Worker Solidarity – Arab Unity – Palestinian Victory

“When opinions crowd and confusion prevails, set your sight on the course taken by the masses, for that is where the future lies.” — Wadah Khanfar, the Director General of Al Jazeera

Our practice must be consistent with our ideas — solidarity with the uprisings in the Arab world should mean what it says.

The poster makes no mention of the uprising in Iraq which has been going for a long time with over a million people dying as a result of the occupation… if people in Australia are unaware of current developments in Iraq see Mass demonstrations in Iraq against the occupation and refer to Iraqi Beacon (mainly in arabic but some english translation).

The Iraqi revolt  has serious lessons for the people in solidarity with Libyan people i.e. the western media are not to be trusted. Obama (the US administration) is not to be trusted (see video below).

There is a call for mass demonstrations throughout Iraq on Friday 4th March on the same day as the rally advertised below.

To exclude Iraq from the poster is to misunderstand what is happening in the Middle East. Also there is no mention of the uprising in Oman or Morrocco.

The poster implies Iran is part of the Arab world, this is incorrect — history, language and culture is different.

Image used to advertise rally in solidarity with Libya. The face is painted using symbols of the Libyan Royal Family

Of course Islam is one shared religion across the middle-east.

The Arab revolt will support the people of Iran in their opposition to the dictatorship.

Artwork is important. Last Friday’s Solidarity Rally was advertised using a poster with a face painted using the symbol of the Libyan Royal family – this is the symbol of Italian colonial occupation. Do we support that? – of course not.

Surely the organisers of these rallies do not wish to exclude Iraq or Iran from the poster? The artist was mistaken to include Iran in the Arab world, True. But this does not mean that the Arab world will not support the popular uprising in Iran. They will.

As you can see, these are not matters of ‘art’ or convenience they are symbols that matter to people. The crescent moon and star is used to symbolise Islam even though it may have been borrowed from the symbol of the Carthaginian goddess, Tanit or the Greek goddess, Diana. The symbol was used also by the Ottomans.

For those that are not aware, the colours red, black and white which you see in many of the flags of the region – in the Palestinian, Lebanese and Egyptian flags – they are the colours of the resistance against the Ottoman Empire.

It is too late to change the posters and flyers put out — they are not really the issue — the issue is that theory and practice should conform – we do not sacrifice one for the other, we practice what we say.

I strongly recommend to the organisers and speakers at these rallies to seek and accept more input and participation and to build a critical perspective in the movement, this is so important in building solidarity with uprisings in the Arab world. Organisation should not fall on the same few people everytime — other people put up ideas but it is important to follow through and reflect those ideas in practice.

If we fail to get our ideas clear and to practice them this is what results— this  shameful speech by Obama. How can anyone support this?

Ian Curr
1 March 2011

22 thoughts on “Worker Solidarity – Arab Unity – Palestinian Victory

  1. I would also urge people to read the post and comments by Ray Bergman on ” The Arab Revolution: uprisings in Iraq, Yemen and now Oman” regarding events in Libya before expressing any solidarity with the Libyan “uprising”.

    Chaves and Castro, usually heroes of the left have been dismissed as fools for supporting Libyan socialism and sovereignty. Instead of uniting globally as socialists, the knee-jerk, flavour of the month “left” is just regurgitating the western populist media myths about boogie men and freedom, as such they too are playing their part in destroying Libyan socialism and council democracy.

    The last time this sort of anti-Ghadaffi hysteria hit Australia was when Michael Mansell accepted an invitation to visit Libya and, like then, was lies whipped up into headlines.

    Mansell and other Australian activists who went on exposure tours returned to Australia with stories of a society trying to transform itself through decentralised government. Ghadaffi is a figure head but the real power is disseminated broadly in local councils and tribal networks. This was the essence of the Green revolution.

    Of course things have changed since the deal with the US and UK which has resulted in more foreign investment in Libya, especially in oil. But the Green revolution was/is a broad based social movement, not the evil plans of a megalomaniac. The fact that the revolution was bloodless is an indication of the cleverness and discipline of the conspiritors and still stands as a model for revolution in any exploited country, yet the western media characterises this as just another military coup by a tyrant.

