An Essay Concerning the Republic of Mount Lebanon Being an Apology for the Establishment of a Commonwealth

Joseph Bou Charaa


It was when overwhelmed by the affects that I undertook the labour to pen my thoughts on government and polity to paper, to write publically an apology for the establishment of a national homeland for the Christian ethnicities in Mount Lebanon. For I love not my country the less but my people more, that by this work I commit myself to their defence and well-being, a fact unthinkable to be realized except through partitioning the Lebanese Republic.

The right of a people in self-governance however small in number they might be, is natural and God-given, and by such fact no argument could be established to counter it, unless one appeals to brutality. It is this right that leads the masses from a state of servitude toward a future prosperous in which both liberty and safety reign.

The Christian ethnicities of the Lebanese Republic have a right to demand a state of their own that will respect their identities, cultures, and shared history. Such a state would ensure a future freed from discrimination and hate, while achieving at the same time a broader regional peace, and in the words of wise Cicero “pax est tranquilla libertas”.

Undoubtedly, some are inclined to reject the idea of an independent nation by objecting with claims ignorant or fictitious in nature, to which one must address with clarity while asserting one’s right. And since I took on myself to defend the rights of the Christian ethnicities beforehand, I thereupon lay some responses to these objections:

The geographical objection: This has been made an objection to federalism as well, but without reason. This republic, it claims, will not withstand itself, since it lacks the agricultural space necessary for the sustainability of its population. The bulk of this argument is centred on obsolete understandings of agriculture, which are drawn perhaps from the musings of Hesiod or the ramblings of De Agri Cultura more than the proper modern studies within the field. To object this right, therefore, if it is possible, on the grounds of geography, is to deny the existence of smaller nations, of city-states, and such.

The economic objection: The argument follows the geographical objection: To ensure the sustainability of the state’s economy the state ought to ensure its agricultural spaces and trade routes. The first was discussed beforehand, while the latter is self-evident in history. During the Mutassarifiate, when the Christian ethnicities enjoyed a period of semi-political autonomy, they were able to export goods due to Jounieh port. This lead eventually Mount Lebanon to witness an economic flourishing and subsequently a cultural renaissance.

The strategic objection: This argument also follows the geographical objection: Since this republic is small, it lacks the strategic capabilities for its defence. Yet the fact remains that this argument itself is indefensible, and one need not but to look at the history of Mount Lebanon to observe the efficiency of its natural defences, and how they were utilized for strategic advantages. Von Clausewitz acutely observed that the dominant impediment in a mountainous country is to access. The mountains themselves were the reason that our people still have the leverage of freedoms in these lands, “for there the shield of the mighty was despised” (2 Samuel 1:21). One cannot dismiss the character of the ground as trivial when considering number in the art of warfare, for it is a universally acknowledged fact since the antique Thermopylae to the Finnish woods that men who knew quite well their terrain, and stood firmly their ground, took the upper hand in battle. And The history of the Maronites in Mount Lebanon exemplifies this good use of the nature of the terrain in gaining special advantages over exposed offensives.

The demographic objection: The objection could be summarized by the following proposition: The population of Mount Lebanon in its entirety consists not of Christian ethnicities, there are other communities within this region. Indeed, there ought to be some diversity in thought or culture, for these groups are perfectly assimilated within the Christian culture, and they do coexist as individuals or communities with the Christian majority. And the latter have nothing of concern with the dogmatic belief nor the cultural identity of said groups (be they Muslims, atheists, or agnostics) as long as they abide by the rule of law and act according to the principle of toleration.

Thus, if one obstinately asserts these objections and dismisses the facts historical, social, political, and cultural as mere trivialities, what remains then but to fight for our rights.

Many have entertained, however, the idea of federalism, while some, who are of a Utopian taste, insisted on the current state of affairs as an ideal status quo, imploring the diction of Theocritus rather than that of Aristotle. One ought, therefore, to refute both claims.

