The revolution in Libya Is reaching the end of its “February Stage” (as in 1917 in Russia). But, perhaps it isn’t!
For by that period the Russian Revolution had many long-standing political parties and the first self-devised and set up Soviets were cropping up in many crucial areas.
But, there are literally no political parties of any standing or experience, and certainly none who have made revolution their study and purpose in Libya. There are no self-organisations of a working class and hence no political history and ideas of Socialism. Indeed, even the Middle Class seem to be bereft of parties and political positions: the simple demand for the removal of the dictator seems to be considered sufficient, (as it was also in Egypt).
Indeed, there is a good argument for saying that there is, as yet, no Working Class, in the usual meaning of the term..
Certainly, Gaddafi, as with other Arab Rulers, had imported labour from all over Asia and Africa, as an easily-handles “working class”: any trouble and they would be out, without any rights at all!
Of course, although some middle class technocrats could, and were, also imported (usually well-paid), there could not be other than the development of a native middle layer arising too.
Indeed, perhaps the situation is more like Russia in 1905, when a revolution of great herosim arose and failed.
For though King Idfris was removed by Gaddafi, he merely replaced him in a very similar position. So that revolution did not run its full course.
And that makes the current revolution, a bourgeois revolution – an attempt by the Middle Class to get political power for themselves, by ripping it away from the autocrat and his attached aristocracy..
It may even be compared with the English Revolution of the 17th century, for there too, no revolution was possible without the involvement of the lower classes. The gentleman farmers and merchants were incapable alone of removing the King: they needed and made an alliance with the lower classes, with the promise of Freedom for All, to mobilise all classes against the absolutist ruler and his hangers on. And , of course, there, like here in Libya, these soldiers expected something from their victory. Organisations like the Diggers and the Levellers grew in number with demands that the supposedly allied Middle Class could not tolerate. But as long as the lower classes were still “in arms” they could not be removed from the situation. In the end Cromwell had to attack these organisations and disarm all who did not concur with his and the Middle Class’s idea of what the revolution was for..
The renowned New Model Army latterly became an instrument of repression, as evidenced most strongly in Ireland.
And as there, so long ago, so now in Libya, the lower classes in arms are the biggest threat not only to the ambitions of the Middle Class, but also to their supporters abroad such as the USA, the UK and France. Why else did these countries act as the rebels Air Force, and go well beyond their remit to safeguard civilians.
Now, you don’t have to study the TV news footage for long to realise that the bulk of the rebels are indeed the lower classes in arms.
So, what is considered priority number one, by both the middle Class rebels leaders and their friends in the West?
It is security!
By which they mean the disarming of the lower classes, before they take the situation too far..
Yet, it is these fighters in the main who have taken the brunt of the opposing professional soldiers, yet defeated them on the ground.
They have done their job, and must now be removed as a threat to the “required” following regime. Both the West and the Libyan Middle Classes want a Capitalist State, with parliamentary “Democracy”, where in spite of the veneer of rule by the people, it will as usual, be rule by the Capitalist Class. Libya is a rich country with only about 5 million inhabitants, yet it has 150 billion dollars salted away in the World’s Banks.
[I wonder who has been getting the interest on this over the last six months: it will be in billions of dollars itself]
And let us be absolutely clear the western capitalist powers will expect many privileges from their support of the Libyan Middle Class. They would like major and profitable access to Libyan Oil.
Cameron, Obama and Sarkosy took a risk in backing this revolution (it has not been done before: the usual response of such powers was to immediately send in armies of intervention to put the revolution down)
And of course, we must not forget about the Middle East at the end of the First World War, when the Arabs fighting for their Freedom from Turkey were betrayed (via T.E. Lawrence) and saddled with both British or French imperialism AND an amenable set of autocratic monarchs.
We should know what the West has in mind!
The major crisis of 2008 is still with them, and the very same problem remains. The vast borrowings against future profits have made even the USA, UK and France (not to mention many lesser states) mortgaged up to the eyes, and well beyond.
The investors are frightened to death . Will they lose their money?
What safe and lucrative havens are there left?
Now, all this being said, I must also ask the crucial question of the organisations of the Working Classes worldwide, “What are you doing to help?” What, indeed, are their policies?
Are there any revolutionaries left, or have they all succumbed to a measure of privilege themselves? Have the crumbs from the masters’ table been big enough for them to abandon their once loudly trumpeted internationalism?
For example, what should be their advice to the fighters in Libya?
Do not give up your arms. You may need then again!
Set up your own local organisations – Committees or Soviets, to organise your areas, delivers its needs and protect your rights.
Demand that the 150 billion dollars of wealth salted away in banks be given back (plus interest of course) to change the lives of all Libyans: it amounts effectively to $30,000 to each and every citizen in the country..
They should also insist that there should be NO foreign workers at all. Native Libyans can work the Oil Wells , Transport and resources systems nationwide. And where they are not yet up to it, they should be educated, both for this and a better life overall.
I wonder if these will be suggested to these heroic revolutionaries? Any competent revolutionary must know that this “February” deserves its “October”
Jim Schofield August 2011 (a revolutionary Marxist for 52 years)