Monday, August 22, 2011

Where Now, Libya

It would appear that the Qaddafi era in Libya is drawing to a close, not done but ending. It will probably close messily, but with that guy out if not dead. The immediate challenges are to keep the necessary infrastructures functioning, electricity, garbage collection - the stuff that keeps the place from being unlivable. There may be no real political structure within Libya but there is a structure that supports the day to day life support system. It will be a challenge.

The piece that has pundits and pols disturbed is the political outcome. There doesn't seem to have ever been any sort of political system in Libya, political in the sense of opposing points of view being somehow accommodated. There certainly has been a system of cronyism, propaganda, repression, and militarism but nothing properly called politics. This lack of traditions or actual systems has folks in an uproar.

You would think to hear them that they are regarding a pack of monkeys or something as informed as that. Despite all the propaganda and the rest, Libyans seem to have been able to figure out that not only was something wrong but that there is something to replace that wrongness. It is repeatedly pointed out that Libya is tribal and regional, as though that means that none of those folks have had to get along with each other and competing ideas and agendas. That is flatly ridiculous. What they do not have is the experience of an established political system.

I'm not so sure that is an actual drawback. They do not have the experience of a history of, say English Common Law to fall back on but they do have an idea of fairness violated. Putting together a system doesn't mean you have to a previous system you've lived under to use as an example. What you need to do it successfully is to understand that your point of view isn't the only one to be considered. (Maybe our government could learn that) It is also necessary to understand that not everything is open to consideration. Another Qaddafi is not open to consideration, for one example. Government has to be able to change, it has to be able to meet new conditions with new answers. It also has to leave all its inhabitants feeling as though they have a stake in its continuation. (another consideration for our own) It is not all that difficult to keep a privileged few from taking over the place with the examples of others to look at (ahem).

I think it will be much more difficult for a place like Egypt to overcome the faux political system than it is for Libyans to create one. There certainly are those who have a lot to lose without Qaddafi to keep them on top and they certainly won't like it. The absence of a faux system to keep them protected could easily turn into an advantage - or a bloodbath - or both.

I'm not silly enough to predict any outcomes in Libya but I would like to stand up to the doomsayers. I'd also like to stand up for people, actual people as opposed to the elite who seem to think they're destined to run any damned place that exists. I've found that people in general seem to be able to figure things out when they're not stultified by generational bullshit.

NO - this is not a foray back into goddam politics.

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