Monday, March 28, 2011

***Out In The Be-Bop Night- The Search For The Blue-Pink Great Western Night-Postscript- The Torch Is Passed- February 2011

Markin comment:

Maybe it was the sheer, hard fact of the California night calling after too long an absence, the California be-bop late 1960s night, the eternal California be-bop night after years of Maine solitude, of Maine grey-blue-white washed, white-crested, white-capped, foam-flecked Atlantic ocean-flotsam and jetsam strewn waters. After all no all oceans are created the same, not all oceans speak to one in the same way, although they are all old Father Neptune’s thoughtful playgrounds. California’s, yes, white-washed, yes, white-crested, yes, white-capped, yes, foam-flecked speak to gentle, warm lapis lazuli blue wealth dreams of the quest, the long buried life long quest for the great blue-pink great American West night, blue-pinked skies of course. Yes maybe it was just that sheer hard fact that pushed me out of Eastern white, white to hate the sight of white, snowed-in doors, Eastern gale winds blowing a man against the sand-pebbled seas, and into the endless starless night. Yes, maybe just a change of color, or to color, from the white white whiteness of the sea walk white-etched night. Right down to the shoreline white.

Maybe it was the sheer, hard fact of preparing, against the timetable of that Eastern white night, this and that for the winter California day, and night, the ocean California that set the thoughts of the be-bop night, and the quest for the blue-pink skies humming once again in the, admittedly, older-boned voyager, voyeur of dreamed once sultry, steamy nights. A different proposition, a different proposition, on most days, from preparing to face fierce Maine winter mornings, unaided by the graces and forms nature provides its hardier creations. No thoughts today of heavy woolen coats, double-stitched, double-plied, doubled-vested, old nor’ easter worthy, or heavy woolen pants, same chino pants of youth, same black chino pants, no cuffs, except winter weight, not the always summer weight on no knowledge youth, or heavy boots, heavy clunky rubberish boots mocking against the snow-felt, ocean-edged soft sand streets, or maybe, more in tune with aged-bone recipes heavy-soled, heavy-rubber soled (or was it rubber souled) running shoes (also known in the wide world of youth as sneakers, better Chuck’s). Of scarves, and caps, full-bodied caps, better seaman’s caps, heavy, wool, dark blue, built to stand against the ocean-stormed waves crashing and thrashing against ships hulls, and gloves, gloves to keep your hands from frosty immobility I need not speak. Or will not speak.

No, today we think of great controversies of age, well, mini-controversies anyway, between hi-tech-derived aero-flow, toe-fitted, sheer meshed sneakers, or just old-fashioned, Velcro-snapped criss-cross leather sandals, toe-dangling in the sand streets ready. Or between jungle-fitted, twelve-pocketed (or so it seems), straight from the Ernest Hemingway African safari night ( so it seems, again) else, maybe, out of mad man gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson in full loathing regalia, or Reebok, Nike, Adidas, New Balance free-for-all athletic shorts. Or between hearty windbreakers, fit for eastern gales and western el ninos, versus light denim, light blue, tight fit, well, maybe tight fit, be young Marlon Brando or James Dean-worthy in some motorcycle hidden fantasy, jackets. All decisions, all timed but irrevocable once inside the airport terminal, and its maze, no beyond maze, beyond rate maze, of security and scrutiny.

Maybe it was the sheer, hard fact of just that airport invasion, the hard fact of the post-9/11 travel world. The running the gauntlet of checkpoints, charts, human body scanning screens, magic forgery detecting pens, bells, whistles, and surly, or maybe better, indifferent, human scanners, human searchers, human checkers. The piles of thrown away, seemingly harmless, harmless to these eyes, water bottles, pure-springed water bottles (Evian, Poland Springs, Belmont Springs, home-filled reusable, filtered tap water L.L. Bean bottles, whatever) which now are deadly weapons, or could be, are a twisted metaphor for the scene. All in order to get from point A (east coast angry ocean waters) to point B (west coast, or hipper, at least used to be hipper, left coast gentle, spa-like, or faux spa waters) in less than six hours. No more of timeless trips, or at least of months long trips, aimless but aim-full in their purposeful search. No more of Boston to Angelica Steubenville to roots Prestonsburg to Lexington (Kentucky that is, not revolutionary battlefield Lexington, not that trip anyway). No more Moline meltdowns and Neola corn field nights and Aunt Betty lazy, crazy, hazy suppers or solidarity rides to the desert Native American ghost sky night, drums beating back to primal times, and then over the last mountains down into California blue-pink haze. No, six hours, no more, or else breakdown against those bone-aged facts, and bone-aged stiffness rebellions. Or worst surrender to the think better, or at least twice, of such a trip gods, Egad has it come to that.

Maybe it was the sheer, hard fact of riding a rental car, a rental car, my god, a mid-sized, almost brand new, gadget-filled lights, horns, windshield wipers all controlled, whiplash computer-controlled, at the touch power steering. And I like a kid, a dumb, no California hot-rod head under the hood kid with car-ness in the very blood, but more of a youth spent no car, not dough for a car, miles walked, sneaker miles walked, kid, scratching my head to figure out what goes where and screaming onto that good night about how the hell have we come to such a complicated place where it requires seven degrees in astro-physics, at least, to get the damn thing started. No more of drowsy early morning truck stop diner pick-ups by benny-high, reds-low, mortgaged to the teeth zen truck-driving road masters carrying freights from here to there (I would say from point A to point B but that is used up already). No more of psychedelic- painted, further night, magical tour buses, old time yellow brick road school buses converted to living, breathing space on the endless hippie hitchhike 1960s road. No more even of old country hay wagons named, or misnamed, trucks picking up likely farm hands, penny-poor likely farm hands, to work for a few days before moving on. No more of that, indeed.

Maybe, and here we are reaching some home truths, it was the sheer, hard fact of seeing the azul ocean sea coming over the horizon at Laguna Hills or one of those endless, one-name-fits-all or should fit all Southern California beach towns filled with the mandatory fake, yes, fake Spanish décor. Of the ticky-tack rows (thanks Malvina Reynolds via Pete Seeger) of “Spanish” houses, oh, I mean, estates, where I see kids, kids no different than I was just waiting for the jail-break event of their generation, if it comes, and if they want long enough but not too long. Of the million and one surf shops for the youngsters to wax and wane on seeking of their own blue-pink nights (or days, more likely), the endless quest for the perfect wave. Of the strip mall rows of fast food eateries, fast clothes chanceries (swim suits a specialty), of sun-free indoor tanning against the rages of father sun. Of the quaint (nice word, right?), yes, quaint lobster dinner (lobster flown in from, from, ah, Maine), California fresh fish of the day, freshly caught, beach view restaurants or other finery, and of cruising (no, not that cruising) pedestrians of all sizes and shapes. Shapes including show-off lovely formed younger girls, ah, women, maybe a young Angelica waiting to splash her first splash in mother Pacific, peaceful mother pacific. And all races and languages and ethnicities trying to figure out the lure of the heathered (almost like Scotland, Scotland of no burr) coastal shore to the Okies, Arkies and Texies, who descended here a couple of generations ago, planted roots, their migratory roots, not Eastern forever and a day roots, and never left. But still the gnawing question, the question of questions-where to go west from here. Not back to the okie dust bowl, that is for sure, not for those now corn-fed, yellow-haired (maybe genetically yellow from that corn) beauties of both sexes who are tied to the sea, to the endless quest for the perfect wave sea, even though from the look of them if I posed the question that way, that perfect wave search way, I would shunted away screaming in that previously mentioned good night.

Maybe it was the sheer, hard fact of walking ancient shoreline walks, soft sand kicking, shodless feet kicking, tracing new written configurations to ancient gods in the previously clean-slated sand surface, occasionally pebble-dotted, seashell-scattered, as the ocean screams for quiet from those walking in its space and pleads, like some latter day librarian, not to disturb others. Of thoughts of ancient sorrows, and ancient laughters. Remembrances of Angelica first time ocean splashes, of riptide saves, of hero’s rewards for heroic saves, rewards better left to the imagination, ancient imagination. Of scaled seawalls that hold back tide, time and the brick-a-brack whims of fickle man, of humankind. Of squirrels, everlasting, ever-present seashore-loving burrowing squirrels filching, filching and begging, begging for human food against all good nature’s wisdom. And getting it. The food that is. Of ocean side night campfires to protect against the force of the ocean chill, of ocean shadows, and of ocean smokes, thinking back to the days when cigarette smokes filled many pubic spaces. But better smells now of mesquite wood smells, of charcoals broils smells, of sea-drug up woods smoothed from ocean pounds smells. Of high ganja smells, of pellets and pills to ward off the ocean calls to the endless sleep, of the return to the homeland, of the homeland seas. And of skies of daytime blue, blue, blue enough to make a pair of pants out of, cloudless in afternoon after fogged-down mornings. Ah, but you what’s coming, what the whole shore line walk means. Yes, the night, no, not the night night, the dark, starless night of the poet’s lament, of ancient times wonder, and of modern no night human-crafted light beams breaking the will of the dark night. No, not that night but rather the earlier part, the part after the sun goes on its business below the horizon and leaves as a reminder the blue-pink night hanging over the ocean, tourist taking pictures, taking camera, digital camera pictures today, instant, mainly, but, hell who need such tacky reminders when the mind’s eye reeks of blue-pink memory, ancient blue-pink memories.

Maybe it was the sheer, hard fact of leaving, of returning east fast, faster as it turns out that heading west, west to the blue-pink night, to the be-bop night. I will not speak of that airport maze, rat-like or not, again it does not vary on the way back any more than going to. Now I speak of those haunts, those dreaded ancient haunts of having to return to eastern concerns, eastern worries, eastern woes, and a feeling, an old feeling an old Joyel-time feeling of having to go back to routines, not the regular routines that make life bearable but the routines of routines that drive one out on the midnight run to wherever, whenever. And to see, although see only in a flash, the contours of the American night, of the sense of the American landscape, of roads and rivers it took months for ancient pioneer Conestoga wagons to traverse, and weeks for ancient hitchhike roads to swallow.
All blaze past in a flash, all lighted strange patterns civilization.

Maybe it was the sheer, hard fact of grabbing a midnight-like cab for the ride home, eastern home, eastern snow-drenched home that had not changed in sight but changed from still present blue-pink memories as always, from leaving but still necessary to face. On such cab rides, such youthfully scorned cab rides, and truth be known youthfully unaffordable rides, I now take when language is no barrier to asking for cabbie stories (although many times such is a problem as this is now a profession, a city profession, by recent immigrants, dominated, seemingly oxymoronic, since how would such fellows know the ancient trails of the east, at least in pre-techno- GPS days) in the hopes of finding some gem story to feed the literary lights, not blue-pink lights by any means, just fill-in road stories. And this night, this night when thoughts have been whirling for weeks about ancient things, ancient things described above, I find a kindred. Cabbie X, ancient cabbie X, fires back in full-bodied, “I don’t have any cabbie stories to tell, but I have some hitchhike stories.” Hell, hell on wheels, be still my heart, tell, brother, tell kindred tell all, and drive slow, stop at every traffic light slow, I have dough in my pocket and a hunger, an unspeakable, unquenchable just now hunger, to hear your tales, your ancient 1960s hitchhike road tales. Tales about his road from Missoula, Montana to New Haven, Connecticut. (Yes, avoid hitching on those Connecticut roads, and Arizona’s too. Agreed). Of Truckee truck stops. Of truck stop road side diners, and endless cups of coffee, and badgering truckers for long-haul rides. Of hard driving, get to the coast, benny-high truckers seeking to spill their guts to some lone stranger in order to keep awake and pass the hard highway mile. Of Pacific Coast highways brimming with converted magical mystery tour school buses, converted to living housing for the broken-hearted, the love-lorn, the be-bop nighters. Ah, memory. “Hey, you almost didn’t stop at that last traffic light, brother.”

