The aim of this article is to show how the institutionalised multicultural political arrangements in Lebanon may have provided for a certain period a degree of local harmony and related toleration when national demographics were relatively stable (or demographic growth was somehow similar within groups or harmony was somehow imposed) but it has not been a force for the same once demographic change has (dramatically) occurred, since it automatically undermined the basis on which any agreement was founded. In addition, whatever harmony it does produce at the national level is not reciprocated at the local level. Indeed multiculturalism may well be a defining feature in the implosion of the Lebanon as a nation state. The reason for this is that any polity to be stable must be inclusive enough at the level of imagined community to encompass change without it being felt as loss by significant groups within the nation state. The institutionalised segregation that the multicultural settlement created in Lebanon does not provide for this inclusiveness since it is predicated on coalitions of exclusive groups (17 religious groups have a political representation in the Parliament) that (often) do not mix or share an imagined community (and, if they do, it is for shortterm goals, such as recent coalitions predicated on inter-religious lines, i.e. the anti- Syrian 14 March Alliance) and hence any change is seen not as an inclusive experience to the whole but as exclusive and therefore (in the medium term) as a threat. This creates (long term) inbuilt instability and a permanently failing state. Building on a critique to multiculturalism and consociational theory (at least with reference to power-sharing) we further hypothesise that this situation may well be replicated in Northern Ireland since though in a less fragmented, however more radical separation, it appears to be following a similar trajectory.
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