On April 13, reports BBC News, “[a]n international summit on Libya [began] in Qatar, with delegates being told there is a ‘race against time’ to help Libyan civilians.” Comprising representatives from, among others, the United Nations, the European Union, and Nato, the summit promises to devise a plan for progress toward “peace-building” and “a democratic Libya.”
Though we are apparently meant to believe that the interests of the new “contact group” on Libya are limited to preventing further bloodshed, there are good reasons to believe other considerations underlie its meddlesome plans. Under the mantra of allowing Libyans to “develop their resources” and at last depart from the “internationally isolated” policies of the Qaddafi era, imperialism takes on a quality of sensibleness.
It is, after all, difficult to oppose political and military intrusion when it comes couched in the language of justice, progress and genuine self-rule for the people of Libya. And for opportunistic Western powers — under the de facto leadership of the United States — Libya represents one great pie, the pieces of which are to be allotted according to the rules of faux “free trade.”
One can be sure that, whenever world “leaders” convene to negotiate “solutions” to the problems facing ordinary, working people, the outcome will mean the imposition of faceless hierarchies designed to serve ruling class interests. When disturbances in places like Libya become a global focal point, the aim is to bring those places into alignment with the international order of state capitalism, as established by organizations like the World Bank.
In the same way that domestic welfare organizations — though appearing charitable — are actually meant to mitigate the damages of state capitalism, governments’ “investments” in places like Libya are anything but altruistic. “Humanitarian intervention” is nothing but a calculated effort to lay the groundwork for legalized plunder.
So when, as the BBC story notes, “French and British foreign ministers [say] Nato should be doing more in Libya,” “peace-building” for the people of the country ends up looking like a thin veil for a new colonialism. Though there may not be an East India Company today, the corporate giants of neoliberal “free enterprise” are no less endowed with the functional equivalent of a Royal Charter. The world’s governing classes, constantly in search of new outlets for state capitalist investment, have seized on Libya because it serves their interests, not out of solidarity with rebels.
As the ideological successor of the League of Nations, founded on the idea, in the description of Ludwig von Mises, that some populations are “not qualified for independence,” the United Nations is designed to make empire palatable. In light of the their history where self-determination is concerned, the interest of international bodies like the UN in the “establishment of a temporary financial mechanism” must be regarded with some skepticism. The flow of cash in Libya will likely turn out to do much for giving Big Business a foothold in the country and little for opposition autonomy in the new Libya.
The “aggressive origin and nature of the state,” advises Mark R. Crovelli, “ought to play a critical role in our moral evaluation of state humanitarian interventions.” Certainly some states are less overtly tyrannous than others, but we have no reason to believe that the crime syndicate known as the Libya “contact group” is excepted from all of the motivations that drive every state, every group of elites wielding political power.
As long as coercion rather than genuine, free market competition provides the means to wealth, the incentives for empire — for “humanitarian intervention” — will shape the world according to the wishes of dominant state actors. By resolving to make free exchange and cooperation the standard for human interaction, individuals can deracinate the state and with it its pursuit of new colonies. Libyans should see the writing on the wall, running from the “help” of the international community as fast as they can.
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