Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 30, 2017

Gaddafi debunked

Filed under: Libya — louisproyect @ 10:41 pm

Below, Nizar Mhani (Niz Ben-Essa) of the Free Generation Movement responds to common misconceptions relating to the Gaddafi regime …

There are no electricity bills in Libya; electricity is free for all its citizens.
Categorically untrue. Despite poor electricity infrastructure and poor coverage of electricity lines, even in the Capital, Libyan homeowners pay monthly/quarterly (area dependent) electricity bills based on meter readings. Electricity is cut off in instances of unpaid bills. Reconnection upon payment is not instant. The electric infrastructure is weak and some areas of Libya do not have electricity available at all.

There is no interest on loans, banks in Libya are state-owned and loans given to all its citizens at 0% interest by law.
Categorically untrue. Banks all over Libya have been giving out loans for years and years. There is a percentage rate charge on all loans, which is comparable to an interest rate, but in the spirit of ‘islamic ethics’ it is not called interest, it is called an ‘Administrative Expense’ – Masareef Edareeya.

A House is considered a human right in Libya
Gaddafi vowed that his parents would not get a house until everyone in Libya had a home. Gaddafi¹s father has died while he, his wife and his mother are still living in a tent.

Gaddafi abused this human right as much as he did other basic rights. It is well known in Libya that political opponents and successful businessmen/women had their homes confiscated and handed over to regime members, usually rewards for Free Officers – Dubat A7rar. Many farms and homes and businesses were confiscated during three infamous phases of Libya’s dictatorial history:

  • 1969 – The dreaded Green Revolution. Free Officers were rewarded land, homes, and farms that sometimes belonged to other people and the original owners were not compensated or asked if this was ok.
  • Late 70’s – The introduction of the law Albayt le Sakinehee – The Home Belongs to its Dwellers. As this law was passed overnight, thousands of homeowners instantly lost their homes, as tenants (those renting the homes) claimed ownership on account of being the ‘dwellers’. The law applied to homes, farms, shops, etc.
  • 90’s – The introduction of Purification Committees (Lejnat al Tatheer). This committee ran by the widely know slogan, ‘Min ayna laka hada?’ – “From where did you obtain this?”, a form of ultra-socialism where people’s possessions, including homes and businesses, were confiscated if seen to be ‘surplus to requirement’ or contributing to a ‘monopoly’.

Regarding Gaddafi’s ‘vow’: While Gaddafi waited for ‘everyone in Libya’ to be housed, he himself lived in a sprawling 6km square compound in the centre of the capital which was home to state of the art security and an underground network of rooms and ultramodern bunkers. He also had a vast and well-known farm on Airport Road in Tripoli. This, just in the capital.

All newlyweds in Libya receive $60,000 Dinar (US$ 50,000 ) by the government to buy their first apartment so to help start up the family.
This is a well-known rumour and a common joke in Libya. Whilst it may have been passed as official legislation, I know of not a single family who has been given this grant. The backbreaking bureaucracy associated with such grants and loans make them more or less impossible to obtain.

Education and medical treatments are free in Libya. Before Gaddafi only 25% of Libyans are literate. Today the figure is 83%.
Education and Health Care – Free does not mean adequate. It is well known that Libya’s standard of health care is nothing short of appalling. It is widely known that the majority of Libyans seeking medical care leave for neighbouring countries for treatment. Our Education system is no better. It is outdated, teachers are underpaid and under-trained and libraries are largely non-existent. The syllabus was constantly being revised and reviewed under direct instruction from the former regime e.g. banning English, changing Quranic verses, etc.

It is commonly said that Libyans would be happy to forfeit their ‘free healthcare’ and pay for a National Health Service if it was up to the required standard.

Should Libyans want to take up farming career, they would receive farming land, a farming house, equipment, seeds and Livestock to kick-start their farms all for free.
This has never happened, in addition to this many farms and homes have been confiscated by the government to build civil roads,

The Great Man-Made River and civil roads.
The owners of the land were only compensated if there was a covered structure on the land as the Gaddafi regime legally owned any land and the people were only allowed to build on it. When there was compensation offered it was nowhere near the actual value of the property and many waited years to receive anything if at all. This system was also rife with corruption many residents told they had to pay a bribe to receive what little they were given.

