Libya: Better Off Than It Was!

by The North Star on July 2, 2012

By Clay Claiborne

Ultimately this is the question by which the revolution will be judged. After all is said and done, did it actually result in an improvement in the quality of life for the Libyan people?

And today is a very good day to have that discussion because it is the 16th anniversary of the Abu Salim prison massacre. On June 29, 1996 the murder of 1270 prisoners was carried out by the Ghadafi regime. It was seven years before people found out, as family members continued to bring money and food for the dead prisoners, and the prison continued to accept them. This is the first year they will be able to openly commemorate that tragedy without fear of government repression. So it is a very good day to take on the views of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), Workers World Party (WWP) and others, as expressed by Diana Barahona, that thinks “Libya Worse Off After NATO Takeover”.

That is the title of a critique she has written of my “On the Left, Ghadafi’s Lies Live On.” Frankly, it reads less like a good critique of my work and more like an example of exactly what I was talking about. As a matter of fact, I might even say On the Left, Ghadafi’s Lies Live On,” for example we have Libya Worse Off After NATO Takeover from a comrade who has been writing about Libya for the PSL, because she takes on my paper with the same old, now well-debunked, pro-Ghadafi misinformation peddled by Cynthia McKinney and other supporters of Brother Leader during his reign.

She gets so involved in taking on my paper and me that she never really gets around to addressing the very important question raised in her title, so before we can delve into the minutia of her critique we must spend a little time addressing this question that she raised and then neglected.

I have some Libyan Facebook friends that I’m sure would say that Libya was better off now simply because they feel safe enough or free enough to use their real names on the Internet. I’ve yet to know the fear that something I wrote in a blog might have me disappeared in the middle of the night, or a member of my family, so I’m not sure how to value that in the better off/worst off spectrum of choices but certainly it must be considered.

HAMID حميد@2011feb17

First time ever ppl could advertise their political views publicly!! @clayclai


Hamid sent me this tweet on June 20. I think you can guess how he feels. Libyans are going to the polls July 7 in their first national elections in 60 years. Since May Day, over 2.9 million voters have been registered, as have 3,702 candidates, including 625 women and 349 political entities. The lights are on, the people are getting back to work, the schools are in session, rebuilding is taking place everywhere, thousands injured in the war have been sent abroad for treatment and oil production is back up to 90% of pre-war levels.

A year ago, Libya was pretty much were Syria is today, a ruthless dictator was clinging to power and using massive military force against his own people. Now the gunfire in Libya is down to the occasional outbursts that make the news. So I don’t think that there is any question whether Libya is better off now as compared to a year ago.

Of course the more important question, the one to which she undoubtedly is referring to is: Are the Libyans worst off after what she calls the “NATO takeover” as compared to the golden era of Ghadafi’s Green Jamahirya?

To answer that question, in this context, we first must address a certain difference in frame of reference or point of view (POV) of some groups on the left like PSL and WWP as compared with reality because the very way she frames her answer already indicates that she is living in an alternate universe. So first we must deal with the mythology of what Libya was like under Ghadafi versus the reality and then we must deal with mythology of the “NATO takeover” and the reality of the Libyan revolution.

Mary Lynn Cramer in Counter Currents gives us a good example of the rosy picture pro-Qaddafi leftists painted of Libya before the revolution:

Before the U.S./NATO and “rebels” began their murderous and destructive attacks on the Libyans and their government, people in Libya had the highest gross domestic product at purchasing power parity per capita of all of Africa. The government took care to ensure that everyone in the country shared in the wealth. Libya had the highest Human Development Index of any country on the continent. In Libya, a lower percentage of people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands….Libya ranked 61st, with a lower incarceration rate than Czech republic. It had the lowest infant mortality rate of all of Africa. Libya had the highest life expectancy of all of Africa, less than 5% of the population was undernourished. In response to the rising food prices around the world, the government of Libya abolished all taxes on food.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
—  Mark Twain

Contrast that with this view of Ghadafi’s Libya published on the eve of the February 17th uprising in afrol News:

afrol News, 16 February – While the Libyan economy drowns in petrodollars and its “Great leader” Muammar al-Ghaddafi buys support abroad, almost half of its youth are unemployed. The non-oil sector is tiny.Libya is the richest North African country. Counted in GDP per capita, Libya indeed is on an Eastern European level.

But that does not reflect the real economy of the average Libyan, with around half the population falling outside the oil-driven economy. The unemployment rate is at a surprising 30 percent, with youth unemployment estimated at between 40 and 50 percent. This is the highest in North Africa.

Also other development indicators reveal that little of the petrodollars have been invested in the welfare of Libya’s 6.5 million inhabitants. Education levels are lower than in neighbouring Tunisia, which has little oil, and a surprising 20 percent of Libyans remain illiterate.

Also, decent housing is unavailable to most of the disadvantaged half of the population. A generally high price level in Libya puts even more strains on these households.

But the key of popular discontent is the lack of work opportunities, which strongly contrasts the Libyan image of a rich nation constantly propagated by the regime and its Soviet-style media.

One Libyan, responding to those like Cynthia McKinney, who were repeating Ghadafi’s lies and telling the world how wonderful Ghadafi’s Libya was, had this to say:

Have you been to Tripoli and seen the districts of Hadba Shergeeya, AbuSleem, Hay Alislami, Soug al Jomaa to name only a handful? Is it acceptable that in 2001, in a country with vast oil riches, and after 42 years of trying, that this country still has raw sewage pouring onto streets where children play, that some parts of the capital do not have phone lines or water pipeline? Is this credible leadership?5- You mention that in Libya there are ‘excellent institutions of learning’. This is nothing short of laughable. Did you know that some libraries in the main uni have no books? Did you know that in other libraries where they have sections for books, you are forbidden to enter these sections? Did you know that corruption in academic institutions is rife, where most lecturers take bribes to allow students to progress, largely because their wages are pathetic, and sometimes delay in receiving these wages sees them without pay for months. Did you know when the ‘brother leaders’ daughter was studying Law in the main uni they banned all males from the law school for the duration of her uni years? So if you were her age, male and wanted to go to law school at tripoli’s main uni….you couldn’t. Tough luck. The ‘brother leader’ says you cant, so you cant.

6- Please tell me I misread your statement that Libya has good ‘medical facilities’? Are you not aware that most Libyans who require specialist care travel to foreign countries to receive this care? some countries FAR poorer than ours, i.e. Tunisia. Such is the market for ‘medical-tourism’ to Tunis that there are Libyan-only medical centres. Perhaps you don’t know that you cant even get simple things such as the Flu jab in Libya. Its in such low quantities that it runs out within weeks. Perhaps you don’t know that when one of my friends passed away with a heart attack the hospital where he was taken (well known) took 15 minutes to find an ECG that worked, and later kept replacing the defibrillator, because they were malfunctioning. Is this not a farce?

7- You talk of our sense of belonging to Africa. Do you not know how much money Qaddafi pumps into Africa? Have you not heard of the war with Chad where countless Libyans and Chadians needlessly died? Do you not know of Qaddafi funding of rebel movements around Africa contributing to more bloodshed?

You need to seriously revise your knowledge of the country if you want to be a credible activist for peace, or a worthwhile defender of Qaddafi. You are doing him more harm than good by demonstrating your lack of grass roots knowledge.

This is just a sampling. There is a lot more information available for a fact-based analysis that show that even on the highly touted economic front, Ghadafi’s Libya wasn’t all it was cracked up to be by those under the spell of the illusions he so skillfully created for them.

So to begin with they are comparing the Libya of today, not with the Libya of say, two years ago, but with the Libya of their imagination. One result of this is that they tend to see Libyan problems of long standing, problems aggravated by the 42-year Ghadafi regime, like racism against black Africans, as new problems to be blamed on the revolution.

The second problem with her title, and this too is typical of the anti-interventionist perspective, is that she sees the Libyan revolution as a produce of NATO intervention. Most of these anti-interventionists woke up to events in Libya when their country got involved and their normally healthy reflex was to oppose their government’s intervention in the affairs of another Third World country. In Libya, it was the struggle between the regime and the people that was center stage, both before and after NATO started flying air support. To many anti-war activists in the U. S. it was “just another Iraq” and the main struggle was between U.S. imperialism and another Third World country. Moreover, in an attitude that I think smacks of western chauvinism, they demanded that the Libyan activists view things from this western “anti-imperialist” perspective.

When they refused, when they persisted in demanding that someone, even NATO, stop Ghadafi’s slaughter of the Libyan people, these anti-interventionists decided that no true Libyan revolutionaries would ever allow such a thing and then they proclaimed the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) and the whole leadership of the Libyan revolution to be tools of NATO. By implication, the great masses of Libyan people that fought for the revolution, militarily or otherwise, were dupes who didn’t know a good thing when they had one.

