As I waited inside the number 4 Bus for the ride back home after visiting my friend at L.A.U I couldn't help but contemplate the obtrusive difference between the world of opulence I just came from and the dystopia surrounding it. While the bus driver stopped for half an hour to pick up one and a half passengers near Mar Michel church I started reflecting upon the thousands of shades this small country exhibits from exorbitant wealth to staggering poverty and everything in between. More emphatically I began to ponder the social stratification and the distribution of classes in Lebanon.




The Lebanese society is a decaying version of capitalistic fascism, and like all liberal societies it is one of layers and classes, the only twist here is the criteria on which these classes rest, we have 7 main classes that build up the fabric of our society, and whoever you are you definitely belong to one. Let’s start in descending order:

1. The omniscient ones (and pets): this class is composed of the business men and politicians, in addition to their entourage of entertainers. Most have acquired their wealth long ago during Lebanon's feudal era by paying homage to whichever county was occupying us. Although they openly renounced their feudal heritage they still use the same process to monopolizing power and perpetuate it by the passing on political positions from father to son.

They are the few that can afford to put their children in the best colleges and conveniently turn public property into garages for their yachts. You can spot them at Prada and Zitona bay with their “7abeeb papi” children who can barely talk the language but still manage to get the best jobs.

2. The theocrats: they come (in contrast to what many think) below the omniscient ones, there only mission is to sedate the feeble minded people. I am not talking about the honorable religious figures that give pride to every Lebanese citizen, but rather about those who preach generosity and asceticism while owning millions in assets and businesses. Their main role is providing legal justification for the upper class' rape of power.

3. The Nouveau Riche: Those who gained their wealth relatively newly. A small minority accomplished such by immigration and hard work but the majority via illegal drug, medicine, food, or human trafficking, and although they evolved, they still carry a lot of habits from their previous lives which differentiates them from the omniscient ones.

4. The ma3aref: just think, the last time you needed Wasta who did you go to? They are average Joes that only look condescendingly on others because they have connections with the elite. This is a parasitic class that feeds off the work of others with most of them occupying high bureaucratic and military positions.

5. The middle class midgets: But I'm growing mom! Yes I know dear, but you'll still be a midget… we are the ones that succeed in public schools, the class that possesses to an extent some talents and intelligence, but lack the awareness to revolt, you could spot us in the malls (though we can’t really afford anything aside from coffee and the casual cloth). We always dream of climbing up the social ladder, that’s why we keep nagging on our children to excel in school. The sad reality however is that no matter how good you get, your income is limited by your social rank, the most you could strive for is being a tall midget.
We use public transportation, pay all the taxes, and dream of a better tomorrow. Unfortunately our mental abilities have declined exponentially lately due to whatsapp addiction and lack of reading.

6. The 3asheier: for this class life is still defined by the tribe. They have high rates of school drop outs and constitute the fuel used by politicians in sectarian conflicts. Their power only comes in numbers; they seldom reach high ranks because they are gullible and easily manipulated. If you define yourself first by your family and second by your nationality, own a semiautomatic rifle and empty a dozen bullet cartages each time your relative passes his sports exam, you found the place where you belong.

7. 2al mo3azaboon fel2ard: finally the unlucky seventh class, and boy do they know how unlucky they are. Most of them are families from rural areas in Lebanon neglected for centuries by the government coupled by Palestinian and Syrian emigrants that failed to integrate in the Lebanese bourgeois society (not the ones that have political support though, they are living it large!). You see them, but you try to ignore what you see, on roundabouts like the ones near gallery Sem3an and Dawra, they are scarcely considered human and don’t deserve your sympathy, "just close the window mom, this girl btlaze2, she should go get a job it’s her fault she doesn’t have a foot! Just think she has the nerves to lose her foot!"

While I was plundered in my thoughts the bus driver (content with the number of passengers so far) boarded the vehicle and started the engine. I stared emblematically at a little girl, possible seven years old, as she approached the bus in her rages to beg for money. As always we ignored her existence and the bus took off.

So next time my friends when you want to decide where you hang out at, what college you attend, or even who you want to love, do you calculations and make sure it doesn’t contradict with your social price.
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