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Libyan Writer Ghoma

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Wednesday, 12 March, 2008

JAMAHIRIYA AND ITS "GULAGS": The Descent Into Banality...!

By: Ghoma

" accept truths that the great men have always known. They have always known,
they have known for ten thousand years, that to lock a human being into solitary
confinement can make a madman of him or an animal."
                                                                 Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

        Only where the State, as a cultural construct, or its de facto existence, as such, is in doubt, still in question, or in the best shaky, could power effectively be still for grabs. That's, power can still be appropriated, as well as exercised, in crude and primitive ways. In such conditions, the holders to the power's trappings, by hook or crook, are reckless enough and wouldn't hesitate to use them for ends all to their own. Ends, which, in most cases, may have very little to do with the State or the collective welfare, and more often than not, have to do with unscrupulous enrichment and aggrandizement. Notwithstanding, the nationalistic jingles and sing-songs, the snatchers of power end up using it for no other reasons than selfish (and nefarious) benefits. The State, particularly in its tribal versions, thus descends to some sort feudal turf and its concerns come to be reduced to the level of personal whims. Whims which have no more than the aggrandizement and safeguarding of a paranoid and megalomaniacal dictator.

        Large swaths of the world are under the sway of such practices, that's, of a primitive ways of power's transfer and handling. Where the State lacks fundamentals, i.e., a Constitution, a Bill-of-Rights, Power Distribution, Checks-and-Balances, or Limits-to-its-Reach, etc., there are no obstacles on the way to becoming some version of an Orwellian 3-World Big Brother in its worst scenario! If this brand of State and its power handling, in the civilized parts of the globe, was long considered inconsonant, incompatible and out of wack with modern conditions and their demands, the sad fact, this form of State is still the mainstay of the poor Southern Belt of earth. Poverty and backwardness have even worsened this flagrant misuse of what was supposedly a collective-will write large: power. The misuse is blatant not only in the personalization of the instruments of power but also in the utter lack of any national conversation, on how to overcome the historical impasse that keeps those societies where they're, in turmoil and amidst the many handicaps and hurdles. Despite the facades often exhibited, in most of these societies, though appear to be under the sway of Religions, their cultural milieus manifest a total absence of any meaningful and workable set of ethical and moral constraints to the occurrence of abuses of power, to the extent that the State, in essence, has become the embodiment of tyranny. In these countries, the State is without limits, and its grip pervaded every sphere of daily life down to the nooks and crannies of individuals' private lives.

        In its simplest and crudest ways, power-interfering-with-life, is carried through myriad ways: from monopolization of data, to the false and continuous bombardment of its media, and up to the daily arrests and imprisonments, or the physical elimination of whoever happened to be seen as threat to the "State's security" or to diminishing in anyway from the often inflated attributes of its head. The never-ending forbidden taboos get engrossed by at least one more, that of the Leader. Where tyranny meets taboos, silence reigns supreme and the gagging order encompass, practically, everything. Anyone crossing what the clique controlling the State has set as the boundaries of what's considered the power's sacred turf -its holy of holies, reminiscent of those forbidden sanctuaries that used to be reserved only for the initiated- is taken out. No opinion is tolerated in the long list of the forbiddens: from legitimacy concerns, to the notion of consent and consensus, down to the questions of succession, and up to the more mundane matters of individual freedoms, equality, the rule of law, etc. All these are considered to be matters belonging to the "Security of the State," and as such must be kept under locks and away from the peruse of average citizens. Needless to say that such a situation has created an hurly-burly conditions akin to banditry than normal State functioning. The results, as often are seen: Laws enacted by fiat and Rights reduced to a trickle; these are subject and/or conceded at the whims of the Leader. Thereby and whereby, individuals quit to have autonomous standing, as free agents, and their Rights come to be trammeled upon in the mayhem of daily struggle for survival. Thus, what was once thought to be "God given Rights" ended up property of the State. In such an atmosphere no free expression can be had. For the simple reason: it's bound to become expressing one's rejection of such a travesty, which then entails not only accepting the consequences of such a stand but also putting one's life and liberty in jeopardy. A risk at minimum would land one behind bars -for allegedly breaking the law of the land and challenging the State's monopoly as the sole possessor of the instruments of power, and therefore is the only one to decide who speaks and who keeps peace.

