“Citizens in a State” is an organized political movement that aims to contribute decisively to the establishment of an integral, civil, democratic, just, and potent State in Lebanon, and to restore the worth and meaning of public engagement. It aims to achieve this by calling upon the citizen, through the combination of knowledge production and political struggle, to opt for a State that would be the guarantor of his fundamental rights and human dignity.
Establishing such a State is a priority that is justified by the current local, regional, and international juncture in this time in history. Today and in this part of the world, a State is a functional necessity to preserve our society. This being said, we fully acknowledge that a State is a mere circumstantial and situational arrangement, which can take different forms that vary in terms of stability, efficiency and value. The adaptation of such an arrangement lies at the heart of any political action.
A State is the institution entrusted by a society to formulate the collective and individual roles it comprises as well as their resulting hierarchy. This formulation constitutes a theoretical system of reference. This institution claims the right and responsibility, both of which are accepted by the society, to enforce compliance to the system, i.e. acquire authority. Having multitude of societies cannot bring forth a State. On the contrary, these societies will resist any attempt at building one. This resistance stems from the tendency of the State, when facing intricate situations that threaten its foundations, to challenge the positions of societal authority. But also because a state assigns what is known as responsibilities, which sub-state authorities attempt to avoid through retreat, dependency, maneuvering, or “disassociation”. A State raises the stakes and gains, upward or downward, since it establishes direct relations with internal and external realities.
A State’s efficiency, locally and internationally, depends on its ability to cost-effectively mobilize its own resources, and thus on its legitimacy. It acquires legitimacy, i.e. acceptance by citizens of its authority, first through the full commitment of its apparatus to uphold the public interest which it pretends to represent over any other common or individual interest. This is known as good governance as opposed to State corruption. Public interest does not consist of abstract ideas; it is rather a representation accepted by society (not necessarily through legal texts) of regulating functions. These functions justify the establishment of the State in the first place by describing it as a resource mobilization apparatus that divides these resources into social roles and groups. The formal nature of a State requires setting organized frameworks and these frameworks entail a foundational exchange between acquiring legitimacy, meaning loyalty to the State, against the granting or acquisition of rights.
However, the formal conceptual structure of a State, whether in the contemporary legal system or the traditional religious system, and despite the foundational characteristic of its role, cannot be dissociated from the collective or individual roles within a society. Such roles are not set in stone; they mirror the historical development happening in society and in the world. Consequently, a State will always be torn by the paradox of committing to serve the public interest and resolve conflicts on one hand, and adapting to the requirements of the social order and its preponderant and changing interests, on the other hand. Therefore, a State is concurrently a means to manage the society’s interests according to certain rules, and a permanent stage for political confrontations that arise from the self-interested blocs’ pursuit to alter the rules of managing the society. As such, it is necessary to distinguish between management and politics and recognize the risk of neglecting or hiding either of the two facets
As a circumstantial arrangement, the State separates between the inside (the domestic) and the outside (the foreign), in terms of territory and people, with the objective of governing the interaction between the inside and the outside in a way that benefits the interests of the inside. As such, the Lebanese vision of a State, as much as it is valued by the citizens living under it, is actually a regional and international political project, that, if successful, would present a new paradigm justifying building effective and legitimate states across the region, starting with the relations between Lebanon and Syria. This political project is in opposition with a long and entrenched path which visibly fragments society and is founded on the indirect relation to authority and a complete rupture between societal structures and de facto authorities. Finally, this project is the mirrored image of the political and historical course, as well as the behavioral patterns of the society and individuals. Historically, the ruling authority is seen by the society as an alien entity, be it an empire, a colonial state, an “independent” State, or a military regime. As a consequence, society seeks to remain in the good graces of authorities when it fears it and attempts to seize it when it In turn, the ruling power deals with societal realities in the same way, mixing both appeasement and oppression. This reciprocal interaction results in vulnerability towards the outside, which allows it, at any time, to exploit the imbalances between human, material and intellectual resources resulting from this fragmentation. As a consequence, authoritarianism, injustice, ignorance, desperation and destruction prevail, starting with the Zionist occupation of Palestine, to the shameful subservience to external powers by different regimes.
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