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Libyan Writer Ghoma

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Tuesday, 10 July, 2007


Is the "Return to the Constitution" Nothing But Euphemism
for the Return to Monarchism?

By: Ghoma

        Perhaps it's part of human nature, the yearning for a lost "something or somewhere," a return to the good oldy days! or to home, for instance. The Bible started from the "Fall" of Adam and Eve. Moses was searching for the "Promised Land!" Odysseus wandered to go home in Attica! Et cetera, are few of the innumerable examples where a "Lost Paradise" was the irreducible foundational assumption, and the thread that underlies the weaved knots and gnarls of the narrative.

        On the same vein, out of the times of ancestors' worship, a somewhere in the sweep of time grew a belief which is still conditioning, if not holding, the human march. The belief holds that somewhere down the road there existed a cogent breed of men, forget about women!, who, in their pristine simplicity and raw intelligence, had been inspired to set the parameters that formed the code, and thus blazed the path for the coming generations to thread on. These early "founders" had stumbled upon the rod with which to measure the righteous life and the virtuous conduct, until they themselves merited to become, though difficult to emulate, the paragons to live up to. Henceforth, their descendants had been dividing themselves into camps of those who want to conserve these early memories, what usually is called the conservatives, and those of the counterpart, the liberals; who in recognizing the past's heritage, recognize also its burden. The latter hold society to its own raison d'etre. While the first march ahead by looking backward. Those others, in part due to their frustration with the past, forge ahead like any adventurer in search of new possibilities. On this big hypothesis, was born that law of all laws, the give and take of human interactions, dialects: out of the pros and cons - duking it out- an alternative third comes forth and sets the cranky gears of history to whirl around and around. However, there's exception to this law as well. Some societies, for a variety of reasons, the rack of dialect had not worked its magic on them to crank the gears and wheels of history to move forward but rather seemed to have caused them to slow down considerably, if not stall to a halt in somnolence; or, to a merely squeaking speed. As if their initial charge, energy, had exhausted itself, and the body has no other recourse except to come to stop to lie in slumber until somehow a re-charge can be had, to presume its moving.

        Take for instance, a place like Libya, notwithstanding the screeds one reads from time to time of some invented high school compositional rigmaroles about the past, the heroic ancestors, and the daring resistors to this and the defeating of that, the fact of the matter, it's all fiction, wishful thinking. The nub of these homilies boils down to something of the line of what would have been, had there been some other breed, fictional characters they've imagined them to be and invented on the spot them to have existed in place of the real people they were there. What should have taken place had these writers had the luck to sketch what course history should have followed instead of its actual and not very pleasant writs, those of the repeated defeats and horror filled spooky scripts?! Out of all the imagined yarns, more acrobatics, the past peers its head out in fuzzy and fogged blurs of swirling half-truths of either much of it is still in the dark, or very little of it was known.

        Though such line of thinking leaves the past an abyss of bottomless depth and thus makes some people nervous and fearful of being left rudderless, when were lost without a compass. To this uncomfortable state, some people prefer an illusionary references and anchors. Facing the prospects of being without bearings to go by, they've to advise a way to navigate under their own steam. The shock, not to discover, but to contend with the facts that there were very few, if any, what could be and deserve to be martyrs; there were no great leaders, and there was never a real kingdom -with a legendary King Arthur at its Round Table!- and there was no law and order either. And as sad as it's, this clears a lot of confusion and confusing notions. It becomes clearer there's no need to convince anybody to go back to a fold that never was sculpted nor to endeavor to re-create a golden past that had never existed. If there's a denouement, it must be: There was no sweet finale of the type: They lived happily ever after.

        Out of the same urge and in similar fashion, even in the 21st-century, opposition groups' narratives attempt to get some 'legitimacy' by basing their feet, so to speak, on solid grounds of the past. By invoking one thing or another of that "idyllic past," and its larger than life slews of heroes, of piteous angels, or of justful and divinely guided monarchies. The catch here is, the call to such paradigms never comes directly, in your face, but rather wrapped and camouflaged in a roundabout manner of typical Libyan -actually Arab- florid locution, under much more brushed and up-to-dated slogans such as: the return to Democracy and the legitimacy of the Constitution! And here where the insipid and venomous implications were passed without much ado. Implied in these catcalls are that: A- There was a democracy; B- There was a 'Constitution' which's taken for a fact, and its legitimacy was beyond questioning; C- During their short tenures (the king and the constitution) democracy and the rule of law were in vigor and vigorous ; D- Behind all of this was God mandated, tribes backed, Religion blessed, and divinely-inspired great and heroic King.

