The Opium Of The People|
Most Libyans are aware of and acknowledge the predicament of their country, especially those who are old enough to have witnessed its transformation from a stable and promising society to a land of fear and hopelessness. But many Libyans tend to attribute a good deal of their suffering to the meddling of colonial powers, especially America. America has become such a prominent and arbitrary component in our political rhetoric to the degree that both the regime and the opposition are accusing each other of being an "American agent", as vague as this term may be. The arbitrariness of this political culture is so pervasive and abrasive to the extent that rumors, prejudices, and dogma replaced facts, tolerance, and rationality. America has become the sedative injected into our veins in order to make us disown our problems, relinquish our responsibility, and blame others for our misery.
The regime, not America, is responsible for the state of cruelty, dishonesty, and ignorance that plagues our society. The most despicable forms of this cruelty are manifested, by the ruling elite, in the public hanging of opponents and the demolition of their houses, and the shameful looting of the treasury of the country, which resulted in the impoverishment of the people and the devastation of the infrastructure. The lust for absolute power and the naked greed for wealth and privilege shown by this ruling clan are unprecedented in their barbarism and dishonesty. A chameleon of a regime that hides behind empty slogans and broken promises, while buying time by erecting scaffolds and digging graves of dead opponents and throwing their bones in the sea. But time cannot save the intellectual poverty of the regime, nor can it hide its ignorance and false foundations.
This state of affairs has combined Backwardness with absolute dictatorship to produce deformity. The instruments of power are the barbaric demagogues who represent an acute state of distortion, depravity, and brutality. The rest of society represents an infested entity of social ills, irresponsibility, and desperation. In the perpetuation of the former lies the demise of Libya, and in the rehabilitation of the latter rests its future. The path we choose and the rhetoric we adopt will determine our success or failure. For decades now, we have overstated the externals and hid the internals to the detriment of our cause. We have played the role of the perennial victim, and never admitted our own history of oppression against others.
Ethnocentricity guides our written history and the flogging stick ensures its direction. So the real story of the Berber, the original inhabitants of North Africa before Arabization, is distorted, and their persecution under the hands of their Arab occupiers is denied. The occupation and colonization of Spain, we are taught, is an "opening", and no one dares to name things as they are. The Kurds and the pagan and Christian tribes of southern Sudan are massacred and portrayed as traitors who want to secede from our immense justice and immaculate tolerance. Theology, armed with its absolute truth, is very adept in this game, but it is not the only player. Ideology is a strong contender, too.
Our nationalist and socialist ideologues are a special breed. They have the ability to reduce history to sound bites. "The decadent Era" was supposed to summarize our history before the advent of our current leader. "The Arab-Soviet Friendship" was supposed to make us feel good about the occupation of Afghanistan, for instance, or the regimes that represented the Arab part of this totalitarian friendship. "Support for liberation Movements" was to convey noble solidarity, yet without explaining the money trail or who is who. "Throw the Jews in the Sea" summarized the thrust of a whole era that ended with throwing bones of dead Libyans into the sea.
Our history is filled with stories of legendary heroes, who defended the land against the ever-present conspiracy from foreign powers to control our resources, break our unity, and change our values and culture. The last fifty years, however, exposed the real culprit and the real story. The true story, as revealed, is the murder of our people in the torture chambers built by the same people who wrote our stories of legend. Our oil is stolen by the clan and stored in huge bank accounts outside our borders. Our unity is broken by the formidable alliance between the brutality of the ruling clan, the hypocrisy of the Arab league, the ignorance and hypocrisy of the Arab street, the lies of the Arab media, and the disingenuousness of the Arab intellectuals. The religious and nationalist ideologues of the latter group still warn us of the loss of our culture, despite the twin pillars of its foundation: submission and despotism.
Fear and lack of confidence motivates the promoters of hate and the eternal enmity toward other civilizations. They fear the loss of control over their population that may result from the free interchange of ideas and human experience, and they lack the confidence in the ability of their own program to withstand the challenges of free society. Yet they want other societies to be open for them, so they can promote their religion and convert others to it, marry women of different religions, own property, and enjoy all the benefits available in other societies without reciprocating the favors.
We should be very concerned about protecting the interests of Libya and its people. But the protection of our interests largely depends on who is representing and negotiating on behalf of Libya and the degree of transparency of the process. We cannot blame our misfortune on others while our representatives are thugs and thieves. It is upon us to clean our house, build liberty and the rule of law, stop degrading women and suppression children, and reclaim our human dignity. Then, and only then, we can face the world as a legitimate participant in human civilization.
We need the world more than the world needs us. The world can survive our extinction without any loss to human civilization, other than a short term energy crises. If it were not for those who discovered, drilled for, and marketed this energy for us, we would perish unnoticed. The onus is on us to prove the viability of our existence and to validate our belonging to this new century. So let us refuse to be drugged, and let us clean our blood streams from the opium of those who hate others more than they love their own people.