Ab­sent lead­er­ship

Executive Magazine - - Editorial - Yasser Akkaoui Edi­tor-in-chief

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.

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