Free Libya Is Green Libya: Supporting the Real Libyan Revolution

For eight months now, NATO has executed an open crime against a sovereign African state and called it a democratic revolution.  Libya was a stable, prosperous, debt-free country in Africa until it came under attack in February.  The United States and the European Union cynically seized the opportunity provided by the genuine people’s movements in Tunisia and Egypt where the Western backed administrations were forced to remove their heads of state in attempts to manage the popular democratic movements in the streets.  The U.S. and E.U. rapidly exploited the monarchist and “Islamist” resentment long present in Benghazi.  The democratic aspirations of this opposition in Libya was dubious from the beginning, and within days of the actual opposition demonstrations that were not unusual in Benghazi, the “peaceful demonstrators” attacked a police station and suddenly emerged as a full-fledged armed faction.  That U.S. and E.U. country Special Forces and intelligence forces had been on the ground from the very beginning arming and guiding what has become the National Transitional Council has become clear, and who denies the fact?

Even now, as this coalition claims to be the true and legal representatives of the wishes of the Libyan people, they represent maybe 5 percent of Libyans.  They are an illegitimate entity thrust upon Libya by the force of NATO military power, and still they have not defeated the Jamahiriyah, the People’s Government of Libya.  Through their actions, NATO has declared once again that no country can impart upon an independent path of development and an indigenous, culturally specific experiment with democracy.  The West claims a monopoly on the meaning, form and practice of democracy, and the intellectuals, journalists and pundits in the West have shown themselves unable to remove the prejudices that convince them that democracy must look like and smell like the elite bourgeois democracy of the imperial countries.  These are the same liberal bourgeois republics and constitutional monarchies that have perpetrated more than two hundred years of slavery, colonialism, and genocide attendant to capitalist production over the centuries.  That doesn’t smell very good!

Through mainstream media, these professional talkers and writers made and continue to make the ground and air war palatable.  Mainstream capitalist media rarely break with the official story offered by government.  However on Libya, they have aggressively disseminated misinformation about Libyan society and the character of the uprising.  Not every rebellion is a revolution. The media’s uncritical representation of the factions that would become the NTC cast them as democratic freedom fighters rather than investigate their reactionary monarchism and fundamentalism.  Moreover, the media all but ignore the aggressive genocide taking place against the native Black population and migrant worker population.  Early in the conflict, media spread the lie of “African mercenaries,” thus facilitating attacks against dark skinned Libyans and other Africans.  Again, mainstream media reproduce the official story as a matter of course.

Unfortunately, the mainstream, corporate, pentagon friendly media were joined in the demonization of Gaddafi and the misrepresentation of the Jamahiriyah by the standard of progressive and liberal media in the United States, Democracy Now! and the Pacifica Network.  Progressive/liberal media characterized the rebellion that began in Benghazi as a revolution rather than the counter revolution that it is.  They provided airtime for opposition spokespersons and their supportive progressive and liberal analysts and pundits, which betrayed an antipathy to African and Arab revolutionary nationalism.  They offered little to no air to voices in support of the Jamahiriyah; neither did they report on its democratic processes, again reproducing the government narrative.  Those voices that make it onto Pacifica stations are brought on by independent producers like Dedon Kimathi at KPFK in Los Angeles and J.R. Valrey of Block Reportin’ at KPFK in Berkeley.  Progressive/liberal media has been consistent in its unity with the mainstream on the question of Libya, revolutionary nationalist governments like Zimbabwe, and war in Africa, assuming their place in the continuum of the hegemonic narrative of empire.  Much of the establishment Black press was only slightly better, refusing to criticize Obama directly, or doing so only obtusely, even when covering the anti-black violence of the NTC brigades.  Tied to the two-party system, and especially the Democratic Party, the imperative to re-elect the undeserving Obama supersedes the duty to defend what was the most advanced country in Africa in regard to the human development of the population and a government that reached out to African Americans as members of the Pan-African nation.  The Nation of Islam’s The Final Call’s coverage has been, on the other hand, exemplary.

