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    libya and me

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    lost

    Number of posts : 151
    Registration date : 2010-12-13

    libya and me

    Post  lost on Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:14 pm

    as i start this,a bbc television panel discussion is on with members of an invited audience(the public)asking questions of a group of 5 politicians,public figures and celebraties,one of whom is ken livingstone,ex labour mp and last mayor of london.

    he has made a number of points that i would make about forign/imperialist intervention in libya,although his and my politics are very different in many ways.his commentws immediately resulted in denunciation and insults from some other panellists.

    i was thinking about libya in its current struggles anyway.

    in talking about libya and me i am making a vague reference to a comic autobiography by the late and famous comedian,spike milligan of goons and q fame.

    in entitling his book something like hitler....and my part in his downfall,his distorting observation makes comedy about a giant amongst tyrants,and plays up the part of ordinary people in history.

    on the other hand libya and me points up my own admittedly limited but significant involvement in libyan issues.

    as a child i becamer aware of libya only as a set of marks on atlas maps,and then at school the barest smattering of information about britiush and other european imperialist intervention,capture and exploitation of north africa and elsewhere that i probably only vaguely understood through the prism of lawrence of arabia in cinema.

    of key importance wasa asking my dad about his experience in north africa,and libya specifically as he fought as a member of the pbi("poor bloody infantry")as a private in the ramc/royal army medical corp during world war ii in ther desert campaign,including el alamein which became in churchills words the beginning of the bergginning in leadiung to the britsh/alled victory in world war ii.many inclduing my father fought from some kind of notion of fighting fascism.

    i asked him about the experience many times as a child and youth.although me recall is thagt he always answered me,i dont think he volunteered his stories,i suspect because war had such a destructive impqact for him and others.

    whilst i have always been interested in military history,as i grew up i became at the least an anti-miltarist as i began to form political and other ideas of my own.i maintained a pride in my fathers actions because its seems both genuinely informed by anti-fascism and anti racism,i also acknowledged his physical courage,especially as despite the training he was not a killer,but an ordinary private/ambulance crew who rescued and helped the wounded,and indeed wrote home to i believe the families of both dead allied and german and italian soldiers.some of me mehis stries were about the pacifist/conscientious objector,and often quaker american ambulance drivers who drove at great speed and personal risk to tend the wounded.

    what was glaringly missing from my familiarity with maps that showed tripoli,bengqahzi,tobruk,el alamein and other places was any sense of the local population ammidst all thsi violence,terror,destruction and criss crossing other peoples country by the germans,italians,brits and others.and i never asked.the tunisians just seemed to have walk on parts in the periphery of their own country.

    i hope i do not undervalue all this very real self sacrifice,but at what cost the best of their humanity is wasted.my dad survived but his health was ruined.he acquired a condition known to soldiers but apparently not to medicine,of desert lung which seriously reduced hsi health and breathing ability from when i was about 10 until his death when I was 30 and he 65.

    in 1986,i had returned from a period in the usa and went back to my job in a volutary/non profit project working with the young unemployed who also experienced other problems.

    on the day the usa bombed tripoli i wne to work,worried and swallowing hard incensed and stuned by the crass reporting of a female american journalist standing in the streets of tripoli reporting events but somehow surprised at the anger and horror around her.i wasa anxious that a nuclear world war ii could start and that given the us bombers flwe from british airfields that briatian,indeed london could be targetted in any retaliation.

    what was of most concern was the state of the young people at work who could and would not settle to the training they were expected toundertake.

    as staff we needed to get a grip.those were the days of relative autonommy as a group of staff,which included qactive trades unionists,feminists and revolutionaries amongst the socialists.

    i persionally had recently completed and extended short training course in despiqar work which primarilly focussed on the impact of living in a culture of fear associated with the nuclear threat.

    we caled a meeting with the young people and allowed them as well as ourselves to discuss our fears,concerns and anger.several hours later we wrote cvollective lettersd to colonel quaddafi expressing concern for his family and people,that we did not agree with the actions of our own government nor that of the usa and that war was not a way to deal with issues of real concern.we also wrote to the mp for the area in which our office was based and to the prime minister of the time,one margaret thatcher.copies wnet to other politicians and dignitaries.the young people prepared the letters and posted them.,we closed for the day,inviting anyone with any anxiety to talk with us,as adults and staff.we then awaited replies.

