Ghosts from the past are not solutions to present problems..
Here’s a logic that appeals to many people: Our politicians today are corrupt and evil. Back in the day, we had real men. Men who sacrificed for the good of the republic. Men who gave our parents better days than the ones we have today.
We’ve seen that logic play out in Turkey, with Attaturk nostalgists railing against the Islamization of Erdogan. We’ve seen it in the Arab world, with Nasserite arabists lamenting the “glorious” days of Abdul Nasser that contrast with today’s mediocrity.
And today, unfortunately, we’re seeing it in Lebanon too, with portraits of Fouad Chehab being plastered all over the streets of Beirut, accompanied by adoring hagiographies in the Lebanese blogosphere..
I say unfortunately because I can’t believe that people still believe the myths that are woven in history books about supposedly great people of the past. For all we know the three politicians above may have been as dirty as the ones we have today. Our leaders of today may one day appear as paragons of virtue to our great grandchildren. History books are purposefully dramatic and filled with stories of acts of heroism. Children need to believe in heroes to get a sense of nationalism, but we as adults would be naive to take them at face value. Power plays are always dirty and beneath hero morality.
Look at Syria today. History is being written before our own eyes. Two versions of history are already apparent to anyone who would care to see both points of views, and the version that prevails, the one that will be taught to Syrian children many years from now, will depends on who wins the war today. Bashar al Assad could described as an Adolf Hitler figure who brought humiliation and suffering to the Syrian people.
But he could also be described as a Kemal Attaturk figure, who killed terrorists and modernized the country in the face of grand conspiracies. The victors always write the history.