Libya is the northern front in the re-assault on Africa.  NATO countries engage in proxy war in Somalia while French troops continue muscularly to prop up the imposed government of Alassane Ouattara in Cote Ivoire, and now with troops on the ground in Central Africa, the U.S and Europe through AFRICOM has increasingly militarized their activities on the continent.  These powers cannot abide African independence, nor will they allow China to continue to pursue its agenda in Africa unchallenged.  As during the Cold War of the Twentieth Century, the US and EU again show their willingness to use African and Asian bodies in hot war to frustrate the interests of their competitors, this time capitalist-communist China.  Where ever the U.S. and Europe are present in Africa, the countries are destabilized and in debt, and the people suffer.  Despite their democratic rhetoric, their humanitarian rationalizations, and promises of economic growth, the Western presence in Africa, whether through diplomacy, covert and overt military intervention, economic investment, or settler channels, remains toxic.  Now the poison flows through Libya, literally, as NATO has bombed both land and water with depleted uranium.

During the 1960s and 1970s, socialist and progressive sectors around the world recognized the heroism and the correctness of the Vietnamese people in their struggle against the U.S. inheritors of the French colonial project in Southeast Asia.  The Vietnamese fought the most powerful military in the world and won the victory.  Their struggle inspired revolutionaries across the Global South and among internal colonies in the Global North.  Today Vietnam is a sovereign country.  Despite a number of independent journalists’ (e.g. Lizzie Phelan, Webster Tarpley, Stephen Lendmen, Gerald Perreira, and Thierry Meyssan) challenges to the dominant narrative on Libya, easily accessible on the internet and sometimes on cable news outlets like RT News, Libya still suffers from gross misrepresentations of the experiment in direct democracy and socialism embodied in the People’s Committees of the Jamahiriyah.  Western professional progressives rarely take the vision expressed in the Green Book seriously, routinely falling into the “eccentric, flamboyant” Gaddafi” lazy reporting trap.   The failure of what passes for leftist analysis in much of the U.S. and Europe to recognize the progressive and genuinely popular character of the Jamahiriyah makes them complicit in the disaster called the NTC that has befallen Libya.  Nonetheless, the Libyan people continue to fight against the most powerful military alliance in the world, NATO.  The NTC is nothing without NATO.  The Green Resistance continues to fight.  Libya is Vietnam.  Can the Green Resistance rely on international support?

Libya is also Spain in the 1930s.  During that struggle, the capitalist governments of the West stood by and watched the fascists bleed Republican Spain, despite material support from the Soviet Union, because in fact, they cared more about capitalist social relations and profits than they cared about democracy and the will of the Spanish people who elected the popular government.  Today, they have destroyed the infrastructure of the most stable African country outside of Southern Africa, bombing them incessantly in support of racist, fascist and monarchist forces in the NTC who would have been defeated months ago if not for NATO air war.  This time Russia failed to veto the key vote in the UN Security Council and can’t offer the same kind of material support, despite their distrust and defensive position vis-à-vis NATO.  Their criticism of NATO since then, even as it helps challenge NATO’s narrative, still rings somewhat hollow.  During the Spanish Civil War, progressive forces around the world organized themselves into international brigades to support the Spanish Republican and Loyalists forces materially and as brothers and sisters in arms.  Can the international brigades today fly to Libya’s aid?  Can African revolutionaries fight in Libya, knowing that the fight for Libya is the fight for Africa, and not care if they are called mercenaries?  What national African military will join the Green Resistance in its battle against a virulently anti-black, racist force in the NATO/NTC and the mercenaries they are now flying into Libya, like Xe (formerly Blackwater)?

Of course, now it is not so easy to offer material support or even ideological support to revolutionary movements.  In the world of the Patriot Act, heightened security measures and full spectrum surveillance, one can quite quickly be arrested and disappeared for aiding and abetting “terrorism” if the group or movement one supports has been classified as a terrorist organization.  Power has been very careful to police the degree to which groups and movements engaged in anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggle can be helped by exile and solidarity formations.  The kind of fund raising and support that the ANC, the PAC, the PAIGC, the PLO, the IRA, the FMLN and similar movements enjoyed in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s into the ‘90s is mostly illegal now.  The governments of the NATO countries will not likely look easily on activists among their own citizens and residents dedicated to restoring the people’s government they have spent so much money and time bombing.  The formation of a group like C.I.S.P.E.S. (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador) or Witnesses for Peace who worked to support citizens and revolutionary parties in El Salvador and Nicaragua during the 1980s grows increasingly difficult in the current surveillance climate.  Even so, those of us committed to African sovereignty, African continental and diasporic integration, to socialism and people’s democracy, and to a brighter future for humanity need to find ways to support the Green Resistance in Libya.  We need to find ways to be international brigades for Libya.  Free Libya is Green Libya.