When it started to become clear that the people would have their victory, these anti-interventionists started to fume and they started to turn into counter-revolutionaries at least with regards to the Libyan revolution. A blogger, who has named himself Lenin, give us a typical anti-interventionist view of what the post-Qaddafi Libya would look like. He published this on August 21, 2011 as Tripoli was being liberated:

The rebel army is commanded by someone who is most likely a CIA agent.  As far as I know, it has around 1,000 trained soldiers, within a total force of about 30-40,000 people (and within a population of 6.5m people).  It is directed on the ground by intelligence and special forces.  It isn’t well armed, and it will probably now be either rapidly disarmed, or integrated into the post-Qadhafi state.  There may be a small number of jihadis among them, but these will either adapt, integrate, or be hunted down and killed on the basis of the new Libya’s remit of fighting ‘Al Qaeda’.  (Recall, preventing an ‘Al Qaeda’ takeover was one of the major justifications for intervention when the think-tanks started thinking tanks).  There is as yet no political force through which the masses could act independently of the new government, were they even of a mind to do so.  The rebels will be disarmed, and the initiative will rest with pro-US politicians and other ruling class spokespeople.

This hardly paints a true picture of Libya today. Even today those who looked upon the Libyan revolution from the POV of NATO intervention cannot see this incredible accomplishment of the Libyan masses; instead, they still strive to boost the alternate universe of “NATO” takeover and paradise lost.

That’s not so easy to do now with no NATO planes over Tripoli and no NATO “boots on the ground,” none we can see, in any case. Certainly not like Iraq and Afghanistan, boots by the hundreds of thousands, bases everywhere, no hiding them, and still they couldn’t control the situation. So the anti-interventionists speak of “invisible boots” and they require no proof. They speak of CIA control and amplify every claim of special forces involvement no matter the source. As if by magic, the CIA are controlling the destiny of Libya with a few score of secret agents more surely than they could Iraq or Afghanistan with special forces up the ass, not to mention ten of thousands of combat troops.

What the anti-interventionists can’t allow is the thought that a genuine revolution is taking place in Libya, the most far reaching and complete of all of those collectively called the Arab Spring. At a time when they should be studying developments in Libya the way Karl Marx studied the Paris Commune, they are turning up their noses and averting their eyes, looking down at Libya now only when they can point out some dirt.

They show by their actions that their concern is not for the people of Libya because Ghadafi is gone and there’s no getting him back, so rather than looking to the future of Libya and asking the people how they can help build it, all they can do is embellish the past and lament about mistakes made.

So with that as an introduction, let us now look at highlights of Diana Barahona’s response to Clay Claiborne’s “On the Left, Ghadafi’s Lies Live On.” Diana Barahona begins her paper by assuring the reader I’m an intellectual lightweight:

Claiborne, who has no academic credentials making him a Middle East expert, has published 95 opinion pieces supporting the overthrow of the Libyan government.

My writing wouldn’t matter, she assures you, except I am now supporting revolution in Syria. Then she leads with her strongest argument:

First to address is his assessment of the human cost of the war. He throws around the figure of 30,000 dead without citing reliable sources. This figure is problematic since it comes from the new government…

She doesn’t like the new government so she doesn’t trust its numbers. That much is clear.

I have three problems with this: One, who else in Libya is in a position to make a creditable count of the dead nationwide? Two, Diana doesn’t supply any alternate numbers, let alone sources for them. And three, none of my arguments depend on the number of Libyans killed overthrowing Ghadafi. The Human Rights Watch finding that only 72 civilians were killed by NATO bombs is significant only because some anti-interventionists like to talk about carpet bombing and NATO bloodbaths.

She then goes on to talk about,

civilians who allegedly died at the hands of the Ghadafi government.

Why does she give Gaddafi such benefits? Why “allegedly” went it comes to the ones killed by Qaddafi? One might as well say the whole 30,000 is “allegedly.”

She goes further than that. While millions of Libyans were demanding “regime change” she saw the Qaddafi regime as the legitimate government of Libya and a good thing.

I consider government soldiers and police doing their job in repelling a foreign-backed overthrow to be victims as well.

So she was, and is, opposed to the revolution. She should take no offense at being called counter-revolutionary because there it is.

Of course the American revolution of 1776 was also “foreign-backed,” so was the Vietnamese revolution “foreign-backed” and for that matter, most revolutions.

She then goes on to trot out the usual litany of pro-Qaddafi stories (no “allegedly” here!), her sources are to be believed.

We do know for a fact that NATO bombing deliberately targeted the families of government officials, which is a war crime, and that the opposition militias also murdered many civilians (approximately 300 in Sirte alone), either because they were seen as pro-government or because they were black-skinned foreign workers.

There is a problem with racism in Libya. That is why I wrote the piece by that name for the Libyan thuwar and I am very happy to see it posted on various Libyan websites and discussed among them. But the way I feel about those on the left that have only discovered Arab racism after Qaddafi, harbor many illusions about the racist Qaddafi and his relationship with black Africa, and now see in revolutionary Libya racism even where it ain’t, is best summed up by a tweet:

#AJStream Some c in Libyan racism a chance to attack the revolution. I c in the revolution a chance to attack racism…

— Clay Claiborne (@clayclai) September 15, 2011

I think it is the role of revolutionaries anywhere in the world to support revolutions everywhere in the world, not to stand on the sidelines carping.

That means supporting the people’ struggles to recreate themselves in whatever way you can. It means pointing out flaws in a constructive manner so that they can be corrected and the revolution moved forward. It does not mean using any problems to stoke a desire to return to the past.

And for a Marxist, it means both teaching and learning from the revolutionaries. I have learned so much from my Libyan brothers and sisters and it makes proud that some have called me an honorary Libyan. And I was very happy to see my “Qaddafi lies live on after him” republished on the Libya Tweet Forum a week after I posted it to the Daily Kos.

Anyway, she goes on for a while, laying out her alternate reality for Libya. I don’t know where she gets her facts and sometimes I wonder what she is thinking, as in,

Additionally, Special Forces were infiltrated into Libya, among them thousands of easily concealed Qatari commandos.

Easily concealed? From who? Libyans? Other Arabs? Unless, of course, they are all in on the conspiracy and only westerners needed to be fooled.

She ignores a number of my major pieces, including Helter Skelter: Qaddafi’s African Adventure and Racism in Libya so that she can say:

The fact that anti-Ghadafi militias murdered many civilians, including the killing, torture and forced expulsion of up to 250,000 of African workers living in the country with their families, is not mentioned by Claiborne…

Then she goes on to disparage the up coming elections in Libya as meaningless:

He also makes a big deal about people registering to vote, as if being allowed to choose only among candidates acceptable to the global capitalist elites meant anything.

Of course she doesn’t bother to explain just how the “the global capitalist elites” were able to filter the over 3,700 candidates running for 200 positions. But then, it’s not her revolution, she can afford to be flip about it.

Finally, near the end, she gets to my favorite part of her whole paper. In recalling an ANSWER Coalition forum on Libya June 18, 2011, at which I took the picture below, she made a valuable admission.

When Cynthia McKinney came to Los Angeles after witnessing the destruction of the NATO bombing campaign in Libya, it fell to a group of us to form a cordon outside to prevent Libyans from entering the event and disrupting it.

I want to thank Diana Barahona for that honest description because after I wrote No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum I was subjected to all manner of abuse by people from ANSWER and PSL. For example, Ian Thompson published an open letter in which he said:

But, political line aside, the article is full of patent distortions, mischaracterizations and shoddy analysis from start to finish. It’s headline and main assertion that there were “no Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya forum” featuring Cynthia McKinney is a flat-out lie.

The only folks prevented from entering the forum were the few who came specifically to protest and disrupt the event. It wasn’t because they were Libyan. Several Libyans and Arab Americans participated in the event and discussion. Some pro-war, most anti-war.

So now, I can consider that matter settled. Like I said, to me, that was the best thing in her whole critique.

{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

ish July 2, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Poland! Better off than it was!
Hungary! Better off than it was!
Albania! Better off than it was!
Iraq! Better off than it was!
South Korea! Better off than North Korea!
The United States! Better off than Cuba! Heck, better off than half the world!

See how that goes? That’s a very slippery slope…because I think every one of those statements would be an oversimplification at best and a gross betrayal of revolutionary principles at worst. And I can say that without abandoning an intense critique of the previous regimes in Poland, Hungary, Albania or Iraq, or challenging the vision of socialism and international solidarity claimed by Cuba or North Korea.

