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Libyan Writer Ghoma

Wednesday, 22 June, 2005

A Parley Or A Parlay: That's The Riddle?

By: Ghoma

       The old allegory of the Tower of Babel came to mind when the amorphous and sometimes sparring factions announced their gathering. One is left pondering what's the meaning of it all: Is it the end of ideology as some long have maintained or only the banding of the desperados? The mere fact of the happening of such an event is an indication of the miserable state in which ideology has fallen - if indeed there was such a thing called ideology among our disaffected compatriots beyond and above the kaleidoscopic names and epithets of the various groups. If the ideological commitment, a categorical imperative to any organization, and constitutes the essence, if not the engine that drives its strive, has been tossed into the trash-basket of history then what remains that justify the coming together of such disparate groups. Perhaps it's a case when the fascination with the carrots has eluded the menace of the stick. Desperation seems to bring together these factions and to urge them to forget their differences and to bandy name calling instead with their nemeses and hail more curses on their actual or imagined tormentors. Thus, then, out of desperation will rise the dissonant voices of an hodge-podge of groups, individuals, ideas, and even ideologies in a cacophony worthy of Hollywoodian scenes of the Tower of Babel.

       Out of fear and spite come only desperate acts and schemes. Since dialogue can occur only among groups and individuals, who have the rightful attitude and the called-for mental set-up to start such a thing, which is what Libyans in dire need to. For asking the regime to step aside is one thing, figuring what such an event would trigger is altogether another thing. Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, are still all too painfully demonstrating what the collapse of the state might lead to. Despite the gung-ho attitude and the rosy media releases that usually precedes and accompanies such a fanfare, as it's said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In order to avoid the catastrophe of walking, perhaps blindly and inadvertently, into the abyss, Libyans need to figure out, before starting hammering at the state, how to replace it in an orderly fashion. Leaving this major historical task to the post-victory is a recipe for disaster. These same factions will be at each other's throats for the silliest of motives, as of who sits where!

       36 years ago or so, a cabal of disgruntled, low-raking, and semi-literate army officers held secret meetings -anywhere they could that wouldn't give them to that other incompetent branch of the king's government: Intelligence. Those get-together sessions were held to conspire and to refine the plan to take over, in the name of the military first and on behalf of the people second. They did succeed and the rest is history. These days another disgruntled groups(s) and individuals are to meet, mind you, not to ventilate their frustrations; or, to confer on the best ways to connect with the base, i.e., the people, but rather, from all things of the world, to ask the tyrant to step down, and to call for an interim government to manage the transition, and all those sorts of funny dreams usually associated with people who mix some funny stuff with whatever else they're sniffing or smoking. All this, again, in the name of the people! When did it happen that Libyans ever met and decided to delegate their rights and aspirations to this or that group, of today or those of yesteryear? Rest assured that none of these groups will ever hint, not to say will admit, that it was all made it up for the sake of sounding good and/or of being politically correct, to invoke the name of the people!. Poor people: How many crimes and absurdities have been committed or concocted in their name?

       Ever since some real and virtual groups and individuals announced to meet in late June in London to discuss and coordinate their efforts to put pressure on the regime to come to the table of negotiations, I've been trying hard to follow the steps taken and to grapple with the logic of the whole enterprise. Not that there's anything wrong with meetings per se. Anyone and anybody can meet anyone and anywhere he/she wants and discuss whatever on their minds as long as the participants, in the get-together, didn't claim to represent anybody outside of themselves. To come out and say groups of such and such have met and decided to increase the degree of consultations, cooperation, and coordination among themselves; or to form further larger umbrella organization to represent them or speak on their behalf, et cetera is one thing. To self-appoint first and then anoint some shady bunch of groups or individuals to appropriate the epithet of national opposition and representation of a cause of a 'people' is completely something else! Who has appointed these groups and individuals to speak on behalf of "Libyan people"? And, when and where the people spoke?

       Some may object and say how could an oppressed people speak and much less decide who will represent them? It's a legitimate question. That's where the whole opposition enterprise resides. To start from the bottom up, that's, do the grass roots work to reach the people and get their respect and trust first before asking them for representation. In other words to get the legitimacy and consent of those, one claims to speak on their behalf it's incumbent upon the asker to prove his/her worthiness to the request. Instead of assuming or rather appropriating such an honor and a bane, maybe it's time to make the request in a formal way, and wait until you find out whether it was granted. It's time for the so-called opposition and the rest of the Libyans to grow up and find a way to connect with their people to raise the level of awareness and to prepare the ground for the real change, instead of spending their time coaxing the grandees of this world and sucking up to whoever has a dime to spare or a word to commend. It's time also to stop using the old worn-out tactics and cheap tricks of bygone times when an individual or more, all he/she needs to do to belong to the "opposition" is to hang a shingle with a name [like what a self-promoter braggart has done lately!] and declares his/her organization is open for business and is 'struggling' and fighting for [you fill the blank] for no other goal -out of modesty- than to rescue the people and the save the country. These kinds of practices and such claims not only would trivialize whatever the declared cause(s) was, if there was any, but also would be harmful to the idea of the opposition, not to say to the people too! The People of all things are the ones who're supposed to be such a sacred and sacrosanct concept and rarely if any be invoked and much less shoved into such jams of kids' play. Just to update you on the idea of people representation: Not many organizations and even lesser individuals, throughout history were lucky enough to have earned the trust and the burden of representing their people. When such occasions did happen, the recipients of such honor had worked for a whole life and sometimes more, underground sometimes (such as Lenin, Moa Tse Tung, Ho Chi Min, Castro, Nelson Mandela, Lek Walesa, Baclav Havel, etc.), and above ground, publicly, in other times. These individuals and/or their organizations had paid heavy prices and worked hard to gain the trust of those on behalf of whom they'd struggled and spoken; until they and the causes they served became one. They'd truly reached the stage at which they could identify themselves with the causes and the people they served. Of course this was not done over night. It took a lot of learning and head scratching to make the diagnoses of the problems that plagued their societies and to advise the way to attack them with such precision and intense ferocity, comes what it may hell or high water, to the end of both the problems and their lives. These people had acted and were motivated not for personal glory or worldly success but only for HISTORY's seek.

