Trash Government

Originally aiming for peaceful demonstrations, the #YouStink protests turned into violent ones, resulting in riot police responding with water cannons and tear gas. The photos from the protest are hard to look at, making it hard to believe this issue would start riots – unless it is from years of anger built up against the government. Which is what happened in Lebanon: the people were not happy about the corruption in their government and how little they care about public accountability. This is reflected by them not collecting trash for  a month because they never came up with a long-term plan for after the temporary landfill has filled up.

The Lebanese government needed the pressure from its people to start making change. At the time of the movement, Lebanon had been without a president for a year. Like what Paul Amar discussed about uprisings in the Arab world, its a battle between different kinds of sovereignty, and the people usually want democracy – we saw this in the movements in Egypt, even though they did not succeed. Lebanon on the other hand, has a parliamentary government system that is divided amongst religious groups and they have an electoral system. However, in the comments of Alan Taylor’s article, the common question is “wow, Lebanon has a government?” Some people are just ignorant when they ask that, but seeing #YouStink does make you question what can the people do for the government to reform and turn into a better one.

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2 thoughts on “Trash Government

  1. Your point about the violence caused by years of built up anger makes me wonder about the place of violence in social justice movements. Many continue to disagree on the subject. Some say that peaceful protest is crucial, that violence has no place in the struggle for justice. Others, however, insist that in the face of oppression, the use of force is, at times, necessary. For example, recently, Richard Spencer, a white supremacist, was punched in the face. Many condemned this assault, arguing that violence is never the answer. However, many on social media platforms such as Twitter have posed the question, “If you can’t punch a Nazi, who can you punch?” If a person’s core beliefs threaten the safety of others, do they deserve restraint? Violence is typically viewed as an ugly and inherently evil thing, but forceful aggression has nonetheless been a compelling factor in past social justice movements. I’m not exactly sure where I stand on the issue, but I don’t think that it’s a unique problem. I think that social justice movements struggle against the oppression they face, but I think that the movement struggles within itself as well. No movement has ever been perfectly organized and planned, and passionate individuals don’t always share the same ideas about how to achieve their goals.

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  2. I also wonder about the place of violence in the greater scheme of social change and right and wrong. I don’t believe that violence is defendable in most cases, but those cases don’t cover the situations faced by middle-eastern citizens fighting their oppressive governments. Just like social theory we might have to view social resistance in these countries through a previously unknown lens. I think that I still lean towards the view that violence, even in these countries, would only be justifiable in cases of self-defense. In Egypt, what constitutes attack on the self is much easier to determine. The problems there involve very obvious cases of police brutality, and that’s obviously an attack on the self. In Lebanon it’s different. It’s a bit like the plight of blacks in America because it’s more of an subtly oppressive system. Except even this comparison isn’t adequate because in Lebanon there’s both a problem of a system and a problem of the lack of having one.

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