The Conscience Of Charbel Nahhas

Every once in a while in Lebanon, a politician takes a position that runs counter to the entire system in which he operates, challenges established traditions and accepted practices and angers pretty much every other politician.

I don’t like Charbel Nahhas’ economic policies, and for various reasons he rubs me the wrong way. But I have to admit that I’m impressed by his stance on foreign domestic labor in Lebanon. “Any labor law that takes into account the nationality of the worker is tantamount to racial discrimination” he told a surprised audience who never expected him to go that far. “Would the Lebanese who work in the USA accept to be regulated by laws different than the ones Americans are subject to?”.

Minister Nahhas went on detailing his ministry’s ambitious and progressive plans that can only be described as an outright attempt at abolition for the slave-like conditions of foreign labor in Lebanon. If he can pull off half the plans he was talking about, this will be nothing short of a social revolution in Lebanon.

Mr. Nahhas is an old-fashioned bleeding heart leftist. He’s not a practical man by any means and his strong convictions make him a bad politician and a liability to his own party. But let’s raise a glass to a conscience that we don’t see very often in public life nowadays. It’s like watching PM Salim el Hoss refusing to sign execution orders all over again.

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  • Moonsear

    “Mr. Nahhas is an old-fashioned bleeding heart leftist. He’s not a practical man by any means and his strong convictions make him a bad politician and a liability to his own party”

    You are absolutely wrong. You have understood absolutely nothing about Nahas’ policies. Someone put in the mind of Lebanese that being a leftist is wrong. Nahas is a leftist but his policies are not, they are social, something we are missing in a country where 30% of the population lives below poverty level.

    If this country has been run in an irresponsible manner, it takes someone like Nahas that is stubborn and will not accept exception to bring things back on track. we need more people like him not less.

    With regards to his own party, Nahas is the best ally ever to Aoun, he could have never hoped for a better voice in government…for the others…it is just that they are so involved in all the corruption that they just oppose him

  • OH

    LOL. Excellent post Mustapha.

    Yes, on this issue, even I will join you in a glass to my perennial bête noire.

    But, much as I dislike Hoss, I would not diss him by comparing him to Nahas. Before his ill-fated foray into politics Hoss had a serious career as an economist. Nahas got a PhD in Anthropology and spent his life desperately trying to cast himself as an economist. Tragic, really.

  • Moonsear

    Extracts from Charbel Nahas’ CV

    1979 – 1980
    In the Institute of Applied Sciences in the Lebanese University, course of micro-economics
    1980 – 1988
    Professor in the Engineering Faculty in the Lebanese University:
    Head of Civil Engineering Department (1981-1984).
    Responsible of programs coordination (1980-1985).
    Courses given: Applied economics, Urban planning, Mathematics, Structural analysis
    1974 – 1976
    Ecole Polythechnique, Paris – Option in Economics
    1976 – 1978
    Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, Paris – Major: Transportation Infrastructures and Planning
    1977 – 1979
    University of Paris -1, “Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies” in Urban Economics
    1978 – 1980
    “Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales”, Paris – 3d cycle Doctorate in Social Anthropology

    • OH

      Thanks Moonsear. My point exactly.

      He studied enough economics to know about the subject, but it is not his specialty. His doctorate is in Anthropology. He then proceeded to teach economics in an engineering school! That’s not a serious economics career.

      My objections to Nahas’ views are not because I don’t understand where he is coming from, but I think I understand him too well. I’ll spare you a diatribe, but if you are interested why I have such a visceral view about Nahas, I recommend this book by Friedrich von Hayek:
      The Counterrevolution of Science: Studies on the abuse of Reason

      There is even a chapter about Nahas’ Alma Mater!

  • CopyCat

    OH, to hell with von Hayek. He has been proven wrong on many counts, and look at the U.S: The only country that faced this crisis with Keynesian measures is now bouncing back, whilst EU economies with austerity and von Hayek-inspired approaches are circling the drain. Don’t bring your neoliberal dogma into the debate by referencing someone like von Hayek. Social Democracy works, it has worked in scandinavia, it has worked in germany, it has worked in france, and it has worked in britain. only when social democracy is corrupted by neoliberal poison does everything go to shit