More, more please. Of Nevada desert stops, waiting by lonely crossroads for hours, reading scrawled signs from ancient forbears, maybe those very Conestoga folk, warning that one may wait for a ride to perdition there. Of dope smoke, of friendships, many fleeting, but a feel for that good moment. And at the close of that cabbie night a thought , a cabbie thought- we made it, we were better for it, and we can survive in this old world because we made that venture. No need to speak of the blue-pink night to this brother, such words would be wasted. This is that now dwindling fraternity that sought, maybe still seeks that good night, and that is all that needs to be said. A revolutionary brotherhood handshake, a handshake too hard to describe here but fraught with meaning back in those days, at my door seals our night’s work. Yes, memory almost like a yesterday memory, finely-etched in our collective minds, recallable at an instant.

Maybe it was the sheer, hard fact of carrying around , winter long, winter, snow-blasted long, a song/story in my head, a story recorded by Red Sovine and which I heard by way of the inscrutable Tom Waits, Big Joe and Phantom 309. A story of a fellow hitchhike roader caught out in one of those lonely crossroads to nowhere that every seeker knows about, although they are not always windswept and rain-drenched. Sometimes they are snow-frozen, sometimes, heat-drowned, sometimes, not enough times, just plain, ordinary sunny-dayed. Out of the mist comes the mythical trucker, Big Joe will serve as well any other name, although when I think trucker I always think Denver Slim as he was neither slim (far from it) nor from Denver, and that tells a tale right there. So they ride the night away telling lies and other stories until they come near a truck stop and Big Joe freaks, and the hitchhiker is left, after Big Joe pitches him a dime, to go in for a cup of coffee on Big Joe. Said hitchhiker goes in and tells his story of the ride and with whom and gets the lowdown from a waiter. See Big Joe died, truck-faithful, Phantom 309 faithful died, when he avoided a school bus filled with kids out on that lonely pick-up crossroad. But see Big Joe did another favor, a hitchhike brotherhood favor as the waiter says “have another cup of coffee and keep the dime, keep the dime as a souvenir of Big Joe and Phantom 309.” Great story and I have my own just like it, and Brother Cabbie X had his own, and every man and woman who ever hit the road, by force or desire, has that same story just mix it up a little.

Maybe it was just the sheer, hard fact of listening, listening attentively, listening eagerly on the rented car California roads to old road warrior, Wobblie, kindred of tramps, bums, and hoboes of an earlier age, an age which intersected with the hippie hitchhike road of the 1960s, the late folksinger/songwriter Bruce “Utah” Phillips and his definite Songbook. Listening to old songs of struggle from prairie days, of hobo jungles by the railroad tracks (not today’s high speed ones, no way), and train-jumpers (a different breed that we highway hitchhikers but still searchers. I never had much luck on the trains, and got tossed off a few by the railroad bulls, so I will leave that mode of transportation alone), skid row nights, sidewalk sneers, and destruction of the western hobo night by gentrification. Of paperless street benches, of paper-filled bus depot benches, of public bathroom stenches, of half-way house snores and hostels bland food that dotted the old transient landscape, and have seemingly faded from memory, except on twilight California streets as the homeless hoboes make way to the beach and night time sleeps, sleep it offs, mainly.

Ya, maybe it was all those sheer, hard facts, collectively or individually, that brought me back to memories of the ancient hitchhike road, especially that brother cabbie scene but, finally, here is the real reason. Let me go back to those California roads for a minute, no, not the Pacific Coast highway freedom road (Routes 1 and 101) but the high volume, hard-driving, eighty billion-laned (okay, I exaggerate) Interstate 5 that, one way or another, goes up and down the length of the state. Actually let me go back to the one of the entrances, one of the Oceanside entrances, where beyond belief I spy two youths, a male and female, two youthful Markins and Angelicas maybe, standing on the corner, waiting, waiting for a what. A hitchhike ride of course. In the second it took me to realize that this is what they were doing (they held out no thumb, nor had a sign indicating where they were heading, obviously “green” at this work) and slammed on the brakes I was beside them. “Where are you heading?” asks ancient seeker narrator of this tale. “L.A.,” they shoot back. “Get in.” And they do, the guy (Brandon) in the front and the gal (Lillian) in back. At least they have enough sense to make that configuration, that pair male –female configuration, like we did in the old days just in case things got weird. And I had no intention, no intention in hell, of going back to L.A. that day, except one million questions about their purpose, their reasons for being on the road, and ancient courtesies that dictated that I pick up hitchhikers, a rare, incredibly rare occurrence these days. I will let them tell their stories some other time because this after all is my story but their quest, in any case, involves nothing as grandiose as the search for the blue-pink night although it involved Generation X dreams, and that will have to do.

So the torch is passed, maybe…

Or maybe it is the sheer, hard fact of that knapsack, old Army surplus olive green knapsack, moth-eaten, maybe, moldy, well hitchhike-traveled, well-worn, a lasting memento to that 1969 Angelica-paired road trip sitting in some back closet, up in the attic, or worst, down in the forlorn cellar crying to get out, or maybe some old sea shell of infamous origin also back there calling me back, back to our homeland the road, and the eternal, now I know it is eternal, search for that blue-pink great American West night.

The Anti-War Protest Season Continues-New York City Anti-War Rally April 9

Markin comment:

During this February and March I have called for and placed a number posts in this space in support of a March 19th Veterans For Peace-led march and action in Washington, D.C. I also gave my reasons for such support in commentary in those posts. Mainly from a sense of solidarity with my fellow veterans and because they were ramping up their opposition to Obama's wars beylond yet another march. This march in New York on April 9th, while necessary as an action to oppose Obama's wars, is a more traditional one and while we will attend it does not have the dramatic impact and bonds of solidarity attached to it of the Veterans' march.

March and Rally: Bring the Troops Home Now!

When: Saturday, April 9, 2011, 12:00 pm

Where: Union Square • New York, NY

Start: 2011 Apr 9 - 12:00pm

Endorse the call to action from the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC)

Bring the Troops Home Now!

March and Rally

April 9th, 2011

New York City and San Francisco

(Union Sq. at noon) (Time and place to be announced)

Bring U.S. Troops Now: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan! End the sanctions and stop the threats of war against the people of Iran, North Korea and Yemen. No to war and plunder of the people of Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa! End U.S. Aid to Israel! End U.S. Support to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the Siege of Gaza!

Trillions for jobs, education, social services, an end to all foreclosures, quality single-payer healthcare for all, a massive conversion to sustainable and planet-saving energy systems and public transportation and reparations to the victims of U.S. terror at home and abroad.

End FBI raids on antiwar, social justice, and international solidarity activists, an end to the racist persecution and prosecutions that ravage Muslim communities, an end to police terror in Black and Latino communities, full rights and legality for immigrants and an end to all efforts to repress and punish Wikileaks and its contributors and founders.

immediate end to torture, rendition, secret trials, drone bombings and death squads

Saturday, March 26, 2011

From The "Young Spartacus" Pages-No to ROTC on Campus!

Markin comment:

I do not believe, at least from the anecdotal evidence I have received from the younger people that I have talked to lately, that today’s students realize the importance of the struggle in the 1960s and early 1970s to kick off, or keep off, ROTC from the campuses. Of all the social turmoil, political fights, and disruptions caused by the disputes over the Vietnam War (and allied social questions around race, sex, and, a little, class) on campus the number one question after the ever present universal conscription draft on students’ minds then (male students in particular) was the many-stranded links between the university and what was then called (and still should be called) the military-industrial complex. Currently, absent a draft (although we all know that there is a de facto “economic draft” that is almost as insidious as the physically-imposed one), the most concrete way that students on campus (including on high school campuses) can slow down the war machine is by organizing to kick or keep ROTC off campus. In the end the military depends on their officer corps to stabilize their operations. When wars flare up the traditional academies are not nearly enough to staff that corps. We have every interest in making sure the American imperial state’s capacity to wage war is curtailed.

This article also spends a little time talking about the draft (universal conscription, or some such term). Recently I have also been hearing quite a bit about how the reinstatement of the draft is necessary. Am I hearing this from the American military? No, I think they are quite happy with an all-volunteer service with fewer malcontents than an army filled with “citizen soldiers” that still fills them with dread (and screaming in the night) from the last time they tried it in the Vietnam War period. Am I hearing it from military veterans who see such service as manly (or now womanly)? No. From right-wing ideologues worried about manpower shortages in an American imperial age with multi-front wars? No. I have been hearing it, and hearing it rather more consistently than I would like. from elements of the anti-war movement.

Why? The main argument runs like this. If there were a draft (presumably a male and female draft under current social norms) then today’s rather apathetic students would be pushed into a more pro-active stance against war as occurred as the Vietnam War continued endlessly on (well, almost endlessly, the DRV and NLF troops on the ground in Vietnam resolved that question finally). Wrong? Why would one, especially one who was arguing from an anti-war perspective , want to give the American military, the most destruction military power the world has ever known by orders of magnitude, addition cannon fodder on the off-chance that today’s pampered students might rebel against that condition. To ask the question is to give the answer, pretty or not. While I agree that it is frustrating to the nth degree to see the campuses so quiescent that is no solution. As this article point out our argument is- No Draft. And if a draft does come, then we, or I should say the young we, go into the military and raise that holy hell that the military brass hate to think about in their worst dreams. The rest of us will fight the war machine in other ways in support of you.
Workers Vanguard No. 976
18 March 2011

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Imperialist Military

No to ROTC on Campus!

(Young Spartacus pages)

With the brutal occupation of Iraq dragging on, tens of thousands of additional troops sent to Afghanistan and increased “secret” drone bombings and CIA operations in Pakistan, the armed forces are looking for a “few good men and women” to serve in their officer corps. All U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan now! Hands off Pakistan! In his January 25 State of the Union address, imperialist Commander-in-Chief Obama invoked the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy to bolster military recruitment: “Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and ROTC.” Within days of the Senate’s December 18 vote to allow the repeal of DADT, university presidents, including at Columbia and Yale, scrambled to bring ROTC back to their campuses. Meanwhile, the media blathered on about how the military can contribute to the “diversity of the intellectual and moral climate” (Chronicle of Higher Education, 9 January). On March 4, Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust reinstated Naval ROTC.

ROTC had been driven off over 100 campuses by the early 1970s, as opposition to U.S. imperialism’s dirty, losing war in Vietnam roiled the country. Since that time, ROTC has quietly crawled back onto many of these campuses or set up joint programs with neighboring universities. Unlike radicalized students in the 1960s, in the last few years, campus activists and liberals have narrowly focused their opposition to ROTC on the military’s discriminatory DADT policy. Most recently, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups have objected to ROTC’s return because the military continues to forbid transgender people from enlisting.