US imperialism is ALWAYS the main enemy. And I can say that without an ounce of love for the late Libyan dictator. You should be saying it too.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street July 3, 2012 at 8:58 am

So you think the main enemy in Syria is American imperialism? Revolutionary Syrians disagree with you. Their main enemy is at home, just as ours is.


ish July 3, 2012 at 11:28 am

Revolutionary Americans should be advising the Syrian revolutionaries that American military aid would be a poison pill. A harsh truth, but truth nevertheless.


Clay Claiborne (@clayclai) July 3, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I like the first part of what you said,

Revolutionary Americans should be advising the Syrian revolutionaries

We can and should have constructive, well researched and well thought out opinions about the revolutionary process in other countries and we should discuss those with the revolutionaries of those countries. Especially as Marxists, I think we can make significant contributions even when we lack practical local experience, especially in this day of YouTube, skype, facebook, twitter, Google and so on.

Let me say again, I am very proud that my Qaddafi lies live on after him is being discussed by the thuwar and I am very happy that my Racism in Libya has been widely circulated among Libyans as well.

That piece was meant as a critique of the real problems of racism within their revolution. I didn’t expect it to be among my most popular writings among the Libyans but as I was known as an African-American who had supported their struggle from the beginning, and who some now called an honorary Libyan, I felt I could gain a hearing even if I was telling them stuff they didn’t want to hear.

Now since Qaddafi met with his untimely death [it should have been sooner] I’ve heard a lot of carping on the left about racism in Libya but how many others have attempt to engage with the Libyan revolutionaries to resolve those problems.

Or among those on the left that think the Libyan revolution was hijacked, are there not still some honest elements left? Shouldn’t they be advising them and working with them to take it back.

Or is it that once you’ve taken the “poison pill” as you put, your revolution is just toast, condemned forever to live with its faults.

Nothing to do but go away and die.


ish July 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Or is it that once you’ve taken the “poison pill” as you put, your revolution is just toast, condemned forever to live with its faults.

That’s not the point I was making at all.


tony July 4, 2012 at 11:26 pm

‘Now since Qaddafi met with his untimely death [it should have been sooner] I’ve heard a lot of carping on the left about racism in Libya but how many others have attempt to engage with the Libyan revolutionaries to resolve those problems.’ sez the ingenious Clay Clay.

Gosh, Clay. Do you write this way about Obama and Cheney and Dubya needing to be dead better sooner than later, also? And as to urging us all who actually think that the ‘Libyan revolutionaries’ inside your fantasy dream world mind are in actuality counter revolutionaries, to go and ‘attempt from the US radical movement to ‘engage’ with them in the beaten over Libyan Empire sticks is truly Martian rich! You are some sort of Martian, aren’t you, Clay? Cause only a Martian could write such political nonsense as what you just wrote.

But I’ll still make an effort to answer how many of us have gone and traveled to Libya to ‘engage’ in conversation with Clay’s ‘revolutionaries’ in mature and gentlemen-ly dialog? Why not so many of us, in fact. Spank me then, Clay!

Maybe we are too scared that they would do to us what they did to Gaddafi in the middle of the desert, Clay? But thanks for urging us to go and ‘engage’, Friend. You duh Martian!


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street July 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm

How so? Ho Chi Minh got U.S. military aid and the Viet Minh didn’t die from such “poisoning.”


ish July 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Yeah because everything the US did in Vietnam after giving arms to the Vietminh was totally benign!


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street July 4, 2012 at 10:04 pm

So if Ho Chi Minh declined that aid, the U.S. wouldn’t have waged war on Viet Nam? Please don’t try to change the subject.


Aaron Aarons July 4, 2012 at 3:22 am

Ho didn’t die from U.S. military aid. He just used it to smash a mass working-class movement that he couldn’t control. See for info.


Aaron Aarons July 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm

In 1914 there were two roughly equal rival capitalist imperialist alliances, so saying that ‘the main enemy is at home’ was a way to undercut support for each imperialist power by its own working class. But nowadays, and for at least 77 years, there has been one imperialist bloc dominating the world, and it is the bloc headed by the U.S..

The struggle is global, and the main enemy of humanity and the planet is the same wherever one is located. Anybody who doesn’t take that into consideration in guiding their local struggles is part of the problem and not part of the solution.


Clay Claiborne (@clayclai) July 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Anybody who tells Syrians facing this regime of torture that Obama is their main enemy is part of the problem.


ish July 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm

You’re not a Syrian.


Aaron Aarons July 4, 2012 at 4:14 am

Obama is just the front man for U.S. imperialism and Western imperialist capital in general. Bringing his name into this in that way trivializes what should be a discussion about political principles — a discussion that Clay Claiborne is clearly not interested in having.


Diana Barahona July 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I have some questions about the aims of the editor in setting up this Web site. When he invited me to write a response to the 100-plus “articles” by Claiborne for NATO military intervention he told me that the purpose was to provide a space for leftists to debate important issues. It has always been my position that leftists should not debate whether or not to support imperialist wars any more than we should debate whether the global warming was caused by humans or whether we should endorse the Democratic Party (the Communist Party’s support of the Dems notwithstanding). I believe that there are stands that define us as either leftist or pro-capitalist, and supporting NATO and parroting imperialist propaganda should define one as being on the side of the enemy.

Nevertheless, I wrote my response in the hopes that Binh’s support of the overthrow of Libya was just a mistake and that he had learned from that mistake. However, I am appalled that he continues to advocate for war in Syria and even more appalled that he is trying to get the left to organize protests at Russian embassies and consulates. This is the kind of prank that I expect from Reporters Without Borders, or another State Department-funded propaganda organization.

When I asked for a Marxist analysis to back up his positions, he merely stated that the Syrian government is capitalist. This is not analysis; we could learn as much from the CIA factbook. We usually assume than when people say they are leftists, they hold the values that we hold–that they are struggling for the triumph of the working classes over capitalism and in its current global stage of savage neoliberalism. The Free Syrian Army does not represent the Syrian working classes by any stretch of the imagination. The majority do not want war. They do not want NATO to privatize Syrian resources and turn their country into a base of operations for war against Iran.

My conclusion from all of this is that the debate is not productive. It could have been somewhat useful if the editor himself had remained neutral, but the fact that he is championing one side makes me feel that the anti-war, anti-imperialist left is being sidetracked into a fight that we haven’t chosen, just as if we were spending days arguing over global warming. This debate is not bringing us together but dividing us. We should be spending our time discussing how to oppose Western imperialism in the Gulf, not whether to support it.


Clay Claiborne (@clayclai) July 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm

The Free Syrian Army does not represent the Syrian working classes by any stretch of the imagination.

So what class do you think the rank & file soldiers of the FSA [which at this point is a self-organizing automous association – i.e. they don’t have a draft] come from?


Aaron Aarons July 4, 2012 at 4:06 am

Personally, I have no knowledge of the class composition of the rank and file of the FSA. Maybe Clay will inform us. But what matters is the politics of the organization. After all, a majority of working-class people in the U.S. vote for the Democratic Party, but that doesn’t make the DP in any sense a party of the working class. It is still a party of the imperialist bourgeoisie. And the same goes for the British Labour Party, despite its name.

In particular, what has the FSA said or done to indicate that it is fighting for the working class? And is it,, or is it not, getting material aid from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi-occupied Arabia and other states allied to Western imperialism? If it’s not getting such aid, and if it has said or done anything to indicate that it’s on the side of the working class and other plebeians, maybe I’ll change my mind and support it.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street July 4, 2012 at 10:08 pm

No one here supports Western imperialism. Misrepresenting people’s positions is a big problem on the left, and so is refusing to work together because of disagreements on governments/events abroad. Why else is every socialist organization in this country smaller than 1,000 people? Every time people have a difference of opinion on something happening 3,000 miles away, there are splits and expulsions. That’s not how the Bolsheviks did things — Lenin and Bukharin differed in their assessment of the 1916 Easter rising — so why should we?


Josh Laurel July 4, 2012 at 7:45 am

Pham Binh: “So you think the main enemy in Syria is American imperialism?”

Josh Laurel: Yes.

Pham Binh: “Revolutionary Syrians disagree with you.”

Josh Laurel: I find this is the appropriate moment to provide an excerpt from the June 22, 2012 article from WSWS.ORG (The World Socialist Web Site) entitled “France’s New Anti-capitalist Party backs pro-imperialist guerrillas in Syria”

“Naïssé [from the pro-imperialist French New Anti-capitalist Party] ends his article with the slogan: “The Permanent Revolution until the overthrow of oppression and exploitation!” He tries in this way to pass off the activity of the pro-imperialist death squads responsible for the Houla massacre as if they were based on the revolutionary theories of Leon Trotsky. This is a crude and repugnant fraud.