    The left needs to abandon populist slogans, especially those that reinforce U.S./I.M.F agendas. The USS enterprise is steaming towards Libya as I type. Is this the liberation that the left is supporting? If not Ghadaffi’s Green revolution, what is proposed for Libya? Some middle class western utopian ideological fantasy of democracy?

  2. “The Green Book”

    Megalomainic fantasies of a tyrannical dictator to be resisted and demonised, or something worthy of serious consideration and support?

    Of course the water has been muddied since the oil and investment deal with the west, but this was forced on Libya. The principles of the revolution are still alive and Ghadaffi’s campaign for African and Arab unity transcends the contradictions of liberalised/globalised trade and offers a long term strategic objective of decolonisation of Africa and the middle east. This is what the Egyptian military and the British backed Libyan Al Quaeda (“Islamic figthing group”) is fighting against – to the cheers of western leftists, moderates and conservatives alike.

  3. Ian,

    Regarding your comment about the use of the Libyan royal flag in solidarity artwork and your rhetorical question “Do we support that? – of course not.”

    The truth is, the Libyan counter-revolution is rallying under the pre-69 Royalist flag.

    If solidarity activists are going to support the rebels, isn’t it only proper that they also support the cause that they are fighting for?

  4. John,

    This morning (3 March 2011) the ‘Transitional National Council (TNC)’ in Libya called for a ‘no fly zone’ and ‘targetted air attacks’ on the Libyan Army. Libya rebels regain Brega town. Who are they calling to impose this? The US, its allies, the Arab League?

    This is not what the people are calling for – they ask that there be ‘no foreign boots on Libyan soil’.

    We should differentiate between what political groups like the TNC say is needed and what the masses of the people say they want. They are revolting against the Qadahfi regime and the economic policies it introduced.

    In the words of Wadah Khanfar, the Director General of Al Jazeera:

    “When opinions crowd and confusion prevails, set your sight on the course taken by the masses, for that is where the future lies.”

    I think the call for a ‘no fly zone’ by rebel forces or the call for ‘targetted bombing by the TNC’ is a mistake becasue they are separating themselves from what the people are saying loud and clear – ‘No US intervention’.

    3 Mar 2011

  5. Ian,

    I notice from the CM article you posted that the Brisbane Libya protest rallied under the monarchist flag also.

    Which masses are you referring to? The masses that built and still believe in the Green revolution or the foreign manipulated counter-revolutionary masses rallying under the monarchist flag? Which side are you on?

    The “Gadaffi regime” is a myth of the western media and CIA. The real power is in decentralised councils.

    It is the nationalised and socialised oil plants that are at the core of this, this is why they were the first things the insurgents captured. Oil and Gadaffi’s role in strengthening African and Arab unity against corporate colonisation are the reasons why the Green revolution is being smashed, not Gadaffi’s aquiescence to the neo-liberal agenda forced by the US/UK/IMF.

    When things settle down and a puppet regime is installed you will see massive expansion of Foreign investment and the privatisation of socialised wealth.

    The bigger picture –

  6. John,

    The masses that say ‘No US intervention’


  7. Socialism can’t be reduced to a word.

    We must put our ideas into practice and we will be judged by that.

    Many years ago during the Lebanese Civil War a Shī‘ah cleric by the name of Mūsá aṣ-Ṣadr went to Libya and disappeared.

    Al-Sadr was a respected member of the resistance in Lebanon, Mūsá aṣ-Ṣadr’s family was originally from Najaf in southern Iraq sometimes regarded as Iran (the imposed boundaries of colonial states are not always respected by the people).

    Mūsá aṣ-Ṣadr worked with the communists in Lebanon even though he was the founder of Amal (Movement of the Disinherited).

    Al-Sadr went to Tripoli in 1978 to meet with government officials there. He disappeared. His family blamed Qadhafi.