        The so-called "Independence" was never won, by any stretch of the imagination, by Libyans on their own. If there was anything, it was only by default. When the biggies couldn't agree on how to divide the spoils of war, the Independence of Libya, came out as a way out, to save the Quartet from stepping on each others toes and thus getting in each other's ways and on each others' nerves. The Libyan state was invented for no other purposes than to keep the Russian bear out of defrosting itself on the southern shores of Mediterranean sea. "There's blessing in their difference" as the old Arab saw goes, this time it came to the benefit of a stoned to the ground and Stone- Aged inhabitants of a region long lived mostly out of history and only occasionally on the edge of it. For 10 so consecutive years, the new country, named the Kingdom of Libya, had continued to live unknown and unnoticeable, living on the crumbs and leftovers of its benevolent sponsors -and the rent of its land as bases- that had kept it out of starvation, on the margin of the world events. A geological accident or chance had brought such a country to live. So far the desert has shown more content beneath it than wisdom above it. Nothing that came out of Libya or Libyans, so far, has to do with both the state and oil. The state is in shambles. The oil situation is not much different. Oil what's defined and still defines the country, not its people. When oil gushed out, it literally saved it from extinction and put it over night at the center of the world's map. To oil only, Libya is indebted for its present status, and to it owes its clout, if it's any!

        The notion of "returning into the constitution" in itself seems to be so innocent, so neutral and so unobjectionable, however, on a closer look, it resembles those studies in reason garbled in the rarefied language of unreasonablessness. On reconstructing the events and twists which accompanied and led to the adoption of both the King and the writing of his 'Constitution' one will be surprised to discover, to the disappointment of the glib talkers -fatuous and later day seekers of a straw to hang onto- there was more to meet the eye in the subterfuge affaires than the recreated clear-cut universal acclamations as some not tired of claiming them to be. To start with, if the "Amir of Cyranaica' was shoved down the throats of Libyans, if he was, though reluctantly, accepted as King of all Libya, thanks in no small part to the foresight of some self-appointed leaders and tribal notables of Tripolitania's regions, who, though lacked a mandate or legitimacy, had acted to keep the hypothetical country in one piece together. Had it been only to Mohammed Idris and his cronies, they were ready to accept, with his sponsors' consent, the tribes and the Brits, with much of these later' intrigues, to go their way alone, that's, to establish, as his ilks in the Gulf - a protectorate of the Emirate of Cyranaica: A bunch of tribes with a flag! Fate or irony, Tripolitanians, by some mysterious and ingenious sleight of hand, had risen to the occasion and had saved the day and the country from fragmentation!

        As to the 'Covenant'? it was a fable more than a fact! Whatever it was, it was not a real "social contract," in the full extent of the term. Rather, in its best, was a Bylaw Charter for the nascent Protectorate of Libya, and in its worst, it was merely a piece of paper not worth the ink or the intrigues spelt on its stipulation -a result of the various, contradictory and at times irreconcilable interests -and plots- of the Brits, the Frogs, the Yankees, the Vladimirs, and their UN's Dutch representative. If there were some Committees and conferences, were all mere smokescreens to blur and hide what took place out of sight in the corridors and behind the curtains of those pulling the strings of the whole shenanigans! Otherwise how a bunch of tribes, a small fraction of the population, came to determine what form and shape the country should take. Three-federated states with two capital cities, in a country of around one million souls, and with no money or resources to speak of. The Fezzanese, who got a state, were no more than few scattered oases in the middle of the desert and with less than one-hundred thousand inhabitants. Cyranaica fared no better, was a bit difference from Fezzan, with a bunch of tribes that constituted no more than one- quarter of a million inhabitants.