In Syria, for the moment, there exists no independent movement of the working class to overthrow the Assad regime. There is rather violence committed by armed bands, controlled by the imperialist powers which seek to change the Syrian bourgeoisie’s orientation in favour of the United States and for the installation of a right-wing regime. That is called a counterrevolution, of which the NPA is a fervent defender.”

You, Pham Binh, are a supporter of US imperialism and its murderous, reactionary proxy forces in Libya, Syria and certainly elsewhere. That is the essence of the political role you, Louis Proyect and Clay Claiborne are playing.


Diana Barahona July 3, 2012 at 12:11 am

First of all, thank you for ceasing to pretend that other people in the anti-war left in Los Angeles, specifically the people in OLA, share your pro-NATO, pro-transnational capitalist, pro-war views. Second, after reading your piece, all I can say is that was 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.


Josh Laurel July 3, 2012 at 5:33 am

Diana, what I find so revolting about this article (and others like it posted by Clay Claiborne) is that its beginning and a link to it were published on Louis Proyect’s horrifically misnamed “The Unrepentant Marxist” blog.

The primary purpose of said blog is to put a “left,” no Marxist, no an “unrepentant Marxist” face on Western imperialist warmongering, under the same old, tired “humanitarian” guise.

Louis Proyect, Clay Claiborne and Pham Binh’s essential purpose is to subordinate to the Democratic Party and Obama any potential developing mass movement against the ruling class’s 3-pronged strategy of unceasing austerity, unceasing imperialist war and ever-intensifying police-statism.

On Proyect’s blog, leftish criticisms of, for example, Obamacare are posted side-by-side with vomit-inducing “justifications” for the war that US imperialism waged in Libya and which it is on the precipice of now openly starting in Syria (perhaps through its proxy in Ankara.)

Proyect, Claiborne and Binh are part and parcel of what WSWS.ORG rightly calls the petty-bourgeois “left.” In their socio-economic position and outlook, they have far more in common with the US’s capitalist elite than they do with the working class.

The successful development of any working class-led movement for socialism is contingent on (among other things) the exposure and removal from its ranks of such petty-bourgeois shills for imperialism as Proyect, Claiborne and Binh.


Clay Claiborne (@clayclai) July 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm

You’ll never get back any time that’s past.


tony July 3, 2012 at 2:29 am

Clay has a lot of nerve criticizing PSL and stating that he was ‘abused’ by their supporters for something he wrote about Libya. You see, Clay is a regular of the Louis Proyect tribe of humanitarian imperialist Leftists there on Lou’s marxism list. Try to post anything critical of their views on Libya and Syria and you are gone but fast. In fact, Louis Proyect doesn’t allow any one to stray from his dictates about much anything at all, or you are immediately subjected to verbal abuse by him and quickly removed from his list, which he runs like he was some petty store proprietor in the exSWPer hood. I doubt that SWP god, Jack Barnes, could much outdo Louis Proyect on that list if he were to OWN that list as well as the Potty, and Clay loves it there! Oh YES he does!


Clay Claiborne (@clayclai) July 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Admin, please delete this comment ASAP and take away tony’s Internet privileges now!


Manuel Garcia, Jr. July 3, 2012 at 5:11 am

Excellent work, Clay. Don’t worry about the “anti-interventionist left” that is active over the Internet and in political discussion clubs. Many such people rely on grand ideas to construct their self-images, which are always very righteous, because they lack substantive achievements to base compelling personas on. It can be too disheartening for such armchair Gandhis, Churchills and Napoleons to let go of political fantasies that propped up such inspiring images of themselves.

The reality of the Libyan revolution is being lived out by the Libyan people, and they will know how to appreciate it — theirs are the only opinions that matter on this. Your article here reminds me of my memories of La Habanna in 1959, and feeling the effulgence of newly realized freedom across an entire nation, even if the technicalities were still a bit wobbly. Revolution in its infantile ecstatic stage; a beautiful thing to be remembered forever, but which must inevitably change and mature for its own good.

Move on to other worthwhile pursuits. Your opponents here are not interested in shaping belief around facts, but in defending their faith against being undermined by those facts. It is pointless to kick in the doors of other people’s churches, they only hunker down and pray harder. Beliefs can only be changed in response (usually very reluctant) to personal experience.


Aaron Aarons July 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm

You wrote three paragraphs here, Jr., without dealing with a single concrete argument. If you looked honestly in the mirror, your self-image would be that of an insubstantial phrase-monger.


admin July 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm

No name calling. You’ve been warned.


Aaron Aarons July 4, 2012 at 2:41 am

Garcia’s entire first paragraph was a personal, ad hominem attack against unnamed people who oppose his views. In order to avoid descending to Garcia’s level of personal attack, I’ll amend my remark to say that HIS WRITING that I was responding to is insubstantial phrase-mongering, without saying anything about his personal motivations.

Moreover, in his second paragraph, he wrote something substantial but wrong:

“The reality of the Libyan revolution is being lived out by the Libyan people, and they will know how to appreciate it — theirs are the only opinions that matter on this.”

But why are only the opinions of “the Libyan people” the only ones that matter? Don’t we live in a world where the effects of events generally transcend national boundaries? If, purely hypothetically, 99% of the Libyan people were to SUPPORT having a U.S. military base in that country, wouldn’t anti-imperialists outside of Libya have a responsibility to do what they could to prevent that from happening? And if a majority of Libyans were to vote for Islamist or pro-Western parties in a bourgeois-style election, wouldn’t leftists show solidarity with the minority of Libyans who were anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist and secular even if that minority were to use “undemocratic” (i.e., non-majoritarian), insurrectionary methods to take power?


Brian S. July 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm

@ Aaron Aarons: there is a considerable difference between “showing solidarity” with a programmatically correct minority and supporting the imposition of their views on the majority by armed force. I hope I never find myself having a disagreement with you in a dark alley.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street July 4, 2012 at 10:03 pm

That probably won’t ever happen since he rarely leaves his keyboard. After all, imagine the fate of world politics without his rabid denunciations.


Aaron Aarons July 6, 2012 at 3:51 am

Should I take this to mean that you only object to my last sentence, which I admit was provocatively phrased, and not to my argument that it is not only the opinions of (the majority of) the Libyan people that matter in judging what was and is happening in Libya?


Clay Claiborne (@clayclai) July 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Thank you for reminding me that every minute I spent responding to the choir, is one less I spent cataloging and exposing Assad’s crimes, and building support for his overthrow.

Here are my related diaries on Syria:
BREAKING: HRW releases torture report on Syria
BREAKING: Syrian General defects with 293 to Turkey
BREAKING: Items not in the MSM on SyriaMy response to Phyllis Bennis: Where is the non-violent opposition in Syria?
BREAKING: Syrian Air Force attacks Douma, 10m from Damascus, thousands flee
BREAKING: As Syria Burns, UN Blows More Smoke
BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov’t sans Assad!
BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared
BREAKING: Another mass defection from Syrian army
BREAKING: #NATO says No War in #Syria shoot down of #Turkey jet
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria – two videos – no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another “Houla style” massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout


Aaron Aarons July 4, 2012 at 3:11 am

Could you provide a list of your diaries about the Congo, where the U.S.-backed governments of Rwanda and Uganda have been looting resources and killing millions of people since 1996?

Or maybe you can provide a list of all your diaries intended to mobilize support for the overthrow of some U.S.-backed government?


Aaron Aarons July 3, 2012 at 5:13 am

Claiborne opines: “Ultimately this is the question by which the revolution will be judged. After all is said and done, did it actually result in an improvement in the quality of life for the Libyan people?”

There are so many things wrong with this that I hardly know where to begin. But I’ll summarize the essence of my response in one sentence:

The effect of the events that have occurred in Libya on “the quality of life for the [6.5 million] Libyan people” is far less important than their effect on a planet with about 6.5 billion people, and an ecosystem faced with destruction by imperialist capitalism.

One key aspect of this is that, regardless of how little or how much the change in regime in Libya winds up strengthening the position of imperialism in that region, the renewed ability of the imperialist powers to decide which governments stay and which go reinforces the ability of those imperialist powers to impose their will on all governments.

Moreover, the ability of the imperialist propaganda apparatus to focus attention on real, exaggerated or imagined crimes by the targets they choose, while people, including leftists, continue to ignore the far greater ongoing crimes of the imperialist capitalists (like a couple of million children dying every month from contaminated water or over 5 million people murdered in the Eastern Congo since 1996 by the imperialist-backed armies of Uganda and Rwanda) should be of much greater concern to us than any possible misinterpretation of what has gone on and is going on inside Libya.