    On August 27, 2008, Qadhafi was indicted by the government of Lebanon for al-Sadr’s disappearance

    Ian Curr
    4 March 2011

    Musa as Sadr with Nasser in the 1960s
    Musa as Sadr with Abdul Nasser in the 1960s

  8. Ian,

    Socialism is much more than a word in Libya. It is a 40 year old revolution that has managed to socialise industry, in particular the oil industry, and decentralise power.

    But unfortunately Libya is not being judged by this. The left and the right alike are judging it by the false and hysterical propaganda of the UK, the US and Egypt – all of which have attempted to overthrow the revolution previously.

  9. John,

    Read what i wrote below again – you may have missed my full comment because i was checking my facts – and you replied before i finished.

    None of my sources (on what i wrote below about Musa as Sadr) come from the US or UK.

    They are from iraqi and lebanese friends who know Musa as Sadr’s story well.

    Re: your comment “managed to socialise industry, in particular the oil industry, and decentralise power”. I think it important not to simplify what Qadhafi has achieved – it makes you look like you are sloganeering – the very ‘sin’ you criticise the Left of doing. Unlike Saddam Qadhafi never supported the US but he did allow their corporations into his country and gave them some control over oil.

    Qadhayfi exploited guest workers and did not speak out against racism against African workers in particular.

    It is a sad reality in Libya that because of the use of African mercenaries that racist attitude has increased against Africans whether they be mercenaries or not. Yesterday, oppositon forces nearly shot unarmed africans they suspected of being mercenaries.


  10. Ian,

    Do you know of any evidence linking Gadaffi or any other Libyan to Mūsá aṣ-Ṣadr’s dissapearance?

    Unfortunately this kind of unsubstantiated rumour is only basis for the demonisation of “The Gadaffi regime”.

    As I asked on Facebook, do you know of any source of information other than unconfirmed reports from opposition forces about recent human rights violations such as – shooting unarmed demonstrators, arial bombing and shooting of demonstrators, stockpiling of mustard gas and sub-Saharan mercenaries?

    “Human Rights Watch” seems to indicate that the myth of African mercenaries is just a racist witch hunt to justify opposition violence…..

    ……”The African workers are particularly under threat due to popular anger over Muammar Gaddafi’s reported use of sub-Saharan African mercenaries to quash popular protests. Human Rights Watch has not independently verified the presence of foreign mercenaries in the country.”

    Surely your critique is based on something other than unsubstantiated rumour?

    These rumours about the “Gadafffi regime” (Gadaffi has no role in state, he is neither president or prime minister) are justifying the upcoming invasion – and they are being perpetrated by leftists including yourself, despite your proclaimed opposition to that invasion.

  11. Sorry, that question was supposed to be……..What do you think the neo-ROYALISTS will do with the oil?

  12. Ian,

    The National Libyan Council is now insisting it is not a transitional authority and it has been consistently calling for a foreign imposed no-fly zone for the last few days.

    It is a classic military coup now, just as Egypt was/is.

    Are you still supporting this movement? I am sure you will say some nice fluffy thing about being on the side of the people, but in a civil war such sentiment is meaningless. It is a choice between socialism and global capitalism. These are not just words but real social institutions for which real people live and die in Libya. Whose side are you on?

    Why don’t you show solidarity with the masses who resist the Castro and Chavez regimes? Everything that has been said about Gadaffi has been said about these two men, including human rights abuses, threats to global security and the ad nauseam psycho-analyses of meglomania. Can’t you see the pattern?

    Cuba is a freak that I don’t understand. There is no economic explanation for its survival, only the spirit of the people. However Libya and Venezuela are the only two people’s republics in the world (I don’t think China is one) that can survive without foreign aid and the consequent domination by the IMF and global capital. They are hurt by these things but because of their oil and global capitalism’s dependence on them (rather than the other way around) these nations alone in all the globe are managing to take (slow) steps forward along a real post-colonial path. Libya has incorporated Islam and Venezuela has incorporated indigenous sociology, so they are not classic marxist revolutions but within an Arab and Central american framework they are very much socialist and worthy of the support of we socialists in the belly of the beast.

