Tuesday, November 12, 2019

All politicians

One of the recurring chants of the Beirut demonstrations has been “all of them means all of them”, as in that all politicians should resign. Not only do the protesters want to eject the entire existing political class but they also seem to share the belief that “neutral” technocratic experts would be better suited to govern the country.

As a political scientist, it is not difficult to see where this is coming from given the endemic corruption and mismanagement associated with the current confessional system. Still, thinking of good old Max Weber, one may be forgiven for having doubts about the possibility of value-free politics. Once in place, it is also likely that those technocratic experts may soon find themselves engaged in exactly the same kind of dodgy deals and rent-seeking behaviour as the politicians before them.

The talk about “clean” experts somehow reminded me of Paul Romer’s idea of “charter cities” which has rightly been criticized for its neo-colonial overtones. Still, there is a genuine need for political reform and a window of opportunity here but, more than neutral experts, I see a need for political ideology and a long-term vision of social progress.

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