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No Development Without Creativity and Originality!
There's almost a neurotic obsession with political matters among those who call themselves Libyan writers. And in this there's very little difference between the two sides across the barricade, the pros and cons to the regime. On the face of it, it seems appropriate, if not logical, that decisions, which impact daily life, receive the highest attention. But there's more to complex social realities, as any country must be seen, than just political nicknacks. The self-described 'elite' having been soaked to saturation in the swamps of the neo-colonial mindset, is bent on continuing the tradition of the despotic state. Rather than searching for the reasons which had prevented so far the state from striking deep roots in the country, instead the state trivialized to level that it became no more than an embodiment of the person heading it. Thus Libyan state was reduced to more or less a family turf. In parallel to Western media -and its feeder neo-coloniast circles -Libya became synonymous with Qaddafi and his brats! Its politics doesn't go beyond the family feuds, moods, and daily squabbles; and these have in turn been turned into a monotonous soap-opera centered on one character and his sidekicks. Hence politics, the art of compromise par excellence, was stripped of its dealings and wheelings and give and take, its fodder, and watered down to a bizarre mixture of invective rancor and missionary zeal. Qaddafi's babble became political statements to contend with and to take stand on. Thus politics, emptied of any beef, and in the absence of adequate metrics to measure the new phenomenon, has become no more than one man's view of things and one family's stand. In this scenario, Libya, seen from outside, appears inhabited by some kind of hominids, ruled by a hotheaded tyrant, more akin to a madhouse than to a normal country! What gives? If objective reality was a human construct then misreading one's own reality, not to talk of others' realities, would not only validate the distorted version but will also eventually give credence to its operators.
A country's daily life becomes a normal and legitimate preoccupation only to the extent that these two conditions were present: a- its politics has enough of the qualities of normality; and, b- there's some agreed upon metrics to measure its functioning. If the state is legitimate and its apparatuses are in place, and when enough data is available to sift through. Absent any of these, daily life becomes a distraction from perhaps much more fruitful tasks: What is the problem and what to do about it? Posing fundamental questions may lead to where the rot resides. For immersion in the details, at this juncture, would only blur the big picture. And the big picture with broad sweeps of history is what after all would uncover the structural deficiencies. Without full knowledge of what ails society any remedies would be band-aids to cover lacerations on the skin rather than the cancer eating the viscera. Questions such as: Would change, if change is to be sought, be left to its course or should be sought somewhere else? Will change be from the top down and from the bottom up. Or both at once? Is changing political course enough to revive a society? Which gets priority, the scaffolding that holds the edifice together, or the bricks and mortar that constitute it? Who will be the central player, the individual or the collectivity? In sum, what are the goals and means and how to effect a social renewal?
The focus on politics came at the expense of the cultural, the economic, the social, etc. as well as the future and how to deal with it. In so far as the myth persists that the past foretells the future, the future will not be different beyond it's not here yet. But what would happen when history itself is still unknown quantity? In a place like Libya, history seemed to have made a detour around it since it became a desert? Then even if the myth may come to pass, that's if the future was let to creep on its own without prior thought or preparations to receive it, the result will be up in the air, most probably no different from what it'd always been. Reason enough to not let history to its own devices but rather channeled into prearranged course. Shake the millennial slump to wake up people to grapple with their potential. Humans, even of the homo Libicus type, must be made to realize that they're more than feathers thrown by fate in the path of destiny' whims. Large swaths of this world is an example: the vibrant part of it is constantly consumed by what the future may bring. Such countries to avoid being caught by surprise, unprepared, a great deal of time and efforts were spent on predicting what the future may look like. The puzzling question is what makes some societies vibrant and dynamic and others sluggish and listless. Is it history, culture, religion, environment or a brew of all of these plus intangible traits – of anthropological vein as ethno-genetic makeup, etc.- which are yet not easily traceable?