As revolutionary socialists, we have a principled stance against the imperialists’ war aims and their armed forces, upholding German revolutionary Wilhelm Liebknecht’s call: “not a man nor a penny” for the capitalist military! ROTC is a training program for officers. It’s an appendage of the military, which exists to defend the bourgeoisie’s interests both through war and colonial plunder abroad and by violently repressing class and social struggle at home. While we fight against discrimination, including discrimination against homosexuals in the armed forces, our goal is not to clean up the image of the capitalist military but to destroy it, along with the racist and sexist capitalist order it defends, through socialist revolution.

Since our founding, the Spartacus Youth Clubs (and our predecessors) have mobilized to keep military recruiters and ROTC off campuses, and have protested military research and CIA and cop training on campus. The universities are not ivory towers, but part of the capitalist society they exist in—campus administrations run them to serve the interest of the capitalist class, in order to train the next generation of managers, technicians, government administrators and war criminals. Nonetheless, we oppose every attempt by the ruling class to turn the campuses into direct training grounds for agents of U.S. imperialism. ROTC, military recruiters and cops off campus now!

The Imperialist Military and Capitalist Society

Militarism and imperialist war are inherent to this class-divided society in which a tiny minority of the population owns the banks and industry and amasses profit by exploiting the labor of the working class. Imperialism is not a policy that can be reformed. The final stage in the development of capitalism, characterized by the export of finance capital, imperialism is a system in which rival advanced capitalist states are compelled by the need for cheap labor, natural resources and new markets to wage wars to divide and dominate the world. The U.S. imperialists, who sit on the largest stockpile of operational nuclear weapons and have a military budget greater than that of the next 19 countries combined, are the greatest danger to the world’s peoples.

The release by WikiLeaks last April of a video showing an Apache helicopter gunning down Iraqi civilians while the pilots gloated over the carnage provided a glimpse of the brutality of the U.S. imperialists’ military. And for those the imperialists see as domestic opponents of their war aims, witness the treatment of Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking this video and other materials. He has been held in solitary confinement at a military brig since last May. Since March 2 his clothes have been confiscated at night. In the morning he has been forced to stand naked outside his cell to have them returned. Obama has endorsed this treatment, which is supposedly a “precautionary measure” for Manning’s safety. Free Bradley Manning!

The imperialist military is a microcosm of society, reflecting the class divide between the ranks and the bourgeois officer corps, as well as the deep-rooted racism and anti-gay and anti-woman bigotry of American society as a whole. Historically, black troops have often been keenly aware of the hypocrisy of U.S. wars for “freedom” and “democracy” while they are oppressed and discriminated against at home. As we pointed out in “Sex, Race and the Military” (WV No. 671, 11 July 1997): “Until the late 1940s, the military was rigidly segregated, with blacks by and large excluded from combat duty because of the bourgeoisie’s overriding fear of ‘Negroes with guns’.” As the massive need for manpower temporarily overwhelmed traditional racist practices toward the end of World War II, blacks began to be integrated into white fighting units.

In the U.S. today, the volunteer army relies on the economic draft to recruit the bulk of its rank-and-file soldiers. With dwindling access to higher education due to nationwide tuition hikes and the eviscerating of affirmative action, military recruitment is up. Many working-class and poor youth—disproportionately black and Latino—see joining the military as their only opportunity to get a college education or learn a skill. For black youth in particular, who face special race-caste oppression under U.S. capitalism, options are largely limited to the military, a McJob, prison or death on the streets.

As Marxists we oppose anyone volunteering for the imperialist military. We also oppose the draft. However in the event of a draft, as during the Vietnam War, we would oppose radicals refusing to serve in the military, which would only strengthen the ideological purity and political reliability of the armed forces. Instead, we say young militants should go with working-class and minority youth and continue their political agitation. (See “You Will Go!” Spartacist No. 11, March-April 1968.)

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

For more than a decade, the U.S. stood out among economically advanced countries for its policy of excluding open homosexuals from the military. Last December, Obama and the Democratic Congress pushed through the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act just weeks before the Republicans took over the House, though the repeal may take months more to go into effect. When signing the repeal, Obama enthused, “This law I’m about to sign will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.” Referring to the many soldiers forced out of the military under the discriminatory policy, “Independent” Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman lamented, “What a waste.”

Anti-sodomy laws and “perversion” screenings in the armed forces have long been used to separate out the “sissies” and “sexual degenerates” from the “real men.” In 1982, Reagan signed a formal ban asserting that “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service.” Since the implementation of DADT in 1993 under Democratic president Bill Clinton, over 13,000 service members were discharged and thousands more have endured aggressive harassment, victims of the military culture’s particular brand of macho brutality and piggishness. Continuously vilified as rapists and pariahs, gays in the military are frequently the target of harassment, abuse and beatings.

When DADT was implemented in 1993, we wrote, “Allowing gays into the military with full rights is a simple democratic demand. However even if the formal ban is dropped, gays will still face harassment and violence at the hands of bigoted officers and fellow soldiers in this bigoted society” (“Right-Wing Bigots Mobilize Against Gays in the Military,” WV No. 569, 12 February 1993). This has been the case for women, who were granted permanent status in the military in 1948. Today, women are discriminated against in the armed forces and violence against them remains prevalent—sexual assault is twice as common as in the civilian population.

The systematic oppression of gay and lesbian people in the military—as in society at large—cannot be eliminated under capitalism. Hatred of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people flows from the institution of the family. Under the capitalist system, any sexual arrangement that deviates from the heterosexual, monogamous paradigm is demonized. The patriarchal family acts as the main prop of the oppression of women and regiments and conservatizes each new generation whose future is to become wage slaves and cannon fodder for capitalist exploitation.

In the past, many of those hoping to avoid fighting American wars of depredation relied on what was known as the “gay excuse” to get discharged. (Famously, comedian Lenny Bruce reportedly faked being gay on board the USS Brooklyn during World War II, claiming that he was “attracted physically to a few of the fellows.”) Today, enthusiasm for joining the military is one expression of a socially conservative trend in the gay rights milieu, one that seeks bourgeois “respectability” including by embracing patriotism and marital “family values.” A statement by OutServe, an underground organization of gay and lesbian active-duty soldiers, exemplifies this patriotic trend: “Today’s vote by the Senate is a step forward for America. Today our military is stronger, our nation is stronger” ( Organizers of many gay rights demonstrations, including the International Socialist Organization (ISO), have promoted Dan Choi, a West Point graduate who was discharged after coming out on television. Choi, who often campaigned surrounded by American flags, revoltingly propounds the usefulness of gays to the imperialist war machine.

To swim in this stream, the fake-socialist ISO in many of its articles on DADT disappears the repressive nature of the military, while pushing liberal illusions that a mythical “progressive” wing of the bourgeoisie can be relied on to fight for gay rights. After joyously gushing over Obama’s election in 2008, last October the ISO grumbled that if Obama and the Democrats were “truly the champions of LGBT equality they have so often claimed to be, they would have kept their promises” to end DADT (Socialist Worker online, 18 October 2010). Now that Obama and the late majority-Democratic Congress have agreed to overturn DADT, are they now “truly champions of LGBT equality”? No! The Democratic Party, like all bourgeois parties, defends the system of capitalism, which perpetuates the oppression of women and sexual minorities. The ISO channels outrage over anti-gay prejudice and discrimination into impotent pressure politics by telling leftists, workers and youth that the capitalist ruling class can be held “accountable” to their empty proclamations.

What is urgently needed is a revolutionary workers party, organized in opposition to the capitalist Democrats, that would champion the rights of all the oppressed. You cannot end war or the economic conditions that force working-class and minority youth into the military without overturning the capitalist system in which these are rooted. We stand on the model of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, which not only pulled a country out of the first imperialist world war but also eliminated all laws against homosexuality. As we stated in our article, “Marxism, Militarism and War” (WV No. 857, 28 October 2005), “As Marxists, our goal is not just to get ROTC and military recruiters off campus for now, but to win students to the struggle to organize the social power of the working class for socialist revolution to get rid of imperialist militarism, and the capitalist system it serves, once and for all.”

From Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist-Libya, imperialism, and ALBA By Barry Sheppard

Markin comment:

The question of the hour is the question of the defense of Libya against the international cabal of imperialist military forces arrayed against it. It is no longer about like or dislike Quadaffi (I am using this spelling of his name since I have seen about seven variations in the media). It is no longer like or dislike the rebels. This action is now controlled by the imperialist cabal and we have a side. Against the U.S.-led (formally or not) imperial forces (and their allies). A victory, another victory for world imperialism here just makes our task that much harder. I am placing commentary today as I find it on the Internet from sources that argue along those same lines. The imperialists and their allies have already “spoken” loud and clear.

Defend Libya Against Imperialist Attack! Down With The U.S.-Led Imperialist Coalition! Down With The NATO No- Fly Zone!

Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist March 25, 2011
Barry Sheppard: Libya, imperialism, and ALBA

Filed under: Libya — louisproyect @ 7:45 pm

(Barry Sheppard was a leader of the Socialist Workers Party from the early 1960s until 1998.)

Libya, imperialism, and ALBA

By Barry Sheppard

I am posting this on different lists which have a small amount of overlap. Views on the U.S. military attack on Libya on both lists express a similar range. While I will differ with some of those views, I do not want to get into personal polemics, and will not mention names.

The struggle in Libya cannot be analyzed except in the context of world and especially U.S. imperialism, as I am sure all will agree. But its also cannot be analyzed in terms of Libya itself in conjunction with the role of imperialism there.

What is the context in which Libya must be placed? Or to put the question another way, could the civil war in Libya and the U.S. military assault have happened four months ago? Of course not. Neither were even remote possibilities in anyone’s mind four months ago.

The context is the great Arab uprising which has taken the world and all of us by surprise. The fundamental thrust of this uprising of millions has unfolded from country to country against military dictators and monarchies. The immediate demands everywhere revolve around democracy and an end to arbitrary police rule with its imprisonment, torture and murder. Every one of the Arab countries whose rulers the rebellion is directed against were backed by imperialism, with the partial exception of Syria. In the case of Syria, however, the regime’s relations with imperialism have been cozy enough that it accepted prisoners under “special rendition,” and dutifully tortured them. So even Syria is part of the special relations these countries have with imperialism.

Libya under Gaddafy beginning in the 1990s became part and parcel of this system of imperialist domination. Whatever his anti-imperialism amounted to in his past is just that – the past. He made his deals with European and U.S. imperialism at first through oil and gas, and then sealed the arrangement in 2004 with political cement.

The unfolding of the Arab revolution is thus objectively and increasingly subjectively anti-imperialist. Washington’s system of domination in North Africa and the Mideast has been shaken. Israel’s role in this system has likewise been weakened. The Israeli ruling class feels itself becoming isolated by the rebellion, and its spokespeople are squealing in alarm. Israel is reacting by renewing attacks on Gaza and further settlements in the West Bank, driving to consolidate its rule from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.

Revolutionary socialists must give unconditional support to the Arab uprising. Its immediate goals in all these countries can be summed up as (bourgeois) democracy, and are one hundred percent progressive. Its domestic enemies are for the most part agents of imperialism, and where not directly so, are complicit with it. We support them for this reason also.

By “unconditional” support I mean support not conditioned by our evaluation of the leaders of the rebellions or whether or not we have political agreement with them. That goes for Libya, too. I disagree with comrades who seem to condition their support of the Libyan rebels on more knowledge of what their program is. We must be for the victory of the rebellion in Libya, period.

