Monday, December 22, 2008

Great expectations

"It’s a very difficult situation,” said Heidi Fernandez, who advocates for land reform with Task Force Maplod, a non-governmental organisation. “We have a president who is landed, her husband comes from the landed class, our lawmakers – many of them own land. They are in power, so what could these farmers do against these big, powerful landowners?”"

This is the eternal problem: how can we expect the beneficiaries of an unjust system to work against it? I am reading a strange little book by a guy called Michael Awn, who appears to be a communist lawyer. I found it among the discarded books on the shelves of the Ras Beirut bookstore as it was closing down (very sad moment). The book is called: the History of Land Tenure in Lebanon, and it has a reasonably good class analysis of land ownership, and it also challenges private land property in Lebanon and seeks its roots. But I've never seen this book quoted in any of the numerous studies on land tenure I have collected, most of which are published by the UN and other similarly "objective" bodies who refuse to call things by their name.

Which brings me to the question of political sectarianism in Lebanon: are we really expecting that the same parliamentarians who are elected because of their sectarian affiliation will actually legislate to elliminate political sectarianism? Doesn't look very likely to me.

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