       The organizations and individuals who were dead intent on liberating and advancing their societies never went around asking for help from this or that, nor met in the capitals of those who were responsible of a lot of the problems they're fighting against. To hold a meeting from all the places on earth in London these days, is tantamount to writing yourself off the list of national oppositions or liberation movements and to join those whose scrupulous are as thin as the fake smiles of Tony Blair. London was and still is the place where most of the plots that are still sparking the turmoil in the world, the Third World, were hatched and put to use. And as far as I know, London was never the cradle that nourished freedoms, outside perhaps of its own people, and never was the capital from which oppressed people got help. So why hold a meeting, now, when the Bulldog is intent on using any and every which way it can get hold of to exert more pressure, on the regime in Tripoli, in order to get as much concessions as are possible. Unless the oppositors think that making the country a milking cow for the Western powers, is in the benefit of Libya, if that's the case why not say it loud and clear. Otherwise, I don't see the wisdom in carrying such a project to fruition.

       There are plenty of issues one can raise when a group of a people attempt to bite more than they can chew. For example, instead of looking to their failures of why they couldn't, so far, reach the "people," whom so often have invoked their name, they're to meet and form a 'government in exile,' perhaps going along with the tradition of their host country of Shadow Governments! If this crazy idea ever sticks, it will be the nail that will seal the coffin of the so-called opposition. For, they'd have proven, once again, their superficiality amateurism, and blind race for power at any price. What such a government supposed to do that cannot be done now? And which country or government is going to recognize it and deal with it?

       An opposition is measured by what it can bring to the causes of freedoms and liberation. The bandying of power and its compromises are never on the agendas of an "organic opposition." An opposition that's bent in finding radical solutions to problems plaguing its society is careful about whom it deals with and with whom it has contacts. Since when the cause of "freedom fighters" and those of the Imperialists and Right Wingers, no matter on which side of the Atlantic, did or had coincided? And how is it to differentiate opposition's tactics from mere business transactions? Are we so desperate that anything goes? No ends above the means to achieve them!

       An opposition is also measured by how creative and imaginative in understanding the aspirations of its people and coming up with genuine solutions that would have an impact. Emulating the West and parroting their fakey slogans, under which these same parties and rulers had even deceived their own constituencies, is a tragedy. If anyone doesn't know it, the idea of representative democracy passes first by Hobbesian state, when the strong state and its institutions have enough respect and duration, then the way to run it may come through some form of election or another. That's, the struggle in the Third World these days oughtn't be about the way to divvy up the state's trophies, if not spoils, but rather how to define the state itself, how to limit its powers, and how to leave as much wide a margin as possible to the individual to play his/her role. Indeed, the fight is for human rights, equality, and dignity first and the state, power and the other goodies then.

       All these facts fade in front of the other moves taken by the heroic "freedom fighters". Their Preparatory Committee decided to restrict the attendance to whoever is invited and has the number issued exclusively to him/her use! The place is kept unannounced until the last minute. What kind of meeting is this: of chicken scared of their shadows. Thousands of miles away, protected by her majesty's Scotland Yard agents, and still scared to death! If they cannot take the risk and be real men and women why not stay at home and save us the theatrics! Their scare is function of both their tactics and their goals. Since they're attempting to overthrow another pretentious group whose scruples are as scanty as the group's opposing them show of courage. Well, baby, if your goal is power you've to be prepared to the price it demands. Since both groups have no legitimacy, or the consent of the people, what they do between and among themselves is fair game by the gangsters' logic of law.

       These groups can still redeem themselves and salvage their meeting by choosing an appropriate and sensitive agenda. [Instead of the one posted which sounds like one of the agendas the parties across the Atlantic take to their conventions!]. Instead of asking the regime to write its own death certificate, which of course will not do, and groove on the mechanics that such a scenario will entail, the meeting ought to concentrate on the following:

  1. What are the causes of apathy among Libyans, both inside and outside?

  2. Why are Libyans such a passive people and how to start the grass-roots campaign to awaken them so they can hear the bells and jingles proselytizing the new gospel of democracy?

  3. Why there's such a political vacuum in the country and how to establish a foothold to fill it?

  4. What are the ultimate objectives of Libyans: to change the regime and remain passive consumers; or a more radical goal, that's, to change society and join the civilization caravan as full participants?

  5. What's an organic opposition and what are its tasks at this stage?

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