The following excerpt is from a book by Tawfiq Hasan Abi Nadir al-Shartuni written in the good ol’ tradition of returning Lebanese migrants. Though not devoid of nagging, it still contains some astute observations emanating from an inside/outside position which a returning migrant occupies. The book, al-Hayah fi Lubnan, was published in 1927 and I recommended it if only for the sheer reading pleasure. If, as a side effect, the feeling of “plus ça change, plus ç’est la même chose” causes indigestion, independence day is the best time to honor this curious blend of emotions — pleasure and indigestion — that comes with feeling some sort of attachment to Lebanon:

الزعامة والاحزاب
لا زعامة في لبنان الكبير ولا في سوريا فما وجدت رجلاً يدعوه الشعب زعيماً بكل معنی الكلمة او بالاحری يحصل علی كل صفات الزعامة واما الاحزاب السياسية المنظمة فهي غير موجودة في البلاد ولم ارَ ما عدا الاحزاب الطائفية سوی بعض احزاب شخصية. وقد كنت بالامس اتجاذب اطراف الحديث واحد المأمورين المعروفين فقلت له الی اي الاحزاب تنتمي في سياسة شؤون البلاد فاجاب علی الفور انا من حزب فلان مسمياً لي شخصاً من ابناء لبنان المعروفين فسألته ما هي مطاليبكم الاساسية وما هو بروغرامكم الذي تعتقدون من ورائه باقالة البلاد من عثرتها فارتبك في الجواب اذ لا بروغرام ولا اساس مكين لسوء الحظ لاحزابنا ثم اردف هذه العبارة لا احد يقدر ان يُنهض البلاد من انهيارها سوی اعجوبة ربانية فعندئذٍ فهمت ان الاحزاب السياسية في لبنان وسوريا ليس من شأنها السعي وراء سعادة الوطن ورقيه بل للتربع علی كرسي الوظائف لا غير

Za`amah and parties
There is no za`amah [political leadership] neither in Greater Lebanon nor in Syria. I have not found a man called by the people za`im in all the meaning of the word or rather with all the characteristics of a political leader. As for organized political parties, these do not exist in the country and I have only seen in addition to confessional parties, a few personal parties. Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a well-known official and I asked him: “What party do you belong to in the management of the affairs of the country?” He answered immediately: “I am from the party of filan,” naming a prominent Lebanese man. I asked him: “What are your political demands and what is the program with which you intend to lift the county out of its crisis?” He fumbled for an answer since there is unfortunately neither program, nor a stable basis for our political parties. He then added: “Only a divine miracle can lift the country from its collapse.” I understood then that political parties in Lebanon and Syria are not concerned with the happiness of the homeland and its advancement, but are solely concerned with attaining posts.

Source: Tawfiq Hasan Abi Nadir al-Shartuni, al-Hayah fi Lubnan: Yatadamman mabahith tarikhiyah wa-ijtima`iyah wa-adabiyah wa-akhlaqiyah. Beirut: al-Matba`ah al-Adabiyah, 1927.