One can argue that the “Lebanese System” has survived all these years for particular reasons that can be “rationally” explained. The system has shown that it is both resilient and accommodating. One can even argue that it is resilient because it is extremely accommodating. It has survived the civil war intact with all its idiosyncrasies and symbols, including its clerics, politicians and social habits.

Its elasticity is demonstrated by the ability to accommodate patriotism, corruption, sectarianism, modernity and tribalism under the banner of democracy, the Phoenicians and Pan-Arabism.

One can further argue that, to stay strong, the system must have secrets and scandals. Decisions are made in secrecy and clandestinely. Critics and the opposition present those decisions to the public as scandals. For example, in spite of thousands of speeches and declarations on the public debt, electricity, the Displaced Fund and Al-Madina Bank, there is little substance in the end. Instead, we are left with the impression that a “grand conspiracy” exists and that the Lebanese are helpless. The vicious circle continues, more decisions are taken in secret, more scandals… the truth is missing. Citizens accomodate politicians (Check Ii poll in this issue) and politicians do the same.

Those two constant features, secrets and scandals, keep the Lebanese system going, since the scandals serve as a camouflage for the system’s “secret” formula. The fact is that everything we see around us that is represented as corruption, chaos, lack of know-how or mismanagement is the result of a carefully planned system and “arrangement” that all the Lebanese are privy to.

While the system is incapable of providing safe and efficient public and private transportation and roads, it provides annual maintenance through MPs and the Ministry of Public Transport. It allows around 600,000 vehicles over 13 years old on the roads, while pretending to implement motor vehicle inspections and tests, a formula that accommodates both the citizens and the politicians.

One can further argue that, in order for the system to be sustainable, it requires continuous funding. To that end, we resorted to emigration, borrowing and “other arrangements.”

Yes, the system is inefficient, but sustainable…as long as we have emigration, secrets and scandals.

Jawad Adra