Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 27, 2011

Qaddafi’s Overthrow: a “Blow to the Arab Spring”?

Filed under: Libya — louisproyect @ 9:30 pm

By Pham Binh

Not since the European revolutions of 1848 have revolutions spread with such speed and force. The Arab Spring brought more change to the Middle East and North Africa in less than a year than occurred there over several decades. Brutal dictators who seemed invincible were toppled in a matter of weeks in Tunisia and Egypt, protracted civil wars erupted in Yemen, Syria, and Libya, and the monarchy in Bahrain managed to survive only thanks to the political and material support it received from the Saudi monarchy and the U.S. government.

Muammar Qaddafi has joined the ranks of ousted dictators Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, but not in the same way. In the case of Libya, the U.S. government and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies became intimately involved in toppling his tyrannical regime after some hesitation.

Some on the left who initially supported the Libyan rebellion argued that the involvement of the U.S. and NATO in Qaddafi’s ouster makes them the real winners in Libya, not the Libyan people. In doing so, they have come perilously close to the positions of groups like the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) who were “skeptical of, if not downright hostile to, the popular challenge to the Qaddafi regime that began with mass protests” as the International Socialist Review put it.

A recent editorial in the U.S. Socialist Worker newspaper described Qaddafi’s downfall in the context of NATO’s military intervention as a “blow to the Arab Spring” and argued that: “[t]he new government that will come to power in Libya won’t answer to the people of Libya and their desire for democracy and justice. It will answer to imperialism – and that is a blow to the Arab Spring, which this year showed the world the hope of an alternative to oppression, violence and tyranny.”

These truisms apply equally to the post-Mubarak government in Egypt, which is a military dictatorship that uses force against protestors, outlaws strikes, continues its cozy relationship with Israel, and receives billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic aid. Clearly, the military junta running Egypt “answers to imperialism” and not the people, nor does it care about their desire for democracy and justice (in fact, it fears that desire). As with Libya, the U.S. became intimately involved in trying to get Mubarak out of office, albeit in a different form.

Even if Mubarak had stepped down under U.S. pressure instead of pressure from striking workers, no one would conclude that his overthrow was a “blow” to the Arab Spring.

Socialist Worker’s line of reasoning involves two errors: one is a failure to understand the Arab Spring and the other is a flawed view of the revolutionary process in the context of a world dominated by imperial powers like the U.S., China, Russia, Germany, Britain, France, and other nations.

The Arab Spring is a dynamic process of mobilization from below, counter mobilization from above, and political radicalization on a mass scale. This process is driven by material conditions, namely, the tremendous gap in wealth between the elites of the Arab and North African states and their populations on the one hand and the autocratic, repressive measures these states use to keep their populations in line on the other. It is not primarily a process driven by opposition to U.S. imperialism. This is why the uprisings did not stop at the borders of Libya, Syria, or Iran whose regimes were not friendly to the U.S. government but were just as economically polarized, brutal, and corrupt as their pro-U.S. neighbors.

The main loser of the Arab Spring process has been the U.S. government for the simple reason that there were far more pro- U.S. regimes in North Africa and the Middle East than anti-U.S. regimes. The U.S. lost close allies in Egypt and Tunisia, is opposed to the “wrong side” winning the civil war in Yemen, would welcome the end of Assad regime in Syria, and managed to turn the Libyan revolution to its advantage, but not exclusively so. As Richard Seymour who writes the Lenin’s Tomb blog noted: “[t]he government that now follows will be less oppressive and more democratic than the one it ousted.”

In other words, toppling Qaddafi was a step forward for Libya’s workers, students, and oppressed groups like the Berbers. They now have more space to organize unions, political associations, and struggles for what they need than they did under the decrepit Qaddafi dictatorship. This is a good thing and it should be celebrated, Socialist Worker’s admonitions notwithstanding.

If it wasn’t for the ongoing revolt, Qaddafi would still be in power today. NATO’s military might prevented the Libyan revolution’s physical destruction at Bengazi, played a decisive role in paving the way for its ultimate triumph in Tripoli, and corrupted the “normal” Arab Spring dynamic of mobilization, counter mobilization, and mass radicalization. That the U.S. government would manipulate and try to control a struggle against an adversary is unsurprising. What is surprising is socialists disowning a struggle because the U.S. moved to shape it or because the struggle’s leaders made political choices we find abhorrent.