If Libyans cannot find the education or medical facilities they need in Libya, the government funds them to go abroad for it not only free but they get $2,300/month accommodation and car allowance.
Categorically untrue. If this was the case, the former regime would have been in receipt of 6 million application forms – one for every man, woman, and child who ‘cannot find education or medical facilities they need’. This grant does not exist for the mainstream public. There is anecdotal evidence of some medical grants being given but again, the system was corrupt and opaque.


  1. and how go education and health care in Libya post-overthrow of Gaddafi? Are you making a case for Libyans being better off today than they were prior to the US/NATO intervention?

    Comment by jacobo — December 1, 2017 @ 12:25 am

  2. And the “single African currency”/gold standard?

    Comment by ajlitwinko — December 1, 2017 @ 12:28 am

  3. I think the answer is obvious. Libya is a mess. But that has little bearing on the idealization of the Gaddafi dictatorship rampant on the left.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 1, 2017 @ 2:30 am

  4. Gaddafi’s regime was no doubt a mess, but I’m puzzled by the critique of his land/housing redistribution policy. Specifically the “Home Belongs to the Dwellers” policy sounds pretty sweet and like a pretty uncontroversial socialist program of expropriating landlords and transferring property to tenants and landless people. I’d love to see something like that happen here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Comment by Arjun — December 1, 2017 @ 3:31 am

  5. Oh no! They expropriated landlords of their rental properties and second homes? The horror! And they even went after “successful business people”. Omg. Scary stuff. Glad we don’t have to worry about that kind of socialist tyranny in America.

    Comment by John Banff — December 1, 2017 @ 7:50 am

  6. Louis, some months back I think you wrote in a comment that you were intending to write about how peoples lives had improved since the intervention. Am I remembering correctly?

    Comment by Doug Colwell — December 2, 2017 @ 2:17 am

  7. No. I said that I was hoping to find the time to explain how things got so fucked up in Libya, you dumb shit.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 2, 2017 @ 2:22 am

  8. Did I touch a nerve or something? I really thought you wrote something like that. If not, fine. Its not obvious what bothers you about my comment.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — December 2, 2017 @ 3:20 am

  9. re: explain how things got fucked up in Iraq. Not how, but why, and the answer is that Empire fucks up every country that it intervenes in. What’s happening was predictable, same as what happened in Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and still may take place in Syria, should empire usa prevail. In addition what’s with your cussing commenters to your website? Are you interested only in hearing from those who agree with you?

    Comment by jacobo — December 3, 2017 @ 8:06 am

  10. corrr: how things got fucked up in Libya fucked up in Libya

    Comment by jacobo — December 3, 2017 @ 8:09 am

  11. Are you interested only in hearing from those who agree with you?


    If you are looking for an argument over the consequences of imperialist intervention, you obviously haven’t been reading what I write. I am dead-set opposed to NATO bombing Libya or the USA bombing in Syria today. But if you, for example, want to argue about the character of the Gaddafi state, bring it on.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 3, 2017 @ 2:33 pm

  12. It was not just “bombing” in Libya and it is not just “bombing” in Syria. The support thrown to “rebels”, all of whom are actually Jihadists but some conceal it, was and is key in both cases. And, yes, to show that supporting “rebels” is wrong one has to look at the positive sides of the governments, or at least to the fact that the negatives are overblown by NATO military propaganda.

    Comment by ramendik — December 6, 2017 @ 2:52 pm

  13. And, yes, to show that supporting “rebels” is wrong one has to look at the positive sides of the governments, or at least to the fact that the negatives are overblown by NATO military propaganda.

    You don’t seem to get it. If free education and healthcare were all that was needed to placate a population, then there would still be a USSR.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 6, 2017 @ 5:15 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 )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: