11 comments on “On Libya

  1. The issue for the Left in Libya, at least those calling themselves Marxist, was Imperialism not the nature of the Qaddafi regime. Supporting an imperialist bombing campaign in a former colonial country in the midst of rebellion and civil war hardly qualifies Trotsky’s hypothetical which posited a nationalist movement in it’s fight against a Imperialist colonial occupying power being aided with weapons by another Imperialist foreign power. One of the Social Democrats excuses in Germany for supporting the Imperialist internecine WW1 bloodbath was that it was a fight against Tsarist oppression of workers. Lenin called them “Social Imperialists.”


  2. well done rustbelt, ignore the haters…amazing how many r-r-r-revolutionary ‘marxists’ dump class analysis to embrace lesser-evilism as soon as things get complicated. love the ‘old man’ article too.


  3. You speak of “being disgusted with those on the left who find themselves supporting Qaddafi” but it’s unclear who these people are and what you mean by supporting Qaddafi.

    Supporting Gaddafi could mean many things. At its broadest, it could mean supporting Gaddafi politics in toto, or it could mean, more narrowly, supporting his fight against Nato intervention. It could also mean supporting his policies of resource nationalism, about which the State Department and numerous oil companies have complained. Surely, those who support Gaddafi in these narrow senses, are no more supporters of Gaddafi’s politics (except perhaps certain elements of it here and there), than Democrats who supported Ronald Reagan’s recovery from an attempted assassination were supporters of Reagan’s politics.

    I disagree with your definition of imperialism. Imperialism existed long before capital was accumulated internationally. A definition which takes account of imperialism in its many historical forms would recognize imperialism as the political and economic domination of one country by the ruling class of another, whether capitalist or otherwise.

    You’ve defined anti-imperialism as pro-socialism, and thereby declared that any country that resists domination from outside cannot be anti-imperialist, unless it’s socialist. But this is simply changing the meaning of a word to suit your argument. Indeed, if we were to define imperialism as you do, we wouldn’t need the word at all. We would just call imperialism capitalism and opposition to it socialism. This, however, would cause countless problems. How would you explain the historical struggle of people of Africa, Asia and Latin America to throw off colonialism? Were they all socialists?

    I can’t help but get the impression that you’re searching for good guys and bad guys, for a Manichean world that can be reduced to capitalists on one side and socialists on the other. Is that where the confusion lies? There’s no reason why anyone should expect anti-imperialists to be socialists, or admirable, or angels, or why even the most reprehensible people can’t do some things right.

    Clearly, your sympathies lie with the rebels. One of your beefs with Gaddafi is that he isn’t a socialist (and that he conciliated with imperialism—-although it has now come to light that his conciliation didn’t go nearly far enough.) Yet the rebels are no more socialists than Gaddafi is, and seem to be a good deal less so and also far more willing to take conciliation to the nth degree. How do you resolve the contradiction?

    The conclusions that I think one ought to come to are that the rebels are hardly paragons, Gaddafi is hardly a paragon, and Nato’s actions are completely insupportable.


    • Opposition to the American ruling class and its imperialist interventions anywhere and everywhere around the world should be ABC to any American socialist worthy of the name. Let alone for veterans of the anti-Vietnam war movement. Why? Because the same gang of liars, killers and crooks that exploits and oppresses working people here, i.e., the US government and ruling class, is not suddenly going to turn around and do otherwise elsewhere. If the US supports someone in another country, you can be pretty sure that they are no friend of the working people in the country concerned. Not to mention that while they supposedly have no money to spare for jobs, education, housing and healthcare in the US they have plenty when it comes to war, including war by proxy, i.e, by a bunch of bought and paid for jihadis, anti-black racists and Gaddafi turn-coats, the rebels who are on the same plane as the mullahs and drug-dealers who fought against the Sovs in Afghanistan. Needless to say, the latter found supporters amongst the staff of Against the Current as well.

      America’s ruling rich (and Western Europe’s) want to control the black gold of the Middle East and they need to have reliable hands on the spigots, not flighty nationalists like Mo or Uncle Saddam, another one-time “ally” of the US. With the rebels virtually promising to turn over the oil to the US and the EU imperialists while leaving the Ruskies, the Chinese and Brazill, all opponents of the war and former business partners of Mo, out in the cold, it’s clear that they got what they wanted.

      As for the all the hooey about “massacres” that fooled a few NATO socialists (including about half of Solidarity…just like in Yugoslavia, remember), this kind of hokum is old hand to US imperialism’s media mind manipulators. Remember the Maine, the Kaiser’s hun hordes bayoneting Belgian babies and the Gulf of Tonkin, Needless to say, the “massacres” that Gilbert Achcar, Juan Cole and Solidarity fell for fall in the same field…unlike the death and destruction NATO rained down on Libya on a daily basis in the name of “human rights.” Or for the younger set whose knowledge of ancient history isn’t up to par, who will be playing Hitler next, either singing, dancing or otherwise? Noreiga, Saddam Hussein, Slobo, A’jad, Kim Il Sung (Sr, or Jr.) or Mo have already all had their chance. In other words, look no further than any country that has oil or something else that they want, to find the next bad guy in a black hat insofar as the US is concerned.

      After all, when you want to go to war and steal someone’s resources or knock off an imperialist rival, you’ve got to come up with some scam to pull the wool over the peoples’ eyes, especially if you want them to fight and die for it. Trotsky once said “America’s always liberatiing someone,” but John Reed was even more accurate when he pointed out that “Uncle Sam comes to the (Third World) with a sack of flour in one hand and a club in the other.”

      General Smedley Butler knew this; the burned-out liberal lefties who fall for all the human rights propaganda that George Soros and the CIA spin out apparently do not…since they continue to fall for it every time! As for me, I have no qualms whatsoever about saying that I’d rather be with the likes of Workers World, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and any other anti-imperialist against the US and its stooges then with liberal-left Soros “socialists,” who, whether it be in the name of “human rights” or “permanent revolution,” are on the same side as “their” government and ruling class.

      P.S. To employ the lingo that we used to in our younger, more ultra-left days, I would have given “military support” to Mo against NATO at the drop of a bomb.


      • I think the whole statement is too “even-handed” in that it neglects both the history of that region in opposing Gaddafi as stooges of the West and the religion of that region which is the variant of Islam that is viciously anti-modern, it supplied a great number of the volunteers to fight the USSR in Afghanistan. That being said I am very pleased with the effort it takes to analyse and plumb the debts. I just think there are instances in history when whole populations are impressed by imperialism because of the logic of their circumstances to fight on its behalf. There is little evidence of opposition, apart from the CIA-manufactured flag opposing intervention which fooled only those who wanted to be fooled.

        And greeting comrade Roy Rollin, have not encountered you since the days of the Peter, Matt and the Trotskyist League. I have moved on since then and would like to talk to you now. I am at gerdowning@btinternet.com, also on Facebook.
        Comradely Gerry Downing


  4. You and I have made a lot of the same points: http://nucomintern.blogspot.com/2011/08/libya-imperialism-revolution-and.html

    Much of the left disowned the rebellion once NATO got involved, totally ignoring the revolutionary process and organizing that was crucial to victory in Tripoli:

    The first of these links is a first-hand account from a socialist who was on the ground when Qaddafi was toppled.


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