In all of these rebellions, those fighting to overthrow the dictatorial regimes include different classes and sections of classes. The self-immolation of a Tunisian young man which was the spark for the conflagration reflected the situation of a whole layer of the uprisings – educated young people unable to find employment in the conditions of imperialist exploitation and crony capitalism in the context of the most severe economic crisis of capitalism since the Second World War. This layer is part of the working class. Impoverished peasants driven off their land by imperialist penetration and capitalist development, forced into the cities to look for casual work, are another layer. Peasants remaining on the land suffering increasing hardship are another.

Workers who have been denied their rights to organize to fight for better wages and conditions are another. Artists and intellectuals chaffing under ideological control have joined. Other sectors have come over to the rebellion, including parts of the bourgeoisie who resent crony capitalism and crass corruption that restricts their own development. Parts of the state apparatuses and militaries of the old regimes are jumping ship.

Economic exploitation and massive poverty are clearly motivating forces behind the rebellions. These affect the great majority of the rebellious masses. Their demands will increasingly come to the fore, to the extent that bourgeois democracy is won on the ground. We can expect that to the extent that the rebellions are successful, there will be a growing differentiation between the classes and sections of the classes, which will be expressed in different political formations. Probably we will see Islamist parties. Petty bourgeois revolutionary parties. Parties reflecting the interests of the military and the old regime. Bourgeois democratic parties. And, we can hope, workers’ parties. The interests of the different classes will probably find incomplete and muddled expressions at first.

The degree of capitalist development is different in each of these countries, and has been distorted by imperialism. Thus the objective strengths of the different classes are different from country to country. In Egypt the employed working class has been fighting for some time now, organizing under the dictatorship. It seems to have played a more decisive role there than elsewhere. We should learn more about the class structure in each country. Egypt may come to the fore as the leader because of the weight of its workers.

As this political differentiation develops, we will be able to see which parties and programs we support or partially support in the class struggle. We will also see which political forces we oppose. But right now to demand programmatic clarity of the rebellions to determine our degree of support to them is premature (the conditions have not yet matured) and is in fact reactionary as it plays into the hands of the dictatorships and monarchies.

The battle has been joined between the millions of the Arab masses versus the current regimes. The outcome of this battle, whether victorious everywhere, in most of these countries, in some, or defeated outright will determine whether or not, or to what extent, the struggle will enter a higher phase. The stakes are high, and we should throw our efforts into winning this battle which has already been joined in bloody conflict as our immediate task. Bourgeois democracy has not yet been consolidated anywhere, and that is the first objective.

Part of this immediate task is to oppose imperialism, which is seeking to re-impose as much control as it can in the face of the uprising. Its methods of doing so include the spectrum of supporting repression of the masses on over to trying to coopt them. More exactly, imperialism’s tactics are a combination of both and are being used simultaneously.

In this regard it is useful to go back a few months to the beginning of the uprising. When it began in Tunisia, European and U.S. imperialisms were alarmed, and sought to preserve the President and his regime. France, with close ties to the regime, paid a big political price as the uprising grew.

When it spread to Egypt, a key country for the U.S., the reaction was steadfast support of Mubarak. Secretary of State Clinton lauded the “stability” of his regime. As the rebellion grew, Mubarak attempted extreme violence to quell it, attacking with his political police, a huge apparatus. Hundreds were killed. Washington watched and waited, hoping this would succeed. When it did not, Obama sent his personal envoy to meet with Mubarak, who returned and said on all the TV networks that the U.S. must back Mubarak at all costs. Obama held steadfast, rejecting calls for Mubarak’s ouster. Encouraged, Mubarak went on TV to state he would stay in power, although he wouldn’t run again in the rigged elections. The masses responded with deep anger, and the next day threatened wider attacks on symbols of the regime. Defense Secretary Gates had been in close touch throughout with the regime’s top generals, who that day forced Mubarak out and set up themselves as an interim government with the full backing of the U.S.

Why didn’t the Egyptian generals resort to using the army to crush the masses? Of course, they would have paid a big political price to do so, as would have Washington. But I suspect that an important reason was that the Egyptian army is a conscript army, and the U.S. and Egyptian generals feared it would split if it were used to attack the people. We had already seen many reports of fraternization between the conscript soldiers and the demonstrators. The young soldiers had many ties to the population from which they came, and had always thought they would go back to civilian life among the people.

Throughout the Egyptian events the White House emphasized, even as it began to give lip service to democracy, that the “transition” must be “orderly” and be guided from the top. This remains Washington’s position regarding Egypt today. Indeed, it is Washington’s position everywhere the rebellion is moving forward.

In Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and the Emirates the U.S. continues to give full backing to the monarchies, including their use of repression. Of course it backs repression by its puppet regime in Iraq against mass demonstrations there, which are in fact against the U.S. occupation.

The situation in Libya is different than Egypt. Gaddafy has repressive forces loyal to him outside the army, which he has deliberately kept weak over his years of rule. He was able to muster loyal forces to attack the revolution, which had made important initial gains. He was able to crush the demonstrations first in Tripoli, and then to move against cities to the east which had fallen to the rebels. Washington and Europe stood by and watched as Gaddafy was able to use his overwhelming superiority in fire-power to close in on the seat of the uprising, Benghazi. It was only then that the U.S. and the European powers decided to attack.

All the imperialist powers of the West have been scrambling to try to retain as much control of the region as they can, and have internal debates about what tactics to use. This can explain part of the delay in opening the war against Libya. But we should also note the objective result of Gaddafy’s counter-revolutionary offensive — the infliction of great damage on the uprising, which is in imperialism’s interests.

Gaddafy’s attack on the rebellion emboldened others to follow suit. The regimes in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain began massive crackdowns, with tacit support from the U.S. In Bahrain Defense Secretary Gates met with the king’s men and a few days later forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded to back up a vicious attack on the people, and the White House pointedly refused to condemn either the invasion or the crackdown.

By choosing the moment before Benghazi’s fall to attack, imperialism was able to cloak its military assault with a “humanitarian” veneer. It was compelled to go beyond the “no-fly zone” rhetoric and destroy Gaddafy’s considerable armor and artillery surrounding Benghazi. If it had not done so, it would have lost all political cover for its assault. This was met with considerable relief by the rebels, of course, who had faced outright defeat. We can hope they will be able to utilize this breathing space to obtain arms. They have the right to do so from whatever source, including from the imperialists, to strengthen their hand against the regime but also in the coming struggle in which imperialism will try to impose its will as much as it can on Libya as part of its overall strategy in the region.

Imperialist war against Libya has begun. War sets in motion forces that no side foresees. Right now the U.S. commanders are adamant that they are not backing a renewed offensive by the rebels, and nor will they provide air cover for such an offensive. But this may change if the vagaries of war go in that direction, even if that appears unlikely at present. Even then, imperialism will utilize such support to force its will on the rebellion as much as it can.

As the imperialist bombardment of Gaddafy’s ground forces around Benghazi demonstrated, “no-fly” will not be sufficient to defeat the dictator militarily. His forces continue to fight on in other cities without his air force. Even aerial bombing and massive bombardment might not be sufficient. Military experience demonstrates that boots on the ground will probably be necessary. (Let’s dispense with the clap-trap about “defending civilians.” If massive bombing and bombardment of cities under Gaddafy’s control commences, there will be massive civilian casualties – of course these will be swept under the rug as “collateral damage.”)

It is unrealistic to assume that the present situation will continue for long. That is, that the Libyan air force will be kept grounded and the regime will continue to win back territory with the exception of Benghazi. The view of some that the imperialist attack can be so contained, and that at least Benghazi has been spared, is naïve, however well intentioned.

Once war has been launched, imperialism is forced to see it through, whatever the costs, or face greater setbacks, as we saw in Vietnam.

We could speculate on possible outcomes of the war. The country could be divided. The imperialists may conquer the whole country. Gaddafy could be killed or driven out by his own people and then imperialism will force a “negotiated” settlement toward an “orderly transition” whereby the imperialists retain as much influence as they can. This later possibility seems to be the option Clinton likes today, but that could change before I send this out.

Whatever the outcome, imperialist aims are to contain the Arab rebellion including in Libya within imperialist control as far as this is possible. We must be opposed to the imperialist war without any qualifications. It is aimed at weakening the Arab revolt.

What about the position taken by Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) countries? It should be noted that in general, except in the case of Libya, they have taken the side of the Arab masses. But they have done so in a lukewarm, not very enthusiastic, way. They should have been in the forefront of world opinion in vocal support of the uprising against the imperialist puppet and imperialist-complicit regimes. As a pole of anti-imperialism in Latin America it was in their interests to do so. This failure of emphasis is serious and makes it more difficult for international anti-imperialist forces to defend them.

Concerning Libya, the ALBA countries have fared worse. They have warned against the danger of the imperialist war against Libya, and to this extent we are on the same side. But on the question of the Libyan rebellion and Gaddafy we are not on the same side. Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua has come out openly in defense of Gaddafy’s regime. This counter-revolutionary stance undercuts his presidency in Nicaragua and opens him and Nicaragua to imperialist charges (false to be sure) that his regime is like Gaddafy’s.

Fidel Castro issued a statement shortly before the imperialist war started that contained a thoughtful review of Gaddafy’s career from his leading the overthrow of the imperialist-imposed king (like Nassar did in Egypt), initial steps taken to improve the lot of the Libyan people, his anti-communism, on up to his making peace with imperialism. One could add to this review, but Castro’s error concerns his position on the present rebellion. Castro deplored the killing of innocents and the violence, but left the impression that “both sides” were to blame in blatant contradiction to the facts. He called for “peace” and “negotiations” between the revolution and Gaddafy’s regime. The rebels, if defeated, may be forced into such negotiations as part of their surrender, but that is a different story, one imperialism may adopt. Hugo Chavez had basically the same line. This position boils down to telling the rebels to give up, and maintain the current regime with some reforms. By doing so, Castro and Chavez have placed themselves against the sentiments of the Arab masses, undercut any positive role they might have played in helping push forward the interests of the workers and exploited as the class struggle deepens in the Arab countries, and made it easier for imperialism to attack them and the process of the Bolivarian revolution. Already, CNN has posted pictures of Chavez hugging Gaddafy.

I leave aside Bolivia, Ecuador and the Caribbean countries in ALBA, because I haven’t seen what their positions are.

In my opinion, the error of Ortega and to a lesser extent Castro and Chavez lies in their not being able to make a distinction between state to state relations and political support. Libya has made generous trade and other economic relations with the ALBA countries. The ALBA countries were correct to make such agreements, which strengthened them against imperialist domination. But translating these positive economic relations into political support or quasi-political support against a people’s revolution is wrong and self-defeating.

It is obvious that I completely disagree with those on these lists who support Ortega, Castro or Chavez on this question. I also disagree with those who have given partial credence to these erroneous positions, and equivocate to one degree or another on support to the Libyan rebellion as a result.

One point that Chavez raises is that the U.S. or European imperialists want to “steal” Libya’s oil. This confusion is reflected in statements by others who oppose the imperialist invasion while supporting the rebellion. Steal the oil from whom? British Petroleum, Exxon-Mobile, the Italian oil and gas cartel and similar outfits who Gaddafy has made solid agreements with? Who have been pumping Libyan oil and gas for over a decade? Gaddafy even has a gas pipeline going directly under the Mediterranean to Italy. To be sure, they have been giving the Gaddafy family and other crony capitalists tens of billions as their cut, but they have been quite happy with the arrangement. They are not invading to de-nationalize Libyan oil by overthrowing Gaddafy. He has proven to them that he is willing to accept them as partners in any new oil or gas fields. There is a danger to imperialist interests if the rebellion wins. The triumphant masses may want to do what Venezuela did, renegotiate the terms with the imperialists and use the oil and gas proceeds to better themselves, something capitalists everywhere hate as they do all social expenditures not in their direct interests.

