The intellectual-managerial class of the neocolonial Left sink deeper into a mess of contradictions every time they publish anything about the colonial war against Libya. The latest to have a go is Santiago Alba Rico in his article “Libia, el caos y nosotros” published in Acomodación on September 20th. Several similar articles have appeared promoting the idea, at once laughable and sinister, that a popular revolution has taken place in Libya.
Very clearly a majority of Libyans support the Jamahiriya and are fighting fiercely against a minority of Libyans corrupted and blackmailed by Western governments. That minority is supported by a large number of foreign mercenaries and by the military might of NATO. It is absurd to term a revolution what is very precisely a contract coup-insurrection. As even the anti-Jamahiriya Tudeh party of Iran has commented,
“We consider the “regime change” policy of the imperialist-affiliated forces in complete contrast to the paramount interests of the Libyan people and the people of the Middle East, and condemn it. In fact, even if the opposition forces to the dictatorial regime of Gaddafi were able to take control of the country or a significant part of it under the military support and coverage of the bomber jets and destructive cruise missiles of the imperialist countries, how could their power and authority have any popular legitimacy?” (http://www.solidnet.org/iran-tudeh-party-of-iran/1389-tudeh-party-of-iran-stop-bombing-libya)
The comrades of Tudeh share the false idea that the Libyan Jamahiriya is a dictatorship and that Muammar al Gaddafi is a dictator. No dictatorship would have survived so many months of pitiless calculated NATO military aggression. Despite that error of analysis, the comrades of Tudeh do understand the concept of legitimacy. They see that a mercenary opportunist minority cannot constitute a legitimate government if they take power on the basis of the military might of the imperialist countries of North America and Europe.
Alba Rico’s article asserts, “I won’t enter into a pugnacious polemic that has fractured the anti-imperialist camp; I just want to state that the only place where that polemic has not existed has been, curiously enough, the very place where the events have occurred.” Despite that avowal, in fact Alba Rico does engage very directly in the polemic and he does so using falsehoods shamelessly.
The sense and meaning of events in Libya have indeed provoked forthright and vigorous discussions throughout the whole region from Algiers to Capetown. Alba Rico presents a suspiciously ingenuous bias in favour of an Arab world perspective. But the fundamental significance of the colonial aggression and the counter-revolutionary coup-insurrection in Libya have to do above all with that country’s African identity.
Even without taking into account the African dimension of the conflict, Alba Rico is mistaken to suggest that the majority of the Left in Arab countries support the NTC. The Algerian Party for Socialism and Democracy, left wing parties in Iran like Tudeh, the Communist Parties of Lebanon and Turkey, have all adopted positions clearly questioning the legitimacy of the NTC’s counter-revolutionary gangsters, mercenaries and islamists, all of them pawns subordinate to foreign powers.
In Africa, solidarity among governments and popular movements is widespread for the Libyan Jamahiriya and for Muammar al Gaddafi. When Alba Rico argues that the Jamahiriya is isolated he adopts a completely eurocentric perspective. He ignores the broad support the Libyan Jamahiriya enjoys in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
That support recognizes the Jamahiriya’s political position in favour of dialogue and a negotiated peace in Libya. It also acknowledges Libya’s long and consistent record of international solidarity. As regards Latin America, Alba Rico refers superciliously to Nicaragua and Venezuela, ignoring with clearly calculated cynicism the categorical position for a peaceful settlement adopted by the ALBA group of countries as a bloc.
Furthermore, at the same time as he ignores the solidarity movement in the United States, Alba Rico olympically omits the awkward fact that the entire black left wing in the United States has from the start condemned outright NATO’s imperialist invasion of Libya. Alba Rico’s bad faith is evident from the way he labels all these groups as well as dissenting voices in the rest of the world, in fact anyone who has spoken out in solidarity with Libya, as “Western”. To cap it all, Alba Rico, like other writers who share his views, deliberately and dishonestly omits any mention of the mass crimes against humanity committed by the NTC’s racist murderers, torturers and rapists.
To complete the picture, here is the list of countries that either rejected, abstained or were absent from the vote in the UN recognizing the NTC as Libya’s legitimate representative. These countries voted against: Angola, Bolivia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Nicaragua, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The following countries abstained: Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Indonesia, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Uruguay.
These countries did not take part in the vote: Albania, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, North Korea, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Guyana, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Somalia, as well as all the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
So it is ridiculous to suggest any kind of hostile global consensus exists against the Libyan Jamahiriya. What does very much exist is a Western Bloc of countries dominated by a fascist elite – the militarist alliance of an oligarchic political class with a corporate capitalist class – which has applied enormous diplomatic and economic pressure on its allies to achieve the desired outcome. Just as Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier sacrificed what was then Czechoslovakia in Munich to appease the militarist monster of Nazi Germany, so Russia’s Dmitri Medvedev and China’s Hu Jintao have sacrificed Libya to appease the military monster of our current era, NATO.
We are already in a world war on the impoverished majority declared by successive United States governments supported by their European and Pacific allies. It is natural for Alba Rico and his fellow comfortable collaborators in NATO’s global psychological warfare, to suggest that the wave of protests in North Africa are a new and successful phenomenon. To the contrary, popular revolts in those countries are far from new. They have occurred sporadically since colonial times. It remains very much to be seen whether the results of the latest protests result in anything beneficial for the region’s peoples.
The situation in Libya has been entirely different from that in Egypt or Tunisia or any of the other countries caught up in what even Barack Obama and John McCain have taken to calling the Arab Spring. It is also extremely false of Alba Rico to pretend that he knows what happened in Libya in February this year. He does not.
The available information has been utterly confused and biased. All we know is that there was some kind of protest mixed up with some kind of armed action. Beyond that nothing is known for certain. What we do know is that, almost immediately, events turned into an armed insurrection and an attempted coup which was exploited from the very outset by the NATO governments.
All the available facts and context suggest that what took place was a contract coup-insurrection supported well in advance by NATO governments and their allies in the region’s repressive Arab regimes. Individuals like Alba Rico flatly contradict themselves when they describe a popular uprising that mysteriously needs the support of “democratic” NATO governments. Now, hypocritically, writers like Alba Rico and the Palestinian Ramzy Baroud suggest that it would be a good idea for the NTC to shake itself free of foreign intervention so as to be genuinely independent.
Leaving aside that Libya was already sovereign and independent under the Jamahiriya, writers like Alba Rico and Baroud suggest an end to the NATO intervention would complete the popular revolution. That is indeed true, because the NTC would be quickly wiped out by the legitimate forces of the Libyan Jamahiriya, as can be seen from the current fighting in Bani Walid, Sirte, Sabah, Brega and elsewhere. That anyone could expect such disingenuous whitewashing of the NTC to be taken seriously confirms the intellectual bankruptcy of the neocolonial Left.
In fact, if Alba Rico were to scratch just a little into the history of popular revolutions he would find not a single one of them succeeded via collaboration with imperial invasions. Of course, as he himself points out, the “Arab peoples” ( as if the situation in Libya can be reduced to that of an “Arab people”) find themselves facing historical developments that not even Marx could have foreseen – orwellian times in which, if one believes Alba Rico, collaborating with imperialism equals independence.
This apparently brand new theory is not as innovative as Alba Rico seems to think. It has already been sketched out by innumerable gangs of “progressives” ever since imperialism in its modern sense came to be formulated. This theory was, at bottom, the very same argument used by European social democrats to praise the beneficent gifts of colonialism at the beginning of the 20th Century. And it is the same kind of argument that has been used to justify the two wars against Serbia, the occupation of Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, the failed UN mission in the Congo, MINUSTAH’s “humanitarian intervention in Haiti and , at the same time as the war against Libya, the French colonialist intervention in the Ivory Coast.
In favour of bombing Libya, of the consequent massacres of civilians, of the racist pogroms against African immigrants, intellectuals like Alba Rico, in these conditions that “Marx never foresaw” take up the very same arguments of those Iraqi so-called Marxists who at the time welcomed the Atlantic powers’ bombing of Iraq. Those Iraqis have long since drained away somewhere into history’s sump. Likewise, little does it serve Alba Rico when he invokes Sartre (of which he should be ashamed) or labels as pro-Westerners those who resist imperialist aggression. Every ideology seeking to justify imperialist crimes uses whatever particular diversionary variant may come to hand. In all these well worn tricks, there is nothing new.
It involves self-evident immoral cynicism to accuse those of us who have taken a stand in opposition to the imperialist intervention in Libya of providing pretexts to NATO. This is especially true when it was, in France, the New Anti-capitalist Party, the Communist Party, the Left Party and the Greens who joined the chorus for a humanitarian intervention. It was not people like us who described the NATO intervention as the lesser evil, but rather the likes of the Spanish trades union organizations, the CGT and the CGOO. Not us, but the Swedish Left Party voted to send fighter jets to Libya. In fact, the list is long and shameful of those who supported this crime against humanity, against the Libyan people. And prominent in that list are the intellectuals who thought that crime was all right and who have tried to justify it.
The moral fraud and outright collaboration with NATO’s psychological warfare involved in the arguments of the narcissistic neocolonial Left, reach extremes when those argument seek to minimize the effects of NATO’s criminal aggression against the Libyan people. Alba Rico patronizingly alerts his readers that the situation is complex. He writes, “Even Nato is aware of this complexity as is demonstrated by the fact – as Gilbert Achcar has pointed out – that Libya has been bombed very little, with the aim of lengthening the war and trying to achieve the defeat of the regime without truly breaking with it.”
This is an outrageous lie. Libya has been bombed without mercy, destroying its infrastructure. One might just as well argue that the Zionists only bombed Gaza or Beirut “a little”. In fact much of Libya’s main cities has been destroyed. When Alba Rico argues, with Achcar, that the bombing was conducted in such a way as deliberately to lengthen the war it is very clear they are incapable of acknowledging that the reason for the constant bombing, for almost seven months now, has been the resistance of the Libyan majority who reject the NTC.
