Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

The Endangered Classical Liberal Tradition in Lebanon: A General Description and Survey Results

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Abstract

Classical liberal analysis has dwindled in Lebanon after a long and vibrant tradition of laisser faire economic policy that lasted for many centuries, peaking in the period 1943 to 1975. Today, a sectarian-political regime, clientelistic public spending, clientelistic public employment, political patronage of public institutions, and statutory monopoly schemes are deep-rooted and have replaced the rationale of private initiative and economic freedom. A survey I devised to gauge the attitudes of Lebanese economics professors shows that some elements of classical liberalism still exist. The number of survey respondents is small but the great majority of respondents favor reducing clientelism, even clientelism that helps their own sects. However, they still believe that economic problems can be resolved throughout additional government spending. Most support liberal propositions on competition and market liberalization, but their views tend to be against liberalization when it comes to public moral laws and immigration.