Libya: A Defeat for Workers and Victory for the Imperialists

Qaddafi Ousted by Imperialist Stooges in Libya 

A Defeat for Workers and Victory for the Imperialists

September 2011

Muammar Qaddafi was a tyrant who oppressed Libya’s working people for more than four decades. While deceiving many by coming into conflict with the imperialists at a time when Libya instituted some progressive reforms and nationalizations in the 1970’s, his brutal regime remained committed to maintaining Libya as a capitalist country. With the end of the 1980’s, Qaddafi proceeded to reverse many of those reforms as he mended fences and re-established ties with the imperialist powers (Italy in particular). Nevertheless, his overthrow by the imperialist backed National Transitional Council (lead by the national bourgeoisie, tribal leaders, monarchists and Qaddafi’s former government and military officials) and NATO represented a defeat for workers internationally.

Workers could not give Qaddafi any political support. It was necessary at every step to prepare for his future overthrow with the aim of creating a revolutionary workers’ government which would establish democratic freedoms, abolish poverty and exploitation, and establish full equality for women. But despite the false illusions of some on the left, the new regime’s aims are the diametric opposite of these goals. Having come to power through NATO’s military support, Libya will now be even more subjugated to the imperialist powers who seek to exploit it.

From the beginning it was necessary for revolutionaries to point to the NTC’s reactionary political trajectory and seek to dispel its claims to be fighting for any kind of progress or democracy. In February, as the NTC started taking over many regions and civil war engulfed the country, workers initially had no class interest in supporting either side in what were essentially two equivalent bourgeois forces. Those left groups which supported the NTC’s bid to take over the country therefore betrayed those class interests.

The nature of the civil war changed in mid-March with NATO’s direct intervention on the side of the NTC. It then became necessary for revolutionaries to enter into a temporary military bloc with Qaddafi to repel the imperialists and their allies, with their aim of tightening the imperialist grip on Libya. While the immediate goal was to militarily defeat the NATO/NTC bloc, this would not change the necessity for workers to also prepare for Qaddafi’s overthrow. The struggle for socialist revolution can never be strategically subordinated to any temporary tactical necessity. But it was in the interests of the working class that Qaddafi be overthrown by them rather than the imperialists.

Those left organization that tail after any popular movement of the moment and shared in the celebration of the NTC’s triumph as a working class victory are deceiving their supporters. If it was not enough that this particular “popular movement” was led by the most reactionary sections of the Libyan bourgeoisie, it in addition came to power directly through imperialist support. They invert the logic of the class struggle by portraying the possibility of imperialist global intervention in defense of working class interests. The interests of socialism though, can only be consistently advanced through the willingness of revolutionaries to not fear temporary unpopularity and telling the working class the truth.

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