste man­age­ment cri­sis, this means that the protest move­ment and pri­vate sec­tor should col­lab­o­rate with vigor and in­ten­sity to pro­duce work­able so­lu­tions.

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