The Complex of the Colonized Lebanese Revisited.

Friday, November 20, 2009 at 3:36pm

In my last note, I argued that the Lebanese were victims of the complex of the colonized in that they attempted at any occasion to place themselves as equals to the Westerners through all sorts of publicity and “moral” marketing about Beirut. What triggered my reflection was the desperate character of the endeavor, and the generalized mood of idealness surrounding the much-vaunted “capital of life”; in many respects, my reflection was a response to this wave of exasperating one-sidedness. Hence my post-scriptum about the fragment’s further revision. In short, my contention that Lebanon was not a pain-free country aimed to countervail this babbing (to bab = to Brag About Beirut, acronym made verb).

I was pointed out that my perspective was purely Lebanese-Lebanese. Indeed, my text had totally shunned the Westerners’ responsibility in fathering this complex. I now realize my indictment was too heavy towards the Colonized Lebanese. This said, the following lines will be less an apology of the Colonized Lebanese than a reduction of his sentence.

By adopting a dialectical perspective, an imperious question occurs: what if the West’s self-assumed position of approval-giver was the *cause* of the CCL? This would imply that the Colonized’s self-positioning as inferior is attributable to the Westerner’s attitude of superiority and omniscience. Indeed, it is the Westerner who grants clearance in everything, be it in Visas or cultural goods, as well as in intellectual ideas. He is the ultimate judge of “what’s cool” and “what’s not cool”. No film, no book, no nothing can gain “international acclaim” without the West, for the West *is* the “international acclaim”.

As far as the Colonized Lebanese is concerned, the mechanism of the Complex of the Colonized could be broken down as follows:
1- The West positions himself as the supreme legitimacy provider in terms of aesthetical taste, cultural “refinement”, technical and human “development”; thus,
2- The CL longs for his approval; which leads us to conclude that:
3- The Westerner is guilty of arrogance, and the CL is guilty of lacking self-confidence.
4- It goes without saying that the W expects and/or believes the CL to be needy (and act upon it), and that the CL expects and/or believes the W to be superior (and act upon it).

There is no identity without otherness, elementary my dear Watson, i.e. the Colonized is not a Colonized unless there is a Colonizer, but the latter is not the only responsible of the former’s complex. Both, Colonized and Colonizer – more precisely, the relational dynamic between them –, produced the figure of the Colonized-Loser and the Colonizer-Winner.

Unfortunately, globalism and multiculturalism do not lead to the extinction of stereotypes but their multiplication. I somewhat understand now the urge of my fellow Lebanese to advertise their country. And the Westerners probably deserve an incentive to visit Beirut, for the perversion of globalism lies precisely in the “solidification” of foreign cultures and countries in our minds. Concretely, this means that each location is labeled as “good” or “bad”, “safe” or “not safe”, “developed” or “not developed”, “beautiful” or “ugly”, “exciting” or “dull”, “exotic” or “not exotic”, “romantic” or “not romantic”; or simply put: “cool” or “not cool”, “fun” or “not fun”. You see, judgments are everywhere. Because Humans judge all the time. And sometimes, this leads other Humans to try to be something they are not, just to feel the pleasurable illusion that they satisfied their observers.

The Colonized Lebanese is alienated. But he is not to be blamed alone. From 1975 till 2005, Lebanon suffered from bombs, killings and occupation as much as he suffered from misinformation (often deliberate). Only in 2005 did Lebanon enter the “global” history (and politics) again. And yet, since then, the “international” news about it were never fortunate, except during those brief 2 months in 2005 where everything changed, and yet eventually managed to remain the same. Our image is tarnished, that’s why we desperately try to restore it.

Now I look at you, Global Architect, and say: “You deserve an indictment”.

This self-criticism owes a lot to all those, friends and non-friends, who reacted on my last note. A special merci goes to Joy, whose valuable comments and remarks were a shaping factor in the CCL revisitation. En attendant “the bigger chunk”.

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One Response to The Complex of the Colonized Lebanese Revisited.

  1. Pingback: Review of the Film Stray Bullet” (Rsasa Taysheh). | "Billets d'humeur" on Lebanon.

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