Aaron Aarons July 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Claiborne quotes Barahona: “I consider government soldiers and police doing their job in repelling a foreign-backed overthrow to be victims as well.”

Claiborne then asserts: “So she was, and is, opposed to the revolution. She should take no offense at being called counter-revolutionary because there it is.”

Ms. Barahona opposes what YOU call a “revolution”, not what SHE calls a “revolution”. Moreover, in general left parlance, a “counter-revolutionary” is, approximately, one who uses or supports force and violence (beyond routine repression) to either restore or defend the rule of dominant classes against their reformist or revolutionary left opponents. Nobody on the left would call those who fought against Hitler’s or Mussolini’s seizure of power, or the attempt of fascists in France to overthrow that capitalist government in 1934, “counter-revolutionary”. And no serious leftist would call opponents of the armed struggle against the Sandinista government “counterrevolutionary”. In fact, we applied that label to those who were fighting AGAINST the government there, not those fighting FOR it! There are many cases, such as Hungary 1956, where there is ongoing debate on the left as to which side was counter-revolutionary. Calling an armed uprising a “revolution” doesn’t resolve that question.

Claiborne again: ‘Of course the American revolution of 1776 was also “foreign-backed,” so was the Vietnamese revolution “foreign-backed” and for that matter, most revolutions.’

I agree with Claiborne here, and I don’t think the fact of heavy French military participation in the struggle of the colonial settlers in North America against the English “mother country” is the best reason, or even a good one, to not support, in retrospect, that struggle. The fact that the main motivations of those instigating and leading that so-called “revolution” were the protection of their property in slaves and overcoming restrictions on their further seizure of the territories of indigenous nations is, however, a very good reason not to support it.


Bob July 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm

You are seriously insane, Clay.


admin July 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm

No name-calling, no one-liners. If that’s your idea of dialogue, open a Facebook account.


Bob July 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Like, you’ve really gone off the deep end with this shit.


Clay Claiborne (@clayclai) July 3, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Bob, Opinions vary.


tony July 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Clay, so you want my comments removed on North Star like your friend Louis Proyect would do over at HIS marxism list. Why don’t you red bait me like Louis does, too. When the one lone voice that Louis last allowed to talk some with counter positions to his own about Syria over on marxism list, he responded by red baiting the guy! I kid people not! The ‘unrepentant marxist’, as Louis refers to himself, resorted to red baiting the other comrade with differing views! And what did you have to say about all that, Clay? Nothing?

To be real clear here, Louis Proyect didn’t so much red bait the comrade, as PSL-Workers World bait the guy. Kind of like if a Stalinist was Trotskyite baiting say back in the yesteryears….

Clay, are you also into PSL-Workers World baiting people like Comrade Proyect does on HIS marxism list? Or just for having differing views from your own shut up completely?


Josh Laurel July 4, 2012 at 7:38 am

It is important for socialists, be they class-conscious workers or progressive professionals, youth, etc, to mercilessly expose the Clay Claibornes, Pham Binhs and Louis Proyects of the world for what they are — viciously anti-working class petty-bourgeois “intellectual” supporters of the US’s ruling capitalist elite.

Let us make no mistake about it — Clay, Pham and Louis do not want socialism — not in the US, not in Libya, not in Syria, not in Iran and not anywhere. These are relatively prosperous elements who rightly and logically identify their own interests with that of the US’s ruling elite.

Their support for the “Green Movement” in Iran, for the NTC in Libya and for the “Free Syrian Army” in Syria is most definitely NOT the result of having genuine socialist aims but having unfortunately made an erroneous analysis of the situations in these places; no, Clay Claiborne, Pham Binh and Louis Proyect are consciously hostile to the interests of the international working class, they are conscious supporters of the US ruling elite and, specifically of the Obama administration.

There were some German citizens who were convicted at Nuremberg for having provided the propaganda “justifications” for the Nazi aggression against sovereign states; Louis Proyect, Clay Claiborne and Pham Binh are doing the same thing for the murderous US aggression against Libya and now Syria. These people are politically criminal foes of the international working class and must be treated by genuine socialists as such.


tony July 4, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Josh, I disagree with you here. Instead of calling them ‘conscious agents’ and all that, perhaps you might just realize that the group you point your finger at are merely people (comrades of sorts) who are not really so bright as they think themselves to be, and who have simply misinterpreted what it is to support national self determination in today’s, Empire matrix constructed world. They are simply not so bright sorts of unpaid people who live and think as if they were like brightly shining academic meteorites at the big capitalist paid think tanks, but instead studying the works of the anit-capitalist heroes past in style most late 19th century marxistedly and trying to do EXACTLY as they would do most devoutly if they themselves were Friedrich, Leon, or Vladimir, their commie gods themselves. But Louis Proyect is not exactly Lenin. And Clay and Pham even less so. They merely err, not CONSCIOUSLY align themselves with hostile class forces that are enemies of the workers, Josh. Doctrine often leads doctrinaires astray.

So, Josh, be more gentle with them here. These people are not ‘criminal foes’. They are just not so bright.


Aaron Aarons July 6, 2012 at 3:30 am

I don’t know what motivates Pham Binh, Clay Claiborne or Louis Proyect. But it does seem significant that when they attack others on the left, they do so from a position consistent with the view of reality being pushed by the imperialist ruling class. Moreover, they choose to put their energies into issues that that same ruling class is pushing into prominence, rather than seeking to uncover and expose the crimes of that ruling class and its clients.


Brian S. July 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Another vigorous truth-tellling piece from Clay Claiborne. Sometimes Clay may underplay the difficulties that post-conflict Libya is having to wrestle with, but at least he lives in the real world, has an honest regard for the facts, and an appreciation of what was and is going on in the country. His critics just inhabit some sort of fantasy world (if the world doesn’t conform to your predictions, then just make up another one that does: problem solved!)
With a bit of fair wind, Libya will be able to complete the elections for its “Constituent Assembly” over the next week or so. (in forty odd years on the left I have seen many calls for such an institution – but this will be the first time one has actually materialised) And that could open up a new phase in Libya that might force even the “anti-imperialist” fantasists to take notice.


tony July 4, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Yeah, whatever, Brian…. A real ‘constituent assembly’…right? Another capitalist asteroid state of the US Empire! It’s in the quick makings you have now informed us all.

Thanks for letting us in on the secret. ‘Marxists’ of the World, Celebrate!

‘And that could open up a new phase in Libya that might force even the “anti-imperialist” fantasists to take notice.’

Brian, nobody can even begin to live in Fantasy Land like you do, Comrade.


Brian S. July 5, 2012 at 7:31 am

I am fascinated by the way that you purported “anti-imperialists” show so much contempt for the Libyan people (and others who don’t confirm to your prescriptions). We’ll have to wait and see exactly how many Libyans make it to the polls on Saturday, but the mass enthusiasm in the country for this opportunity to have some democratic influence over the way their society is run is obvious to anyone who cares to look. I was always taught that “Marxists” supported democracy against autocracy. But, hey, its only two million Libyans – you and your pals know best.


tony July 5, 2012 at 2:49 am

Libertarian run Antiwar. com tonight has headlined on its website a much more serious analysis of the current Libyan situation than M-L-T Comrade Clay’s contribution. The author, Patrick Hayes, admits that NATO is actually running the Libyan elections/selections in process now…

I wish that Comrade Clay would be as honest and do the same, but I’m a dreamer here.

See ‘Libyan election on NATO’s terms
The first election in 47 years should have been momentous, but Western meddling warped Libya’s democratic struggle.’ @


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street July 5, 2012 at 9:27 am

I read the link you posted. It says nothing about NATO running or controlling the Libyan elections. Once again, you have provided zero evidence for any of your claims.


Brian S. July 5, 2012 at 11:35 am

You really should read your sources beyond the headlines. Hayes doesn’t say that “NATO is running the elections”; indeed he doesn’t mention NATO/western influence in relation to the running of the elections at all. But he does conclude: “Despite being conducted on the NTC’s terms, the election is at least a chance for the Libyan people to cast off the shackles of their Western-backed caretakers. The sooner Libyans are left to forge their own future, apart from external interference, the better.” If that’s your view then it seems we can declare agreement (although you are more optimistic about the elections than I am, but I’m prepared to overlook that.)


