by Khalid Al Mukhtar
“From now on a free and sovereign republic named the Libyan Arab Republic which, by the grace of God, is setting herself to work … she will go forward on the path of freedom, union, social justice, guaranteeing, each of her sons and daughters the right to equality and opening before them the door of honest work, from which shall be banished injustice and exploitation and where no-one shall be either master or servant where everyone shall be free, brothers within a society where prosperity and equality shall reign by the grace of God. Give us your hands, open your hearts to us, forget all adversities and stand firm, moulded in a single block against the enemy of the Arab nation, the enemy of Islam, the enemy of humanity, who set our sanctuaries afire, and flouted our honour. Thus shall we build our glory, revive our inheritance, vindicate our savaged dignity and the rights we were deprived of. Oh you who witnessed the sacred struggle of our hero 0mar AI Mukhtar. Oh you who fought alongside Ahmed Al Sheriff for a just ideal, you sons of the desert, you sons of our ancient cities, you sons of our green countryside, you sons of our beautiful villages, the time for work has begun; let us go forward. At this juncture I am pleased to tell our foreign friends that they must fear neither for their properties nor for their lives. They are under the protection of the armed forces. Moreover I wish they would rest assured that our present undertaking is directed neither against any state or against any acknowledged international treaty or international law. This is exclusively a domestic affair concerning Libya and her endemic problems. Forward then and peace be with you.
” The Revolutionary Command Council, September 1st 1969.
With these Words Mouammer Al Gadaffy and a group of young officers set about the task of leading the liberation of Libya from imperialism. The intervening 30 years of the Al Fatah revolution has seen massive social, economic and political developments unparalleled either in the Arab world or on the continent of Africa. For the Al Fatah revolution of September 1969 was merely the beginning of an ongoing revolutionary process which was to transform completely the lives of all Libyan people. The Al Fatah revolution of 1969 was followed by the cultural revolution in 1973, the students’ revolution in 1976, the establishment of People’s Authority in 1976, and the workers’ revolution in 1978, when all land and factories were brought under workers’ control.
Thirty years ago Libya was ruled by a puppet regime under King Idris who had been installed in time-honoured fashion by Western oil companies. The Libyans had a long history of anti-imperialist struggle and even fought a 20-year campaign against Italian fascism. As in many client states of western oil companies, the majority of the population was left in ignorance, poverty, and disease. In 1969 80% of the population was illiterate, living as tribal bedouins. Today, thirty years of revolutionary transformation have delivered the highest living standards per capita in Africa. The annual average income per capita (and in the case of Libya it is a real average) is over $6,600, which compares dramatically with just over $2,200 for South Africa and $150 for Sudan, the continent’s poorest country. In addition to universal free education, and health services which would shame many western European countries, including Britain, poverty, disease and homelessness have been confined to the dustbin of history. Today there is a massive development and diversification of the economy taking place, which will be further enhanced with the completion of the Great Manmade River Project. 25 years in the building, the Project is the largest single civil engineering project in the world. The Libyans are pumping the fossilised water which lies below the southern dessert through a dendritic irrigation system the length and breadth of the country. With over 400 years’ supply of water, and more being discovered daily, the initial prospect will be to green the north of the desert, which over several decades is likely to lead to a climatic change to the area, bringing with it more rainfall and massive potential for the development of naturally fertile desert soils and all that that will mean for a self sufficient agricultural sector.
Inspired by Gaddaffy’s Green book, Libya is run by popular people’s congresses, who elect people’s committees to carry forward the decisions of the people’s congresses. More than 90% of the people participate in the work of the congresses. The Libyan people have rejected the capitalist model of representative democracy in favour of the participatory democracy of the peoples congresses.
Having rid themselves of all the pernicious influence of Western imperialism, they have now established the Great Socialist Libyan Arab peoples Jamahiriya (Jama-hiriya translates as the State of the masses), in which regime all economic relationships have to be based upon collective partnerships. It is clear that thirty years of developing a free, independent socialist Libya has caused fear and consternation in the imperialist camps, particularly American ruling circles, who see in Libya all the dangers for their hegemony of the middle east and Africa, as they do in regard to their other
nightmare, Cuba. The real fear they have of tiny Libya is the example it may set to others to throw off the yoke of American imperialism and take the road to independence and socialist construction. Consequently American imperialism has sought to vilify, demonise and isolate Libya and its people.
But despite waging undeclared war, the trumped up charges of the Lockerbie bombing and Yvonne Fletcher cases, and despite 8 years of economic sanctions, the Libyan people have stuck to their own road to independence and national reconstruction. They have continued to offer support to anti-imperialist movements throughout the world, most notably the ANC, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
It behoves all serious socialists, and anti-imperialists to stand firm with the struggle of the Libyan people, and to join in celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the Great AI Fatah revolution.