These errors of the ALBA countries must not let us lower our guard in defending them against imperialism.

In defense of the Great Arab Uprising!

No to all forms of imperialist intervention!

Fight the imperialist war!

From The Socialist Alternative Website-Libya: No to Western Military Intervention — Victory to the Libyan Revolution—Build an Independent Movement of Workers and Youth!

Markin comment:

The question of the hour is the question of the defense of Libya against the international cabal of imperialist military forces arrayed against it. It is no longer about like or dislike Quadaffi (I am using this spelling of his name since I have seen about seven variations in the media). It is no longer like or dislike the rebels. This action is now controlled by the imperialist cabal and we have a side. Against the U.S.-led (formally or not) imperial forces (and their allies). A victory, another victory for world imperialism here just makes our task that much harder. I am placing commentary today as I find it on the Internet from sources that argue along those same lines. The imperialists and their allies have already “spoken” loud and clear.

Defend Libya Against Imperialist Attack! Down With The U.S.-Led Imperialist Coalition! Down With The NATO No- Fly Zone!

Libya: No to Western Military Intervention — Victory to the Libyan Revolution—Build an Independent Movement of Workers and Youth!
E-Mail This

Mar 19, 2011
By Robert Bechert

The UN Security Council’s majority decision to enact a militarily-imposed ‘no-fly-zone’ against Libya, while greeted with joy on the streets of Benghazi and Tobruk, is in no way intended to defend the Libyan revolution. Revolutionaries in Libya may think that this decision will help them, but they are mistaken. Naked economic and political calculations lay behind the imperialist powers’ decision. It is not a lifeline that could ‘save’ the revolution, in the real sense of the word, against Gaddafi. Major imperialist powers decided that they wanted now to exploit the revolution and try to replace Gaddafi with a more reliable regime. However the Libyan foreign minster’s announcement of an immediate ceasefire has complicated imperialism’s position.

Faced with a rapid eastwards advance of Gaddafi’s forces, many in eastern Libya seized hold of the idea of a no-fly-zone to help stem this tide, but this is not the way to defend and extend the revolution. Unfortunately, the revolution’s initial drive towards the west, where two-thirds of Libyans live, was not based on a movement, built upon popular, democratic committees that could offer a clear programme to win support from the masses and the rank and file soldiers, while waging a revolutionary war. This gave Gaddafi an opportunity to regroup.

The growing support for a no-fly-zone was a reversal of the sentiment expressed in the English language posters put up in Benghazi, in February, declaring: “No To Foreign Intervention – Libyans Can Do It By Themselves”. This followed the wonderful examples of Tunisia and Egypt, where sustained mass action completely undermined totalitarian regimes. The Libyan masses were confident that their momentum would secure victory. But Gaddafi was able to retain a grip in Tripoli. This, at least, relative stabilisation of the regime and its counter-offensive led to a change in attitude towards foreign intervention that allowed the largely pro-Western leadership of the rebel ’Interim Transitional National Council’ to overcome youth opposition to asking the West for aid.

However, despite the Gaddafi regime’s blood-curdling words, it is not at all certain that its relatively small forces could have launched an all-out assault on Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, with around a million living in its environs. A mass defence of the city would have blunted the attack of Gaddafi’s relatively small forces. Now, if the ceasefire holds and Gaddafi remains in power in Tripoli, a de-facto breakup of the country could occur, returning to something like the separate entities that existed before Italy first created Libya after 1912 and which Britain recreated in the late 1940s.

Fighters in Benghazi

Whatever the immediate effect the ‘no fly zone’, any trust placed in either the UN or the imperialist powers threatens to undermine all the genuine hopes and aspirations of the revolution that began last month. This is because the powers that have imposed threatened military action are no friends of the Libyan masses. Until recently, they were quite happy to deal with, and pander to, the murderous Gaddafi ruling clique, to maintain a ‘partnership’, especially concerning Libya’s oil and gas industries. Indeed, the day after the UN took its decision, the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal lamented that “the close partnership between the Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s intelligence service and the CIA has been severed” (18 March, 2011). The Journal reported “according to a senior US official” the previous ‘partnership’ was “especially productive”.

Now, having lost former dictatorial allies Mubarak, in Egypt, and Ben Ali, in Tunisia, imperialism is trying to take advantage of the popular uprising in Libya to both refurbish its “democratic” image and to help install a more “reliable” regime, or at least a part of Libya. As before, North Africa and the Middle East, with its oil and strategic location, are of tremendous importance to the imperialist powers.

This reveals the absolute hypocrisy of the main imperialist powers, which have shamelessly supported repressive dictatorial regimes throughout the Middle East for decades. At the very same time that they were deciding the No Fly Zone, the same powers did absolutely nothing to prevent Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies’ increasingly brutal suppression of the majority of the Bahraini population and their attempt to ferment sectarianism. Within 12 hours of the UN decision, the armed forces another regional ally, Yemeni, ally shot dead at least 39 protesters in the capital city, Sanaa. The UN was only able to take its decision on Libya because the Arab League supported a no fly zone, but of course these mainly reactionary rulers say nothing about repression in Bahrain, Yemen or other Arab countries.

Gaddafi and Sarkozy in the past

Cameron and Sarkozy’s “concern” for Libya is at least partly motivated by domestic unpopularity and the hope that a foreign success will strengthen their standing. Cameron clearly hopes for a boost similar to that which Thatcher enjoyed after her victory in the 1983 Falklands war. But Thatcher achieved a quick military victory - the no fly zone operation will not will produce a similar military win. Sarkozy, after the disaster of his Tunisia policy that led to the resignation of the French Foreign Minister, needs a “success” to lift his low poll ratings as next year’s Presidential election looms closer.

Gaddafi zig-zags
Despite the imperialist powers’ recent rapprochement with Gaddafi, the tyrant always remained an unreliable ally. Throughout his nearly 42 years in power, Gaddafi zig-zagged in policy, sometimes violently. In 1971, he helped the Sudanese dictator, Nimeiry, crush a left coup that took place in reaction to the earlier suppression of the left, including the banning of the one-million member Sudanese communist party. Six years later, Gaddafi proclaimed a "people’s revolution" and changed the country’s official name from the Libyan Arab Republic to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah. Despite the name change and the formation of so-called “revolutionary committees”, this was not genuine democratic socialism or a move towards it. The Libyan working people and youth were not running their country. Gaddafi remained in control. This was underlined by the increasingly prominent role that many of his children played in the regime.

Nevertheless, since 1969, on the basis of a large oil income and a small population, there was a big improvement in most Libyans’ lives, especially in education and health, which at least partly explains why Gaddafi still has some basis of support amongst the population. Even while there is growing opposition to the Gaddafi clique, especially amongst Libya’s overwhelmingly young and educated population, there is also fear about who might replace him and opposition to anything that smells of foreign rule. The revolutionaries’ widespread use of the old ruling monarchy’s flag was bound to alienate those who do not want to return to the past and was used by Gaddafi to justify his rule. Flying the old flag also risked alienating Libyans in the west of the country because the former king came from the east and had no historic roots in the area around Tripoli.

But these factors are not a complete explanation as to why Gaddafi was able, at least temporally, to stabilise his position. While there was a popular uprising in eastern Libya, Gaddafi was able to maintain his position in the west, where two-thirds of the population live, despite large protests in Tripoli and uprisings in Misrata, Zuwarah and a few other areas.

Role of the working class
Unlike in Egypt and Tunisia, the working class in Libya has not, so far, begun to play an independent role in the revolution. Furthermore, many workers in Libya are migrants who have fled the country in recent weeks.

The absence of a national focal point which, for example, the Tunisian UGTT trade union federation provided (despite its pro-Ben Ali national leadership), complicated the situation in Libya. The huge revolutionary enthusiasm of the population has not, so far, been given an organised expression. The largely self-appointed ‘National Council’ that emerged in Benghazi is a combination of elements from the old regime and more pro-imperialist elements. For example, the Council’s foreign spokesman, Mahmoud Jibril, the former head of Gaddafi’s National Economic Development Board, was described by the US Ambassador, in November 2009, as a “serious interlocutor who ‘gets’ the US perspective”.

It is easy for Gaddafi to present these people as a threat to Libyan living standards and agents of foreign powers. At the same time, this propaganda will have only a limited effect, as population’s living standards worsening and unemployment increased (standing at 10%) since from the end of the 1980s oil boom and the start of privatisation back in 2003.

Gaddafi’s use of the threat of imperialist intervention did gather some support and if the country becomes divided may gain more. How long this can sustain Gaddafi is another question. In addition to anti-imperialist rhetoric, Gaddafi made concessions to maintain support. Each family has been given the equivalent of $450. Some public sector workers have been given 150% wage increases and taxes and customs duties on food have been abolished. But these steps do not answer the demands for freedom or end the growing frustration of Libya’s youthful population, with an average age of 24, over the regime’s corruption and suffocating grip.

Around the world, millions of people follow, and are inspired by, the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East. These events inspired protests against the effects of the continuing capitalist crisis in many countries. Some of those welcoming the revolutionary events in the region may support the UN’s ‘no fly zone’ but socialists argue that it is primarily made in the interests of the imperialist powers – the same powers that no nothing substantially to restrain the repressive actions of Gulf states against mass protests in their countries.

But what then can be done internationally to genuinely help the Libyan revolution? First of all, trade unions should block the export of Libyan oil and gas. Secondly, bank workers should organise the freezing of all the Gaddafi regime’s financial assets.

The ‘no fly zone’ will not automatically lead to the overthrow of Gaddafi, in fact, like Saddam Hussein, the Libyan leader could entrench his position for a time in those parts of the country he controls. As the experience of Egypt and Tunisia shows, the key to overthrow dictatorships is the movement of the working masses and youth.

A revolutionary programme
Thus the fate of the revolution will be decided inside Libya itself. Its victory requires a programme that can cut across tribal and regional divisions and unite the mass of the population against the Gaddafi clique and for a struggle for a better future.

A programme for the Libyan revolution that would genuinely benefit the mass of the population would be based on winning and defending real democratic rights; an end to corruption and privilege; the safeguarding and further development of the social gains made since the discovery of oil; opposition to any form of re-colonisation and for a democratically-controlled, publicly-owned, economic plan to use the country’s resources for the future benefit of the mass of people.

The creation of an independent movement of Libyan workers, poor and youth that could implement such a real revolutionary transformation of the country, is the only way to thwart the imperialists’ plans, end dictatorship and to transform the lives of the people.

From The Internationalist Group Website-Defend Libya Against Imperialist Attack!-Defeat U.S./U.N./NATO Assault!

Markin comment:

The question of the hour is the question of the defense of Libya against the international cabal of imperialist military forces arrayed against it. It is no longer about like or dislike Quadaffi (I am using this spelling of his name since I have seen about seven variations in the media). It is no longer like or dislike the rebels. This action is now controlled by the imperialist cabal and we have a side. Against the U.S.-led (formally or not) imperial forces (and their allies). A victory, another victory for world imperialism here just makes our task that much harder. I am placing commentary today as I find it on the Internet from sources that argue along those same lines. The imperialists and their allies have already “spoken” loud and clear.