More than two hundred years of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is long enough.  Liberation struggles and revolutionary governments must be supported despite differences on some ideological points.  The fate of an individual is not what is at stake.  Despite his defamation in the mainstream Western press, Gaddafi is being mourned by millions in Africa and around the world.  This attack has short circuited the move toward African continental integration that Gaddafi championed.  He acted independently in the interests of Libya and Africa, and offered real material support for the integration of Africa under one, gold standard currency, one army, and continental governing institutions.  He supported revolutionary and national liberation struggles around the world.  He was a genuine anti-imperialist.  For many of us, the opinions of Minister Louis Farrakhan, Ms. Cynthia KcKinney and Warrior Woman of the Dine Nation matter more than the opinions expressed by the U.S. State Department and 10 Downing Street and disseminated by the New York Times, Le Figaro, CNN, AL Jazeera, et al. The Jamahiriyah is a genuinely popular government that has come under attack by the most powerful and advanced militaries in the world, yet they continue to hold out despite the loss of the revolutionary leader.  Who speaks out?  Who can help restore Libya and a united Africa?  NATO, the UN and the NTC trivialized the African Union during this debacle, rendering the body all but ceremonial.  Will they now stand up and assume the real leadership necessary to make themselves relevant, or is overcoming their class allegiance to the Western bourgeoisie just too much to fathom? That’s probably too much to expect from a class trained to protect the interests of its benefactors in order to protect its own narrow interests.  I guess this great task is up to the world’s African workers and peasants.

President Obama and the Limits of an Anti-Racist Politic (Also published at www.BlackFood.org)

 On the façade of the Los Angeles Sentinel office on Crenshaw Boulevard, two banners hang: one banner reproduces Shepard Fairey’s brand image of Obama and declares the Crenshaw neighborhood “Obama Country” while the other banner encourages the Black community to continue to support the President and defend him against attacks from his critics.  Dr. Jared Ball recently interviewed Ishmael Reed about Reed’s new book discussing the attacks on President Obama from the political Right and the political Left, Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media, or the Return of the “Nigger Breakers” (voxunion.com Dec. 31, 2010). The interview very quickly became contentious as Dr. Ball challenged Dr. Reed on what seems to be Reed’s unwavering support for Obama.  Dr. Reed correctly identifies the explicit and implicit racism coming from the U.S. political Right; however, the interview reveals a reactionary tendency to protect Obama from Leftist critics as well, including his Black Left critics.

Reed is joined in this by Amiri Baraka, a long time radical activist and defender of Black humanity.  This prevailing policy of supporting the President at all costs undermines the best intentions of Black defenders of Obama and his administration, if they intend the liberation of Black communities; this policy gives Black people what they don’t need: a reason to support a leadership whose actions demonstrate an antipathy to total Black freedom.  Obama is neither a friend nor a defender of Black people, and although we can recognize the racist anxiety his tenure in the White House has stirred in the U.S., and recognize the real danger that implies and provokes, we must not allow that recognition to blind us to attacks on the African world his Presidency facilitates, within U.S. borders and abroad.

Support for Obama continues to be based on the fact of his blackness, his undeniable African descent.  We luxuriate in the presence of the First Black President, a Black First Family, young, vital, beautiful, solid and intact.  We celebrate the example the Obamas set for our children.  Because they strike such a glorious pose in stark contradiction to the ordinary portrayal of Black families mired in disarray and conflict, Black people are encouraged to support Obama.  Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, the brilliant Black psychiatrist and author of “The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation” and The Isis Papers, has spent her career deconstructing the symbolic narratives of the global system of white supremacy.  Yet she has also called for Black people to get behind the President and make sure he is re-elected as a practice of self defense of the Black community and self love because the image of an intact, in love Black family in the White House works against the constant negative programming defaming Black people and Black families.  But the U.S. Presidency is the preeminent purveyor of white supremacy in the world, and the First Black President has been unable to mitigate that fact.  In fact, he has aggressively pursued a belligerent policy against the global African world.

