Sunday 1 May 2011

The conquest of Freedom. Libya: war or insurrection?

Hors service n. 17


At a time when words seem to be losing their meaning, where the language of power tries to penetrate all our conversations, we think it is all the more indispensable to make an effort to speak clearly.
Let's stop repeating like parrots what the journalists tell us, what the televisions show, what the powerful want us to believe. The question is not to want to agree at any cost, nor to convert whoever, but at least to speak with our own mouth, with our words, with our pain and our hopes.


The start of the bombings carried out by the NATO against the forces loyal to Ghadaffi in Libya have marked a fatal passage. What was undoubtedly the beginning of an armed uprising of an important part of the population against the regime in power, is slowly transforming itself into a military war.
Apart from a few pockets of self-managed resistance, what authorities of all kinds call the 'irregulars', the uprising in Libya seems to have degenerated into a conflict between opposing armies.And it is not for nothing that the 'irregulars' down there have always been very suspicious concerning the 'official opposition' that has copied the hierarchies, the grades, the command structures of Ghadaffi's army. In fact, the militarisation of the conflict has buried the possibility of a radical upturning of Libyan society. New uniforms, new chiefs, new authorities are putting an obstacle in the way of those who want to experiment other social relations, relations of solidarity and reciprocity, self-organisation and social life among the people themselves instead of a new regime, new State structures, new leaders and new privileges.
Today, in Libya, it is a question of supporting in every way the insurgents who have fought and who will fight in the future for a profound change in society. As a Libyan anarchist comrade said, now it is a question of pushing back the blackmail of power, whether it be of Ghadaffi, the official opposition or the NATO countries, who want to bury the possibility of a social revolution by pushing for a purely military war. Let us never forget those who fell fighting for freedom, who defied a monstrous regime counting only on their own strength, putting their lives on the line.


The news of the Libyan situation that reaches us through the mainstream media only tells the story of the war. It is a story that makes us shudder: bombings, dead people, cluster bombs, wounded and refugees. Has the insurrection in Libya become a long story of horrors? Does nothing more than war remain, now that the affair is in course? Is there nothing more to say about the events full of strength, audacity and perseverance of people who took up arms to liberate themselves and everybody else from the yoke of a dictator who has repressed them for 42 years? The Western media want us to believe that there is nothing but a bloody war going on down there, and that doesn't surprise us. The West, avid for power and money, and its NATO must legitimise their role of 'saviours of the Libyan people'. So, they find themselves forced to hide the combative reality of the Libyan insurgents and make us think that these people have been thrown into confusion, and nothing more. But, let's close the newspapers of the capitalist media for a moment and try to look at the insurrection close up. Let's go in search of its story.

A lot of bad stuff is being said in our papers about what are called the 'shebabs'. The shebabs, they are the insurgents who refuse to let themselves be regimented into the new military structure that is being formed in the liberated part of Libya. They are treated like madmen, bandits, people who don't know what they are doing, that don't want to obey military orders, who are not real rebels.
But this creation of a negative image of the insurgents has its reasons. It is only in exchange for an acceptation of the military structure, in exchange for the formation of a real army, that the insurgents will receive arms from the West. If they don't accept that, then nothing. In other words, what the West is asking of the insurgents, is to stop their insurrection in exchange for a war. Because the West would like to preserve and reinforce its control over the country. A control particularly necessary to put a brake on 'clandestine immigration' (which often goes through Libya), or to guarantee oil and gas resources. They cannot keep an insurrection under control, a war yes.
A classic military structure implies colonels and generals who make strategic decisions and footmen, cannon fodder, to obey orders without thinking. A military structure implies waging a war, and in a war, it is simply a question of eliminating the enemy. In Libya something quite different seems to be happening, something far more profound. First of all these shebabs are not cannon fodder, but men in flesh and blood. Many are refusing to become an army, showing that, for them, it is not just a question of eliminating the enemy but that they are fighting for something more: for freedom. And this freedom is lost at the moment one starts to obey orders of the new Ghadaffis. These new Ghadaffis that are appearing, the new bosses that want others to obey their orders, who allow themselves the damned right to govern others. Authority can well be symbolised by an infamous personnage like the dictator, it is cleartly not only the fall of this madman that is necessary in order to conquer freedom. This conquest is what one is fighting for. It is the conquest of the here and now, the only path towards a free future. To obey the orders of the new Libyan military means the end of the insurrection, the announcement of a new era of submission and obedience. And many things are at stake.
Also the diversified composition of the insurgents shows us the traces of something deeper. It is a question there of people of different origins, and also immigrants. Knowing that in a country like Libya these immigrants have had a position of second place, that they have been subjected to gross racism, their participation in the insurrection is of great value. If the distinctions between these groups of people wane, then that means that a wall in the society is beginning to wabble.
We don't know about the women. But we cannot imagine that half the population be excluded from an insurrectional process that has been in course for weeks. In any case, the liberation of the women is only possible by continuing this process. The hierarchies between men and women cannot be overturned until there is a space open for that. This space can only open while the insurrection advances, while the refusal of militarisation remains standing.