Defend Libya Against Imperialist Attack! Down With The U.S.-Led Imperialist Coalition! Down With The NATO No- Fly Zone!


Defend Libya Against Imperialist Attack!
Defeat U.S./U.N./NATO Assault!

Defeat the Monarchist/Islamist Opposition, Cat’s Paw for the U.S.!
For Workers Revolution Against Qaddafi Police State!

MARCH 18 – Last night the United Nations Security Council voted by 10-0 (with Russia, China, Germany, Brazil and India abstaining) to launch military action against Libya in the guise of “protecting civilians.” After weeks of the Western media churning out war propaganda and liberals clamoring for “humanitarian” intervention, the U.N. issued a declaration of imperialist war. The alleged “humanitarian” concerns are the same kind of smokescreen used to justify the U.S./NATO attack on Yugoslavia in 1995 and 1999, as well as the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, supposedly (among other pretexts) to defend the Kurds and Shiites. The “no fly zone” and air strikes to bomb Libyan forces authorized by the Security Council resolution represent a major shift from what was a civil war between the brutal bourgeois Qaddafi regime in Tripoli and a monarchist/Islamist/pro-imperialist opposition in Benghazi. Now, in the face of the U.N. action and giving no political support to Qaddafi, revolutionaries and all opponents of imperialism are duty-bound to defend Libya while calling for the defeat of the U.S./U.N./NATO attackers.

Libya, a former Italian colony and then British protectorate, is a semi-colonial country under attack. Imperialist forces covet it for geostrategic reasons – vast high-quality oil deposits and key Mediterranean/African location – and wish to get rid of Muammar Qaddafi, with whom U.S. rulers have had an on-again, off-again feud for decades. Recently the Libyan leader had been cooperating with the U.S. “war on terror” against Islamists who also threatened his rule. But with popular uprisings and unrest sweeping the Near East and North Africa, Qaddafi’s CIA-backed opponents evidently figured this was a good opportunity to get rid of the erratic strongman who has sometimes been a thorn in Washington’s side. The result is the latest case of “humanitarian” imperialist aggression. Recall how the U.S. used the Haitian earthquake of January 2010 to occupy the hard-hit Caribbean island country. For poor and working people, imperialist occupation is always a greater evil. We don’t call on the U.S., U.N. and NATO to “aid the people” – they don’t and won’t – we demand they get the hell out, and stay out!

The situation in Libya is notably different from that in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and elsewhere in the Near East where there have been mass plebeian uprisings for democratic rights against U.S.-backed dictatorships. In Libya, the initial protests were called by exile opposition groups tied to the CIA. In the ensuing civil war pitting Qaddafi’s Islamic-populist regime against a motley crew of monarchist, Islamist and pro-imperialist bourgeois forces along with some of Qaddafi’s own bloodiest (now former) henchmen, proletarian revolutionaries had no side. But with the U.N. vote, the rebels are now cat’s paws of imperialist forces, and we call for their defeat and for defense of Libya. At the same time, we continue to be for a revolution of the Libyan working people and oppressed groups (such as the Berbers) to bring down Qaddafi, denouncing not only his police-state repression but also his repeated collaboration with U.S. (and Italian and French) imperialism whenever he has been given a chance.

The fight against the imperialist assault on Libya is not limited to the North African country. Egyptian workers should oppose the imperialist invasion by blocking U.S. warships from transiting the Suez Canal. Tunisian workers should stop NATO warships from docking. In Bahrain, instead of appealing to the U.S. for aid, as protesters have been doing, any genuinely democratic overturn would not only bring down the U.S.-allied Sunni monarchy which has long oppressed the overwhelmingly Shiite population, but would also drive out the U.S. naval and air bases which are the linchpin for the imperialists’ operations in the Arab/Persian Gulf, as part of international workers revolution from the oil fields of eastern Arabia to the factories of Iran.

Much of the social-democratic left in the United States and internationally (including the International Socialist Organization and Socialist Alternative in the U.S., the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Appeal in Britain and their satellites) have been cheerleading for a supposed Libyan “revolution,” taking up the rhetoric of U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton and more generally supporting the Libyan bourgeois opposition. Now they are in a pretty pickle as the U.S. and UK governments (with the support of the Labour Party “opposition”) launch military action supposedly aiding these same rebels. Other reformist leftists of a Stalinoid bent (such as Workers World Party and the Party for Socialism and Liberation) have historically hailed Qaddafi, making the Libyan leader out to be some kind of anti-imperialist – forcing them into a mealy-mouthed position due to Qaddafi’s more recent alliance with Washington.

While the social democrats sport the Libyan monarchist red-black-and-green with a crescent and star in support of the rebels fighting for a pro-imperialist bankers’ and Islamists’ government, and the fornlorn Qaddafi apologists of yesteryear halfheartedly raise the green flag of Islamic populism (and crony capitalism), the communists of League for the Fourth International fight under the red flag to smash imperialism through international socialist revolution. ■

From The League For A Revolutionary Party Website-Why We Should Oppose the Imperialist War on Libya

Markin comment:

The question of the hour is the question of the defense of Libya against the international cabal of imperialist military forces arrayed against it. It is no longer about like or dislike Quadaffi (I am using this spelling of his name since I have seen about seven variations in the media). It is no longer like or dislike the rebels. This action is now controlled by the imperialist cabal and we have a side. Against the U.S.-led (formally or not) imperial forces (and their allies). A victory, another victory for world imperialism here just makes our task that much harder. I am placing commentary today as I find it on the Internet from sources that argue along those same lines. The imperialists and their allies have already “spoken” loud and clear.

Defend Libya Against Imperialist Attack! Down With The U.S.-Led Imperialist Coalition! Down With The NATO No- Fly Zone!

Why We Should Oppose the Imperialist War on Libya
by Steven Argue
Email: steveargue2 (nospam) (verified) 26 Mar 2011
[BBC Photo, March 22 Protest Against the Imperialist Attack on Libya, Philippines]
Click on image for a larger version

US / UN / NATO Hands off Libya!

End US Support for Dictatorships Across the Middle East and North Africa!

U.S. Out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan!

Why We Should Oppose the Imperialist War on Libya

By Steven Argue

The Obama administration, already waging wars in the Middle East killing many civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, has launched yet another war on Libya. Cruise missiles and bombs from the U.S., Britain, and France have destroyed installations and, according to the Libyan press, caused many civilian deaths. The U.S. military has denied these deaths, but they have often made similar denials in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan before being proven wrong.

Without evidence, the corporate media of the United States has dutifully reported claims made by rebels that Gaddafi’s military used its jets to purposely bomb civilians. Yet, defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted on March 2nd that “we’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever” of those accounts. We are, after all, dealing with the same corporate media that presented the American people with Bush’s lies of “weapons of mass destruction” to sell another war to the American people.

To be sure, Gaddafi’s regime has been brutal in dealing with protesters, but this in no way differentiates Gaddafi’s government from numerous U.S. backed client regimes in the region. This includes the U.S. puppet regime in Iraq that on February 25, 2011 opened fire on a protest for jobs and services and an end to corruption. Gunfire from Iraqi forces killed 29 people. Three hundred people were arrested and many were beaten, including journalists who also suffered mock executions before being released. Yet, an American military spokesman responded to those crimes saying the response of Iraqi forces was “professional and restrained.”

Participating in the U.S. led attacks against Libya are the U.K., France, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Along with sending war planes for the U.S. led attack on Libya, the United Arab Emirates has also sent troops into Bahrain as part of military operations that have brutally attacked Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement. The protests are against the U.S. backed dictatorship of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Those attacks have killed an unknown number of people and doctors have been arrested to prevent them from revealing casualties. Despite the brutal repression in Bahrain by the U.S. sponsored states of Bahrain, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, renewed protests are taking place in Bahrain as of this writing on March 25th.

While client regimes of the United States commit mass murder of civilian protesters in Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, and elsewhere, with U.S. supplied weapons, we are told that the U.S. led military attacks on Libya are to protect the lives of civilians.

Henri Guaino, one of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's closest aides, said March 21st that western air strikes against Libya were likely to last "a while yet".

French imperialism has been active in the region of North Africa for many years, including by supporting dictatorships in Niger friendly to French uranium mining companies that allow French mining interests to profit from Niger’s rich uranium mines at the expense of the environment, harsh exploitation of workers, and giving little in return to Niger for the country’s resource. Workers in these mines are not informed of the risks, not given basic protections, and not given treatment as they develop lung cancer. And despite Niger's rich uranium mines, the UN Development Program’s 2006 Human Development Index ranked Niger as the poorest country in the world. Sixty percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day, life expectancy is only to 45-years old, and adult illiteracy is 71%.

Despite their crocodile tears for the people of Libya, the French capitalists, as well as the British, and American ones participating in this war, have their eyes on better profiting from Libyan oil through their stated desire to overthrow the regime of Maommar Gaddafi. In addition, they are seeking to eliminate an example of where an anti-imperialist revolution took control of the oil wealth of their country to pay for things like subsidized food, fuel, and transportation, as well as free healthcare, housing, and education. Programs that raised life expectancy to 74 years where it was only 50 years under the U.S. backed dictatorship of King Idris, and raised literacy from 20% under King Idris to present figures under Gaddafi of 88.4% literacy for adults 15 and over and 99.8% literacy for youth between 15 and 24 years of age.

Despite social democratic mythology around social programs in France, programs that were in reality won through the militant struggles of the French working class, France remains both a capitalist country and an imperialist country. French workers have won a better standard of living than the American working class, but those gains are now more and more on the chopping block due to the world capitalist crisis. In France, as in the U.S., the capitalists are trying to make sure that it is workers who pay for the economic crisis rather than the capitalists.

As we face austerity around the world, millions of working class dollars, taken through taxes, are being squandered by waging war on Libya. The United States has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the war on Libya. Each of the Tomahawk missiles fired cost between 1.5 and 1 million dollars. So far at least 124 Tomahawk missiles have been fired. Fuel for war planes also costs about $10,000 dollars per hour. The U.S. portion of the war against Libya will cost billions of dollars. The bill for France and Britain will also be high. Like the billions the United States has already spent in its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, this will not help the American working class, but it will line the pockets of the military contractors at tax-payer’s expense. One could point out how many school teachers this money could keep employed, how many lives could be saved by providing healthcare, how many jobs could be provided by rebuilding crumbling infrastructure and building a green economy, or how much needed housing this money could provide, but our capitalist government has no intention of increasing the money spent on those things anyway.

This U.S. led intervention in Libya, taking a particular side in the civil war there, makes Libya the seventh country (at least) where U.S. troops are presently directly participating in war. Those countries are Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, and Iraq as well as Colombia where U.S. troops and military aid are propping up the Colombian death squad government.

In addition to military attacks, the United States and Europe have carried out the largest seizure of assets in history against Libya and are carrying out full scale sanctions on all industrial and consumer goods as well as financial transactions. Similar sanctions were carried out by the United States against Iraq in the 1990s killing 1.5 million Iraqis, most of them children.

Taking hypocrisy to its usual heights, the U.S. government is carrying out the military and economic attacks on Libya in the name of “protecting the lives of civilians”. To be sure the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi has massacred civilians in their attempts to put down an uprising against Gaddafi’s rule. This, however, does not differentiate Gaddafi’s behavior in any way from U.S. backed dictators in the region like those in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, and the recently overthrown dictatorships of Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Egypt and Tunisia. Nor does it differentiate Libya from Israel where U.S. military aid is used to murder protesters and Palestinian civilians. On top of that, the killing of civilians does not differentiate Gaddafi’s activities from those of Mr. Obama in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

This is, after all, the same U.S. government whose troops have been slaughtering civilians, men, women, children, and journalists in Iraq and Afghanistan with impunity to defend the corrupt, murderous, and repressive governments that the U.S. has installed in those countries.