        One more nail in the coffin of such a State. Where the State is shaky and its resources are skimpy, its efforts are never directed to bolster the individual. The efforts wasted on keeping itself going. Nowhere is this clearer than in the backwaters of the world where backwardness and ignorance still keeping power from being diffused into institutional practices. Its' also true, though, most of these countries tend to have sprung overnight from nowhere. Without roots or traditions of power handling, in these countries, the State is reduced to no more than a toss of coin, for whoever lucky enough to grab! Even in those few occasions when the State came to be liberated from dictators' grip, in the absence of civil life and well-informed citizenry, soon reverted back to where it was originated, in the exercise of crude and brute force. Because the State's birth, in most cases, was out of chaos and upheavals, its growth came to embody the instruments of violence until it became an epitome to all but an antithetical but order. If the State, from its origins and by its nature, is a machine for repression, then order becomes the main mission. But if power escapes the processes of legitimation this order becomes repression. Furthermore, with a no 'Social Contract' as a reference, the State, would fall into the classical trap of its own contradictions, that of claiming to uphold both ends of the rod that connects absolute to the relative standards of values. For example, take Qaddafi & Sons, Inc., and the State which came out of such an enterprise, on one hand it appeals to Religion and its moral codes, on the other hand, it doesn't hesitate to infringe the derivative principles, of free-will, mutual-assistance, mercy, and forgiveness, etc. whenever perceives any danger to its stability.

        Nowhere else than in the so-called Islamic World, the State is still in shoddy shape and in utmost chaos. Islam, though cryptically, urges its followers to forgive, to forget, and to leave final judgments to another day, but the States that have taken its custody aren't paying much attention to such injunctions, particularly to wait for the final Day of Reckoning. Instead the State has appointed itself to be the merciless God, and its head as His successor on earth! What emerged from such a practice are series of unreconciled and unreconcilable contradictions, those between possessing the instruments of violence and in the same time upholding the tenets of the Holy Boo? Since the twain, by their natures, are poles apart and never shall meet, the State in its relentless drive to wipe out its opponents, has made mockery out of those religious clauses dealing with forgiveness and the suspension of final judgments! Its overreach has gone beyond disregarding the airy religious exhortations to cut deep into the quick of human dignity and individual rights. For instance, though, not many would dispute that torture is meanness, qua nastiness, made visible! the custodians of the Police States -and some democracies too!- wouldn't think twice before grabbing a sane human and turn him, in no time, into a zombie, only to use, in turn, the induced insanity against him in their phoney Kangaroo Courts of Law? The sad fact is, neither Religious standards nor cultural metrics, have any deterrence to the State's behaviors when it comes to oppressing people, its own or not.

        It's long been awaited and there was nothing extraordinary in what he said, when, last weeks, the biggest of the regime's apologists has labeled Opponents in their jails, as crazies. The dissidents and political prisoners, in their dungeons, were described as pure insane, simple crazies, and far out loonies. Oh! What a surprise? It just recalls how many times, in history, the like of the Libyan bizarre regime ( if not perverted political system) had beaten this road before? If it's any use to remind the mouthpieces of, and in the process perhaps the operatives of the regime itself: What the Qaddafi's regime has made use of, lately, was long a constant staple for tyrannical regimes like his throughout all history. The only difference, if there's any this time, was the gall with which a "Charity Organization" has perhaps forgotten its presumed 'mission and purpose(s)' and colluded with the dirty hands -that perhaps keep feeding it!- in besmirching innocent individuals - whom the Charity supposed to help- with the fake brushes and colors the regime has handled them, to declare them: Lunatics! How ingenious? And how far low this regime and its phoney Charity have shown are ready to go. If they've proven anything at all, they've proven they too can use the most hated, maligned, and malicious methods, used by no other regimes than the Nazis, the Fascists, and the Stalinists worldwide, in driving their opponents into that ethereal in a limbo stage, where the body may still persist while the mind has been driven to the vegetative state. What makes such absurdities even worse and more ominous are the application of such methods during the time when the winds are blowing favorably in the Libyan regime's direction? Operating under the misty conditions generated by the War-On-Terror, many regimes including the one in Tripoli find it convenient to get themselves rid of some of those who may trouble their uneasy control. In this they're being helped by the Biggies in their hot pursuit of total and complete world domination. It's, perhaps, a new wave to neutralize the widespread discontent of globalization by building networks of Gulags around the globe and shuffling prisoners to and fro so modern day Inquisitors can extract the "ultimate truths" from their victims. It's not enough anymore humiliations and tortures! the goal is to muster human ingenuity, on a world scale, in breaking the human spirit, or any form of dissident. However, call it dialects or call Murphy it Laws, just as every poison has its antidote, they may succeed in breaking individual's spirit but as history has shown, they'll never be able to break the causes for which they've paid so early for, especially when these deals with: Freedoms! Case in point no amount of atrocities committed, on the orders of the Inquisition Tribunals or the Gulags of the Soviet Union and the rest of Eastern Europe, could have stopped the march of freedom and progress, though, they may have, perhaps, succeeded in slowing it a bit.