    I have no illusions about the extent of the brutality that any state apparatus is capable of. Aboriginal deaths in custody shows that good old free and democratic Oz is also guilty of human rights abuses and. Much of the documented human rights abuses in Libya has been the result of local communities enacting their particular brand of Sharia law or local wisdom, which has its part in the Libyan law – administered by local authorities. These human rights abuses are a result of the weaknesses and volatilities of ordinary people in local communities – one of the downsides of decentralised democracy. The personality “Gadaffi” is not to blame. If you read the Green Book you will see that he has a bit to say about managing the excesses of religious law.

    In Australia, if we were to write a catalogue of all the cruel things citizens have done to each other and listed them as the Australian state’s crimes against humanity, we would have a solid case at the Hague.

    All media information is now coming from journalists embedded in the opposition forces – who are calling for an indictment of Gadaffi and foreign military intervention. Just like in Iraq and Afghanistan, embedded journalists simply represent the false and biased information given to them and this information is accepted as fact. Much of the footage of the “protests” in Libya, especially about a week ago, were crowds with green flags and Gadaffi portraits. (The video I linked before includes such footage represented as opposition protest). But since the journalists have been embedded with opposition militias all the protests have been under the banner of the royalist flag or the pan Arab flag that was rejected in protest to the Arab league’s endorsement of Israel.

    Gadaffi is being accused of repressing the foreign media because he is a dictator. Those invited to Tripoli are presently under lockdown. Were Aboriginal council authorities being dictators in defending the community permit system as a defence of sensationalist media representation of their communities? Many right wing journalists did indeed accuse the communities of dictatorship.

    Just because there is no footage of green flag supporters in the media does not mean there are no longer any green flags. (“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”)

    WMD in Iraq should have triggered a serious analysis by the left of the role of propaganda in imperialism and colonisation. But instead the left and anti-war/human rights movements just believes what it is fed and uses that illusion as a platform for organisation and its own propaganda – other examples being these movements support for the Palestinian authority and demonisation of Hamas and their support for military government in Egypt and demonisation of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The left just gets blown along in the global hegemonic winds, nothing more than ideological ballast stabilising the colonial warship.

    My concern is not for Libya. As far as I can see there isn’t a damn thing we can do here to effect the situation one way or another. My concern is how “leftists” or “progressives” or “activists” see the world. Are they capable of analysis beyond superficiality and the mythology of the dominant paradigm – in our own country? The sloganistic, ritualistic politics of the radical left about our own time and place is a cause of disheartenment for me.

    The mythology of the dominant paradigm is the opiate of the masses.

  13. Hello John,

    “Do you know of any evidence linking Gadaffi or any other Libyan to Mūsá aṣ-Ṣadr’s dissapearance? Unfortunately this kind of unsubstantiated rumour is only basis for the demonisation of “The Gadaffi regime” — I am happy to introduce you to my source (in person). My source would like to meet you.

    “It is a classic military coup now, just as Egypt was/is. “ — Libya does not possess an army, at least not in the sense of an army like Egypt. One outcome in Libya (still) is that the Egyptian army will intervene as a peacekeeping force (as did the Syrian army in the civil war in Lebanon in 1978).

    I do not think there is any one answer to the questions that you raise.

    Sorry, got to go.


  14. Ian,

    Bring your friend around for a visit sometime. I would like to hear their perspective.

    What motivation could Gadaffi have to kidnap/execute Musa as Sadr? Libya was trying to build pan-Arab unity that transcended Sunni/Shiite sectarianism. The dissapearence put an end to all that and Gadaffi gained nothing from it.

    My suspicions go to those who gained most from Arab dis-unity such as Mosad, MI5 or sectarian Sunni fundamentalists (that later became Al Qaeda).

    Or it could have been Egypt trying to undermine Gadaffi after the 1977 war.

