Lebanon has one of the most complex and volatile political systems in the world. Governments fall and resign like leaves in autumn. And if you have ever been to Lebanon, then you know that every person there is a political analyst and an expert in Lebanese politics.
So how does one survive a political conversation / debate / argument in Lebanon without fighting with a friend / family or get stabbed by a stranger. Its simple. you just need to follow these 5 simple rules to Lebanese politics chat :
Find Assess Create Acknowledge Develop
Before you engage in a heated debate about how the current government is not doing anything or is stealing money, Find out to what political party / group / militia / organization / country is your counterpart with. To start a debate by having the person you are talking to feel offended and take a defensive stance before you even begin is never a good idea. So find out, and do not insult anyone since unlike real Lebanese politics, the point of this is to understand better or push your view through diplomatically.
Once you know to whom does your counterpart follow / belong / agree with, then it is time to Assess his level how adamant or hardcore supporter he is. (Some people who are very hardcore might stab you if you said the wrong thing so better to know) In this case their are 3 types of followers:
1. the Intellectual type; usually educated and smart. He will defend his stand using big words and examples. The conversation will flow nicely and chance of an understanding are high (safe to carry on the debate)
2. The lost angry type; Usually Lebanese who has not lived in Lebanon his entire life, comes with a mix of liberalism and conservatism. Both hates Lebanon and loves it, hates politicians and loves them. Usually very emotional (high tendency to tear up or cry if drinking while debating), takes a stand but the longer the debate, the more likely he will give in to fit in Lebanese society. (Safe to carry on however if tearing is detected, just propose shots or appeal to his patriotic side by saying "kess Lebnen')
3. The hardcore type; this is the most dangerous type, always Lebanese, lived / fought or has family who fought / died during the war or events in Lebanon. try to detect the signs early on to avoid trouble ,he will cut you off while you are talking, tell you that you don't understand anything and begins to relate everything to his personal experience. (If you detect this, end the conversation immediately, talk about ANYTHING else to avoid getting stabbed or beaten)
A good way to have the debate spiral into a full blown argument is to be bias, instead try Creating an objective atmosphere rather than subjective. Point out the good (yes there is always good) before you mention the bad or less appealing.
Building on being objective, Acknowledge that every one has made mistakes or handled himself wrongly. Begin by pointing it out from your point or perspective. Once you have shown this and acknowledged that even the person / party you support has made mistakes, your counterpart will let his defenses down and listen to you when you show that even his party / person has messed up in someway.
After having done all four steps above, the last one should be easy. this is where you Develop your point and use strong examples (be it national or international) to support your claim. However make sure you have created the correct atmosphere for this.
There you have it, 5 steps to going through or completing a political debate in Lebanon. these might be harder in practice at first, but the more you use them, the easier it will be.
Always remember though spot the Hardcore type early on, the later you spot him, the more likely things will end up badly!
Good luck....you will need it
(Weird how the 5 steps spell out FACAD or corruption in Arabic)
Check out the kind of an infographic here