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Libyan Writer Ghoma

Thursday, 25 August, 2005

Things Change Just To Remain The Same!

By: Ghoma

       The season of optimism and anticipation of good omens is upon us these days, when the winds start shifting directions, the late Summer air whiffs wafts of smells, and the grapevine picks up speed; when both optimists and pessimists hone their skills to what is coming and what becomes less. Particularly the optimists, more apt description for this group would be delusionalists! take the lid of caution off and let their imagination roams the universe of wishful thinking. The sky will rain dates, democracy is on the march, and Qaddafi will loosen up his grip, feel sorry for the drowzy masses, and becomes their savior, the waited-for-Mahdi! This time is the time, this year is the year, and the international conditions, Uncle Sam, and even the dead-Saudi-king would not allow it to continue the way it was. You've just to listen and hear what people are saying in their safe Mrabee'. They're fed up and they'll rise anytime now unless the big Kahuta does something, and yotta, yotta, yotta, so on and so forth.

       If you've been following what some mouthpieces of the regime have been hawking for quite some time, you'd certainly have experienced by now one of the two brain reactions humans usually go through when confronted with conflicting information: a- utter confusion; or, b- utter exhilaration. Let's started on a positive note and give the good news before the bad. Exhilaration and hopefulness.

       According to some sources close to the horse's mouth, things are moving, and moving fast. The political establishment is shaking itself and coming to grips with the real world: It's to perform! The "economy" has been put on the front burner, finally on the fixing! Human rights started to be mentioned and rumors have it that's going to be respected. Prisoners, actually some of them, those who've promised penitence and signed the oath of loyalty, are on their way out. Justice, and the courts which administer it, is going to be reformed and made independent! Exiles are invited to come home -though, I've a feeling, there's some catch somewhere dealing with, you guessed it, the price to be paid- even though nothing untoward was not mentioned directly but rumors have it, the price will consist in one of the two forms of human humbling: either to walk with eyes downcast to the ground; or to sing out aloud the regime's lyrics of respect -hey, at least, there's some choice here for comfort! And, the good stuff keeps just piling...Libya is transforming itself from one promised form of heaven to the obedient, tired, and ignorant; to yet another blessed and better form of abode for the defeated, the humiliated, and the penitents. Hallelujah, folks! God may prefer to work in mysterious ways, and likewise, Qaddafi prefers to work in-not-very-subtle yet mysterious nevertheless! To cap the whole scenario is the making of mountains out of molehills. The door of the free market is wide open, everything is a dozen for a dime, but most important of all the Americans are in town! Investments are pouring, oil is gushing, and the good days are here again.

       Well, good stuff, as they say doesn't last. Now we come to the other side of the mountain, and stand right on the edge of the cliff to look back, if you wish, at how things would appear from a little afar. To an observer, with no grits in it, it appears the whole thing is theatrics, a mise-en-scene! What the right hand has screwed up for the last 36 years, the left hand wants to fix now with a flip of the fingers, and a few tricks. In other words, the sins of the father are going to be, not washed by the son, only somehow wiped under the rug by the son. Can this happen? And, how the whole game is being played? Can it happen? Well, that depends again on the psychological predisposition of the individual. If you're optimistic by nature, apt to believe in miracles; sure anything could happen short of meeting your God before you bit the dust. This type is also inclined to believe that a thirty-something young man with no qualifications, except his dad considers himself the only man in town, has with some miraculous act, a "charity" organization with the name of the family [it's more of a government-run foundation than a charity organization!] which worked itself up, and with the kid as the top dog, to become a government outside -or inside or both!- of the official government, formulating the foreign policy and acting both as the communication spinning organ and as the press secretary of the regime. How the game is played. Well, with the some old trick: Good cop, bad cop strategy! It seems Qaddafi is looking far ahead than most would warrant him, so he's taking the role of the bad cop; not foreclosing anything for the future, thus saving his son's reputation and giving him the benign role of the good cop. Thus the Junior -or better the viceroy- is everywhere these days; forgiving this, arranging for those, and still coming to the rescue of a few others. The Senior keeps himself in the foreground as the wise-man of last resort [a la ayatollah Sistani now in Iraq or before this ayatollah Khomeini in Iran]. So the Junior comes out as if he's for everything his father was not! He's for law and order, democracy, competence and efficiency, justice and fairness, compensation, etc. He's for a big happy family of 5 plus millions of Libyans. As in some fairy tales in which our student cum-government sponsored philanthropist in his shining armor dashes out to jump-start our transformation from a pariah-state hag to a multinationals' haven and a tourist magnet-babe!