Take a country as Libya. In so far in its short life as a country, it has shown no tendency or inclination to anything close to social or otherwise vibrancy. Thus, the persistent quandary is not only about whether or not there's a chance for a political accommodation but more alarmingly about whether the country can survive its oil's depletion. A pall of real existential threat hangs over its future, if there's a future in store for Libya. If there's a chance for a future, if the country is intent not to let events determine its destiny, then, that future must be envisioned and coaxed into shape now, before constraints of all kinds start to diminish the ability to imagine it. To goad the imagination and to point to some of the obstacles still holding this generation from seeing the cliff ahead a number of pressing questions need to be addressed: What are the available choices and how to sift through them? Which of the paths to take and with what yardstick to judge it? Keep in mind that decisions, by definition, are future bound. A choice made today will shape tomorrow in one way or the other. Investments and decisions's impact are always relative to what objectives and goals were set for them. For instance, decisions taken to direct resources toward educating children, constitute what amounts to pitching the tent for tomorrow according to the winds of today.
One cause for the impasse in Libya, perhaps could be traced to an apparent lack of interest to confront its own past in order not only to face the present but above all to own up to itself, to who it's and to what it's about. For instance, why in one of the oldest known lands, thought all history, lacked an organized society of its own? Why it got stuck into the tribal mode? Why is there no visible material culture? Had myriad generations exhausted all their energies in barely subsisting only? And why this generation, though was raised in relative prosperity, seems to defer very little from those preceded it, in its apathy and complaisance. What role did patriarchy and religion have play in dimming the imagination and quenching ambitions, not to say sapping the passions for some cause or another? Can a society bent on religion have a future in today's world? Anyone has an idea what kind of a future a one-dimensional society will have? Maybe Marcuse, if he's still living, has an answer.
After six decades on its own, Libya, instead of an insistent search for ways to get out of its stuporous state, seems to be impervious to its in limbo conditions. Caught in the vise between a hollow history and uncertain future, Libyans, like an ostrich, accepted whatever chance had brought their way. Perhaps a soothing existence, that of default status, of a banana republic! A status, to be charitable, equivalent to no more than a state of vegetative existence. Is there an imperative somewhere? You bet! If Libya plans to re-invent itself, just to survive, it's to subject itself to two simultaneous operations: a de-constructing process to understand what went into its making, and then a re-constructing one to set itself up on new bases, that's to re-think and re-design its set-up anew? Why? If a society can be compared to an edifice, there's nothing to be gained in continuing to patch a derelict and compromised building, from bulldozing it down to the ground and starting all over again afresh. It's a figure of speech, no society can be bulldozed down to the ground on its own, except in times of war or revolution. And with no advocacy for war, then, it easier said than done! That's why historic revolutions don't happen everyday. Just think of the American or French Revolutions? What about the Russian and Chinese ones? An eventful quake will shake the millennial slump from its roots and set it on a new course, though, was never an everyday occurrence, what perhaps is in store and duly needed anyway.
The taking stock of a country's pros and cons, the coming to consciousness of its conditions, is the sine qua non before any lift-off. A country, in order to develop, has to go beyond importing and borrowing, what it could from those who preceded it in the civilizational march, it needs to be able to grasp the principles underlying what modernity was all about. Without taking stock of the nutrients that fed the tree of civilization and tracing the deep roots that have been watering it there would be a little chance of any grafting to survive the transplanting in a different soil. To approach modernity is to come together with what makes it tick, its genome. Without comprehending its DNA, any attempt to adopt it in unprepared soil would be a futile act, a waste of time and resources. Therefore, an understanding of the historical components, which went into the mix called modernity (as the Greek and Judeo-Christian inheritance, the Renaissance's legacy of modern science, the French Revolution's ideas of liberty and equality, Capitalism, Secular State, Roman law or common law, the idea of justice through the dialect of class struggle, etc...) will not only deepen the appreciation of its results but also make it clear that without it humanity, most probably, would still be living in that brutish Hobbesian world.
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