Boots Riley's question for anarchists on Libya

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knotwho
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Sep 29 2011 22:12
Boots Riley's question for anarchists on Libya

This was on Boots Riley's Facebook. Any anarchists have a good answer?

To my anarchist friends: many of you who I've talked to promote the idea of "direct democracy". Meaning, there are no "parties", and the people vote directly on everything, as opposed to "representative democracy", where- ostensibly- the people elect a representative to make many decisions for them. We all know how the latter has worked out for us and we know that the elected representatives end up serving the ruling class. I'm not sure the former works because that form ends up being dominated by those who have the time and resources to argue their point. So a small group of folks get served the most. I am a communist, to be clear. That being said, the system that was in place in Libya was just that- a "direct democracy" with, according to this Reuters article from 2009, 3 million out of the 6 million Libyans being eligible to vote directly on all matters. Gaddafi was the unelected leader of the military (nowhere in the world are military leaders elected).is proposals were voted down many times. And the people reportedly shared in the wealth more than any oil producing country in the world. So, my anarchist, direct-democracy-supporting friends, why are so few of you speaking out against the attacks on Libya? The media says that "parties were outlawed" in Libya- but as we know, that is a fundamental tenant of "direct democracy"- as explained to me by those fighting for direct democracy right now in Syntagma Square in Athens.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2009/02/19/libya-congresses-profile-idUKLJ55078120090219

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Khawaga
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Sep 29 2011 22:41

Direct democracy in name, dictatorship in reality? In short, it was a sham. People had to meet, but they had no decision making power. Everything had to be vetted by the regime. For example: in 2009 Gadhafy just decided that universities should no longer be funded by the government; just like that. All of a sudden universities could not run. There are plenty of examples like that if one only bothers to look.

Parties were outlawed, but so was public gatherings, speaking out against the regime, trade unions etc. In short, Boots Riley is simply engaging in sophistry. Any cursory investigation of how Libya really was run will reveal that what Ghadaffy wrote in the Green Book was never a reality.

Clasher
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Sep 30 2011 03:22

They call it a dictatorship simply because there were no parties. Where are you getting your actual hard facts from There are hip-hop songs that came out from known rappers in Benghazi which were very critical of the regime. You can find them on youtube. The Tripoli Post was independently owned and often critical of the regime. The idea that there was a proposal about universities not being funded by the government is not even credible in the least. The proposal that you may be referring to, is the one that he had in 2009 in which oil monies would be paid directly to Libyan families without a government middle man. The families would then pay for all services themselves, as there would be no government coiffures. This was supposedly to get rid of government corruption, which Gaddafi always said was rampant- often pointing fingers. That proposal was voted down by the Libyan people. It never happened. Again, where do you get your info from? His proposals were voted down many, many times by the people's congresses. Therefore, the people's congresses could not be a "sham".

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Khawaga
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Sep 30 2011 04:54

I got it directly from the Libyans I talked to when I used to work there - in Green Mountain (hardly a pro-Khadafy part of the country). Government minders everywhere, nobody daring to criticize the regime at all. The company I worked for told me in no uncertain terms that I could never ever say anything even remotely critical of the regime as that could lead to serious trouble for them.

Btw, that something is available in YouTube doesn't mean a "free press". The Tripoli Post I read frequently when I had to do work there. I never saw anything that amounted to a critique of the regime. If there was, it was directed at those few bad eggs.

Clasher
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Sep 30 2011 17:11

Ok, well Al Jazeera and Reuters articles prove otherwise about your "universities couldn't run" story. You're saying that you based your political stance on rumor, as opposed to research. You say that this was "hardly a pro-Khadafy part of the country". If you go to a republican state you'll find thousands who tell you that Obama's birth certificate was forged. That doesn't mean it's true. As far as press critique being "idirected at those few bad eggs". That's what mainstream press does ALL THE TIME. They never say they want a systematic change. Youtube is the way music is disseminated for most people in this day and age, if there are hip-hop groups speaking out- who still exist to this day, they weren't locked up, they weren't "visited", then that means at least a certain level of freedom of speech.