    now soem 25 years later we still awit a reply from that or any other prime minister.but it was striking that within a few weeks if not days,we got what appeared to be a hand/self typed and siigned letter from colonel quaddaffi acknowledging our concerfns and saying taht we were not the enemy.somehwre is till have ythat letter.i admit it coloured my attiude to colonel quaddaffi for some time.it certainly made a clear point about some ofour own keys politicins when a man of already questioanble reputation gave us attention when "our own"politicians were commpletelky indifferent,i guess because few of us amongst the young people could vote.beisdes which why should they care,because until and ujn less we assert ourselves as indivuals and as a class they will simply rule over us in britain and in libya,where quaddaffi and thatcher,cameron and miliband haqve more in common with each other than with us the young and the workers in any part of britain or lbya or elsewhere.

    over recent years i have a friendship and professionalrelationship with a young muslim,who has had a sharper,more angry and scerbic and informed view of colonel quaddaffi than myself.

    but then as the fire of change,resistance and revolution has spread across north africa,i can only watch and comment as events unfold in libya.i qam clear in supporting the revolutionary anger of the libyan people against a decrepit ,authroitarian regime.

    since i wriote my first and last post about libya,i have thought and worried hard in watching the twists and turns backwards and forwards.

    i think i ended by post then by opposing foreign intervention,especially as a worker in an aggressive,imperialist state,and influnced by what appeared to be the demands of some of the libyan resistance.

    i have i admit had moments of doubt,as the newspeak of the imperialist appears as honeyed words.i also watched as demands in libya,not just from the dissenting but still ruling elite who had "chang3ed sides"but also from sections of the active and young resistance.it is their courage and redsistance being tedsted so any criticism from me,whilst its has its place is limited by that reality and that i have no more familiarity with miltary affairs than many of them.i dont want to watch them die either.

    yet it is also clear that whilst quaddaffis forces are ramshackle they are more heavily armed and willing touse it.whilst enthusiastic the resistance in not heavily enough armed to be decisive.it lacks military discipline which can become dangerous.

    meanwhile the imperialists have prevaricated formany and varied reasons,not least in that they have not been a readily identifiable or unified block.they do not have the freedoms of warfare on an international scale of say half acentury ago.yet as noam cvomskky has pointed out in arecent newsnight bbc interview biding their time is what the usa does.and the prevarication has been functional.

    now the no fly zone is in place it is wider than no fly and whiklst problems are buried in the script,it transfers the centre of politics,discussion,action,power from the reegionn itself to the imperialists.what happens if the resistance takes the iniative?imperialism can crush it.it also presents the regime and the resistance as of equal value and standing.it has already injured some of the resitance who wnet to rescue the pilots of a crashed coalition fighter jet.it niow has a hand in the game it did not have only dqays ago.it presents as reasonable when it is not and i suspect it has set the tione for regime events in bahrain and egypt which are not to be welcome.

    i dont have any answers let alone easy ones.we have to start from where we are but train unionists,revolutionaries and others can campoaign and fight for actions and campaigns which deliver solidarity and real help to workers and others in libya and the region as a whole.we need not,cannot and must not give in to gthe beguiling nonsense from the imperialists.history shows that it is all barbed anbd danbgerous and with friends like these we dont need self declared enemies.

    that old bogey that our enemies enemies are our friends is part of that nonsense.quaddaffi and the coalition may not be friends but they are the same class and closer to each other than to their respective working classes and peoples.we need to work out in effective practice how we can make real and effective solidarity with the libyan and wider regional working classes.

    the reality that the situation and the answers are not easy is not the same thing as there being no answers.life and the world is complex and difficult.it does none of us any good to hide from that reality.we in the imperialist countries have a duty to our oppressed and exploited comrades even if the future offers no guarantees.we should neither rush in whilst seekinbg easy answers nor ourselves prevaricate in delaing with the real difficulties the peoples oflibya and the world face in common-socialism or barbarism.

    lost 25/03/2011




    lost

    Number of posts : 151
    Registration date : 2010-12-13

    ebb and flow in libya

    Post  lost on Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:49 pm

    events,prospects of revolution and military events all ebb and flow in libya.this reflects uneven and varied repoortage and information available via news media,as well as the uncertaintly of events themselves.