       The question is who to believe, the Senior, who has been b...s-ing us since the Universal Flood, or the Junior, who albeit he's thirty-something still seems to live in the la-la-land of the teenagers where everything is possible, just a matter of wishing it. The Senior appears to have lowered his profile till perhaps the storm that's gripping the area passes; while the Junior keeps drumming on the themes which make a lot of people drool their guts out. Is that by chance or design? Again that depends on whether you believe in the randomness of the universe or the Intelligence Design flop! One way or the other nothing humans do comes out by chance. There must be some intentionality somewhere down the road. Despots, particularly the Arab types, were never known for reforming themselves. The history is full of tricks they played to stay ahead of the pack and win the day. How could a semi-literate and ignorant small time junior officer transform himself into a statesman and a visionary reformer after so many years wallowing in absolute power is still a question to be posed and hopefully answered by the groups and individuals who seem to have confused their personal fatigue for the country's hopelessness?

       The Islamic Brotherhood bet is understandable since it's a shell with no inside. It's built its reputation on castles of air, and they knew it, and now wants to cash in before the whole game becomes known to everyone, that's, the Brotherhood has nothing to offer beside sermonizing and moral grandstanding. But one may ask: How could "puritanism" and militarism lockstep together? Well, if you can call it the "historical compromise" [similar to what the Communist Parties in Western Europe had done in the late '60's and early '70's of the last century in regard to the "bourgeois democracy'] it's neither out of the imagination nor a completely new phenomenon. The history of the area is made out of the of alliance between these two groups -military and clerics. They knew how to rock-and-roll together way before politics became a game of chance. As Einstein said somewhere God does not play dice likewise the Islamists don't bet a losing horse. Otherwise what changes the regime have gone through which warranted the bargaining sessions the Brotherhood has been conducting for quite a while now? Is it only because of their concern for their unjustly imprisoned comrades or more to capture a moment of undeserved status? Only the future will tell, though, it is going to be bleak, for sure, if these guys will ever get a chance to set on the power seat!

       Other folks who're in the mood for compromise can be described as ignoramuses, opportunists, or only naive. To reform implies there's something there to build on. The state as it's functioning now was put on faulty foundations and wrong designs. To accept it means to accept the convoluted traditions that kept the whole area in permanent turmoil. Never to settle for what the times require and move on to face the future without worrying when the roof will come tumbling down on the heads. It's much easier to parrot reform when you're not obligated to dot the i's and cross the t's of what does it mean, since the term needs a whole library to understand it. Almost anybody would sound aged, if not wise, in saying it ain't feasible to ask the regime to dismantle itself, let's ask them to reform themselves instead. The whole flap just like asking an addict to cure himself without any pressure to force him/herself to do so! But talk is cheap and half-baked ideas abound since no qualitative sieve is there to point them out.

       So we go from gangocracy to fimalocracy to, God willing, military-Islamocracy. Some may see progress in that. I don't! No matter what the various spinners put on it: Be it the whiz-kid [who, albeit being a Ph.D. student somehow and somewhere, still as tribal, as patriarchical as my grandpa generation!] or those who worry more about where they're going in Thereafter than what's happening in here and now. The future seems to be jammed into the unstoppable wheel of self-serving spinners, holy-than-thou absolutists, and a motley of undefined colors. Otherwise everything is under control. Enjoy your summer vacation. Your political future is not clear yet since the dealers and wheelers are not sure where politics ends and business starts.

Ghoma
Ghoma47@hotmail.com

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