    Or it could have been the CIA trying to isolate Libya from the upcoming Iranian revolution. Musa as Sadr was a brilliant hit whoever did it because it alienated Libya from Lebanon and revolutionary Iranian Muslims at the same time.

    Or the CIA or Egypt to discredit Gadaffi one month before the Damascus summit with Libya, the PLO, Syria and Algeria to address Sadat’s endorsement of Israel. Causing conflict between Libya and Lebanon was, if it was an Egypt/US plot, a masterstroke of Egypt’s pro-Israel agenda.

    I’m not saying Gadaffi didn’t do it, I sure don’t know. But I don’t think anyone else does either, except those that did it. All that exists are opinions to justify existing world views be they Iraqi, Lebanese, American or disillusioned Irish/Australian conspiracy theorists.

    There has been so much bullshit said about Libya and Gadaffi, including the hysteria around Mansell’s visit that us older folks should remember, that any legitimate accusation against Gadaffi competes with historically entrenched wolf crying.

    But I tend to look at international affairs from the bigger picture and I urge any reader who has bothered to get this far into my rant to have a look at the video I posted earlier to explain what I think is going on in Libya. I do not challenge the personal integrity of those opposing Gadaffi in Libya or globally, but I do say the lives and struggle of the Libyan people of all sides are being manipulated by global capital intent on privatising/globalising the totality of Libya’s oil as has occured in Iraq. Only the “Gadaffi regime” stands in the way of that happening. I am not urging anyone to support Gadaffi, just to be a little more critically analytic in a historical/material/economic determinist kind of way in looking at the forces at work in Libya now, rather than dancing with glee at the collapse of independent Libya.

  15. Hello John,

    The US has frozen Libyan funds abroad.

    The location of these funds suggest a close integration of the Libyan economy with market capitalism (see reference). See map marked in green to see where Qadhafi invested Libyan funds.

    Source Baghdadia

    The Green Revolution was socialism imposed from above. But, as time went by, Qadhafi embraced the market and made investments in Africa, UK, Europe and North America.

    The Cuban model was more down to earth in its practice and has already outlived Qadhafi’s Green revolution. Yes, Castro used tourism to obtain foreign exchange which Cuba lacked because of the US embargo. But Castro did not surrender the socialist model.

    On balance Libya’s adventures in the world lacked the social benefits that Cuban assistance provided developing countries.

    Cuba embraces literacy drives at home and abroad using theoretic models like that provided by Paolo Freire’s ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’.

    Cuba exports medical teams to people suffering disease in the deserts of Iraq to the jungles of East Timor and the coral atolls of Kiribati.

    The Cuban revolution has survived coroners edicts from the US because of popular support.

    It is hard to predict the direction of the uprising in Libya, but the Green revolution has not survived in the way that the Cuban revolution.

    If there were US miltary intervention in Libya now, would the people swing behind Qadhafi again?

    I do not think the result would be clear – as in Iraq – there would be a horrible civil war.

    When the US invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, there was never any doubt the direction of the masses.

    They swung behind Castro and the Cuban revolution and maintained their support for more than 50 years.

    Qadhafi can make this boast but is not believed or respected where it counts – in the masses.


    Funds from Libya .. ثروات وزعها القذافي بـ35 دولة Gaddafi’s wealth deployed to 35 countries

  16. Ian,

    1/ While it is true that Libya has provided military training to developing nations rather than medical training as Cuba does, I don’t think you can dismiss Libya’s role in Africa and the Middle East (and Cuba) as being unsupportive. It has been the strongest supporter of the Palestinian revolution.

    1/ The centre of the Libyan economy is oil. It is the 12 biggest producer in the world and the biggest supplier to Europe. Of course its money will be represented amongst its markets ( as Venezuala’s would also be). Before the easing of sanctions and Libya’s co-option into global capital, it still made its money from the west. The question is what happens to that money. “Freeing” the market has just meant global capital has stolen the profits from Libyan citizens but Libya has always survived through international trade.