The combination of a democratic revolution and imperialist intervention in conjunction with that revolution against their common enemy caused tremendous confusion on the left internationally: Marxist academic Gilbert Achcar initially supported U.S. military attacks on Libya; PSL denounced the rebellion and supported Qaddafi’s repression; Socialist Worker supported the rebellion prior to the intervention of NATO. Needless to say, this brief survey does not cover the range or nuances of positions expressed by various left currents, but it does show concretely how living revolutions pose new and challenging questions for us that make textbook responses inadequate at best.

The involvement of the U.S. military in Qaddafi’s ouster is both a symptom and a cause of tremendous problems for the Arab Spring process generally and for the people of Libya specifically. In Egypt, the military stood squarely behind Mubarak until general strikes by workers erupted in every industry and every town; this has not been repeated elsewhere. In Libya, the rebel leadership’s failure to mobilize the masses, particularly the workers involved with oil production and distribution in oil fields and at ports and sea terminals, meant that the struggle against Qaddafi was not a social struggle but a military one where he had the advantage, provided that outside powers did not step in. They did. He lost.

The question now is will Syria’s revolutionaries call for U.S. military intervention as their counterparts in Libya did instead of relying on mobilizing the social power of the working class as was done in Egypt? Will the U.S. exploit the difficulties of Syria’s revolutionaries to turn their democratic revolution into a win for itself, bolstering its domination of the oil-rich Middle East? Now that Qaddafi is gone, will the Libyan people force their new rulers to give them a greater share of the country’s tremendous oil wealth and democratic rights? How will they react to the integration of their country into the world capitalist system’s global race to the bottom for workers, a race that is rapidly hollowing out what is left of the American dream?

How these questions are answered by the tens of millions awakened by the Arab Spring remains to be seen. We in the West need to do what we can to keep the hands of our rulers off of other people’s revolutions, which means taking a stand against imperialist intervention even when it is disguised as aid to a beleaguered rebellion (John Reed was absolutely right when he said Uncle Sam never gives something for nothing). We also have to realistically appraise the mistakes and successes of the Arab Spring instead of disowning them totally when imperialist powers try to use them for their own advantage, something that is inevitable in an increasingly multipolar world.

Above all, the best thing we can is focus on organizing our own workers, students, and oppressed people to win whatever small gains we can. The accumulation of concrete victories, however small, is the only thing that can lead to our own desperately needed spring.

Pham Binh’s articles have been published by Asia Times Online, Znet, Counterpunch, and International Socialist Review. His other writings can be found at http://www.planetanarchy.net

29 Comments »

  1. A good explanation. Thank you! The author says, “This process is driven by material conditions, namely, the tremendous gap in wealth between the elites of the Arab and North African states and their populations on the one hand and the autocratic, repressive measures these states use to keep their populations in line on the other. It is not primarily a process driven by opposition to U.S. imperialism.” This is important to remember. It’s also important to remember that the working people of the Arab countries are under the gun and are primarily concerned with their own survival as they are fighting against the dictatorships in their countries. Simplistic answers are of little use in situations like the Arab Spring.

    Comment by Tom the Printer — August 27, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

  2. “[t]he government that now follows will be less oppressive and more democratic than the one it ousted.”

    The reason he writes that is because he is another zionist Jew imposter.
    Down with the tribe of zionists who runs the US policy but these zionists imposters say nothing
    about Israel. US has gained shit everywhere and Israel and the brutal tribe of zionist Jews with the help of pseudo ‘left’ let by closet zionists, including proyect and chomsky, has gained everything with money and life from stupid ‘others’j.

    down with pseudo ‘left’ a zionist industry to the core.

    Comment by Down with close zionists — August 27, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

  3. Report: $42 Million From Seven Foundations Helped Fuel The Rise Of Islamophobia In America

    ZIONISTS ARE BEHIND ISLAMOPHOBIA IN America and the West.