In the first hours of the bombardment targets included the airports and what there was of the Libyan air force, which never took to the air. Very soon after, military units and installations of the Libyan army became targets, something clearly beyond the remit of UN Security Council Resolution 1973. Then, faced with the resistance of the great majority of the Libyan people, NATO, imitating Zionist crimes in Palestine, started “selective” targeting of tribal leaders of the Jamahiriya, regardless that bombing such targets necessarily involved murdering women, children and the elderly.
Then when that policy of “selective” murder failed, NATO began indiscriminate bombing just as the Italian army of occupation did in Libya at the start of the last century. All the while, people like Santiago Alba Rico welcomed this invasion and intervention, trotting out ideological arguments to support doing nothing and even to applaud the NATO governments’ crimes.
Another issue thoroughly manipulated and distorted by collaborators in NATO’s psychological warfare against Libya, and rest of the world’s peoples, has been the handling of Libya’s sovereign wealth funds. NATO’s corporate media propagandists talk endlessly about “Gaddafi’s money”. Their purpose is obviously to reinforce the caricature of Muammar al Gaddafi as a bloody and corrupt clown-dictator. Their banal propaganda finds a ready echo in the writings and pronouncements of the international neocolonial Left.
These intellectuals argue as if a dictatorship – one thinks of Mubarak, Mobutu or Obiang – would accumulate a fund of more than US$200bn and invest it to the clear benefit of the people of Libya and of Africa in general. One is dealing here with an extremely hypocritical double standard. For these writers and intellectuals the United States and its European allies are democracies and the Libyan Jamahiriya is a dictatorship. This apparent truism is demonstrably false.
The NATO countries nurture a criminal financial system that has transferred wealth wholesale, in terms of hundreds of billions of dollars, from the majorities to the elites. By contrast, the Libyan Jamahiriya has redistributed the nation’s wealth spectacularly to the country’s majority as well as to many impoverished African countries. Absurdly, the Western Bloc countries’ intellectual-managerial class state categorically that the Libyan Jamahiriya is a dictatorship, while their own countries are democracies. This is yet one more of their pathetic contradictions.
Anti-imperialism is a struggle against the Western Bloc countries of North America, Europe and their Pacific allies and their Middle Eastern allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. That bloc expresses in our time the ultimate concentration of military, political and economic power embodied in the system of privilege and oppression which is capitalism. Anti-imperialism struggles against capitalism which is the main obstacle to achieving humanity’s basic rights and the main threat to the very existence of life on the planet.
Anti-imperialism, too, is the defence of Nation-States in the degree to which they offer spaces where democracy , socialism and independence have some meaning and also to the extent to which they are targets of aggression because they obstruct the unrestrained imperial plunder of resources. Anti-imperialism defends and above all respects the leadership that peoples have designated for themselves. It means leaving to those peoples the final word about the interpretation of their historical experiences.
The dilemma posited by intellectuals like Santiago Alba Rico, between the defence of some abstract democratic, socialist or anti-capitalist project and, on the other hand, freedom from imperialism, is a false dilemma. The popular legitimacy of any given project and the struggle for national independence mutually condition each other. A Maghreb in flames and Libya invaded do little or nothing to advance the revolutionary aspirations of people in the Middle East and North Africa. On the contrary, the war in Libya has put a final nail in the coffin of the international legal order established by the United Nations Charter.
With the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1973 – a pretext which only movements completely lacking in political vision could welcome – the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect was promulgated by decree and with it the imposition of wholesale barbarism. The United Nations was already in crisis, it is true, but that worn out old arrangement will be no easier to transform now international law is dead, especially in a world for all practical purposes now multi-polar, but still controlled by the anachronistic dictatorship of a very few powers, almost all of them members of NATO.
Among the doubtful advances applauded by the neocolonial Left has been the broadening of the discretion of the illegal International Criminal Court to an extent that the administration of George W. Bush could only dream about. The message of Resolution 1973 is very clear. From now on anything goes. That means more wars that the usual phoney progressives and phoney radicals will time and time again help unleash, while at the same time feigning innocence and dismay.
The recent UN Security Council Resolution 2009 shows categorically that the UN is the victim of virtual engineering generated by the global psychological warfare of NATO country governments and their allies. The content of the resolution bears no relation at all to the reality in Libya. This situation has been accelerated and facilitated by the moral and intellectual collapse of the narcissistic frauds on the international neocolonial Left. In practice they serve as allies of humanity’s enemies.
The colonial aggression against Libya constitutes a deep rupture with what has gone before. It will have many consequences both foreseeable and unforeseeable. One consequence will be the marginalization of old schemas of intellectual production and the development of new expressions of cultural resistance, of intellectual production based on the reality of the world’s peoples. Something positive that the Libyan people have demonstrated is the imperative of respecting the wisdom and sovereignty of the political decisions of peoples.