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp July 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Every single piece of evidence produced in these threads by my and Clay’s critics turns out not to support their counterclaims. It’s kind of amazing when you think about it.


tony July 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I did not post Hayes’ ‘report’ while in personal agreement with every opinion he expresses here, but simply to show that he at least knows that NATO is running the show, even as Pham, Clay, louis, yourself, and many others want to convince themselves otherwise.


Diana Barahona July 5, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Back to the economic structure, which is why the U.S. and NATO went into Libya. The NTC has made a commitment to deepen Gadaffi’s initial efforts to “liberalize” the economy, with a lot of talk of economic reforms to make Libya internationally “competitive.” There is also discussion of the government selling bonds and taking on loans in order to finance rebuilding projects. A Wikipedia entry from before the NATO-backed overthrow states:

“Oil … accounts for 95% of export earnings, 75% of government receipts, and over 50% of GDP. Oil revenues constitute the principal foreign exchange source. Reflecting the heritage of the command economy, three quarters of employment is in the public sector, and private investment remains small at around 2% of GDP.”

This “command economy” is what the NTC is aiming to reform. Oil concessions were already promised to the Western powers that bombed the country, probably on similar terms as in Iraq, with long-term production-sharing agreements. The loss to the state in royalties will have to be made up for by loans, because the transnational investments the government is trying to bring in only bring in wages. And the transnationals have prefered foreign workers to Libyan workers, who don’t speak English and who are inadequately trained. Transnationals generally pay negligible taxes or tariffs.

Competitiveness is ranked by globalizing institutions based on the flexibilization of the workforce (nonunion, low wages, minimal protections); privatization of state industries, resources and the banking system; minimal regulations; no capital controls; low inflation; low taxes and tariffs; government subsidies to transnational industries in the form of infrastructure. Free trade agreements (and entry into the WTO) are Trojan horses, which require governments to pass a whole package of neoliberal measures–many of which have nothing to do with trade.

The article below also cites a shortage of construction workers after African workers were in general accused by the rebels of being mercenaries and violently forced out of the country.

Private Sector
Even after the government carried out a major overhaul of regulations in 2010, the business environment was still viewed as consistently poor, mainly due to the required use of licences and permits, as well as other compliance mechanisms.

Further, although an ambitious programme to privatise the banks and develop the financial sector was introduced, there remained significant constraints on investment. Banks ended up only partially privatised while interest rates were decontrolled and competition encouraged. However, the financial markets were and remain underdeveloped, playing a very limited role in the economy. There were no markets for government or private debt and the foreign exchange market was small.

Libya also faces a challenge with regards to the large informal sector that accounted for an estimated 30% of the economy in 2010 and which has come to dominate activity in the aftermath of the conflict. As the new government takes shape, it will be important to introduce measures to sustain previous liberalisation efforts in the private sector.

The country also faces the problem of the loss of foreign labourers. Migrant labourers accounted for a substantial part of the construction force prior to the conflict and the majority fled the country as violence increased. While some Tunisian migrant workers have returned since hostilities ended, Egyptian labourers are finding it difficult to come back as Libya has altered its immigration policy and now requires them to obtain a working visa. Meanwhile, migrant labourers from Sub-Saharan countries are unlikely to return following repeated incidents of violence against them during the conflict.


Diana Barahona July 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Libya To Offer New Production-sharing Contracts

VIENNA–Libya will offer new production-sharing agreements to international oil companies on improved terms to existing contracts, but this won’t happen this year, said the country’s Minister of Oil and Gas, Abdurahman Benyezza Wednesday.

Libya isn’t currently planning to revise the terms of existing contracts with foreign oil companies, but there may be a process to equalize the terms of new and existing contracts in the future, he said.

“At the moment we are working on the [contract] models. We’ll have to study and see where we can improve,” Mr. Benyezza told reporters at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries International Seminar in Vienna. ” Production-sharing agreements will be the main type of contracts of course. New ones will not be [offered] this year.”

Whether existing contract holders will also be offered the same terms as newcomers has yet to be decided, he said.

“We are not in a process to change [existing] agreements at this time,” he said. But in the future existing terms will be evaluated, “not to create inequality of contracts,” he added.

Libya intends to invest $10 billion on raising oil and gas production capacity from existing fields and $20 billion on new exploration in the next decade, Mr. Benyezza said.

Write to James Herron at [email protected]

(END) Dow Jones Newswires


Diana Barahona July 6, 2012 at 7:14 pm

And to be very clear, “Whether existing contract holders will also be offered the same terms as newcomers has yet to be decided” means that newcomers will get MORE FAVORABLE TERMS than the existing contracts. Then there will be pressure to improve the terms for the existing contracts (with Eni, Total, Repsol, BP, ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, etc.) As I already pointed out, reconstruction (of installations bombed by NATO) will be paid for by loans from the usual suspects, as well as from oil income. But this may not necessarily represent a bonanza for Libyan construction firms. They may just as easily be Italian, U.S. or from some other country, as is the customary practice of the transnational state and its “shock doctrine.”


Diana Barahona July 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Of course, the NTC is not recognized as a legitimate authority in several parts of the country, so its success in carrying out the neoliberal agenda is not guaranteed. Whether you think this is good or bad depends on whether you think that it is better for the country to be balkanized or to be united under a neoliberal regime.
After Gaddafi, Libya splits into disparate militia zones
The rebel strongholds of Benghazi, Misrata and Zintan have become increasingly independent of Tripoli’s new regime


tony July 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Sadly, Diana, I believe that many on the Left from the Trotskyist camp or the ex Trotskyist camp actually DO SUPPORT balkanization of countries when that is so desired by Western Imperialism. They consider that support of their idea of ‘national self determination’ even. We have seen that in multiple locales, from the Balkans themselves to Sudan to North Africa to Syria now as well… even with Indonesia, where Australian Trotskyists supported splitting away East Timor into becoming part of their Australian capitalist imperialist government’s orbit.

Here’s a quick question for all comrades…. Have any of you protested or spoken out against the balkanization of Iraq and Afghanistan by Pentagon military power? No? What about with China and Iran, where similarly strong Pentagon thrust would certainly lead to rapid balkanization? Not any problem for you pseudo internationalists, is it? I didn’t think so.

The fact is, that many socialists consider balkanization of the seen enemies of The Great Empire to be simply a good thing… a marvelous thing in fact and deed. Whereas the capitalists in the imperialist countries themselves ALSO do as well. In fact, the imperialists consider their own national unity in their own countries to be the one most important thing for them to maintain against all costs. And they consider the balkanization of their enemies to be an important goal to achieve.

Many marxists need to take those blinders of theirs off. The ultimate goal of US imperialism is simply to balkanize both China and Russia, too, where they could then completely destroy all real national self determination away from the Russian and Chinese peoples, while having their own US based, world ignorant marxists trumpet alongside them screaming aloud about how liberating all this Pentagon enforced balkanization for others would be, and thinking how great they themselves are in helping out Tibetans, Chechens et al win (with the help of the Pentagon for that is the only way they could get ‘independence’ from China and Russia) with their struggles for ‘self determination’ inside the Russian and Chinese societies.

You see, many of us English speaking socialists simply see a larger economy and cultural unity to be only a virtue at in out 300, 000,000 plus home, but to be something better torn up for others by imperialism in other parts of the planet.

Simon Bolivar is not understood by those comrades, since he wanted cohesiveness because that meant power to defend one’s own right to self determination. To our humanitarian brand of socialist though, it is ideal if the US imperialists can split apart and make as many tiny nationlets in the world as possible, as they chortle away about how themselves are supporting ‘national self determination’ right alongside the imperialist propagandists who always mobilize for war to crete more balkanization for others.


Brian S. July 6, 2012 at 10:28 am

So, it seems that not only are you in favour of “socialism” at the point of a gun, but also “national unity” enforced in the same way. Yes, I think I can see where this is leading to.


tony July 6, 2012 at 11:42 pm

No, I am not for national unity brought about only about through the guns of its national ruler. What you are for though, Brian, is for the guns of US/ European imperialism deciding what other nation stays pasted together as is, and which nation gets broken up by the big guys. You try to hide the involvement of imperialists even when it is the dominant factor in these US imposed regime changes and US imposed deconstructions of multinational-multicultrual countries. Shame on you, Scoundrel!