    David Horowitz Freedom Center, Richard Scaife, Frank Gaffney, David Yerushalmi,

    Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Steven Emerson a crazy zionist

    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/08/26-8

    Comment by Down with close zionists — August 28, 2011 @ 12:12 am

  4. “Down with close(sic) zionists” has done us a service here in exposing the perniciousness of anti-Jewish racism on the left and in the Palestine Solidarity Movement. Unfortunately the same situation existed in the late 1940’s when Israel came into existence.. At that time anti-Jewish purges were occurring in the Soviet Union and some of the Eastern European Communist Parties as well as the Arab World. This political situation played a big role in strengthening Zionism as the major political force amongst Jews internationally. Today we see a historical narrative promoted by much of the anti-Israel left that ignores the historical role of anti-Jewish racism in the Arab world and the Soviet Union as major factors in the formation and development of the state of Israel and as a result it continues to ignore of belittle anti Jewish racism today.
    The “anti Zionist” left’s hostility to the ongoing “social justice” protests in Israel are but the latest example of the bankruptcy of their perspective. These protests should be applauded as the first steps of a potential social revolution like what is occurring with the “Arab spring”. Israeli Arabs are beginning to play an important role in these protests and it is only a matter of time before Israeli policies towards the West Bank and Gaza will be challenged. It is politically naive however to expect Israelis to abandon the pursuit of their national rights without a strong democratic socialist counterpart in the Arab world that acknowledges and confronts the historical legacy and continued existence of anti-Jewish racism both on the left and in the Arab world.

    Comment by Jack Lieberman — August 28, 2011 @ 12:51 am

  5. This idiot got past my spam filter but perhaps it is just as well that I leave his messages here for a while. It will give you a good idea of the rightwing character of much of the “anti-anti-Qaddafi” left. It is revealing that he would call Binh, a Vietnamese American, a Jew! Clearly we are dealing with a raving maniac.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 28, 2011 @ 1:07 am

  6. Today we see a historical narrative promoted by much of the anti-Israel left that ignores the historical role of anti-Jewish racism in the Arab world and the Soviet Union as major factors in the formation and development of the state of Israel and as a result it continues to ignore of belittle anti Jewish racism today.

    Actually, these were minor factors–especially considering Stalin’s support for Israel. The major factor was to create what amounted to an imperialist aircraft carrier in the middle of the Arab world. The only homeland for the Jews that makes sense is New York City, that is rapidly becoming a fact based on the evidence of all the Hebrew I hear spoken by new arrivals to my high-rise on the Upper East Side.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 28, 2011 @ 1:13 am

  7. The triviality of your response is to be expected. The fact that no serious current on the left raised this solution for the hundreds of thousands of Jews in the displacement camps after the war or in response to the anti-Jewish pogroms in the Arab world shows the banality of your perspective on this matter.

    Comment by Jack Lieberman — August 28, 2011 @ 1:37 am

  8. You conveniently ignore the fact that the Arab legions who invaded Palestine in 1948 were armed by the British and commanded by British officers. Britain encouraged the Arab invasion and opposed partition hoping to continue their control of Palestine and domination of the Arab world. Most of the international left correctly supported partition and the national rights of both peoples.

    Comment by Jack Lieberman — August 28, 2011 @ 2:00 am

  9. Well, pardon the nonsense above.

    The question is, do we give support to the TNC as the legitimate representatives of the democratic (political) revolution in Libya? Binh mentions, quoting Richard Seymour, only that – unfortunately hijacked by the rubbish above – “the government that now follows will be less oppressive and more democratic than the one it ousted.”, this more than a little ironic, given Seymours’ current pessimism on the Libyan situation. Right now, that government, now with wide recognition, is the TNC. But Binh does not directly address this very concrete question.

    The question of the TNC lies at the very nub of the issue at stake in Libya. It stands at the crossroads of the intersection between the present form of imperialist intervention in Libya, and the democratic Libyan revolution. In the balance it is going to be very difficult to argue that the TNC doesn’t fall in the column favoring imperialism.

    Binh states, correctly, that “toppling Qaddafi was a step forward for Libya’s workers, students, and oppressed groups like the Berbers. They now have more space to organize unions, political associations, and struggles for what they need than they did under the decrepit Qaddafi dictatorship. This is a good thing and it should be celebrated..” But Binh then follows this, in the context of addressing “tremendous confusion” on the left as a result of the contradictions of the Libyan situation, with the exact same confusion, only with conflating the TNC with the mass movement rather than that of the mass movement with imperialism: “What is surprising is socialists disowning a struggle because the U.S. moved to shape it or because the struggle’s leaders made political choices we find abhorrent.”

    Are we really supposed to accept the TNC as “the struggles’ leaders”? Isn’t it possible to endorse a struggle while disowning its so-called “leaders”? Whatever happened to a dialectical analysis?

