Any plan must start with knowing reality. As of yet, we have no actual knowledge of our country’s assets and liabilities. We need to know what we have in terms of money, gold, and loans, as well as what we owe. The goal of the inventory is to identify the available resources to provide society’s essential needs and to rebuild the economy. By identifying our financial needs, the inventory is also the first step to any potential negotiations with foreign and domestic lenders. The façade government headed by Hassan Diab did not identify the state’s actual assets but produced a report proposing that they be distributed in a manner that is neither fair nor purposeful. Similarly, the “truth-finding” committee, in which representatives of the six sectarian leaders participated and was headed by a deputy from the Free Patriotic Movement, concealed the true losses which in turn led to even heavier societal costs that could have been avoided if those in power had a clear plan. 

The objective of the educational system is to secure specific functions, including: strengthening the legitimacy of the Civil State, nurturing critical thinking, stimulating intellectual freedom, producing knowledge, developing capabilities to manage demand, and keeping pace with the transition process by integrating post-school training. The social considerations posed by the current economic crisis allow for the focalization of education on its economic and political functions. Basic education becomes compulsory and free up to middle school, and free up to high school. The state will cover costs of education in contracted private schools, provided they commit to a unified curriculum and to conditions that facilitate integration across social classes and sects. Uncooperative private institutions will be treated as commercial establishments. Higher education will also be restructured to match the needs of the economic transition.

Electricity is an essential commodity. Today, it has a negative impact on the balance of payments in terms of production costs and import bills. Electrical power is not supplied 24/7 through the national grid: 84% of housing units depend on privately owned local generators. Generator owners, under the protection of the political parties, manage distribution and allocation of neighborhoods. The topic of electricity must be approached from three main angles: its high production costs, the heavy losses incurred by Electricite du Liban, and the mafia weaving its network into an already-flawed structure. Regulation of consumption is one of the first decisions to be made. This can be achieved through setting complementary tariffs and financial provisions aimed at reducing consumption, limiting subsidies to the lowest consumption bracket, and making energy costs progressive, in addition to reducing energy costs for productive activities according to the size of their added value, net exports, and the number of jobs they provide. The second decision aims at diversifying energy production to mitigate environmental, technological, economic and political risks.

Society is in continuous transformation

As mentioned earlier, authority draws its legitimacy from the consent, at a certain pivotal moment, for certain power relationships within a society. However, since the society that bestowed this legitimacy is in continuous transformation, a regime is compelled to assert that this society is fixed and constant to ensure its own continuity.

Do elections change power systems?

Contrary to common belief, elections do not change a power system; it merely renews its legitimacy. Irrespective of who wins elections, society consents to its representatives from within the current power system that holds these elections.

How then do power systems change?

Power systems change either by imposition of a foreign power or due to internal crises. The latter takes place when a power system’s operational legitimacy is undermined by its inability to accept the political repercussions of the choices it needs to make. These are fundamental crises which if ignored would disintegrate society and lead to violence.

Authority is an outcome of societal acceptance.

Authority draws its legitimacy from the consent for certain power relationships within a society. In the absence of such a consent, contradictions within a society can lead to separations and isolations, with a rejection of any claim of authority. Therefore authoritarian regimes if not accepted by a society will impose this consent.

The power system we have today was legitimized in the early 1990’s to end the Lebanese civil war. Sectarian taïfa warlords and some billionaires agreed on it, sponsored by external powers. Technically, it was defined through constitutional changes approved on September 30, 1989 in Taïf (Saudi Arabia) by the remaining members of parliament at that time, who were later ousted. An agreement in 1992 established a formula regulating the sectarian taïfa allocation of resources and positions of power in a bet on oil money and regional peace. Society at the time was ready to accept anything that turns the page of a bitter war that lasted 15 years.  What if today’s new page maintained the existing power system?  It would absolve them from yesterday’s mistakes as if nothing had happened, and bribe society with an illusionary future of extravagance and luxury.

Society is shaped by its own power system.

As the main function of authority is to organize societal relations within a set of rules, regulations, and institutions, it is the essential contributor in forming and strengthening some ties while gradually disintegrating others. As such, we claim that our project is able to produce a society to the extent that it seeks to form and maintain a purposeful network of relations that strengthens assimilations internally while self-differentiating from external societies. Power is not something that is given and taken or politicians who come and go, but rather an institutional backbone at the heart of societal formation.

The power system that came about in the 1990’s helped establish an imaginary coexistence of various sectarian taïfa identities. While the extremist ideologies of these sectarian taïfas were shaped during the civil war when sectarian taïfa identities took their extreme features, they further strengthened in the three decades that followed due to the consolidation of authoritarian relations and the generalization of submission and loyalty to sectarian taïfa leaders. The role of a sectarian taïfa leader is to maximize the share of resources allocated to his sectarian taïfa , and then oversee the distribution of these spoils among members of his sectarian taïfa sub-group. This means that whoever does not belong to a sectarian taïfa sub-group has become without rights.

Understanding these interdependencies leads us to conclude that the current condition of our society is not a coincidence, and that the future of our society is not a fate.

Strengthening the current transportation network only leads to an increase in the number of cars, resulting in large losses in terms of time spent on daily trips, traffic accidents, environmental damage and high costs on the economy due to imports of cars and fuel. Currently, public transportation is primitive and unorganized, lacks a clear timetable and route, and significantly contributes to creating traffic jams and accidents. Short-term and long-term work plans need to be defined. On the short-term, the redistribution of income and costs needs to be determined, in addition to increasing transportation between different poles (direct axis between Tripoli, Beirut, Nabatiyeh and between Beirut, Zahle and Baalbek), and reducing it within each pole (e.g. within Beirut). A public transportation network will be established on dedicated lanes within the boundaries of Tabarja, Beit Mery, Doha, Aramoun and Damour, and highways will be restored to their functions and capacity, away from building and commercial shops. Cost of transportation on the economy will also be reduced through pivotal changes to means of transportation.

Housing is not merely a functional need for shelter. In the current political system, the housing sector has become organized based on a hierarchy reflecting social class and sectarian affiliations. This has led to the marginalization of some towns and cities, and subsequently to an increase in population density in certain regions. In addition, 65% of foreign remittances were invested in real estate speculations, contributing to the decline of other productive sectors and to the increase in prices of land and rent. This urban strategy transformed highways into commercial boulevards, destroyed buildings and heritage sites, and led to the multiplication of ghost towns in the absence of any official population census. The situation calls for a decisive intervention at the level of fiscal and urban planning policies. Putting a stop to evictions is priority, followed by a revision of contracts and loan payment schedules in order to rationalize real estate prices and avoid systemic bankruptcy of real estate developers and construction companies. Accurate fiscal and tax policies are also needed to ensure compatibility of rent with the situation of both owners and tenants.

The primary source to finance universal healthcare should be the income generated from different sources of rent. Funding through compulsory wage-based contributions is unjustifiable, especially in light of increasing unemployment and reduced real wages. It is the National Social Security Fund’s responsibility to manage the system delivering comprehensive basic health coverage, while complementary benefits provision remains with existing professional funds, mutual funds and private insurance companies.