As much of the left already knew, and as Wikileaks documents confirmed, the war crimes of U.S. imperialism in Iraq and Afghanistan are extensive. Released by Wikileaks were 90,000 documents on the war in Afghanistan and 350,000 on the war in Iraq as well as helicopter gunship video that shows U.S. troops nonchalantly mowing down two journalists, first aid respondents, and children with machine gun fire. The perpetrators of these crimes are not being punished, even with video proof of the cold blooded murders revealed. Instead, the military brass are prosecuting Bradley Manning for allegedly releasing the video.

Also included in these documents are details of executions at U.S. checkpoints, the torture of detainees, and the crimes of U.S. “Task Force 373”, a team of professional assassins responsible for numerous massacres in Afghanistan. These atrocities started under Bush and have continued, without pause, under Barrack Obama.

In addition to the brutal invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, in the last decade the U.S. government overthrew the democratically elected government of Haiti in 2004 through direct military intervention installing a government more friendly to the starvation wages paid by U.S. corporations, overthrew the democratically elected government of Honduras in 2009 installing a death squad regime (Obama’s coup), and carried out a coup against the democratically elected government of Venezuela in 2002 that was defeated through a popular uprising of the working class that split in the military. .

Now the U.S. government, along with France, Britain, and any client Arab regime they can drag along behind them, are attempting to orchestrate “regime change” in yet another country. In their crosshairs is the regime of Col. Muammar Gaddafi and what is left of the revolutionary changes he brought to Libya with the 1969 overthrow of the U.S.-backed monarch King Idris who ruled Libya from 1951 to 1969.

It was largely due to Gaddafi’s 1969 revolution that the OPEC oil embargo happened. Gaddafi’s leadership played a critical role in securing oil money from the United States, Europe, and Japan for the poor countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Yet, it was only Iraq and Libya who reinvested that money back into programs that benefited their people. The U.S. backed Saudi Arabian monarchy and the Shah of Iran, on the other hand, invested in the west and conspired to rob the majority of people of their resources in the interests of a few elite in their countries and in the interests of imperialist owned oil companies.

Iraq is already suffering for their “crime” of spending oil money on the people, money that the imperialist oil companies see as squandered potential profit. For spending that money on people’s needs like education and healthcare their country is now occupied, over a million people are dead as a result of the imperialist invasion, millions have been made refugees, and much of their economy has been destroyed through privatization and other “free trade” measures.

In Libya, under the U.S. backed dictatorship of King Idris, over 80 percent of the population of Libya could not read or write. With the anti-imperialist Gaddafi revolution and the socialization of much of the oil industry, illiteracy was dramatically reduced by the early 1970s. During this time the Libyan government used the country’s vast oil resources to carry out profound economic and social development, including big improvements in nutrition, healthcare, education, and a massive water project. Life expectancy in Libya was 74 years by 2008 while it was only 50.5 years under the U.S. backed King Idris in 1968.

In comparison, another oil rich country in Africa that did not have an anti-imperialist semi-socialist revolution as Libya did, Nigeria, continues to have a life expectancy of 46.9 years today. In Nigeria the foreign oil companies Shell Oil, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Total, Agip, and Addax Petroleum make massive profits from Nigerian oil without any oil money returning to meet the needs of the Nigerian people. And instead of the U.S. government militarily intervening against the brutally repressive dictatorships that have ruled Nigeria, governments that have even executed environmentalists for complaining about the activities of the oil companies, the U.S. sends these Nigerian governments military aid.

Despite the gains made in the Libyan revolution, Libya has never been a socialist country. Economically Gaddafi’s semi-socialist reforms like the nationalizations of foreign owned oil companies and banks did benefit the working class, but Gaddafi also allowed for a problematic private capitalist economy and capitalist class to continue to exploit the working class. Even worse, some of the semi-socialist gains of the 1969 revolution are being dismantled by Gaddafi himself through IMF-dictated austerity programs and privatization with neo-liberal reforms like privatization lining the pockets of foreign capitalists. Still, much of the oil sector is under state control and public funds still pay for things like subsidized food, fuel, and transportation, as well as free healthcare, housing, and education.

Besides never overthrowing capitalism, Gaddafi’s system has also never had another important ingredient for building a truly socialist society. That ingredient is workers’ democracy. As in Stalinist societies as well as under Gaddafi’s bourgeois regime, without the ability of the working class to freely express ideas and vote on them, the working class does not have power. There has been no such thing as free expression under Gaddafi’s rule. Instead, Gaddafi carried out what he called a “cultural revolution” in 1973 where Gaddafi openly proclaimed, “We must purge all the sick people who talk of Communism, atheism, who make propaganda for the Western countries and advocate capitalism. We shall put them in prison.” Amnesty International reported on Marxists, Trotskyists, and members of Islamic Liberation being rounded up and jailed, many of them executed. In addition, books that went against Gaddafi’s “cultural revolution” were burned.

Despite major problems, women’s rights have advanced under Gaddafi, with women, for the most part, officially granted equal economic, social, and political rights. Where there was once a lot of discrimination in education, Libyan girls today have good educational opportunities and their illiteracy level is near zero. Still, Libyan women have not made the advances for women’s rights made in Soviet Central Asia, China, or even in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. A truly socialist society would not mistreat victims of rape, as Libya does, by prosecuting them on charges of fornication and adultery. Women’s participation in the economy in the 1970s was 6% compared to 22% participation today. Of course this is far better than under the U.S. imposed Mujahideen / Taliban counterrevolution of Afghanistan where women were completely stripped of their rights due to U.S. intervention. It is also much better than the U.S. backed Saudi Arabian dictatorship where women are not even allowed to do things like control their own funds, drive, or walk in public without a male escort. Life for Libyan women has improved since the overthrow of the U.S. backed King Idris, but obviously being better than what U.S. imperialism imposes on women is a pretty low standard.

Along with IMF austerity and privatization, the Gaddafi dictatorship has moved much closer to U.S. imperialism by officially supporting the so-called U.S. “war on terror”. In addition, in the 1990s, Gaddafi expelled Palestinians from Libyan territory and black African immigrants face discrimination in Libya as well.

While Gaddafi has done much to cozy up to U.S. imperialism, those changes have not been enough for the U.S. imperialists who demand a world of complete puppets like the Mubarak dictatorship of Egypt and unhindered access to oil wealth for profit, as they have in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. The extent to which Washington has moved against the Gaddafi regime means they have found someone better to do the job of oppressing and exploiting the Libyan people.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has recognized the rebel government of the Transitional National Council (TNC) based in Benghazi. That recognition came after meeting with both Mahmood Jibril, a former member of the Gadaffi regime and now Prime Minister of the Transitional National Council’s government, and senior TNC representative Ali al Issawi, who was Gaddafi’s economy minister who headed up the country’s privatization and austerity programs.

On March 9, 2011 Chairman of the TNC and former Minister of Justice under Gaddafi’s regime, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, formally called for the “no fly zone” over Libya, in effect calling for imperialist war against Libya. These calls have been coupled with TNC calls for air-strikes against forces of the Libyan government clearly making the TNC a cat’s paw for the current imperialist attacks on Libya. In addition to calling in foreign intervention, the rebels have also harassed immigrant workers and killed at least 100.

The rebel government offers no real alternative for Libya’s plebian masses. Instead of fighting against privatization and foreign imperialist control, rebel government representatives Jalil, Issawi, and Jibril represent the dismantling of the gains of the 1969 revolution through imperialist intervention and the privatization of the Libyan economy for the gain of imperialist corporations. They have given a direct invitation for military intervention in a country that suffered so much under imperialist control during the time of King Idris (1951-1969). And have in fact raised the flag of King Idris as their official flag.

The one potential redeeming quality one could find in the program of the TNC is their assurance that they are fighting for democracy. But with so much backing from imperialist countries like the United States, we should always ask, “Democracy for whom and for what purpose?” That is the same question that the imperialists always ask before they decide to either support a democracy or to overthrow it. The only form of “democracy” the U.S. government ever supports is “democracy” where it is the wealthy who rule. “Democratic” or not, if the TNC was not purely counter-revolutionary in terms of its planned use of oil money, the United States would not be supporting it. Whether democratic or a dictatorship, countries that spend their oil wealth on the people have always been seen as enemies by U.S. imperialism. Two examples of U.S. interventions against such democracies can be seen with Iran (1953) and Venezuela (2002).

In 1953 the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown in a CIA orchestrated coup. The reason? Mosaddegh had nationalized Iranian oil wells that had been under the control of British Petroleum. That CIA orchestrated coup installed the brutal capitalist dictatorship of the Shah of Iran. With U.S. backing the Shah’s brutal totalitarian regime ruled for quarter of a century torturing and killing leftists and union leaders while allowing western oil companies to profit from Iranian oil and leaving nothing to the Iranian people.

Likewise, the U.S. government was involved the 2002 one day overthrow of Hugo Chavez. Chavez, opposed to the privatization of Venezuelan oil, was instead spending oil money on education and healthcare while his policies were also reducing unemployment and poverty. A U.S. backed coup put privatization advocate Pedro Carmona in power. Immediately after taking power Carmona’s coup also dissolved the elected National Assembly. Democracy was, of course, not the goal of U.S. imperialists who see Chavez as a hindrance to U.S. corporate interests in South America.

Showing her usual hypocrisy, representative of U.S. imperialism Hilary Clinton stated that “Gaddafi doesn’t approve of democracy.” But the election of Obama didn’t end the never ending U.S. imperialist war against democracies that help the poor and working class. In fact, the Obama administration played a central role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Honduras, replacing it with a death squad government that, among other things, murders union leaders and journalists. The “crimes” of the elected Zelaya government Obama helped overthrow? Zelaya raised the minimum wage and had friendly relations with the Chavez government of Venezuela.

Likewise, the U.S. continues under the Obama regime to prop up the worst dictatorships in the world, including the worst dictatorship in the world, the Saudi Arabian monarchy. Support for that monarchy includes a recent $60 billion dollar arms deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. It also includes silence from the U.S. government as the Saudi Arabian monarchy guns down protesters in the streets and sends troops into Bahrain to help put down the popular rebellion taking place there. Similar silence was heard when the U.S. backed dictatorship in Yemen gunned down pro-democracy protesters.

In addition, the U.S. also provides Israel with three billion dollars in military aid every year that has been used repeatedly to slaughter civilians. And in neighboring Egypt, the U.S. propped up the repressive torture regime of Mubarak with 1.3 billion dollars in military aid every year, aid that continues due to the fact that no real revolution has occurred in Egypt and the same old repressive military remains in power. At the same time, continued struggles by the Egyptian and Tunisian working classes and the building of revolutionary parties there could lead to real revolutionary change. Revolutionary change in Libya, as in Egypt and Tunisia, will not be led by forces in alliance with U.S. imperialism.