Brian S. July 6, 2012 at 10:25 am

@ Diana Barahona July 5 4:27pm: If you’ ll pardon the conceit of me quoting myself, from an (unpublished) letter to the Guardian:
” Stephen seems to feel the need to seek out “disintegration” everywhere. … The citizens of Libya’s third largest city Misrata have created the institutions for holding municipal elections – ah, but this amounts to “a final step towards independence”, ignoring the fact that the Misratans describe their pioneering initiative to the BBC as “the Misratan model. It will be given to the rest of the country as a gift”.
Or try this report from three days ago : “The western city of Zawiya has launched an extraordinary bid to defuse pro-federalist tensions in eastern Libya by offering all of its eight seats in the National Conference to Benghazi.
“Balkanisation” is dreamt of by a few traditionalist politicians in eastern Libya and it seems even fewer self-proclaimed “anti-imperialists” in the west.


admin July 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm

You can submit it to [email protected] with a link to the article it’s responding to if you are so inclined since you are a regular in this debate.


Diana Barahona July 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I’m not clear on whether you support the neoliberal regime in Tripoli or not.


Louis Proyect July 5, 2012 at 7:05 pm

This “command economy” is what the NTC is aiming to reform.

This is a degraded form of Trotskyism. Trotsky defended the USSR against capitalist attack because it rested on socialized property relations. The Marcyites took this analysis and applied it promiscuously across the planet to every sort of state that had a substantial state sector. They make it sound like Qaddafi was some kind of heroic figure like Fidel Castro beating back the gusanos at the Bay of Pigs. To maintain such illusions when his sons were spending millions on parties in St. Barts and when the IMF was holding up the Libyan economy as exemplary under Qaddafi is an insult to Marxism in general and Trotsky in particular.


Aaron Aarons July 6, 2012 at 2:47 am

Qaddafi certainly was no Fidel Castro and Libya was never a workers’ state, but what does that have to do with anything? Western capital does not look kindly on any state sector (except perhaps the ones that buy weapons from Western armaments makers). Part of opposition to global capitalism, particularly to finance capital, is defense of state industries and services, especially but not only in neo-colonial countries, against privatization, which usually includes direct or indirect ownership by imperialist banks and corporations.

But what is Louis’ position on this issue? Can the Unrepentant Anti-Anti-Imperialist find a way to turn it against his anti-imperialist opponents, or will he just ignore it?


tony July 6, 2012 at 5:32 am

I think it important to note here, that when it came to Milosevic and his crowd of Serbian nationalists who came under attack from the US and NATO, that Louis Proyect took the complete opposite position that he has taken with the Libyan and Syrian governments of Gaddafi and Assad! Louis went to work full time defending Milosevic from imperialist attack in that situation. What was the supposedly crucial difference here for our Supreme Leader, Comrade Proyect, back then?

In short, the big difference was that Proyect thought that he was defending some sort of remnants of socialist economy in the case of Yugoslavia. That was key to him at the time, so he went off and defended Milosevic against other humanitarian commie imperialists instead of being one himself back then. Proyect thought he was defending some sort of a grand international socialist project with Yugoslavia and with Libya and Syria he does not.

Proyect thinks that if one is defending ‘socialism’ as a nationalist fighting back against US imperialism then he’s going to get in there and fight for you, but if you are a nationalist who is merely defending the integrity of the patria against US imperialism, then he’s going to do the complete opposite and get in there with the Pentagon and Nato, bash you all he can, and support the overthrow of your government. It matters not the least to him that the overthrow of your non Western imperialist government is part of what the imperialists are looking to accomplish.


Louis Proyect July 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm

In short, the big difference was that Proyect thought that he was defending some sort of remnants of socialist economy in the case of Yugoslavia.

There is more to this than economics. When they had elections in Serbia, Milosevic agreed to step down–just as Daniel Ortega did in 1990. Both Serbia and Nicaragua had levels of freedom that were never known in Libya or Syria, even when both nations were under enormous pressure from imperialism. By contrast Qaddafi and Assad used torture indiscriminately and ruled as tyrants.

I hope this clears things up for you, Tony.


Tony July 20, 2012 at 1:10 am

Well, did you happen to notice, Louis, that the Human Rights Watch itself on last Saturday (July 15), mentioned that your successful Pentagon, Jibril, and NATO led Libyan heroes were holding 9,000 political prisoners (probably a huge undercount IMO), many of them being subjected to severe torture? But then what did you expect after the way they handled Gaddafi’s capture?

The Taliban and Saddam were not exactly nice folk either, but did you cheer then for their removal in regime changes, as it was being undertaken by the same imperialist backers of the anti Gaddafi and anti Assad forces this year? Did you cheer for the overthrow of the Vietnamese Stalinist regime of Ho Chi Minh when they fought the US and French imperialist because they also were known by many to be tyrants and torturers often enough. And let’s not even talk about did you cheer for the Pentagon to overthrow that nasty Chinese man named Mao? How many did he murder, Louis?


tony July 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Actually, you have pulled together Ortega in Nicaragua with Milosevic in Yugoslavia in one off the most entirely false and silly analogies I have seen in my entire political lifetime. Congrats, Lou! It is baloney like this that certainly has come to define your political speechmaking and analysis.

As you well know, Louis, Milosevic was behind some world class misdeeds against humanity on a scale quite equal to what Assad and Gaddafi have on their records. Ortega doesn’t even begin to compare with the level of criminality that Milosevic mastered. So don’t try to use the good name of Daniel (I thought I’d never say something like that about Daniel- LMAO. Lou, you made me do it, too######) to back up the rot of Milosevic. It’s just plain dishonest.

TRUE- ‘Gaddafi and Assad used torture indiscriminately and ruled as tyrants’. That’s why nobody actually defends these 2, Louis. But the Vietnamese used plenty of torture against the forces that the Pentagon organized to try to defeat them, too. You would have not supported the Vietnamese forces because they were using torture? And you would have gone and supported the Pentagon thinking that would stop the torture from being done????? Come now!

In fact, the forces in Libya and Syria that you politically think are ‘revolutionaries’ also use torture, Louis. Were you unaware of that? They also use terrorist methods that target innocent civilians. Are you surprised to hear that, Lou? And their backup, Lou, who you don’t care to talk about much….the Pentagon… also uses terrorism and torture. Gosh, Innocent Comrade Louis, I know that all this must be total news to you?????

‘By contrast Qaddafi and Assad used torture indiscriminately and ruled as tyrants. I hope this clears things up for you, Tony.’

Thanks for clearing it all up for us, Louis. You duh genius! Except I am not defending Assad and Gaddafi, Louis. But I am not supporting the Pentagon achieve its goals either, such as you are doing.


Brian S. July 7, 2012 at 10:50 am

OK. We’re about three-quarters through election day in Libya and things are looking pretty good. Some 94% of voting stations opened on time; high and hugely enthusiastic turnout: projections suggest over 70% (above many western states). Some bad news from the East and South: one city (Brega) where voting won’t take place due to violent disruption; a second (Ajdabiya) where only 25% of stations have been able to open for the same reason. probably no voting in Kufra. Some armed attacks on polling stations in Benghazi, but they have been mostly repelled by a combination of security forces, local militias, and the formation of citizen cordons. Most important, voters are not being deterred and it looks as if Benghazi turnout will be high, putting the “federalists” in their place. ( There is even a rumour that some federalists are now talking about voting.)
Anyway. looks as if the elections will produce credible results and Libya can move on to the next stage in its political development (which will have its own uncertainties). A better outcome that might have been feared, if not quite as idyllic as I would have hoped.


Brian S. July 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Tony – I don’t deny that I feel very emotional about today’s great events in Libya. But my account isn’t designed to transmit my feelings but only to relay the sentiments being expressed by 3 million Libyan people who today feel that they have taken a significant step towards being able to shape their own future. Popular democracy like this is an inspiring spectacle, and if you can’t feel even a twinge of it then I can only offer my deepest condolences.
Your comments about the reporting show how little you bother to follow what’s going on: the reports I have been reading are from a mix of Libyan and foreign correspondents, some of them with considerable familiarity of the country. They have been out on the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi, observing events as they happen and talking to people as they vote. You, I imagine, have been closeted somewhere with your crystal ball.


tony July 8, 2012 at 5:42 am

‘Popular democracy like this is an inspiring spectacle, and if you can’t feel even a twinge of it then I can only offer my deepest condolences.’

Not always is it, Brain. I was there in Monterrey when Mexico was celebrating the election of Chente Fox that supposedly was ending the longest dictatorship in the world at the time. It was no doubt like some of Libya are doing right now, with much of the public partying as they did.

However, in Mexico, despite the fact that the Mexican celebratory crowd did not understand it at the time, because it was actually the US government that had stage managed the ‘overthrow of the PRI dictatorship’ as it was being called back then, there was really ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO BE CELEBRATING. Imperialist Power over Mexico had not been defeated at all. The dictatorship had not fallen. And Mexico was then facing, unknown to its public at the time, much horrors orchestrated out of the US, to come.

