There is no division by force nor unity by domination
By Sejean Azzi
(See Translation in Arabic Section
There are peoples who, no matter how their enemies try to divide them, unite because their one national feeling is stronger than division.
There are peoples, no matter how hard their allies try to unite them, are divided because the feelings of their national components are scattered and their loyalties roam in other countries.
Attempts to rebel against this historical inevitability have led to tragedies. The past year witnessed a change in the borders of 80 countries with separation, division or unification.
Of the changes, some happened peacefully, some happened militarily, and the rest happened as a result of an external plan. The experiences of Germany, the Soviet Union and the Arab world may be more expressive of the role of freedom, nationalism, religion and colonialism in changing countries and nations.
On this day, October 7, in 1949, the victorious countries of World War II (America, Britain and the Soviet Union) announced the official division of Germany into two states after its partition in 1945. But the German people hastened to restore their federal unity the moment the fall of the Soviet Union began in 1989. Later, Angela Merkel, the daughter of communist Germany, became the chancellor of a liberal united Germany. National sentiments are alive.
During October 1989, the Russian people rose up against the Soviet Union and its 15 countries, which the communist regime had forcibly brought together for more than 70 years, took the initiative to secede and return to former national entities.
Some of these peoples returned and were divided ethnically and religiously within their new entities, such as the countries of the Balkan countries (Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Macedonia).
Ten years ago, Arab peoples rose up against their regimes in what was called the “Arab Spring”. The regimes remained - even if their men changed - and goals were revealed that go beyond regime change to entity change. Muslim minorities demanded partition, self-rule, self-determination and federal rule in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Sudan. The Christian minorities in Iraq and Syria and the Copts in Egypt abstained. The concept of the state triumphed among Christians.
These examples show that:
1) peoples do not unite or divide by chance, compromise or oppression;
2) The number of the population and the area of the land has nothing to do with independent self-determination;
3) The reasons for union and separation are different among peoples.
In general, a people does not unite or divide without valid existential reasons. Neither unity lasts nor division if the reasons are flimsy and circumstantial. The unitary option without solid foundations is not a virtue, and the dividing option for solid compelling reasons is not a vice.
Many peoples preferred to separate under the pretext of the impossibility of partnership, and other peoples lined up unity in confirmation of the will of a common life under one state and one legitimacy. Unity is the ability to live with the other who is different, and division is the contentment with life with the other similar. If unity has a thousand constitutional forms, division has only one form.
Self-determination, whatever its kind, is neither an accusation nor treason. Betrayal is to push a people proud of their unity to think of alternatives to national partnership. It pains me, the son of Mount Lebanon, to give up my homeland because a group decided to build a colony for a foreign country against the will of the Lebanese. The unity of the homeland is not only by the people’s belonging to their state but by their belonging to its history. This is the concept of the nation-state. What is left of me without Phoenicia, Sidon, and Tyre, and without those cities, kingdoms, and legends? The history of Lebanese politics began in Mount Lebanon, but the history of Lebanese civilization began in the coastal Phoenician cities.
There is no compulsion in fateful options. Peoples create themselves automatically according to the harmony of their components, and they become independent according to their peculiarities. When the pluralistic peoples unite, they choose the form of their system from among a set of unitary constitutional forms, starting with exclusive unity and ending with federalism. Unity is not a rigid template except in the minds of some, and there is no hierarchy of value between these forms, as they are all constitutionally equal. The value of each constitutional form is the extent to which it preserves entity unity and is compatible with the reality of pluralism, so that it does not explode in the face of the challenges of time.
A people differing on the basics, some of its components cannot insist on a central unity in order to dominate the other components. This bad faith stubbornness explodes order, partnership, and entity. But the displacement of a class is not enough to divide the homeland, but it is a motive to return it to it, if possible.
Before a people agrees on the unity or division of their country, they must believe in their country. It is difficult to unite Lebanon if our belief in it is incomplete and polytheistic, and it is impossible to divide it if our belief in it is constant and our view of it is one. The choice of homeland precedes the choice of order, and the choice of life precedes the two. In its depth, constitutional philosophy is a political philosophy, and political philosophy in its essence is a historical philosophy, so that it is impossible for a people to build an authentic future apart from its historical path. The course of Lebanon’s history is the path of freedom, not the path of unity and division, and the cases of unity are not the most likely.
Freedom and unity met in the Emirate of Mount Lebanon between Christians and Druze, and the Shiites merged with them in the Mutasarrifiyya, and the Sunnis joined them in Greater Lebanon. Everyone met in the land and authority more than they met in the homeland and the state, so the burden on the formula weighed its conflicting weights and scattered in the chaos of options because the concepts of freedom and unity were attacked.
We, the believers in Lebanon, are called to confront the emerging problems in parallel with the legitimacy and outside the state, lest doubts increase in the strength of the unity of our country and the decade-long break.
For years, separatist cases have emerged that have inflicted severe damage to the state of Lebanon. The danger is that the Lebanese had previously believed in the existence of solutions to their conflicts within the framework of Lebanon’s unity, because the opponent was a foreigner. Today, the space for solutions goes beyond unity because the opponent is Lebanese.
There are forces that are arrogant about history, and are trying to change the course of Lebanon’s future by force, and turn our love into aversion and our company into a trap. You did not learn the national anthem and did not listen to him repeating: “His name is his glory, since the time of the forefathers.”
Our role is to persuade, or prevent, if it is impossible the persuasion, these groups to impose their separatist and rebellious will, regardless of their circumstantial strength. A sectarian response is not recommended for any other sect, but a national response. The national response highlights the patriotism of the conflict and guarantees the unity of the Lebanese. All sectarian responses have been devastated by defeats and have not been able to change the reality. Only patriotic stances have transformed Lebanon for the better.