The regressive counter-revolutionary forces of the Transitional National Council (TNC) are now the cat’s paw of an imperialist war against Libya. Therefore Liberation News opposes absurd slogans like Socialist Action’s "Victory to the Workers' and Peasants' Uprising Against Qaddafi!" (March 6, 2011). Instead, Liberation News, while giving no political support to Gaddafi, calls for the defeat of imperialist intervention in Libya, including the defeat of all agents of that intervention like the TNC. Yet a number of nominally Trotskyist groups have voiced their support for this supposed “revolution” including Socialist Action (US), the Socialist Workers’ Party (US), the Freedom Socialist Party (US), the International Socialist Organization (Socialist Worker newspaper), Socialist Appeal (Britain and elsewhere), and Socialist Alternative.

On the other end of the extreme are those organizations that have, at least in the past, given uncritical support to Gaddafi’s Libya. These include the Stalinist Workers’ World Party (WWP) and its Stalinist offshoot, the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), as well as the Healyite Workers League (U.S.) which, after implosion of its parent group in Britain, the Workers Revolutionary Party, formed the Socialist Equality Party, better known for its World Socialist Website (WSW).

The Stalinist WWP / PSL tendencies moved away from Gaddafi when Gaddafi joined the so-called U.S. “war on terror” and carried out neo-liberal reforms in Libya, but their political tendency did give political support to the bourgeois regime of Gaddafi while Gaddafi was killing Marxists and others to silence political opposition. While these Stalinists have changed their position on Gaddafi as Gaddafi moved closer to imperialism, they never retreated from giving full political support to the brutal bourgeois regime of Saddam Hussein.

Likewise, the forerunners of the nominally Trotskyist WSW gave full political support to Gaddafi while he was murdering Trotskyists. They even went so far as to promote Gaddafi’s writings. In return, Gaddafi funded their newspaper. In addition, these renegades from Trotskyism turned over the names and photos of Iraqi communists to the murderous regime of Saddam Hussein. In return, Saddam Hussein funded their newspaper. Such opportunism has no place in the Trotskyist movement. David North, current leader of the WSW, was an active leader of the Workers League when this was all taking place. North’s anti-working class opportunism has not stopped. Today North goes by the name of David Green in his business affairs, and while his WSW website opposes unions, David Green is the president of a twenty five million dollar a year non-union printing company, Grand River Printing & Imaging.

The Trotskyist program of Liberation News stands firm in giving no political support to either the pro-imperialist rebellion under the TNC government and monarchist flag, nor to Gaddafi’s erratic and brutal bourgeois regime with its green flag of Islamic populism and semi-socialist reforms, but we do stand resolutely in defense of the national sovereignty of Libya against imperialist attacks and call for a military defeat of all U.N./U.S./French and U.K. attackers of Libyan sovereignty. Imperialist intervention will bring nothing but bloodshed and new dictators friendly to U.S. corporate and strategic interests. While opposing imperialism we advocate workers’ revolution in Libya to bring down Gaddafi’s repressive police state government, to bring rights to the oppressed Berber nationality, to socialize the entire economy to meet human and environmental needs, and to enact an internationalist socialist program that fights against imperialist intervention and exploitation in Libya, North Africa, the Middle East, and throughout the entire world.

U.N. Authorization for War

The U.N. has given the green light to the U.S. led war against Libya as well as backing economic sanctions. This is the same U.N. that is currently occupying Haiti, defending the U.S. imposed coup government and U.S. owned garment companies that pay starvation wages. It was also under a U.N. resolution that U.S. enforced sanctions killed 1.5 million Iraqis in the 1990s. In the 1950s the U.N. carried out a war in Korea killing three million people in defense of the U.S. imposed capitalist dictatorship of Syngman Rhee, a dictatorship that executed hundreds of thousands of leftists and suspected leftists. While some liberals whined about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being unilateral actions, socialists were clear that we opposed imperialist intervention in those countries whether or not it was carried out under a U.S. or a U.N. flag.

Countries that sit on the U.N. Security Council have the ability to veto resolutions, but none that sit on that body did so when it came to the war resolution against Libya. Among those who could have vetoed the resolution, but abstained, were Brazil, China, Germany, India, and Russia. The fact that capitalist countries like Germany, Russia, Brazil, and India didn't take any real stand against this imperialist war is no real surprise any more than it was that Stalinist China did the same.

China, after refusing to use their veto against this imperialist war resolution ran a commentary in the Communist Party’s main newspaper, the People’s Daily, that complained, “The military attacks on Libya are, following on from the Afghan and Iraq wars, the third time that some countries have launched armed action against sovereign countries”. They go on to say that in places like Iraq "the unspeakable suffering of its people are a mirror and a warning." No doubt. But China's failure to stand-up to U.S. imperialism in the U.N. is further indication of the need for a working class political revolution in China that overthrows the repressive Stalinist bureaucracy and brings workers' democracy, an end to capitalist inroads into the socialist economy, and the establishment of a revolutionary government that has an internationalist working class program opposed to supporting the wars and exploitation of U.S. imperialism. This is the Trotskyist program on China.

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua, Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, Cristina Ferdinez, President of Argentina, Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, and Fidel Castro have all opposed the U.S. / UN / NATO aggression against Libya. Unlike countries that abstained on the question of military force against Libya, however, none of the countries they represent have veto power in the United Nations. This exposes the completely undemocratic nature of the UN. Those who bring U.N. flags to anti-war protests should stop doing so. The U.N. flag represents undemocratic imperialism, war, and starvation sanctions.

Opposition to the War in the U.S.

Ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Dick Lugar has argued that Obama needs to seek a declaration of war in order to carry out a war against Libya. Further more he states:

"With the Arab League already having second thoughts, and Turkey nixing NATO taking over, today there are even more questions. We also have to debate how all this effects the Saudis, Bahrain and Yemen. The facts are that our budget is stretched too far and our troops are stretched too far, the American people require a full understanding and accounting, through a full and open debate in Congress."

While Dick Lugar’s opposition to Obama’s war and call for democratic debate is welcome, his hesitations on the war are based on his desire to have debate among the representatives of the American ruling class in congress on whether or not a war in Libya is really in the interests of U.S. imperialism. His objections are not on the basis of what is in the interests of the working class of the United States nor the interests of those working classes suffering under the yoke of U.S. imperialism. In fact, despite rare coincidences like this, those interests are in general diametrically opposed to the positions of Dick Lugar.

Taking up the question from the left of the spectrum of American bourgeois politics is Democrat Congressman Dennis Kucinich who states:

"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

"While the action is billed as protecting the civilians of Libya, a no-fly-zone begins with an attack on the air defenses of Libya and Gaddafi forces. It is an act of war. The president made statements which attempt to minimize U.S. action, but U.S. planes may drop U.S. bombs and U.S. missiles may be involved in striking another sovereign nation. War from the air is still war.

"Congress should be called back into session immediately to decide whether or not to authorize the United States’ participation in a military strike. If it does not, the action of the President is contrary to U.S. Constitution. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution clearly states that the United States Congress has the power to declare war. The President does not. That was the Founders’ intent,"

The “founders’ intent” was actually nothing noble, it was slavery, the slaughtering of Native Americans, the exploitation of workers, and of giving the vote solely to rich white men. Granted, Obama as imperial president isn’t playing by certain rules that would force a more democratic debate on the question of going to war. But the problem goes far beyond whether or not Obama is playing by the rules. The problem is in part a political system that gives representation only to the wealthy. And the problem is an entire imperialist system constantly at war.

In the 2004 presidential election Dennis Kucinich portrayed himself as an anti-war candidate of the Democrat Party. Yet on his web site the Kucinich campaign stated that Kucinich:

“…supports a strong and efficient military. He believes that the current practice of procuring ever more costly weapons has the effect of weakening military readiness. As the cost of new weapons systems rise, the cost of merely replacing aging weapons with new ones becomes prohibitively expensive. As a result, U.S. military forces shrink, while they become at the same time more expensive to maintain and more prone to failure.”

So Kucinich advocates more frugal and efficient spending on imperialist terror and murder. With the United States government at war in a number of countries and propping up dictatorships around the world to further U.S. corporate interests, a strong and efficient U.S. military is not in the interests of the world's working class, nor in the interests of the U.S. working class and the working class youth sent off to war.

Kucinich’s failure to see the consistent problem with U.S. imperialist wars was also spelled out sharply in his vote granting Bush the use of force against Afghanistan.

Like Lugar’s opposition, Kucinich’s is welcome, and like Lugar, nobody should look to Kucinich as a leader in the struggle to end U.S. imperialist wars.

As opposed to building a political alternative to the war policies of the Democrat Party, Kucinich’s main role is to draw those of us fed up with that corporate owned party of imperialist war right back into it. Kucinich makes this point clear when he states, "The Democratic Party created third parties by running to the middle. What I'm trying to do is to go back to the big tent so that everyone who felt alienated could come back through my candidacy" (Counter Punch, April 2003).

Yet that “big tent” of the Democrat Party Kucinich speaks of is one that, despite its name, is not democratic. It is a tent dominated by big capital and the politicians subservient to it. It is under this tent that the ruling class would like to swallow up the legitimate opposition of the people towards war and turn us into the water boys for the “responsible” politicians of the Democrat Party.

Not content with trying to herd those of us to the left of the Democrat Party back into that wretched bourgeois swamp, Kucinich also supports political repression against us. Kucinich voted for a resolution before congress that falsely claims, “Mumia Abu-Jamal stood over Officer Faulkner and shot him in the face, mortally wounding him…” Yet this is not what the actual eyewitnesses said. For instance, eyewitness William Singletary says, "Mumia Abu-Jamal didn't shoot Daniel Faulkner. The passenger in the right-hand side of the Volkswagen [that Faulkner had stopped] got out of the car and shot him." ("Witness: Abu-Jamal didn't do it" Philadelphia Daily News Dec. 8, 2006) For more on Mumia’s case see:

Cases like those of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier are a blatant frame-ups meant to scare and silence leftists who know we could be the next Mumia or Peltier. Unlike Kucinich, those of us not working to preserve this unjust system say: An injury to one is an injury to all! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! A vote for Kucinich is potentially a vote for your own execution.

As opposed to supporting the least evil of those who oppress us, revolutionary socialists start from the necessity of building something different than the established bourgeois parties. Mass protests in the streets against wars can be helpful, as can be organizing soldier’s resistance against the wars and pickets to stop the shipment of war armaments. But the need to build a revolutionary workers’ party in the United States is critical.

In the fight against imperialist wars in the United States we come up against the fact that much of the peace movement retains illusions in the Democrat Party, the same party propping up dictators, carrying out coups, and sending U.S. troops to war. Many of those who are not Democrats are part of groups that are not about putting a new revolutionary leadership forward, but are instead all about pressuring the hopelessly capitalist and imperialist Democrat Party from the left. These groups include the Green Party, most of this country’s nominally socialist groups, and a myriad of anarchist individuals and formations.

Other groups that are clear about the need to build a revolutionary party, specifically the Spartacist League and the Internationalist Group, drop the ball on a number of essential questions, not the least of which being the question of climate change. Those groups are, unfortunately, unaware of the critical need to attempt to stop the capitalists who are rapidly causing the destruction of the Earth and human civilization in their insane drive for massive immediate profits.

Liberation News is instead clear about the need for a revolutionary party that fights for workers’ power, the smashing of imperialism through socialist revolution, and the building of an egalitarian socialist society with workers’ democracy that produces for human and environmental needs rather than profit. We call for the organization of such a party and ask all who agree to join us in the League for a Revolutionary Workers Party.

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For upcoming protests against the war on Libya:
United National Antiwar Committee