A refutation of the federalist proposal

When a people suffer injuries and injustices from a political covenant by which they are treated as secondary citizens, it is lawful accordingly that such an unjust pact be broken. Those who claim that by changing the system of governance the state of a fractured country might be amended are either ignorant or ignorantly optimists, and when considering the art of politics both traits are useless. Understandably the illusion of unity may seem appealing to the optimist minds, but it is an illusion nonetheless, and ought to be medicated properly.

If there is a case for a federal state, then the empirical facts objectively disprove all its claims, for the premise of a “Lebanese people” or “Lebanese identity” itself is ridiculed when faced a plethora of indifferent reality. The inhabitants of the republic, who share the same citizenship without being citizens, are less eager to be united under any system, let alone a federal nation that organizes their seemingly never ending quarrels.

The federalists insist on the “one people” premise, and denounce historical truth as a biased totality that could be emended once the “proper system” is implemented. Although they make good use of their inductive skills by identifying the problem, they fail miserably in providing an accurate solution to it, by falling in a Cartesian circle:

- Federalism is the best solution for Lebanon for its ability to manage diversity.

- Since diversity exists in Lebanon, a federal system would be the best solution.

This vicious circle ignores, so to speak, a third element in the equation, since it does not take, in good conscience, the possibility of anti-unification sentiment as an empirical fact. Though I cannot presume the moral or philosophical principles of the federalist, I can deem his proposal, however, as an inadequate understanding of human nature, as well as the socio-cultural assumptions of the said communities.

A refutation of Utopian thought

Whenever I found myself discussing “political” works of great imagination, I am often reminded of that quip by the good Monsieur Boileau:

“Aimez donc la raison : que toujours vos écrits

Empruntent d’elle seule et leur lustre et leur prix.” (L’Art Poétique, Chant I)

One could easily remark that those who favor some strand of Utopianism have never surpassed political amateurism, or its juvenile attachments. Yet behind the veil of evident stupidity one might stumble upon a loose reasoning on a mystical logic. They claim that the Lebanese Republic is a modal of diversity within hierarchical Middle Eastern societies, and yet they ignore it is a failed state; they claim that coexistence is natural and inevitable, and yet they dismiss ethnic cleansing and sectarian massacres; they raise the banners of naïve optimism, and yet the lives of their compatriots are bristled with misery. Rome is not burning, Rome is burnt, and yet few of them prefer myths over impersonal observations, and happy illusions over bleak reality, ergo vincere non possumus nisi veritas vincat (Valla, D.D., L. III, pp. 208).

No strain of reasoning could rectify the absurdity of such thought, and the mere act of reflecting upon it would be an insult to every sound mind, for this would give it the leisure of substance. Although such doctrines, for the purposes of intellectual entertainment, might seem alluring to some, to others they are futile and unworthy of simple consideration. They value what might be over what is, and fail to observe that universal rule that necessity overrules probability, since the first is a scientific principle, while the latter is a trait of pseudo-science.

Those who fear the true voice of their people will not hesitate to quieten it, since no institution expresses liberty more efficiently than that of the human language. If the Common Will have chosen independence, then a referendum is the second dutiful thing to do. Those who deny this right, either publicly or through duplicitous speech, are condemned to shame by posterity. Self-interests and utter ignorance are treasonous traits when a nation's future is hinged upon the opinions of few men.

Final notes

The aim of this book is to elaborate and elucidate the ideas and arguments concerning human nature, rights of man, and proper governance. Those who value the dignity of man and his well-being will find this work an honest exposition of what the Judeo-Christian judgement might distort within pure objective inquiry.

This work is not the product of various reflections, a leisure to the tranquil minds, rather the inevitable outcome of logical analyses. If those who reason rightly from false premises are madmen, then surely those who did not subject the premises to their own desires and ends, and followed their logical outcome accordingly, even if the outcome itself refuted whatever held proposition, are rightly called philosophers.