    3/ Consider…….. “The living standards of Libyans have improved significantly since the 1970s, ranking the country among the highest in Africa.” and “Many direct and indirect subsidies and free services have helped raise the economic status of low-income families, a policy which has prevented extreme poverty.”

    This sort of development just does not happen in countries “integrated into market capitalism” as you claim Libya is. There is a clear redistributive motor in Libya.

    Libya’s track record on poverty and the liberation of women is the standard by which the neo-Royalist rebels will be judged. What have they to say about such things so far?

    3/ I don’t see how you can describe the overthrowing of the monarchy and replacing it with community councils as “socialism imposed from above”.

  17. p.s. this is an important difference between Libya and, for example, Egypt.

    Relief from poverty was the key demand of the Egypt uprising, although only the democratic rights aspect was reported in the media. Libya has eliminated poverty in the last 40 years so the rebellion is occurring on ideological grounds (the mythology of the dominant paradigm) rather than struggling for survival. Once Libya is fully integrated into global capital, as will happen if the rebels succeed, living standards will drop in Libya and an enormous underclass (lumpen) will re-develop. That’s progress!

  18. Hello John,

    It is good to see you proudly proclaim that ‘Fidel agrees with me’. Meaning you.

    Finally one of ‘the three gathered together in his name’ has a marxist ‘on his side’.

    I suggest you read closely what Fidel said:

    “Some day we shall know the truth, through persons such as the political sciences professor from the University of Benghazi who, with such eloquence, tells of the terrible experience that killed, destroyed homes, left millions of persons in Iraq without jobs or forced them to emigrate. ”

    We (like Fidel) are not there, we do not know exactly what is happening from day to day, from hour to hour.

    It is we who agree with Fidel that there should be no war in Libya when he states: “Which one of the many imperialist wars would this look like?” He knows because they had to defend the Cuban revolution from “the mercenary invasion of the Bay of Pigs, the dirty war and the blockade of our Homeland throughout 50 years, that will have another anniversary next April 16th”.

    Civil war entails horrific loss of life. There should be no foreign intervention because as the civil wars in Lebanon and Iraq demonstrated only the people suffer. There should be no involvement with global capital because, as you point out: “living standards will drop in Libya and an enormous underclass (lumpen) will re-develop. That’s progress!'”.

    The Libyan pepople should be free to determine their own destiny. How do we help to achieve this?

    How should we support the people? This friday at 4pm, with the help of others, we will set up a ‘tent embassy’ in King George Square in solidarity with the revolution on the Arab street.

    This embassy will be open to all – refugees, Iraqis, Saudis, Lebanese, Palestinians, Egyptians, Moroccans, Algerians, Libyans, Australians – all people can pass through the tent. There is one condition. No support for imperialist US, UK or Australian governments. I will seek the permission of the Toorubal and Jagera people to set up this tent on their lands.

    This tent embassy makes the call shown on the banner below:

    Worker Solidarity - Arab Unity - Palestinian Victory

  19. Ian,

    Jesus was a dialectical, historical materialist too.

    It is only the naivety of bourgeoise illusion that can reconcile an anti-imperialist sentiment with solidarity with the real forces of imperialism and colonisation as they are unfolding now. However brave and honest the non-military opposition might be, they are being manipulated by a military/economic plan that was designed years ago by the National Front for the Salvation of Libya which is funded by the UK and US and which had their last general meeting in the US.

    When the National Libyan Council was formed it quickly adopted the NFSL program despite a few hiccups about minor things like attitudes to foreign invasion and SAS diplomats, but the plan is unfolding pretty well so far. Until the NLC (non-transitionary) was formed, the NFSL built the movement and spoke on behalf of it.

    Everyone is talking about social media as a revolutionary tool, but the truth is it makes populations much more vulnerable to covert and overt propaganda and, through cyber-herd mentality, easy to manipulate and control. (I say mythology of the dominant paradigm but I suppose you Marxists would say hegemony)

    As was said of the Iraq invasion and with no offence intended, “It’s about oil stupid!”

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