Camus, come back


2012 is a presidential election year in three “superpowers” France, the US, and Russia.

While in Russia people are on the streets and protestors mobilized online and on-the-grounds, denouncing Putin’s corruption, in France and the US, the election process has a different flavor.

Interestingly, in these two countries, where democracy is comparatively better instilled in institutions and processes, the people are presented with the “super candidate” images. It’s as if the media have become “candidate-centric”, bringing back to mind the days of communism, forgoing all objective analysis, in favor of promoting one candidate over the other… Libé vs Figaro in France, NYT/Atlantic/New Yorker vs WSJ the Post and Fox of course…

With the absence of a neutral body monitoring platforms, what have the pretenders become? Populist, multifarious quacks. I hear Hollande, the Socialist candidate, calling out for the “Rassemblement” while treating the incumbent president a “sale mec”; every slight incident, every economic plan, every suggestion is shut down by the opposing party, whether it makes sense or not; and why not? The media has become a mouthpiece for whichever candidate it has sided with. In declaring himself the president who will not be adding taxes and modeling his 2007 platform on Bush’s (GW) platform: liberalization of the banks, allowing for bigger debts to the average French household, Sarkozy, during his term, ended up crusading against the liberal economies, against the unbridled operations of the bank, and recently championing for taxes on financial transactions!

Such a scene brings back to mind Orwell’s Animal Farm, where the animals look at the ruling pigs and then back at their former human-master, against whom they rebelled, and fail to see the difference… (We experienced the same in Lebanin in 2005 and 2007, didn’t we?)

I chose the title for this post “Camus, come back” because I stumbled upon an hors-serie by the Figaro exclusively covering the life of Camus; in a particular period, where he began to drift away from the leftists with his book “L’Homme Révolté”, he retorts back at the infuriated leftists: “Si la droite disait que la terre est ronde, faudrait-il le nier?” (at that time, Sartre was barking his infamous “Tout anti-communiste est un chien!). In my opinion, this is the kind of talk that is needed these days, whether in France or in our dear old country. We are at a point where dialogue and open-discussion are no longer possible. A time when the pathetic mention of colors spurs the most absurd of discussions and positions among the average Lebanese.

In the United States, the political discourse is not dissimilar… In the coming months, it would be interesting to observe how as the Republican candidates travel deeper to the South, the holier they get, the more pious their images will become, the warmer their embrace will be felt to Born-Again Christians, the more regressive their political views and economic solutions will become, and then again as they travel East and Northeast, suddenly they become religiously-neutral (as neutral as a Republican can get, nevertheless), we will start about a reformation of the health-care system, and gone will be the talk of abolishing government institutions. It’s like these Republicans, though the Democrats when the turn will come won’t be much different, are running for an election in two different countries!

Yet, wasn’t it a Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, who during the Civil War, adopted the formulation the “United States is”, instead of the federalist one the “United States are”?

I encourage your opinions and comments; if we are unable to talk reasonably with one another in this country, let us at least attempt it make it more successful online…

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