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Dialogue on Libya: Editor’s introduction

July 25, 2011

The events – struggle – war in Libya, has engendered some confusion, questions, misunderstanding and disagreement among some progressive, anti-war and even revolutionary people and organizations. 4sm is opening an ongoing discussion among our readers and revolutionary elements on the war in Libya.

Every struggle, war and revolution is unique and based on the conditions, time and place of that particular event. The history, culture, specific incidents and leading forces and individuals of a particular struggle are the unique elements that drive and mold the contradictions within the struggle. The people’s rising in Tunisia, and then Egypt, certainly impacted and pushed forward the ensuing struggles in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and across the Middle East. But each of these countries and their struggles is unique, even if part of a regional rising. Even the machinations of imperialism differ in regards to each of these countries, their leaders and governments. We need to look carefully and specifically at the events in Libya, including the imperialist war now going on against that country.

I was not aware there was much confusion or disagreement on the war in Libya, until I, along with Mumia Abu-Jamal, received a letter from Joe O’Connor in Olympia, Washington. He felt that both Mumia and I had it wrong on the struggle in Libya. Investigating this some more among leftist forces, I saw there was some disagreement and confusion about the struggle unfolding in Libya.

To begin this discussion 4sm is printing Joe’s letter; a letter from Saoud Salem, a Libyan anarchist; an article by Jaan Laaman (myself); Mumia’s words; and article and an interview with Cynthia McKinney (former Congress person and Green Party presidential candidate), who was just in Libya; and Tucson Dry River Collective member Chad’s views on Libya.

We urge 4sm readers, individuals and collectives to discuss the war in Libya and participate in this dialogue. Most of the Left is in agreement that the western imperialist attack and war on Libya is wrong and should be resisted. Send us your thoughts. We will publish legitimate progressive and revolutionary views and questions in Issue 20.


Dear Mumia Abu-Jamal and Jaan Laaman,

I’m sending this letter to both of you because you all have missed the point on the revolt in Libya. Normally you all have a keen insight into world affairs and solid political ideas that I appreciate. It appears you both fell for the Stalinist political line on Libya. I want to remind you that life is more important than any political line.

Supporting the Gaddafi regime while it uses its full military might against rebels and civilians indiscriminately doesn’t make any sense, unless you come from the point of view of a head of state like Castro, Chavez and Ortega who would also use force against their populations to stay in power. But for political prisoners like yourselves to openly gloss over the huge loss of life to people in Libya so Gaddafi can stay in power, under the guise of “anti-imperialism” is missing the brutality of Gaddafi to the people of Libya. Did you miss the reports of government snipers mowing down peaceful protesters at the beginning protests in Tripoli and then the military offensive that followed?

To hear and read about the great upheaval across Northern Africa and the Middle East and then claim that in Libya the whole resistance is made up of people wanting to restore monarchy is like you turned off your brains. Or you read the Stalinist and corporate press. Also mentioning how movements get co-opted would help as well.

Some supporters of political prisoners are discussing ways to get a wider variety of news sources to you and others. Do you have ideas for people on the outside to regularly get news to the over 100 political prisoners and POWS in the U.S. in a non-sectarian way?

Here is an article from a Libyan anarchist written before the imperialist bombs started to fall in Libya.

Joe O’Connor

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