    although it is approaching 67 years the DAK/deutsche afriak korps were defeated at el alamein(i apologise that a previous post located el alamein in libya.it is in egypt.) and subsequently,some things have not changed.then the italian and german forces chased british and commonwealth forces backwards and forwards over the desert and between cities.

    the specifics reasons may be different but the bb and flow is similar.whilst some forces have defected from the quadaffi regime to the reistance,the quality of both is questionable(although i am notcommenting ontheir quality as human beings.)many of the senior officers who have defected are conspicuous by their absence from the front line or forces actually in combat.there are probably not enough rank and file soldiers to stiffen the backbone of the resistance army.enthusiasm and courage will not by itself nor on a consistent basis overwhelm the morfed displined more numerical and more heavily armed resources of the rewsistance.neither airstrikes nor air protection alone are adequate alone or as a substitute either.

    what seems to be happenning is that the regime takes any advantage it can but adopts defensive tactics under the onslaught from the air.enthusiasm and courage takes the ramshackle resistance forward,but which has enough sense to withdrawwhen pointed by artillery and tanks with bigger punch and range.

    it bis clear that opinion differs amongst the resistance about the value of foreign intervention.what is possible is that whilst reducing the potentials more massacre by the regime of civilians it changes the way deaths might take place and possibly extends the peiod of war.there will be deaths as the rseult of friendly fire and the fog of war.the reistance blew one ofits own pilots out of the sky on day oen of the intervention and the crew of a us helicopter who came to the rescue of its downed jet(possibly through engine failure)goinng on insensitively to injure if not kill the localks who came to the rescue of the same crew.civilian families still die as the fall out of any military action.

    in the 1930s workers in the usa and elsewhere in europe formed the lincoln and international brigades to assist the left republican government in spain.only some of those had military experience.spain formed the killing ground and the practice run for the even greater tragedy that was world war ii.

    i dont have any clever answers or quick ones but workers everywhere can organise to bring other very real prfessures on the regime.only today the british government are expelling 5 libyan"diploamts".we could call for full expulsion and closure.france has only in the last weeks stopped supplying arms to the regime.libyan police and probably soldiers may well continue to be in training with british forces.we can stop this and use the powoer and influence of our organisations inclduing unions to have real impact.

    i know 1973 is along time agaobt then dockers brought arms supply to chilean fascism to zero.such actions may not produce instant or major results but at least they can represent another nail in the coffin.

    lost
    30/03/2011

    lost

    Number of posts : 151
    Registration date : 2010-12-13

    more on libya

    Post  lost on Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:25 pm

    there is a useful piece by sean matgammna on the shirz solcialist website about intervention by the imperialist states in libya.

    this is a sharp and impassioned piece that points out the dangers for of the left of some of its positions.i genuinely found it helpful,although i admit i still have some doubts and concerns.that said,i dont expect any position to be easy or simple given that its is about class struggle and human life in the context of an international system that actually cares little or nothing for labour and life.

    it is good that the comrades piece is frfee of sectarianism.i do not complain at the sharp tone of his criticism.

    unfortunately the undoubted history of dogmatism,sectarianism and more usually does not help in this process.for example untilthe collapse of the stalinist regimes,any individual or organistaion that attempted to seek an alternative position would be subject to personal abuse and organisational sectarian language that both obscures,obfuscates and indeed "ideologises"the subject and reality under discussion and takes intellectual short cuts in describing the actions and thinking of other comrades in meaningless,alienating jargon.

    some of our differences might well be becaause we are not seeing or thinking straight or properly.but our jargon,archaic and esoteric language often looks positively occult.can we never admit thyat individually or collectively or even organistaionally we dont have enough information or dont know the answer or even try to develop alternative positions.some of them might actually be more powerful-in being helpful and insightful.

    i admit ia am a heretic here,both generally and specifically.i admit my ignornace and my mistakes when i realise them.educational and pyschological theory would indicate that we learn best and fastest from our mistakes although first we have to acknowledge and admit them.

    ignorance and stupidity and error itself are not excuses but there are nom guarantees of rectitude,and being right or wrong by itself does not dave anyones life or direct our energies to maximise the opportunies to make that better world we seek in common.