    I think the root of this confusion lies in the refusal to correctly characterize the qualitatively changed relation of imperialism to Libya as a result of the NATO intervention, and then weigh this in the balance; simply to state that “toppling Qaddafi was a step forward” is *insufficient*, and will ultimately result in a failure to accurately comprehend the situation. Now one thing that has puzzled me has been Louis’ responses to the usual intonations concerning AFRICON, oil, etc, that come mostly from the MRzine/WWP/PSL/Cockburn crowd, which has been the resort to press clippings, usually dating from the 2000s, of imperialism’s “passive engagement” of Gadaffi & Sons on precisely these same items. At first it strikes one as a sort of non-sequitor, or of two persons talking past one another, but now I think I understand: Louis means to say that while the forms of imperialist intervention have changed, from, say, passive to aggressive, the essence remains the same, whether it was via Gadaffi yesterday or the TNC+NATO warplanes today (putting aside for the moment that this begs the question of whom the TNC really “legitimately” represents). As the essence remains the same, there is nothing new to add to the analysis of the relation of imperialism to Libya, and we can safely abstract from that question and focus on what has “really” changed: the internal Libyan situation that has granted greater freedom of action – the only real freedom from a materialist perspective – to the Libyan masses.

    That is the only sense to be made out of a relative absence of an analysis of the imperialist intervention, and if that is it, it is flat out wrong.

    There is the philosophical issue: changes in form always imply some qualitative change in essence; that is the meaning of “change in form”. To state otherwise would be an “early Spinozian essentialist” idealist error. Practically speaking, there has been a qualitative change in the essential relation between imperialism and the Libyan state (whatever the regime), such that in the balance, the position of imperialism vis a vis Libya is now *strengthened*. That difference in the balance is precisely equal to the combination of the TNC + NATO’s own forces, military or otherwise.

    This then must be factored into the overall balance of forces in Libya, and factored in *against* the gains of “Libya’s workers, students, and oppressed groups”. That would be the complete, and honest, perspective. From there we can conclude that the Libyan democratic revolution is *unfinished*, that toppling Gadaffi is not enough, that the revolution is not over and celebration, while not begrudged at the moment of Gadaffi’s fall, is a bit premature, that the revolution must move on to the toppling of the “old regime” elements that comprise the TNC. That is the politics socialists must present to Libyans.

    -Matt

    Comment by Matt — August 28, 2011 @ 2:22 am

  10. Jack, whatever turned you into a liberal Democrat and a Zionist? You really are a mess.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 28, 2011 @ 2:25 am

  11. “You conveniently ignore the fact that the Arab legions who invaded Palestine in 1948 were armed by the British and commanded by British officers. Britain encouraged the Arab invasion and opposed partition hoping to continue their control of Palestine and domination of the Arab world. Most of the international left correctly supported partition and the national rights of both peoples.”

    Ironically, this parallels the arguments against the mass movement against Gadaffi made by PSL et all. But Zionist fanatics have never been known for their sense of irony.

    Jack Lieberman == “Down with closet Zionists”. End of discussion.

    Sorry this has been hijacked by ideological goons.

    Comment by Matt — August 28, 2011 @ 2:30 am

  12. Louis, Your contemptuous dismissal of the discussion on racism in the anti-Zionist movement and the left is not surprising. Nor is the fact that you would have quietly deleted the racists remarks were it not that I posted my comments first. Normally you are fixated on all questions related to Israel and the Palestinian struggle but when the foundations of your basic assumptions are questioned you have nothing to say but a bunch of drivel. Unfortunately it’s not surprising..

    Comment by Jack Lieberman — August 28, 2011 @ 2:37 am

  13. wait, so russia and china are now in the same league of imperialist powers as the US, britain, germany and france? the comparatively smaller strength of both the military and indigenous finance capital in russia/china tell a much different story to me. and particularly if compared proportionally to population size.

    Comment by much younger than louis proyect — August 28, 2011 @ 3:46 am

  14. Matt, the TNC didn’t take over Tripoli. The Berber rebel groups in the West did, in conjunction with Tripoli’s residents organized in neighborhood committees (see: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904875404576532340310823806.html?mod=googlenews_wsj) The TNC in Bengazi had almost nothing to do with toppling Qaddafi, therefore, the arguments you advance about the TNC are largely irrelevant. The reason I focused on the democratic revolution being a step forward is because the bulk of the left has disowned it, which makes is highly unlikely any Libyan will give a damn about what the Western left has to say about how they should run their country.

