Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 7, 2013

With the Libyan Rebel

Filed under: Libya — louisproyect @ 5:39 pm

The video above is in two parts. The first part is footage made by The Libyan Rebel just about two years ago when the revolutionaries were advancing on Tripoli. The second part is an interview I conducted with him over Skype on the current state of Libya, addressing questions of whether it is a “failed state”, a symbol of the Arab Winter, etc.

When the revolution broke out in Libya, the left had two choices. It could back Qaddafi, who Fidel Castro had dubbed “the lion of the desert”—a sobriquet made obsolete when the dictator had begun keeping a scrapbook of Condoleezza Rice snapshots or it could back the revolution. For the pro-Qaddafi camp, there were many experts to rely on, Maximilian Forte one of the most prominent. When Forte explained imperialism’s assault on Libya as a response to Qaddafi’s resistance to AFRICOM, a bid to increase Western military assets on the ground, my first reaction was to check the story. No matter how many times I pointed out that Qaddafi looked forward to working together with AFRICOM “in ways that help us achieve those common objectives for peace and stability”, it never registered on the Qaddafi fan club. Faith is difficult to shake.

After Qaddafi got the boot, I came into contact with a young Libyan identifying himself as The Libyan Rebel who had shown up on the North Star website that tended to feature articles backing the revolution. The rebel wrote comments every so often that grounded the debate in a lived experience:

Binh’s portrayal of the Syrian revolution reflects a deep understanding of the situation leading him to not be swayed to either extreme. He’s simply stating the reality as it is and it is indeed complicated. In Syria, there is an element of everything. There is, has always been and there always will be an “imperialist” interest in the region. There is a sectarian aspect to the strife. There is also an extremist aspect. There are world powers seeking their interests. There are also regional powers competing for a foothold in the future Syria. Most importantly, there is a people’s revolution. A revolution against one of the most murderous and barbaric regimes the region has ever known. Keyboard activists on both extremes have no idea what oppression and tyranny means for the people whom they claim they understand and believe to be serving. They live in free lands while seeing the events only through the narrow slit of their ideologies. Their goals and intentions may be noble, but they lack the maturity to understand the true complexity and dynamicity of the struggle.

With a refreshingly honest assessment of his nation’s complexities, I looked forward to conducting  an interview with him. There is one thing in our recorded conversation over Skype that sticks with me that I want to dwell upon a bit as a preface. The rebel told me that his cousin was one of the students hung for peacefully protesting Qaddafi and that he had to flee Libya in order to avoid the same fate.

When you check the NY Times archives for articles dealing with Qaddafi’s repression of the student movement in the 1970s, nothing turns up. This was at a time when the dictator’s reputation was at an all-time high with the left. Most of the publicity around Qaddafi dwelt on his “anti-imperialism”, mostly verbal in nature or when not verbal manifested itself in support for Carlos the Jackal’s spectacular but misguided adventures.

Today when the bourgeois press has total freedom to operate in Libya, every “excess” is viewed under a microscope to the glee of people like Maximilian Forte who obviously longs for the days when the country was as peaceful as a graveyard. It is too bad that Libyans prefer the loud and boisterous freedoms of a new society trying to find itself.


  1. A reported 30,000 Libyans civilians were murdered as a result of the US and NATO’s invasion of Libya. This was followed by the execution of Black Libyans and African immigrants. When the US government was asked about the murder the hundreds of Black Libyans and African immigrants..the answer was “no comment”. Libya was one of the few secular countries in the region. It is now an Islamic republic with Sharia law. The country is a disaster.

    Comment by Barbbf — September 7, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

  2. A reported 30,000 Libyans civilians were murdered as a result of the US and NATO’s invasion of Libya.

    I simply can’t understand why the Qaddafi fan club has such trouble telling the truth. A total of 30,000 people died in the civil war from both sides, as opposed to civilians being killed by NATO jets. A breakdown can be found here:


    Comment by louisproyect — September 7, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

  3. That was great! It really is refreshing to hear something without the bullshit we’re used to hearing.

    Well done to Louis, the Libyan Rebel, and Binh.

    Comment by Todd — September 7, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

  4. I viewed the fall of Qaddafi as just another example of the U.S. turning on/abandoning its client regimes. He had thrown his lot in with the Western powers in the last few years of his rule and they used the Arab Spring uprising reaching Libya as an excuse to finally get rid of him.

    Barbbf, Iran is an Islamic republic with Sharia law, too.

    Comment by JTG — September 9, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

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