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Libyan Writer Ghoma
الكاتب الليبي غومة

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Friday, 24 December, 2010

Part 1 Part 2


(Part II)

By: Ghoma

"[O]nce nature has removed the hard shell from this kernel for which she has most fondly cared, namely, the inclination to and vocation for free thinking, the kernel gradually reacts on people's mentality (whereby they become increasingly able to act freely), and it finally even influneces the principles of government, which finds that it can profit by treating men, who are now more than machines, in accord with their dignity."
                                                                      Immanuel Kant, "What Is Enlightement?"

        History tells us countries and societies do sometimes go backward. Libya is one of those that fits into this case tightly. The country seems to suffer its own saying: " When is expected to sprint goes back to crawling!" One doesn't need to look farther than the frenetic mania, about not much ado: Who could clean the piled up muck without rocking the regime out of shape? The brouhaha was caused by a strayed and probably concocted half-caked article! The one calling on some old-timers, plotters! to come out of their barrows and let themselves be tapped for their alleged and never ascertained wisdom -the presumably accumulated wisdom in the long service to the cause of dispotism. The article lamented the loss of their vast experiences and perhaps expertise too! particularly in matters revolutionary to a country long habituated to bunglers! The stated objective was to rescue the country from the cesspool of mismanagment and corruption it's fallen into. In particular, the call was directed to Jallud and his ilks to come out and sweep the dirt perhaps under the proverbial rug or better under the desert sand dunes.

While it's undeniably true the country is in real mess, by all accounts and measures, and for a long time now, but it's also true this misery has done the most damage in keeping its society frozen in its millennial trance. For close to 42 years of jarring revolutionary noise, not a din or an occasional stir have caused any scant disturbance to its people's deep dozing. Thus Libyans are still trapped in an incubus slumb and no magical wand by itself would get them out of it, not to say wake them up. Whining and grumpling don't constitute tangible pressures, especially in the absence of an accompanying genuine campaign of genuine renewal. Mere demands, without powerful pressure, don't get the country out of its misery. Only a well-thought about renewal program with ideals to reach and goals to work for would have chance to mobilize a passive population. Sleepwalking by itself won't get the country anywhere close to where it wants to go. Without a collective (national) awakening, all the good intentions and the 'revolutionary ferver' in the world wouldn't bridge the gap still separating the loud empty rhetoric from the grim social, cultural, and political realities of the country.

To start with, to this date, there's no compelling national narrative of decline nor for that matter one for redemption. The culture seems still steeped in such myths as the single agent, conspiracy theory, and God's will! Thus mental attitudes are still duped by how to capture a lost past than byhow to look forward toward a different and better future. Such wallowing has only slowed the search for comprehensive analysis to the country social and economic conditions and to the ills that still plaguing it. In sixty years from independence, no clear and good analysis to the socio-political and cultural forces which had shaped its existence nor if these forces could still be counted on in forging a contemporary response to the historical precarious existence. Most of the 'thinking' so far tends to be superficial in nature and has one subject: to villify Qaddafi and his regime. Many of those who screed such drivels, were bent on how to come up with pragmatic remedies -better of this, more of that- presumably to improve on everty day life. In this melee were absent an insightful and perceptive understanding of where Libya is in relation to the isssues concerning both private and public life as well as how to capture and express the collective will. Or how a marginalized country like Libya today is, could be expected to generate its own programs (instead of buying ready made solutions) to its perennial and intricate problems. A fundamental question has to be asked: Why Libya in particular, and Arabstans in general, seems to live in a world of its own! Why despite the quantative leap in literacy the country seems to be still stuck in pre-literate modes and ways of thinking and acting?

What is needed, and what could work? Certainly parrotting few borrowed slogans -democracy, human rights, rule of law, etc. will not lead to an historical leap of faith. A society with little civic and less of recorded history cannot just suddenly wake up and start marching into glory. In view of the fact that not even its intellectuals and dissidents are willing to come to terms with what gnaws at the viscera of their society, no amount of piecemeal patchings would change a slumbering and backward society into a modern and prosperous country. The picture is indeed bleak. Even if on the fly diagnosis were to prove right (about the causes ravaging the country) the remedy proposed leaves a lot to be desired, since mostly were in the mold of more of the same.

Let's shoot straight! The country's appalling conditions could only be correlated partially to its state's faltering. More so to its culture of tribes, clans, and family connections. These have played much decisive roles in the rampant mismanagement and corruption. Such an understanding would make it easier to correlate effects to their plausible right causes. For in the final analysis, large part of what Libya is in could be attributable to its people's lack of sophistication to realize the state is nothing more than what they'd make of it. While some of Libyans' historical apathy could be attributable to an older derivation than the present regime's topsy-turvy swingings, its endurance in the last fifty years raises more questions about their adequacy to muster a modern state apparatuses. While it's also true, Libyans' ignorance about how to appreciate, not to say run, a state (which was always in their history an imposed alien entity) has made them victim to over-simplified schemes and prey to exaggerated emotional outbursts. Hence, their stubborn refusal to appreciate the present crack-headed state could also be seen as part of that long rooted tradition. It's in the line of emotional reaction, not necessarily because they're refusing on principle the 'mana' bestowed on them by the great leader, People's Rule, but out of the stock of passive resistance -learned during their long nights of nighmares- to anything out of their range of expectation. In the process they've also learned a valuable lesson: not to put trust in anything that comes in the form of a gift.