Black supporters of President Obama can no longer place Obama’s policies at the feet of George W. Bush.  President Obama has not merely inherited the domestic and foreign policies of the Bush administration, messes that he has had to clean.  He has embraced them, extended them and further institutionalized them.  The world expects the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center to be closed, but that site of human brutality exercised in the name of life and liberty’s defense remains open.  As a candidate, Obama promised to expand the war in Afghanistan, and he has.  The Obama administration has increased the use of drone attacks into Pakistan and Yemen.  The Obama administration continues to prosecute the war in Somalia, using compliant African proxies to frustrate the aims of the indigenous Somali popular resistance, who continue to gain ground anyway.  The Obama administration aggressively continues to pursue a policy of destabilization and regime change in Zimbabwe, as the recent WikiLeaks document postings have revealed.  The Obama administration continues to deploy AFRICOM to achieve U.S. interests in Africa.  U.S. interests continue to be corporate interests, despite democratic rhetoric.  The Obama administration continues to restructure Haiti as a 21st Century neo-colony, miring the Haitian people in a cesspool of NGO and MINUSTAH corruption and appointing Bill Clinton as a de facto viceroy to further entrench neo-liberal economic relations in the country.  The Obama administration continues to allow Black New Orleans, which is to say most of New Orleans, to languish in disrepair, dissolution and dispersal.  Obama’s Justice Department under Eric Holder continues to act aggressively under the Patriot Act, infiltrating peace groups and entrapping Africans in phony bomb plots designed by their own agents.

Since the murder of Oscar Grant, more than twenty U.S. Africans have been killed by U.S. police agencies, and 2 more hospitalized.  That, I’m sure, is an under count.  These have included Imam Luqman Abdullah of Dearborn, Michigan, accused of running guns to terrorists, but found shot in the back wearing handcuffs, DeCarlos Moore, James Rivera (15 years old), Tyron Lewis, Brandon McCleland, Troy Joiner, Shaquista Johnson, Deonte Rollins, James Davis, Danroy Henry, Jr., and 7 year old Aiyana Jones, killed while sleeping on her couch with her grandmother.  The police raided her home and an adjoining apartment in the kind of military operation commonly used as a policing technique.

The child was hit by the flash grenade shot into the room and shot in the neck.  The Detroit police had the wrong apartment, but they knew that. That’s why they raided both apartments, putting innocent people at risk as a matter of policy.  Law professor Michelle Alexander describes the practice in her recent book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness: “In countless situations in which police could easily have arrested someone or conducted a search without a military-style raid, police blast into people’s homes, typically in the middle of the night, throwing grenades, shouting, and pointing guns and rifles at anyone inside, often including young children.  In recent years, dozens of people have been killed by police in the course of these raids, including elderly grandparents and those who are completely innocent of any crime” (74).  This is Obama’s United States, same as Bush’s United States.

The ascendency/selection of Obama to the U.S. Presidency cannot be allowed to cover over the ugly soul of U.S. society and imperial reach.  The fact of his blackness in the seat of power does not equal Black Power.  President Obama has sworn to uphold the interests of the United States.  The interests of the United States are directly opposed to Black independence worldwide and domestically, despite its constant rhetoric and self-projection as the preeminent promoter of democracy and human rights.  The President of the United States serves the ruling class of the United States, and the ruling class of the United States demands maintenance of the status quo, the rule of capital and the rule of whiteness.  Conservative writer Andrew Sullivan was very direct about the meaning of Barack Obama’s election.  During the 2008 presidential campaign, on Real Time with Bill Maher and on The Colbert Report, Sullivan passionately explained that having Obama in office, someone who looks like the world at large, would facilitate the agenda of the West.  He would be perceived, at least initially, as one of them and thus sympathetic to their interests.  In short, he would be a stealth operative hiding in the open in white North America’s and Europe’s campaign to maintain global hegemony, to maintain the rule of capital and the rule of whiteness.

Unwavering support of President Obama becomes unwavering support for U.S. Empire and continued internal colonialism domestically.  Africans worldwide must be able to describe and expose the virulent racism energizing right wing opposition to President Obama and at the same time recognize, describe, and oppose those policies detrimental to Black life and development coming forth from the Obama administration.  We must also recognize that President Obama not only acts within the structural limits of a U.S. State designed to maintain the rule of capital and whiteness, but that he actually believes what he is doing is correct.  This is who he is, a corporate Democrat, attuned to the needs of Wall Street, and an admirer of Ronald Reagan.  We should take him at his word when he says Reagan was correct to attack the “excesses of the 60s and 70s.”  Does he mean an excess of freedom?