Adonis on the War in Lebanon

In its August issue, the French bi-weekly Courrier International prints a special section of responses to the war in Lebanon. Among them is the following piece by the poet Adonis, which he has kindly permitted me to reprint here:

THE DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

—The destruction of Lebanon is the destruction of a model for a pluralist society.—

If one makes abstraction of the Israeli-Arab conflict or of the political interests of the West, it looks as if the origins of the Lebanese problem are tied to the “privileged” position of this country: regionally, Lebanon represents a unique human and cultural fabric perfectly adapted to the birth of a democratic development in an antidemocratic environment. But such a democracy would evidently be in contradiction both with the current Arab regimes and with Israel.

On the one hand the Arab states, despite their surface adaptation to democratic forms, will not stop being “theocracies,” simply because of the “natural” rootedness of their power and of the vision they have of non-Muslims. On the other hand, if the Israeli democracy were founded on plurality and diversity it would contradict what is in fact an exclusive project — that of the Jewish people seeing itself as a chosen people, without diversity or plurality. In this corner of the world, a Lebanese democracy would turn out to be, on the human and cultural level, a radical and lasting transgression of the prevailing rules, and this all the more, the richer, more open, more convincing and attractive it would be.

In fact, thanks to its particular situation, Lebanon as a defender of freedom of thought, could give a positive boost to the development of a secular civil society, it could contribute to the advent of a state whose humanistic values would be completely devoid of all religious convictions and adherences, a state whose citizens would be free to follow their religious beliefs, but also free not to have any.

For Lebanon this particularity is as much a strength as it is a weakness. It lies also at the root of the external political influences to which the country succumbs. Should Lebanon be destroyed, the whole region will be deprived of this particularity — a model for a humanist solution — and will find itself in its totality the victim of a regression that will throw back it three thousand years . The danger we are running today is a return to a time of prophecies, of apocalypses, of wars and despair. A return to obscurantism.

[translated by Pierre Joris]

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1 Response

  1. Lilac says:

    Thank you for your willingness to speak out. Whatever the opinion may be.

    Ron Silliman is unable to speak out because he is a bigot of the highest order.

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