So was I celebrating back then knowing full well how the US had put Fox into office? NO, I was not, Brian. So you now going to offer me condolences for being sober about these affairs? Make me laugh some more, Comrade.


Brian S. July 8, 2012 at 9:18 am

I always worry about people who use “Comrade” as a term of abuse. What do you call the comrades you agree with?
Of course, we don’t celebrate the outcome of every election – we’d end up with multiple split personalities if we did. But this election was not about choosing a particular government but about setting in motion the process to create a democratic framework. Libyans weren’t celebrating the victory of X or Y but the victory of democracy itself, and of its potential.


Tony July 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Brian, I have called you and others ‘comrades’ to make it clear that I don’t consider marxists whose views I am criticizing as being deliberate counter revolutionaries as many here actually do see you folk as being. To me, you are Left comrades whose views are simply way way off of being sensible in any manner when it comes to these issues of war, nationalism, and how best to create actual opposition to the Pentagon here in the US.


Brian S. July 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Thank you Tony, your comments are often sharp (no problem with that) and that caused me to read irony where none was intended. I fully reciprocate your sentiments.


tony July 8, 2012 at 5:32 am

Brian, you pretending to be ‘out there on the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi’ when you posted online just previously was so comical because it was a complete copy of the mainly, monolingual monocultural corporate press reporters doing exactly the same thing today. The vocabulary was an identical imitation of theirs, too!

‘Tony – I don’t deny that I feel very emotional about today’s great events in Libya.’

Why are you getting so hysterically and comically ’emotional’ though about events in Libya, Comrade Brian? You making us laugh, Comrade. You really are. It’s like you are out there and selling shares of

A little less euphoric voice than yours can be found over at the New York Times today, Comrade Brian. See below….

‘The goal of the Obama White House throughout our Libyan quasi war was to keep our intervention as limited as possible. In this, it largely succeeded. But just because our involvement was limited does not mean that the long-term consequences will be limited as well. War has a life of its own: insurgencies spread, weapons intended for one cause end up in the service of another, and turmoil is rarely contained by lines drawn on a map.’

Notice that the New York Times talks about OUR intervention, Comrade Brian? Do you include yourself in that OUR, I wonder?

Now we shall soon see the fighting increase once again, because these were hardly what one could call honest and fair elections, anymore than the elections held under Gaddafi’s rule were. (…despite all the ecstatic reporting from Comrade Reporter Brian the Marxist that pretends that all was rosy fairy tale pretty about them.)


tony July 8, 2012 at 5:41 am

‘Popular democracy like this is an inspiring spectacle, and if you can’t feel even a twinge of it then I can only offer my deepest condolences.’

Not always is it, Brain. I was there in Monterrey when Mexico was celebrating the election of Chente Fox that supposedly was ending the longest dictatorship in the world at the time. It was no doubt like some of Libya are doing right now, with much of the public partying as they did.

However, in Mexico, despite the fact that the Mexican celebratory crowd did not understand it at the time, because it was actually the US government that had stage managed the ‘overthrow of the PRI dictatorship’ as it was being called back then, there was really ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO BE CELEBRATING. Imperialist Power over Mexico had not been defeated at all. The dictatorship had not fallen. And Mexico was then facing, unknown to its public at the time, much horrors orchestrated out of the US, to come.

So was I celebrating back then knowing full well how the US had put Fox into office? NO, I was not, Brian. So you now going to offer me condolences for being sober about these affairs? Make me laugh some more, Comrade.


jp July 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm
ed July 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Many in the left are self delusionary as Clay points out. Syria and Libya are /were ruled by some of most murderous regimes (Assad/Qaddafi). One is out and the other is going. The people in the Muslim world have blown out of the left right paradigm and even the Islamist/secularist straight jacket.

they want their freedom and are going for it “By any means neccessary”. The Marxist pontiffs Like Ms Diane and cousin Josh) would have them stay in slavery but the people refuse their to stay shackled.

War reaches Damascus. 525 soldiers + Major General defect
Free syrian army is making major breakthroughs. Major fight on going in Damascus. 500+ of Bashar’s soldiers defect including Major general. Even Iran is reconsidering its support of Bashar. Maybe allah will give the Muslims another Ramadan surprise like last year where Gaddafi lost his dictatorship at the end of Ramadan.–major-general-defect


ed July 17, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Lenin got financing and support from Germany. In exchange he stopped the war on the eastern front. Lenin was transported through germany on a closed isolated train so no Germans could hear his revolutionary anti war talk.

The reality of change and revolution is much more complex than the piddly minds on the left can imagine.

All the English/French/German Marxists could not imagine a communist revolution in Russia. their theory dictated revolution must happen in advanced societies not possible in “feudal” Russia.

The revolution must happen as we dictate not as the native people think fit. This mentality is due to racism and looking down at other societies that is ingrained in both the left and the right in US/UK


Lefties hate Egypts Mubarak but worship Syria’s Pharoah Bashar


Tony August 8, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Black Agenda report versus the opinions of one thick Clay… ‘How about: U.S. Out of Africa, Hands Off Syria?’

More following from today’s headliner at Black Agenda Report to take one’s mind off the pro US imperialist idiocy usually found predominating at North Star and marxism list…

‘However, the installment of a Black face in the nation’s highest place has turned out to be our Achilles Heel, short-circuiting our connections to the Black radical tradition and our internationalist and Pan-African legacies.
“The Black Left has also been all but neutralized, providing no effective critique of the Obama administration’s tenure.”
The unprovoked war on Libya, where U.S.-backed racists massacred and “purged” Black Libyans and African migrant workers – a war that Obama told Congress was not a war at all, since no Americans were known to have died – should have provoked a clear break with the president’s policies by the Black Left, as Dr. King broke with President Johnson over Vietnam, in 1967. It would “largely have been inconceivable” that Dr. King or Malcolm X – or most living Black leftists, prior to Obama’s election – would have countenanced the gang-rape of Syria by the United States, Europe and the royal thieves of the Persian Gulf. Washington’s response to the “Arab Spring” has been to cement its alliance with the most backward Arab regimes and to arm Salafists and jihadis on a scale rivaling the CIA’s shaping of the mujahedeen in Afghanistan into a global movement in the early 1980s. It is a recipe for chaos and mass murder in the near term and an awesome “blowback” not too far in the future. Obama has made a deal with the devil – which is also the way his jihadi allies see their relationship with the U.S. Clearly, “a global altering process” is underway, involving a wholesale American assault on the most fundamental concepts of international law and national sovereignty, all in the name of “humanitarian intervention” – a Bush invention, now a full fledged Obama doctrine, his answer to the “Arab Spring.”
“The U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, has tightened its grip on the continent.”

If such a realization is embedded in the language committing Bill Fletcher and his colleagues to “advancing the demand for a democratic foreign policy on the part of the USA that is based on mutual respect, non-intervention in the affairs of other nation-states, recognition of national self-determination and repairing the damage that it has created through its imperial foreign actions” – then we welcome it, and would be glad to help shape future proclamations and mobilizations. We shall see.

Under President Obama, and especially since the assault on Libya, the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, has tightened its grip on the continent. The African Union mission in Somalia is, as the Los Angeles Times recently reported, an American-run affair. AFRICOM holds routine maneuvers with almost every military in Africa. The few countries that do not have military relations with AFRICOM, notably Sudan, Eritrea and Zimbabwe, are treated as enemy states in their own neighborhoods. Although U.S. trade with Africa continues to decline relative to China, India, Brazil and other emerging powers, Washington intends to dominate the continent by force of arms – through its own growing presence, and AFRICOM’s intimate local military partners, which now include most of Africa’s armed forces. AFRICOM needs no formal base of operations (although it has a large permanent presence in Djibouti), because it is already embedded in African armies. The African Union has, in some ways, already been “captured” by the Americans. This is the overarching truth of U.S.-Africa relations, today.’


Rey Saenz May 31, 2014 at 4:51 pm

The answer is …NO. The COUNTER REVOLUTION, that Clay call ‘revolution’ almost 2 years ago, has not led to ‘an improvement in the quality of life for the Libyan people’.

‘Ultimately this is the question by which the revolution will be judged. After all is said and done, did it actually result in an improvement in the quality of life for the Libyan people?’

It was incredibly deluded to ever believe that a revolution in Libya was being made by a NATO/ Pentagon aggression. And what ever happened to all that ‘Left’ concern about getting ‘intervention’ going in both Libya and Syria?

Well… it has happened this ‘intervention’, and the sight of it is not very pretty. How about some analysis of the recent events in both these 2 countries? Clay, are you still out there? (Probably out busy campaigning against AFRICOM…////)


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