        Thus, in its essence, the so-called 'Constitution' was, sui generis, a document for an absolute monarch-despot to run a government with plenty of mise-en-scene trappings, with some sort of cooked elections and likewise appointed Walis (governors) and a good amount of the so-called senators! Despite the assertions of the constitutional apologists, the difference between Libya and a proper Constitution was both qualitative as well as qualitative. As far as one could infer there were not any Bill of Rights nor any checks and balances -or separation of powers. A modern state with a modern constitution cannot be obtained unless they're premised on the idea of secularity - separation of state and religion. The lack of a vision with clear definitions, alone, had precluded a real democracy in Libya to take roots. As Carl Popper said, there's a limit to the extent of tolerating the intolerant, freedom of religion is also freedom from religion.

        The king was as a despot, as despots come, and as the regime that replaced him still does. For an example to how democratic that regime was: Ali al-Waraith's newspaper, "al-Balagh," with its mild and blunted criticism, with its articles of roundabout wishy-washy half truths, was read in the toilets of the printing shop before the police rounded up the few copies that had been printed or had reached the newsstands. As to the political parties, unionism, etc. were never there, banned before they'd even been tried. The King's ignorance and superego wouldn't let him share power or decisions with anyone beside his/her majesty's high resident in the country. That's why out of the many modest and yet numerous "palaces and residences," he'd always preferred the one in Tobruq, close to the hinterland of his local tribal sponsors and home to the Brits' naval and air bases. You talk about a king puppet! Idris, was with those of the Arabian Peninsula and Morocco, were/are the epitomes and ultimate paragons of such a breed.

        Idris's legitimacy! as a King, though if consummated, was never digested especially by the West where most of the population weight still resides. His acceptance was only a temporary stopgap until better times show up and an alternative can be found and agreed upon. As to whatever his name, the kid in London, he's only playing an ironic comedy, and not of the funny kind. He's making, of himself, a certified charlatan by assuming the mantle of a larger than his shaggy and squeaky hanger can handle. A pity figure of a suborned facade -or only a hired-gun? doing the work perhaps for some other forces and powers that seem to be beyond the grasp of his badly wired synapses. Is he really a legitimate heir to the so-called throne of Libya or just misguided pretender to a throne though its seedling may have been implanted by mistake - and in the desert to boot!- had never survived to take roots? Rumors had it that his granddad was to abdicate and his own dad did give up the idea of being a king. Think of it, just the idea of mentioning 'Libya's throne' makes one puke, really sick! The mere fact of the existence of some fossil that gives the appearance of being alive and sticks to whatever surface he's laid on does not mean others have to take him at face-value and bow their heads to his weird, if not misguided, desires. That some people, in the 21-st century still believe, and to whom monarchy appeals, is in itself a paradox and a sign of a troubled world! How such an anachronistic relic of bygone times and dark ages, is still considered an acceptable by some as an alternative, is beyond belief and comprehension of the sane flesh-and-blood living humans! Desperate times demand desperate measures. Its proponents have reverted to the old tricks in the book by packaging their appeals with calls for democracy. One doesn't stop to wonder how low they can go and how ingeniously they must think of themselves to be. Perhaps they'd also give some examples of their favorite and preferred existing paragons of kingdoms with democracy, as those in the Gulf; or that other one, the oldest of them all, and which is daily getting closer to an Orwellian nightmare -with 5-million cameras on its streets and corners! that "aristocratic-blue-blooded," - and really blooded to the last hairs- British monarchy with its phony trappings; or maybe somewhere else where they can show a monarchy that gives back more than it consumes on its silly baubles and expensive show-offs? Maybe there's a ghost of a virtuous Caliph residing somewhere between the nooks and crannies in the landscape of their fertile imagination?

        Now, such talk when coming from conservatives and right-wingers is one thing, but when it poots from supposedly Leftists then something is the matter with both the idea and/or its hawkers. Either these folks have turned desperados or cocos. Either case doesn't portend good news for Libya or its diaspora? The one must be losing hope, the other whatever little sanity they've. Times are tough, but why commit political suicide and go monarchy again - who said the true believer doesn't get stunk from the sale hole twice, there must not be many left? [On the side, most of these calls, seem, to be coming from tribalists and their sisters and brothers who either had lost some of their unearned privileges, or are just out of senescence!]. Are these calls worth considering? Not really! Silly calls from apparently desperate callers. Nothing there to warrant a stop to think about what they're saying except to say a noise on the wake of history doesn't amount to anything but a nuisance. Let them dream their -put your qualification- nightmarish scenarios! We 're not interested! No monarchy, again! Thanks.


More Articles Written By Ghoma

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