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Libyan Writer Ghoma

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Saturday, 21 June, 2008

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( Part I )

By: Ghoma

"The last battle of the colonized against the colonizer will
 often be the fight of the colonized against each other."
                       Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

        In the deliberately and artificially created schism between the so-called ‘reformers’ and ‘revolutionaries,’ in Libya, a twisted and Kafka-esque scenario may develop and come to pass. In the good-cop bad-cop sort of game, the reformers will end up being the least evil to tolerate, and thus will realize the starting desired goal! For, in the heat of such a shouting match one basic question may go unasked: Is there something worth reforming? Since to re-form is to retouch and to reshape what already exists and was deemed worthy of correcting.

        The state, like any human creation, must be subjected to the same sifting processes that usually conducted whenever society was faced with difficult choices: as of letting go or preserving a costly heritage, say an urban fabric or products of art, such as monuments, etc. As everybody must know not every rabbit-warren is worth keeping nor every ramshackle of bricks and stones is to be preserved. First the urban texture or the single building has to be proven a monument, a product that’s related and constituted an important link in the history of the group or its development, culture and technology. The state and its layout, therefore, must be vetted and judged of its worthiness: whether there’s anything worth the effort and costs of keeping, particularly if the foundations are rotten and the rest of the structure is caving in. Or, as difficult and as prone to all risks as it must be to implode and erase an existing state; and re-found in its place a structure that corrects the mistakes of the old and has the chance to succeed and endure!

        The postcolonial State, what came to be known as the Neocolonial State, was from the outset an artificial creation in likewise little defined land. and people. An alien beast necessitated, if not imposed, by the vacuum created at the wake of the departing power(s), to manage mostly unruly so-called indigenous population. It was a sui generis creation. As such this state lacked the minimum fundamentals to survival, not to say to function and grow. Because it had not gone through the travails and hard labor, as any newborn usually was subjected to, before it sees the light. It was a wrap work, done on the hurry! In most of the wretched lands, there were no real full-hearted American revolutionaries, who after having waged a long and arduous liberation guerilla warfare, had met, debated, and founded the first truly modern-secular state in the world. Neither, there were any French revolutionaries, the sans-culottes, who, after overthrowing the aristocracy and sending some of their kings, nobles, and queens to the guillotine, had instituted the first citizens’ driven Modern Secular State, based on Liberte, Equalite, and Fraternite. Instead, what had existed in the colonized lands, were, nonetheless, a hodge-podge of gangs, rag-tag bands, and turn-coat collaborators who’d hijacked the process of so-called independence and thus for their own narrow selfish reasons made everything possible to prevent their fellow countrymen and women from the excitements and learning that usually accompanied a birth of new State.

        For there was plenty of experiences to learn from, if not from their own history, if they’d one, then from others particularly where modernism was born. Nor all the 4 million-plus residents of the nascent USA, were educated or without prejudices and past hang-ups; nor all those who stormed the Bastille were literati. The leaders and thinkers were the ones who showed the multitude where they should go. In both America and France, as well as the rest of Western World, it took awhile for the modern state to affirm itself and mature. During the 18th and 19th centuries the Modern State, in its birth place, the West, had created and consolidated its institutions and trained its citizens on citizenship as well as on the arts of politics and state management. This process was helped, in no small part, by the coalescing of the European social formations, after the disappearance of that unique social phenomenon, the tribal social formation, by the late Middle Ages, first into the Feudal stage of the Dark Ages, then into the larger formations based on ideology, class, profession, skill, and interests of many different kinds. If the Renaissance had done nothing else beside pointing to an alternative and reminding Europeans of their past and forgotten Humanistic traditions, it’ll still be considered a great turning point in the history of the human race. Thus, the dusting off and bringing back the long forgotten but rich history of nation building of Greece then Rome, gave rise to the City-states first in the Italian peninsula then onto the rest of Europe. Thus, Europe had escaped from its entrapment into the pessimistic and life sapping Other-worldly Church-dogma in its treasure trove of its past.

        However, not all pasts were the same, nor invoking them will save some people or their cultures the day. An interrupted past that as it retreats gets blurrier and blurrier until it vanishes in the mists of time is no help. A past that had happened so long ago -as if its was on another planet- little defined, and difficult to unearth is hardly worth having. A past made up and soaked in metaphysical myths and religious strives is no help either. A past invoked only for sheer earnings to its supposed enchantment and power , not to say its mystifications, can hardly be an answer either.

        The Neocolonial State, in its Arab version, Libya is a good example, was an entity, which, since its inception, not too long ago, had no Fathers to cradle it into adulthood and maturity. While it was born orphaned and prematurely, it also lacked a supporting system to take by its hand and lead her to a healthier and normal growing up. Thus, it remained in its infancy subjected to the whims of its nurses and nannies. All the turmoil which has been racking its difficult journey, wasn’t only because the power was left literally for grabs but also because there were no constituencies to look after it. This also may account for the still ongoing process of dramatic deformations and morphings. The tumultuous evolution, if it can be termed that way, has indeed left it with a sui generis form, unique in experience from its similars in other parts of the globe. The Arab State was predicated on, and the few cases where it was not soon transmogrified to, to say it bluntly, the Mafia establishments, or in its best, on the Small Business model, of a Family-Run-Enterprise! Stripping down all the trappings and peeling off the raiments that cover their skins, the masques or camouflage - from the picturesque attires to the canvass-like rich and variegated banners- the bare skeletons will, from the Princedoms on the Gulf to the sprawling Republics up and down the wide expanse of deserts, show them to be no more than in the best an intertribal confederations, mostly an intra-tribal big tents, and, in the worst, mere Family Fiefs. This fact most often gets mixed up and confused by the sonority of the state’s dins and the euphonious warps of its pompous intentions. Under the false coverage of modern state trappings, what strikes most is the fact that in 20th and 21st centuries, the self-appointed shepards to these statelets, didn’t hesitate a bit whenever the chance arose to revert to the only tradition the area knew well enough, that of Dynastic rule! Perhaps it’s the only cause that seems to work as a common denominator between and among all of them and which still able to bring them together, based on the outrageous and implied proposition that no one can best replace these caudillos, and carry on whatever was on their agendas, as good as their gets: progenies and relatives! The State in its majesty, as the apex of human inventions, was reduced, on the hands of Arab Bedouins, to a mere ball to pass on to whoever one pleases to. The phoney Camel-boys, under one false claim or another: to have midwifed the State to life, or returned it back to its real owners, etc. and thus would fall apart if it ain’t passed on as an inherited object, like any other family heirloom, to one of their direct bloodline. Whence, it seems, to have all agreed to pursue the path of transforming their autocratic statelets into dynastic ventures. In this endeavor, Arab Statelets were helped by the apathy of what’s left of their subjects; and mostly s as client states are being urged and abetted, by their guardian powers, to not hesitate and pass on the banner of servedom to their progeny. The tragedy, there’s some truth to that, for when and where the dynastic temptations, lure and dictates were not acted upon and delivered directly into the hands of a family, the State has been left to succumb, without any local resistance, to misuse and dysfunction, as in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.. the implied message, from the hegemonic powers to the rest either accept the dynastic arrangement, or fall into chaos.


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More Articles Written By Ghoma

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