Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Libya: More struggles lay ahead

Libya: More struggles lay ahead

By Lanre Arogundade

In the aftermath of the death of Muammar Gaddafi, the European and American imperialists are quickly putting their money where their heart really laid – Libya’s vast but strategic natural oil and gas resources.

They had hardly been able to conceal the excitement. It was barely 24 hours after Gaddafi’s death in October 20, that the European Union said it would pump 85 million Euro into the country for reconstruction and stabilisation; ostensibly to mark “the end of an era of despotism and repression”.

Gaddafi might truly have run a brutal dictatorship that brooked no opposition and trampled peoples’ rights despite running a so-called ‘Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’; but what the imperialists are actually marking is what they hope would be a new era of neo-liberal economic policies through which they will run Libya’s economy for their own profits. Those Libyans who mistakenly looked to Nato for aid in their struggle are going to be bitterly disappointed as the imperialists pursue their own interests.

Thus, they were also quick to announce that their multi-national corporation have started lining up ‘to secure investments in Libya’ adding that the ‘Italian oil giant Eni and France’s Total’ were ‘at the forefront of attempts to restore exploitation of oil resources in the country’s east’.

This essentially is what the imperialists mean when they talk of getting the Libyan economy ‘back on its feet’.

Yet, this attempt to return Libya to its semi-colonial and pre-Gaddafi era, when the commanding sectors of the economy particularly the oil industry, were controlled by foreign multinationals, might be the defining feature of the struggles that will be waged by the Libyan people in the post-Gaddafi era.

Indeed, the imperialists would not mind to apply the capitalist doctrine of shock therapy in this period of Libyan transition. It has happened before in Latin America’s Chile. When the leftist Salvador Allende government was overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet in a right-wing military coup in 1973, it opened the door for an imperialist backed rapid imposition of deregulation, privatization and commercialization as the nationalized sectors of the economy under Allende were dismantled.

Although elected as a socialist, Allende never took the logical full socialist measures, including the workers’ democratic control and management of the nationalized economy. Despite this, Allende could have called for peoples’ revolt, but it was beyond his wish to strengthen the power of the working class. So he buckled and the people paid for it in a brutal military dictatorship that forced through higher prices, taxes, job losses etc under the so-called free market economy.

Now in Libya, the imperialists will like to introduce similar agenda especially as Gaddafi himself had started privatizing about 50 percent of the commanding heights of the economy leaving intact, only the banking, gas and oil sectors. The nationalization of these important sectors coupled with high oil income for a small population, enabled Gaddafi to invest massively in education, health care, infrastructure development and housing.

For now, the National Transition Council (NTC), will not risk mass anger hence will avoid a dash at dismantling the surviving aspects of the welfare state. The NTC regime is also shaky and lacks total control under an emerging scenario wherein armed gangs hold on to territories liberated during the revolution.

But given the global capitalist crisis and the importance of crude oil to fuel imperialist economies, sooner or later, attempts would be made to totally privatize the Libyan economy including the oil industry.

Even if it is expected that this would be resisted by the people, the organized intervention of the working class would be needed to counter-pose the complete nationalization of the commanding heights of the Libyan economy under working class democratic control and management, to the program of privatization and deregulation.