        Portraying one's opponents as crazy, using torture to indict themselves, etc., are, alas! the only area where the various Arab regimes have agreed upon, no matter what their names, tribal affiliations or colors, with the Americans!. The paranoid regimes, without thought or great ideals, have squandered enormous amounts of resources to build a network of Gulags with plenty of spies and informers to go with them. If they've any success at all, this is the only area where they've excelled in searching, finding, and applying humanity's notorious inventions in the so-called, induced "Arts of Persuasion." And if and when some of these methods were lagging behind the times, Arabs' conditions of backwardness, ignorance, and cruelty have made sure the upgrading was up to aperfection.

        The spokesmen, oops! the Charity of the Son, seem to have not been worrying much about falling into the paradox: of how to work things and events together, to balance fiction and fact, and to re-organize the un-coordinated data into some coherent whole to form a picture that would fit the circumstantially doctored evidence, and in the same time remain a charitable organization! By releasing some (archival?) photos, the attempt was to give a tangible proof to an abstract mumbo-jumbo. But, notwithstanding the abundance of the usual parrot-phrases, the pictures have only cut into the repeated crap of, by now habitual cliches: In Libya there are no shortages of freedoms, there are no dissidents, and there are no Gulags! If they've to be taken at their words then a bunch of disturbing questions would have to be answered. What these folks has left unsaid were: Why prisoners get insane in their dungeons? Why bother to take an "insane's talk" seriously and to imprison him for it? What State and which institutions would persecute and prosecute a mad-man and what kind of court would have found him guilty? Of what? Of being insane or of using his insanity to badmouth the Leader? What kind of place and how far from civilization must be that which still considers insanity a crime?

        Hearing them pontificating about human rights and the like, adds only to the wondering whether they're talking about Libya or some other place where usually there're no dissidents and if they were they'd certainly get at least a fair shake. The apologists made it sound like their prisoners were sent on some kind of holiday -for their own sake, to cool off and think about what's wrong with them -as when parents punish their kids- in five-star hotels! However, no matter how they spin it Libya is still closer to hell than what they try hard to picture it to be, an earthly paradise; and where prisoners, more often than not, are still treated with no regard to their dignity or respect to their humanity. The unshakable fact, the house the Colonel has built, in his own image, is today a big prison more than a big-hearted nation-state. Qaddafi & Sons, Inc.'s joint is no heaven indeed, where humans, disappear in the middle of the night without trace, just because the day before they've voiced what was on their minds. Dissidents, literally, fall off the edge of the earth into an as abysmal blackhole, and the chances, of finding them or hearing from them again, are not much better than those who've crossed over to God's Unknown and Unknowable Kingdom. Their fates have been sealed the minute they were grabbed. They'd end up in some Orwellian hole full of Dante's Inferno demons the Big Brother of Qaddafi and Sons, Inc. have put together: a hybrid of today's 3-World nightmare's and yesterday's Arabian Nights' dreams (lust)!