    Comment by Binh — August 28, 2011 @ 3:46 am

  15. “Now that Qaddafi is gone, will the Libyan people force their new rulers to give them a greater share of the country’s tremendous oil wealth and democratic rights? How will they react to the integration of their country into the world capitalist system’s global race to the bottom for workers, a race that is rapidly hollowing out what is left of the American dream?”
    ===================================================
    Qaddafi isn’t gone. He’s been driven out of Tripoli, but he’s alive and resisting NATO-backed forces. Time will tell if just how extensive this resistance will be. Is there any reason reason to assume Qaddafi won’t resist just as the Taliban is resisting? And there’s also resistance in Iraq. These are ongoing. These resistance forces aren’t socialist or Marxist, but they are nationalist, and they will make it hard to stabilize a new regime in Libya, just as new regimes have not been consolidated in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Surely the new Libyan regime will have no more autonomy than the NATO-supported and NATO-armed Iraqi and Afghan regimes have. There’s no reason to assume that they would be able to tell the foreigners who helped them into power to now get out. Ask the Iraqis and Afghan’s if there’s any uncertainty.

    NATO has succeeded in getting rid of a burr under its saddle, but how many such regimes can NATO afford to fund and manage?

    Comment by Walter Lippmann — August 28, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  16. I think it’s very odd that you’re insisting that the rebels took Tripoli without the aid of NATO.

    Surveillance and Coordination With NATO Aided Rebels
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/world/africa/22nato.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=nato%20tripoli&st=cse

    NATO does not change Qaddafi into a revolutionary anti-imperialist but it does mean that those of us in NATO countries must recalibrate our attitude.

    Comment by ish — August 28, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  17. Walter: These resistance forces aren’t socialist or Marxist, but they are nationalist, and they will make it hard to stabilize a new regime in Libya, just as new regimes have not been consolidated in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Walter is rather susceptible to the dubious allure of “nationalist” leaders in the 3rd world, including the Burmese military. At points during his troubled presence on Marxmail, he evoked an onion.com version of Workers World Party.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 28, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  18. Jack Lieberman sounds more like Joe Lieberman, that is, the flipside of the crazy coin that rails against Vietnamese Jews.

    Nevermind Stalin’s support of Israel, the fact is without the decisive aid of US Imperialism all these years the state of Israel would not exist — could not exist. It would have been overrun & smashed long ago, it’s people driven not so much into the sea but onto boats headed to only one logically sustainable place, New York, like Proyect said.

    The only reason nobody on the left’s ever raised this possibility is because of the power Washington held over the world after the war and the inability for any entity to sink the aircraft carrier the Pentagon was planning to permanently anchor in the heart of Arabia.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 28, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

  19. Ish, I never insisted that. Did you actually read what I wrote? How do you suggest we modify our attitudes?

    Comment by Binh — August 28, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

  20. I really like this piece but it still suffers I think from a bit of a compromise with the ultra-left pro-Gadaffi crowd. This is presaged by the inclusion of the ultra-left notion that China is no longer a deformed workers’ state but some kind of imperialist power. How did that happen? Did the Chinese bourgeoisie grow some testicles or something and completely refute Lenin’s theory of imperialism and Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution?

    Anyway back to the substantive issue. The article really was very good up to this paragraph:

    `How these questions are answered by the tens of millions awakened by the Arab Spring remains to be seen. We in the West need to do what we can to keep the hands of our rulers off of other people’s revolutions, which means taking a stand against imperialist intervention even when it is disguised as aid to a beleaguered rebellion (John Reed was absolutely right when he said Uncle Sam never gives something for nothing). We also have to realistically appraise the mistakes and successes of the Arab Spring instead of disowning them totally when imperialist powers try to use them for their own advantage, something that is inevitable in an increasingly multipolar world.’

