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Hands off Libya; victory to the Al Fatah revolution

Gaddafi supporters in Tripoli, March 2011

The following statement was issued by Dave Roberts of the SLP.

As the West gears up for intervention into Libya, the left in Britain, with a few exceptions, are like rabbits in the proverbial headlights, transfixed by the brilliant glare of western propaganda. Many are either completely ignorant of Gaddafi’s anti-imperialist revolutionary history or prefer that their self-opinionated pseudo-left intellectualism should not be disturbed by the very notion that the people of one of the previously poorest and most backward countries in the world, through their own efforts, can have thrown off imperialism.

Not only that but, within four decades, they have gone on to built an economy and a society which, to the horror of western reactionary circles, is the envy of the revolutionary class-conscious, downtrodden and poor of Africa and the Arab world.

If any had bothered to read even a basic historical text on Libya’s Green Revolution they would be amazed at its achievements, benefits of which include universal suffrage, free lifelong education for all up to post-graduate level, free medical and health care, a guaranteed home for every Libyan and the highest per capita income in the Arab and African world - a per capita income which is a real average income rather than one based on the massive disparities in wealth to be found in western economies.

Unlike their Arab brothers and sisters in Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi or Jordan, at the age of 16 all Libyans are entitled to join and attend their weekly held local people’s committee and participate practically week in week out in the framing and delivery of policies and the allocation of resources that affect their daily lives. No wonder that participation rates in the political process exceed anything the ‘democratic’ west can offer.

A point lost on the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen when he insisted that protesters were “thirsting for democracy”. Gaddafi correctly told him that he clearly knew nothing of the policy and practice of the authority of the people in Libya .

In setting off on the journey to bring Libya into the modern world, Gaddafi has been conciliatory to those elements in society who, for reasons of the privilege or power they had held over the people through the mosques or through their previous patronage by western oil companies, have continued to resist the struggle for democratic and economic development.

He guaranteed participation of the imams in the people’s committees and ensured that the previous comprador class was no worse off as the wealth, education and health of all Libyans was raised to the remarkable levels they enjoy today. It is clearly these restorationist elements who are forming the backbone of the opposition, eyeing a chance for themselves of a ‘better’ future under the local patronage of western oil companies, or of bringing Libya under the pan-islamist resistance and ‘rescuing’ it from what they fear as the westernising modernism and growing secularism of the Green revolution.

Unlike the opposition in Egypt or Tunisia, the Libyan opposition have raised the royalist emblem of the western oil company-imposed puppet King Idris, whilst increasingly calling for western imperialist intervention to secure their counter-revolution. It should therefore be glaringly obvious to all but the politically blind that the struggle in Libya is the complete opposite to the unfolding struggle across the rest of the Arab world.

An understanding that might explain why Hague sent the SAS and MI6 on a secret mission to start discussions to begin arming the opposition in Libya, whilst two weeks earlier Cameron was in Egypt gun running to the military junta.

No calls for western intervention in Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Egypt then? No calls for the Bahraini or Saudi royals to be referred to the War Crimes Tribunal for having invaded sovereign countries and killed unarmed civilians? Unlike most of the British left, British imperialism has a consistent class line: support the junta in Egypt to hold back generalised intifada and destroy the Libyan revolution. Why? Because it has embodied, to date, the best organised and most resilient resistance in the Arab and African world.

Which is why Gaddafi was referred to by Nelson Mandela as one of the “greatest freedom fighters of the century”. Why the first country Mandela visited upon his release from 27 years in an apartheid gaol was Libya, in order to thank Gaddafi for his consistent support for the ANC. Why he is supported by and has supported Cuba, the Sandinistas, Chavez, the Palestinian cause, the Irish national struggle, etc, etc.

It would be a disaster for western oil companies and imperialism generally if any of the Libyan lessons learnt in 40 years of anti-imperialist struggle began to infect the generalised Arab revolt. Which might explain why a country with a population the size of Wales, albeit with better health and wealth indices, is now facing the combined political muscle and potential military threat of the European Union, the United States etc.

It is clearly a bigger ideological than military threat. Particularly at this time, against the background of the continued worldwide economic collapse of capitalism, its drive towards generalised warmongering, and its scramble to secure oil supplies and arms deals.

That any of these truths should get in the way of western warmongering propaganda has led to an unprecedented campaign to put the frighteners on western middle-class intellectuals. For example, the enforced resignation of Sir Howard Davies at the London School of Economics for accepting a donation from Saif Gaddafi’s foundation after the university had awarded him a PhD.

There is hardly a university in the UK that has not taken money from the ‘Gaddafi regime’, but, as the Daily Telegraph pointed out, the real sin was not taking the money but engaging in academic dialogue with the Libyans on the practice of direct democracy in Libya. Saif Gaddafi had been asked to deliver the Ralph Miliband Lecture (the father of the Miliband brothers, who, according to the Daily Telegraph, was, like Gaddafi, seeking his own ‘third way’, which was neither Soviet socialism nor western capitalism).

It should be as clear as crystal who are the reactionaries and who are the anti-reactionaries; who are the imperialists and who are the anti-imperialists in this pivotal struggle.

Of course, all class-conscious, anti-imperialist and progressive movements should stand shoulder to shoulder with the unfolding Arab revolt, but they should also stand for the victory of the Libyan revolution against western counter-revolution; it’s one and the same struggle. Although one doubts that much of the British left will understand that.

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Dave Roberts has visited Libya numerous times over the last 15 years, leading European delegations, participating in international roundtable conferences in Tripoli and Benghazi, and facilitating British academics in studying the workings of Libyan direct democracy. He has toured the country extensively, meeting with students, academics, health workers, members of people’s committees and the Revolutionary Committees Movement.