        The builders of the "Great Jamahiriya" aspire to greatness, like all monomaniacs everywhere, from Terquemadas ( the Inquisitors), to Stalins and their ilks and likes, on the 'burning of the steps' and the sufferings and blood of their fellow citizens. The techniques of human degradation have only undermined the foundations of their shabby ramshackles. After all the gruff and guff, the Colonel remains still imprisoned in the congenitally Arabian conception of the State, that of a family feud! The Jamahiri system -despite the phony praises of its mostly made-up glories and graces- has so far eluded any rational definition to its workings. Despite the opinion of many of its, the who doubt its legitimacy and question the intentions of its builder, the Jamahiriya system is a result of the slump and dereliction of many past and present generations. Its ad hoc and reckless behaviors are only mirror images of the moody temperaments of the tribes that long propping it. The patriarchy of the tribe is translated into the paternalistic State. As those who overstepped the bounds of the tribe's code of honor and shame were once ostracized or chased out, today's those stubborn enough who dared to disagree with the Guru will find their fate is locked in the denial of their human attributes. Helped by the close to fact, that today's self-appointed modern Pharaoh have found what Ivan Pavlov had long found about animals: the obey the laws of reward and punishment. Thus the torturers' and the tortured come to engage in a tango of sadomasochism field trips beyond the realm of human endurance.

        Soviet Gulags had worked in similar ways. Stalin had treated dissidents as Guinea pigs and experimented on their capacity of endurance. The fields that once took upon themselves to cure the psyche have also come to partake in the definition and propping of the totalitarian State. Their mission was twisted to become the creation of a set of coercive method of 'brain rewiring'; to force prisoners either to re-form themselves into what the system wants them to be or risk being turned into true zombies. Through the years these methods have been refined by many wanna-bees builders of similar la-la utopias, a la, Qaddafi's Jamahiriya! Perhaps the clumsy builder of the so-called Jamahiriya has never knew or has not been reminded that these same methods had ruined many of similar doomed "Great Experiments" -like his- those who thought they could wipe clean the slate and start anew! In the process, changing not only society radically but above all re-engineer a complete new human. It's worth to remember those other Quixotic wanna-bees Empire- builders, the likes of Hitler and Mussolini, what end they'd driven themselves to? Notwithstanding, the science-sounding enigmas, these so-called pseudo-sciences, in the best, are as dangerous, in the hands of tyrants like Qaddafi, as their true counterparts are beneficial. To reduce Psychiatry into sticking the 'insanity' label to whoever dares to challenge the Caudillos of their times, is truly a scandalous folly and a shameful affair. Professional headshrinkers have to take a stand to fulfill their oath: 'Not To Do Harm'.

        It's not the only area where the Jamahiriya has come to an utter failure. It's only perhaps the cruelest, because of its dehumanizing effect, when people are denied their sanity after saying no when the stuff goes over the rim. No matter how many acrobatics were spun, the sleight of hands has only so much magic, to effect illusions. Such tactics never saved a tossed around boat caught in the eye of the storm from sinking. What the latest blather, from the Colonel, will come to, is the proverbial: arranging the chairs on board of the sinking Titanic!

        And the 'Charity' kid, with all the degrees from Vienna to London, in Economics!, he's still, seems to haven't freed himself completely from that old view of the economy from the perspective of the household model! If this wasn't the case, he'd have persuaded his Dad to stop driveling that nonsense of distributing the oil revenues directly to the consumers, which will only increase the demand, thus inflation, in the absence of a supply (productive) economy! Instead, what he's doing, hypnotizing some naive, who fuss around under the banners of 'oppositionists' oops, Opportunists, pardon my French! by the lullabies of empty promises of the kind 'return to the legitimacy of the Constitution,'Et cetera, etc.

        The Jamahiri State, despite the highfalutin name, has shown to be no state at all. It's failed on all fronts, even the ones it supposedly to be its foundations! Left aside, the phony drama and absurd claims, those of being the impersonification of the will of the people and the true instrument to their free expressions, bureaucracy, mismanagement, corruption, etc., are enough to take the remaining claims of its validity , except perhaps as a solution to a hungry man's crave for power! the puzzzling question: If the collective wisdom of Libyans was prepared to go to the extent to pay itself out of the pound in which it dug itself in, then what's not easily explainable why a country that was so eager to prove its goodwill, if not behavior, to the rest of the world and the West in particular, would imprison its people for voicing their opinions? Why smack such gestures, to use Conrad's words, "under the Western eyes"? What must be: Raison d'etat, raison majore, or reasons of idiocy and ignorance! While fear and paranoia were never to be excluded, dumbness seems to be the major reason! And as Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."


More Articles Written By Ghoma

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