    The intervention was backed by a UN resolution and was presented as a neutral defense of civilians. This already looked like a victory for the anti-war movement that opposed the illegal intervention in Iraq which had no other motive than geo-political advantage disguised as disarming a dictator that threatened not his own people but the West. To oppose it, at least here in Europe, marked you out as a bit weird if not a callous bastard who supported Gadaffi and those who stayed away from the stop the NATO intervention demos but who had previously vehemently opposed the war in Iraq and turned up in their millions were correct. The struggle at this point was to warn against mission creep (negotiations with Gadaffi, regime change, partition) and the self-serving nature of imperialism in general and NATO in particular. To support the rebellion and point out that it had every right to take advantage of what was essentially an opportunist foreign intervention. Even then, once the rebels had Tripoli surrounded and the regime quickly began to disintegrate it was right to support Libyans intent on finishing off the Gadaffi tyranny as quickly as possible. In fact it was right, I believe, to encourage working class districts of Tripoli to put themselves in the front rank of the battle to clear out Gadaffi’s forces from Tripoli before he could foment a sectarian civil war based on so-called `tribal’ loyalties similar to those seen in post-invasion Iraq and during the massacre in Rwanda. This would put the working class in a far stronger position to influence post-Gadaffi governance in Libya. The other thing that should be said is that at no point did Gadaffi confront imperialism. He was concerned to put down the rebellion as quickly as possible to prove his worth to it. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the wider Arab Spring and its global popularity he would have been receiving Western plaudits for crushing the Benghazi uprising however many people he’d killed and playing his part in the War on Terror proving the completion of his rehabilitation. The first step in the struggle to defeat the utterly vicious police-military bonapartism of the Gadaffi family has been taken. It must not be allowed to re-establish itself or worse fall to the right and that is where the proletariat comes in and their success is dependent on the continued success of the Arab Spring. The author is spot on in describing this as the Arab 1848 which suggest correctly the emergence of the proletariat as a new political `specter’ haunting the region.

    Interesting that the thread immediately attracted an ultra-left who had come out the other side as an anti-semite (comment 2) and a Zionist decent who is an open apologist of imperialist and Zionist rape of the region. The first shows the fate of the ultra-left pro-Gadaffi anti-imperialists and the second the fate of the ultra-left anti-semi colonial bourgeoisie and anti-Stalinists who now see imperialism and zionism as the region’s best hope. Anit-semites and Islamists versus Islamaphobes and Zionists. Petty bourgeois head cases at every turn.

    Comment by David Ellis — August 28, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

  21. David, our tasks in the West are rather different than our tasks in Libya. There is no contradiction between opposing U.S./NATO intervention and supporting the democratic revolution in Libya. As I argued previously (http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/03/gilbert-achcar-cruise-missile-marxist/), we should not begrudge the Libyan rebels for asking for aid from imperialist powers.

    I don’t think anyone in the pro-Qaddafi crowd could even bring themselves to finish reading what I wrote.

    Comment by Binh — August 28, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

  22. It is worth noting that in many oil states in the middle east, including Libya, a significant part of the working class is made up of migrants from other states. The native population of the oil states tend to have a significantly higher average economic status than the migrant workers. These migrant workers are not part of the ‘Libyan People’, and a rebel movement that identifies itself as a movement of the Libyan People excludes them, and indeed turns out to be quite hostile to them.
    The economy of an oil state depends in large part on rent incomes – value created by productive workers elsewhere in the world. The ‘people’ of such a state, if it has a low population in relation to its rental income, are not in the main exploited, but are beneficiaries of exploitation elsewhere, and internally are beneficiaries of the exploitation of migrants. It is unrealistic to expect such a population to give rise to a strong working class socialist movement.

    Comment by paul cockshott — August 28, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  23. “Question: In the “Old Days,” about 10 years ago, M&Ms were not kosher. One of the major problems was the candy-coating used to cover the chocolate. Here’s the question, ‘Why was the candy-coating of M&Ms not kosher?’

    “Answer: Coating was made from insect excretement which many rabbinic authorities ruled as non-food while others ruled as non Kosher. “

    Comment by Grumpy Old Man — August 29, 2011 @ 12:07 am

  24. #21 Binh: It was impossible to oppose a UN resolution that called for the protection of civilians without being seen to support Gadaffi’s threatened massacre because that is what you would have been doing. It was right to warn that NATO is the military wing of Western imperialism incapable of acting out of humanitarian impulses and was likely to go beyond that resolution by either pushing for partition, negotiations with Gadaffi or regime change. That we have seen how the West has liberated people in the past and that it was likely that NATO would swap a potential humanitarian disaster of Gadaffi’s making for an actual on of its own in Tripoli. It was also right to point out that had the Libyan Rebellion not been part of the globally popular Arab Spring the same Western powers getting so animated about protecting Benghazi would have been congratulating Gadaffi for his decisive action in the War on Terror if he’d been crushing a rebellion there under any other circumstances. Once Tripoli had been surrounded and the regime in Tripoli began to collapse it would have been wrong under those circumstances to oppose the swift overthrow of the regime before it could do more damage and encourage the working class to participate in that as fully as possible in order to ensure maximum independence and democracy in the post-Gadaffi Libya. The proletarian policy must be consistent and cannot be one thing for one audience and another thing for another audience. That is simply hypocrisy.