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Khawaga
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Sep 30 2011 18:31

Well, I've actually visited universities in Libya, a few of them. They could hardly run due to lack of funds.

There was no official freedom of speech. Just because Benghazi youth can post to YouTube and Twitter doesn't equate to freedom. Using the internet to bypass official rules does not equate to Libya having freedom of speech.

And in any case, why this desire to defend the Qhadafy regime? It was horrible.

Clasher
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Sep 30 2011 21:22

I don't know what you mean by "official". it's written into their laws. Is that "official"? Not that that determines practice. But the examples I gave were ones of free speech. Those hip-hop groups performed live as well. I just don't think that this regime is worse than, say, The U.S., and in many ways shared the wealth and power more. It seems that you have some ideas based on the perception of your employers there, which has some validity to it, but is not the whole story.

tastybrain
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Sep 30 2011 21:27
Clasher wrote:
it's written into their laws.

Yeah, laws and reality always correspond...

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Khawaga
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Sep 30 2011 21:51
Quote:
I don't know what you mean by "official". it's written into their laws. Is that "official"? Not that that determines practice.

Exactly. In practice no freedom of speech. Doesn't matter what's written in the laws or in the Green Book. Next you'll say the crap contained in the Green Book was insightful and applied philosophy.

Quote:
It seems that you have some ideas based on the perception of your employers there, which has some validity to it, but is not the whole story.

While I was told how to behave and act by my employers, the perception I got was also from the friends I made in Libya, the difficulty in making friends and reading up on quite a lot of Libyan history and politics. Sure it's not the whole story, but your views on Libya seem ideologically third worldist. While the US is far from free and there is deep poverty, it cannot be compared to Libya. Wealth was squandered, the east was always underfunded and fucked over, but even Western Libya it wasn't actually peachy for anyone. Prices were very high (even for a foreigner like me), wages were low. The country seemed frozen in time; travelling to Libya was like taking a time machine. It was (and is) way back in terms of modernization/development far behind even Egypt and Palestine (two countries with horrible poverty). Gas/oil was cheap though.

Quote:
Those hip-hop groups performed live as well.

And? People do all kinds of illegal stuff under authoritarian regimes or under occupation. There were harsh penalties against drug use in Libya as well (death penalty I think or at least severe prison sentences), but smoking hashish was pretty common. That doesn't make Libya into a semi-Netherlands...

Boris Badenov
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Sep 30 2011 22:07

Oh Boots...I wish he'd stick to making ok-sounding leftist hip-hop and not indulge in this kind of embarrassing sophistry. Proletarian democracy is not something that can coexist with "unlected military leaders", not to mention a market economy (the Libyan economy under Gaddafi was not even quasi-Stalinist; only the most deluded leftists would think otherwise).
Also anarchists HAVE been speaking against the attacks (not counting the occasional anarcho-clown like Ian Bone).

It's really depressing that so many on the left can only understand "direct democracy" in legalistic terms (i.e. voting in this or that "law proposal"); they either do not realize that this sort of understanding implies a complete acceptance of liberal "social contract"-ism, or are unwilling to actually think things through for fear of being perceived as "ultra-left" idealists. I suspect the latter is more the case; either way, depressing.

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Gerostock
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Oct 1 2011 01:24

He's just wrong. The organs for direct democracy existed in the Basic People's Congress, but only for propaganda. Gadaffi held executive power. The BPC was essentially an advisory organ.

Also, it's a stereotype to say that Anarchists favor direct democracy as the sole source of legislation. Serious libertarians acknowledge that in a complex industrial society there will have to be some form of representative democracy.

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Apr 12 2012 14:49

Yipes. For a scary moment I thought that spambot had actually managed to concoct that post. ROTM eat your heart out eek (thankfully it's just a copy of the first response above - damn hard to detect/block tho)