    could there not be a parrallel for us when thinking about libya,with perhaps our own workplaceds,whwre our employers/managers often present plans about which the workers may well have suspicions.when the complaining is over individually or collectively we forge a way forward.often this does not reuqire our agreement with what is planned,we may not support it-but we get on,we struggle with it-without accepting it.so why can we not replicate this in the international context.

    nevertheless we do not need and should not with-hold our detailed critism at every point.this"war"with or in libya is hqappenning anyone.war will involve deaths in the fog of war.that does not excuse the respomnsibilty of their class for for every death.

    i think we live in times where not only are the values and ideas of society have come out of "sync"with the economic order,but the fractions and factiosn of that society will be in conflcit overtly or otherwisre with increasing frequency and locatiosn like the techtonic plates that form part of the planet.the contradictions of decadent capitqalism will operate at greater frequency qand velocity qand depth.and at a more superficial level too all kinds of ideas and idealogies will be in conflict.

    we should use all the tools that marxism and other disciplines offer us,but we need to keep thowse tools clean and sharp.sectarianism amnand dogma are accretions we should doi without.it is not just about mnot being unpleasant but it obscures our understanding of an increasingly complex and provisional reality that moves at increasing speed.it also excludes many from being attracted to our ideas,or simply to feeling put down by the archaic and alienating ways we articulate them.

    the price of anything fruitful or worthwhile is our vigilance.that includes our language and expresion.that includes me too.

    often the wider discourse does not help.it means we have to operate well developed crittical faculties in "reading"the media of the society around us.we should excercise caution but not throw the evidenhec away out of hand.one of the television channels showed earlier in the week a libyan woman in the quadaffi regime area of libya crash into the hotel lobby of the hotel in which jouralist are quatered.she screamed an allegation of rape.footage shows male and female staff trying to silence and bundle her away.regime security staff then attacked journalist and took the woman away.apparently she has since dissappear4ed and without being belived or her allegations investigated,she is now to be subject to counter allegations from her alleged assailants-i believe other security agents-that she has slaqndered them.

    libya is not britain and should not have to become a clone of this society to be "acceptable".,i also know that britain is not a workers state but reform does have its impact,which is not reducible to illusion.some things are also not negotiable.it has to be better that in britain when women allege rape that they should be believed and that however they present the criiminal justice system still has aresponsibilty to be fair and to accomadte issues now called diversity within the professional language/jargone of the crfiminal justice system.it is along way from being anywhere near aws good as it should be but it is better than in the past.

    so that in the context of the incident partly decrsibed above,in the libyan context describing the woman as a hysterical drunken prostitute living in a "different culture"iws simply not acceptable,nor tolerable.although our voice in raising such issues might be sshrill squeak we still have aresponsibilty to raise the issues and ask teh questions.

    which leaves me stonished that yet other sections of the left seem to eager to line up unquestioningly behind the quadaffi green flags of the regime both in print qand indeed,i am told at least one "block"on the london cuts demonstration on 26/03/2011.i do not doubt their commitment to fighting the cuts but id do think they are also accountable for the other ideas they seemn to represent and crucially present symbolically on such occassions.

    lost
    31/03/2011


    lost

    Number of posts : 151
    Registration date : 2010-12-13

    some rules of thumb in the libyan struggle

    Post  lost on Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:03 pm

    at a time when it seesms particularly difficult to know or weigh the demands of the struggle in libya beyond takimng sides with the resistance/revolution and defending it,amiong the dangers is some risk of substsituting our own demnads for theirs.

    wharwever we dod or do not know,does not prevent us applying our knowledge and experience to develop practical and political solidarity with that struggle.we should not shrink from placing demands on our own states,and indeed applying any of our influence where and when we can in that process.

    and nothing should stop us being absolutely ruthless and relentless in our critisism of all that the ruling class do.we owe them nothing and whatever they do will never be good enough for the libyan or any other working class.we should not conceed anything to them,nor believe them.wherevere and wwheneever we can we should demand to see the colour of their money.i mean our money.

    and in britain all the bank notes "promise to pay the bearer of.."so promises for the future are not good enough from them.whilst our solidarity needs to be real and effective we should not be folled by the velocity of the media which only partially understands the moment that is now.

    lost
    31/03/2011

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