Thursday, 24 February 2011

Libya: The Manchester Connection?

ONLY last Sunday I was chopping a sweet onion very fine when who should come on the phone but 'Johnny L' - our man in Benghazi - he was just ringing to say 'anything I could say would be trivial as it's over two years since I was there'. I threw the onion in the Moroccan Tagine with Fruit & Honey and said 'Johnny tha' knows more than tha's pretending or than tha' realises'. He insisted that he didn't see any guns in the homes of the people he knew over there and he said he wondered about how much the reporters from Egypt really knew of what was going on and how much was conjecture on their part. But he none-the-less reported to NV as follows:
'Just been talking to a Libyan (from Benghazi) in Leeds, he seemed very agitated, excited by the events and he says that even the army are handing over their tanks in Benghazi, mentions 80 dead and he says that Derna is in the hands of the protesters. But I don't know if he can be completely trusted based on some of his other general conversation about Libya ... a tendency, I think, to believe what he wants to ... he also says that there is a media shutdown in Benghazi including phones and internet so I don't know how he is getting his info - it doesn't do to question too closely - can seem a bit impolite if you interrogate too closely.
'Libya needs to be understood as two entities, the East being where the main anti-Gadaffi sentiment is based. And I wouldn't be surprised if the West doesn't know much of what is going on. I have not one email in my inbox from Libya.
'I am really not the person to do any blogging. For a start no-one in Libya is going to want to talk to me on phone or internet, even if they are able to, too dangerous ... I am not familiar with the newer media of Twitter and Facebook. I am by no means sure of what the situation is, as my conversation today was only the third time a Libyan has spoken openly with me about the politics in Libya. What about Aasadin? I have his telephone number if you need it.'
Two years ago 'Johnny L' and Aasadin addressed a meeting of the Northern Anarchist Network in Wellington, Shropshire. Aasadin is from Manchester and was on the demos in London last weekend. Last week, Saif Gadaffi blamed, among others, Libyans in Manchester for what has happened in Libya in recent weeks.


Dick Dutch said...

Does anyone know what Saif Gadaffi said about Manchester? I simply can't find any evidence of it - this site has a translation, but no mention of Manchester

Anonymous said...

Plot Thickens in LSE-Gaddafi Connection
February 22, 2011 at 05:32 (Middle East) (Anthony Giddens, cosmopolitanism, David Held, democracy, Gaddafi, liberalism, Libya, LSE, reformism, revolution)

Not just David Held and Howard Davies cuddled up to the Gaddafi regime. Anthony Giddens, former LSE Director and advisor to Tony Blair, also publicly defended the Libyan dictator back in 2007.

By Jerome E. Roos

Anthony Giddens, one of the most-cited sociologists of our time, former Director of the London School of Economics, Tony Blair’s political mentor and the intellectual godfather of the centrist ‘Third Way‘, is as deeply implicated in the row over the LSE’s overtly close connections with the Gaddafi regime as his academic pupil, David Held.

In 2007, Giddens visited Gaddafi to talk to him about democracy. Afterwards, Giddens wrote a piece for the Guardian in which he expressed his confidence that Gaddafi would lead the way to political reform. Despite the fact that hundreds of people, like this grocer, have been assassinated by Gaddafi’s henchmen over the years, Giddens found it necessary to play down the brutality of the Gaddafi regime:

As one-party states go, Libya is not especially repressive. Gadafy seems genuinely popular. Our discussion of human rights centred mostly upon freedom of the press.

Once again, such is the Great Liberal Betrayal, the true nature of the Third Way exposed for what it is: pragmatic opportunism and the sell-out of all the great values of liberalism, from the destruction of the social democratic welfare state, to the institution of repressive anti-terror measures at home, and on to the support for oil-rich dictators abroad.

In another article, I already stressed the deep-seated fear among cosmopolitan liberals for democratic revolution. This fear of revolution fed into an ineffectual, meaningless reformism that now rings about as hollow as the Third Way’s domestic obsession with free-market social democracy (if there ever was an oxymoron!).

But on Gaddafi, I will allow Lord Giddens the opportunity to embarrass himself:

Will real progress be possible only when Gadafy leaves the scene? I tend to think the opposite. If he is sincere in wanting change, as I think he is, he could play a role in muting conflict that might otherwise arise as modernisation takes hold. My ideal future for Libya in two or three decades’ time would be a Norway of North Africa: prosperous, egalitarian and forward-looking. Not easy to achieve, but not impossible.

Indeed, Lord Giddens, it is not impossible at all! Unfortunately for you, however, it did turn out to be impossible within the contours of your Third Way reformism. I wish that you and your cosmopolitan peers at the LSE had opened your eyes to that reality a long time ago.

Now, unfortunately for you and luckily for the people of Libya, the LSE’s cosmopolitan liberals find themselves once again on the wrong side of history.

Jérôme E. Roos is a Fellow at the Breakthrough Institute, a progressive think tank based in Oakland, California, and Editor of Breakthrough Europe. In addition, he is Co-Founder and President of Spearhead Action Group, a non-profit organization based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Founder and Editor of Reflections on a Revolution.