Self-organisation and affinity

The insurrection in the town of Misrata is presented to us today above all as a great tale of horrors, impossible combat. Yet, the battles are still going on in Misrata and it seems to us in any case that what is happening there cannot be enclosed in the war vocabulary of 'defeat' or 'victory'. We don not intend to deny that there have been many dead or that the combat is hard. One could effectively say that the insurrection matters little when one is dead. And that's true. But here, our intention is to cast a light on the things that are springing up, and which there, in the midst of the combat, have the possibility of springing up. All the more that one could say that if the NATO bombardments have been to some extent a help for the combat of the insurgents,it is no less so that if the latter take the combat out of their hands, it is the insurgents that lose.
Let us look for example at the way that the insurgents organise themselves in the town of Misrata. Like everywhere else in Libya, they do not have an arsenal of weapons that, at the technological level, at the level of Ghadaffi's army. They are fighting with home-made grenades, molotov cocktails, light weapons, mixed with creativity, courage and solidarity. They form an urban guerilla that is preventing Ghadaffi from taking back the town.The insurgents know the town like the back of their hand, their battlefields are like a hostile labyrinth where the colonel's troops hardly dare to tread. Around the famous rue Tripoli, Ghadaffi's army has stationed snipers, but many die because they are cut off from the rest of the troups by the insurgents and have no more food or water; others are surrendering. That is why the army is now giving preference to bombardments and cluster bombs: Misrata cannot be taken back, unless it is terrorised by planting bombs.
Another advantage of the shebabs is that they are not an anoymous army of soldiers facing the anonymous army of Ghadaffi, but are people organising in small groups. Groups of people who know and trust each other, are organising themselves against the oppression. Individuals who have fought side by side and are continuing to fight. This is the combat of the shebabs everywhere in Libya. And there the question is not so much knowing whether that carries a military advantage, when it reveals above all a new way of relating with one another: not like soldiers, but like comrades in struggle against the oppression.
Even if the insurrection is crushed, one could still say that, in a certain way, the insurgents have won. They have tasted combat alongside their friends and those close to them ; they have tasted a struggle that leaves individuals intact, that leaves them to be persons, human beings who refuse to let themselves be destroyed by military structures trying once again to transform them into obedient robots.


Throughout the whole insurrection in Libya and the uprisings in the other countries, a red thread bursting with solidarity is being established. The rebels of Misrata rose up in solidarity with those of Benghazi. Moreover, the insurgents are refusing to make a deal with Ghadaffi, a deal that would cut the country in two. Because they know that there are still other insurgents in the country, and they refuse to abandon them to the horrors of the colonel.
Remember also the question of food. A very beautiful aspect of this insurrection is that the value of money is disappearing at the moment. Libya is a country that is largely dependent on the importation of food, and still now food is coming to them from beyond the Egyptian border. Whoever has no money doesn't pay. It's as simple as that. The same for distribution in the towns in the hands of the insurgents or at the front.

But what are they struggling for?

This is a question that many are asking, and to be honest: heave a sigh... One could fill a while library with descriptions of Ghadaffi's dictatorial regime. But let us look at one element of his system, because that shows us something very touching and beautiful.Ghadaffi governed with the aid of a large part of the population working for the secret services. An identical system to that of the Stasi in East Germany. In other words: a system where you have to suspect your own brother, neighbour... Because those who work for the secret services are everywhere, and denounce anyone who expresses themselves against the dictator. Or dissidents are taken from their beds and thrown into subterranian prisons...
And voila an insurrection breaks out in such a country. Suspicion gives way to trust. Denouncing one another is transformed into being in solidarity. That an insurrection has seen the day in a country based on the most intimate form of 'divide and rule' is of inestimable significance. Relations between people have come into play; and the transformation of these relations is much stronger than the bombs of the NATO.

And us?
The fact that one only hears talk of NATO here, diplomatic moves, the National Council, ... as though they were the protagonists, and the shebabs but a marginal phenomenon, has perhaps reasons beyond power and money. Perhaps they want to prevent us from developing bad intentions. They want to prevent the insurrection in Libya from inspiring us. That one gets it into one's head that we too, here, could start an insurrection. An insurrection that starts from the self-organisation of small groups of people who know each other well. Perhaps because the embryons of such a way of organising already exists in the West, such as for example when the young people organise themselves to attack when the police kill (just think what happened recently in Charleroi recently).
Also don't let's forget that during the riots in November 2005 in France Sarkozy proposed using military apparatus to put down this revolt. And that the NATO, has a military base somewhere in the north of Italy where soldiers specialise themselves in methods and technologies for putting down insurrections in cities. Because they know very well that these insurrections could break out. Today, they condemn the powerful of many countries because they order to shoot 'against their own population'. We must get it into our heads that the NATO countries will not hesitate to do the same as soon as power feels threatened. And they are already preparing.

It is up to us

It's easy: we too are oppressed, we too are capable of organising ourselves against the oppression. We too can rediscover ourselves and be in solidarity in a struggle for our freedom. This is the real threat for power everywhere on earth.
To end up, we send lots of courage to the insurgents who are in the act of burying obedience in the past. May Ghadaffi die, along with all the rest that like to exercise power over other than themselves.
(translated by sysiphus)

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