The so-called 'people's rule' seems to have stuck in its own muck, in a recycling cul-de-sac, unable to attract and train enough new blood to relpace those aging and worn-out loyals. The situation seemed so dire to impose a raft of questions that wait for answers. Is it the Caudillo's and his progeny playing that old-new dirty game, or is it a matter of the"old guard," the sidekicks, who instead of going to the sun-set and retire, are busying themselves conniving a way to take back what they think still belongs to them? And where to locate the hoi-ploi in this high-stakes drama? Is it the inability of People's Rule to recuite new blood or their mere blurred vision for the next step? Such questions would truly merit some answers had the whole scene in Libya escaped its surrealism. The absurd has almost become the norm in a country where its mere existence was never normal. Libya's chronic problems have reached a level far beyond what the current crop of semi-literates and aged-revolutionaries could handle or cope with. Thus in desperation came the appeal to the remaining few of the old sycophants to get out and coach the aspiring bunch of neophyte greens to perpetuate the dictatorship and to nourish the Qaddafi dynastic schemes. Sounds ludicrous? Well, that's the absurdity! What about the rest of the regime? What are their views and how the fracas impacted their chances of survival ? On the surface it all seems calm, but under the radar each may as well be busying himself to secure a seat in the new table!

If as many conjuctured the game's end is already known, that's, the establishment of a dynastic rule. Then all this scurrying around, by the differen sides, is nothing more than to find some magical schtik to make the dynastic scheme palatable. Creating some tensions and perhaps artificial storms may make things appear more difficult than what really were. But will such acrobatics add only more staleness to what appears to be an exhausted and feeble regime? Maybe! The regime, before putting in motion all these endeavors to make itself a family affaire, has realized it had already crossed a point of no-return. Its blase' attitude and carelessness about its and the country's reputation clearly point in that direction. However, this game of privatizing power, given the non-existence of civic institutions and the feebleness of the political ones, has been playing itself around for so long that it's become a hackneyed and stale old joke. Part of this because it's been practiced badly for so long, and the other part it's now starting to revert slowly but inevitably into a potential internicine nighmare. By wrapping its narrative in seemingly mild differences on reform -through flimsy political jargon- wouldn't be enough to hide what from the beginning was a bad cop, good cop playscript! The dou(s), father and sons, apparently have not yet figured a more palatable way to shove this bandying around down the throats of Libyans.

The Caudillo's 41-years of ruling by mere fiat, sold as people's rule, has never hidden the fact he took power by force and thus he considers it his property to dispose of. Power as an objets trove! Or as Libyans say whatever was found is to one's possession! Through the years he was supported in this claim by many like-minded of individuals, groups, and tribes to make him believe in his coronation. This could also explain why only a limited number of sidekicks and loyalist minions have remained more or less constant. The paradox is how this small number of crones has, by some magical trick, been kept almost constant for more than four decades despite all the fuss about people's rule. The closedness of the cadre was not a trivial factor in both the regime's descending into chaos -mismanagement and corruption- and the dynastic scheming.

The two opportunistic choices were not necessarily part and parsal of the initial scheme but became slowly available by the general lack of political or cultural restrictions and constraints. From its get-go the regime amphasized the revolunationary on the expense of statehood tasks. It set itself as a pole of attraction to all kinds of sleezers, slakers, slickwillies, parasitis, climbers, and opprtunists. Thus it's no surprise for the regime to find itself today entagled in a cesspool of incomptence and corruption. If there's any surprise it must be why it took so long to get here. Now that the stench has reached such high levels of toxicity even the alter-ego of the regime, the so-called reformists have volunteered to do something about it . Hence the babble about civic institutions and the like as the all panacea. The tragedy is, neither the reformists nor any other group have done any hard thinking to roadmap a pratical way to get out of this impasse. The appealing to a fossilized coterie of old plotters was only a smoke-screen to the real scheme(s). If such an appeal had come from some so-called disgruntled consevatives it would have appeared as mere dystopia, pure nostalgia to a bygone youthful yearning, not worth pursuing. But ironically the appeal has come from a group calling themsleves 'elite!' The self-appointed, and if truth is to be told misnomered (since by definition, there're no elites in wretched societies), who've cloaked themselves under the wrap of 'pragmatism' to make the elite's status quo permanent. Otherwise, what then to make of a call to those who've brought the country to where it's now, to come to the country's rescue, except an act of ultimate disperation? The appeal was not even original. Obama has preceded them . His Administration has invited the bunch of Wall-Streeters bunglers come and fix what they've screwed up! Perhaps the bizarre behavior of Qaddafi's regime recalls that old cliche': Re-arranging the chairs on the upper deck of the Titanic when it was sinking.


Part 1 Part 2

More Articles Written By Ghoma

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