    In UK the Stop the War Coalition brought the movement into disrepute with it demonstrations against the UN resolution and its implementation. They should face sanction for that. It is no accident that three million turned out to oppose the illegal war against Iraq and only 200 to StWC’s picket against the UN resolution. Of course the decents took the mirror image approach of cheer leading NATO the interests of which the Libyan Rebellion, if it is to progress, is about to come into conflict with.

    Comment by David Ellis — August 29, 2011 @ 12:37 am

  25. #24: So war isn’t really politics by other means, it’s a matter of perception. The important and decisive question wasn’t the U.N. resolution, despite what liberals and legal experts might think.

    #23: Paul brings up an important point. If most or a significant minority of the workers in the oil industry are “guest” workers from other countries, that would make a socialist strategy of calling on them to revolt against the regime infinitely more difficult, perhaps impossible (depending on their traditions, relationship with the native working class, legal rights [if any]). All the more reason for the socialist left in the West not to deride the rebels. “By any means necessary” shouldn’t have an asterisk next to it.

    Comment by Binh — August 29, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  26. This article abstracts Libya from reality, as if Libya exists by itself, rather than being part of the world. The victory for NATO means that intervention in the internal affairs of other countries becomes that much easier. It has built support for “humanitarian” intervention in the imperialist countries.

    It ignores that the NATO attack allowed Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain, to crack down in its own borders, to allow Yemen to solidify its crumbling regime, etc.

    We can’t even make the assertion that things will be better off without Qaddafi. We simply do not know what the TNC will bring. It could easily be worse, since the same thieves that were in control before are in control now, minus Qaddafi. Very likely, more austerity is in the cards.

    Comment by chegitz guevara — August 29, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

  27. chegitz, Syrian demonstrators are chanting, “Bye Qaddafi, Bashar next!” so obviously Libya is part of the world and the democratic revolution in Libya is inspiring their comrades in Syria to press on despite the repression. (See http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/08/25/164073.html) Imperialism didn’t win in Libya — if it did, why are the rebels refusing to hand over the Lockerbie bomber, refusing to allow NATO bases there, etc.?

    It’s silly to argue that NATO’s attack “allowed” the Saudi monarchy to invade Bahrain. That was going to happen anyway regardless. Be realistic.

    Comment by Binh — August 29, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

  28. A chant isn’t proof of much, really.

    What would be proof would be new uprisings, or their defeats. Since the imperialist attack on Libya, what we have seen is not new uprisings, but consolidation by reactionary forces … except in Tunisia, where the government can’t seem to get its shit together.

    Obviously, we cannot tell what the future will bring, but we can look at what has happened. Nor can we claim that the Saudi invasion of Bahrain was inevitable. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. However, they did wait to do so until the attention of the West was distracted by its own “heroic” efforts.

    There was a faction of the rebellion opposed to NATO intervention, but it lost the debate. Maybe too those opposed to NATO bases and the handing over of the Lockerbie framee will lose out. Again, it’s too soon to know.

    Comment by chegitz guevara — August 29, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  29. The reactionary forces were defeated in Libya, not consolidated. 16,000 have been released from Qaddafi’s prisons. The rebels you claim opposed NATO intervention swallowed their pride and opted for the revolution’s survival and eventual victory instead of clinging to a principled, anti-imperialist stand that would led to defeat and probably death. As one of the TNC’s members said: “Of course I don’t like it [it meaning foreign intervention – B] and don’t encourage it, but this was our only choice. I know NATO comes with its own agenda, I know NATO is calling the shots now. After we get rid of Gaddafi, we will have to deal with the consequences of NATO intervention”. (See: http://www.dimakhatib.com/2011/07/we-libyans-decide.html)

    The rebels won using means that we disapprove of. Too bad for us. Instead of denouncing them, we ought to try to learn what we can from their experience. They just brought down a dictator of 42 years standing while we in the U.S. can’t even put together a viable third party but we have the nerve to lecture them about principles, selling out, etc.? If this is such a victory for NATO, how come the new government isn’t giving them rights to bases or handing over the Lockerbie bomber? Try not to make the question-dodging so obvious, chegitz.

    Comment by Binh — August 29, 2011 @ 5:50 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: