A few days ago, the G8 — that cabal of states with the world’s most powerful economies — issued an appropriately preachy statement saying, among other things, “[Gaddafi] has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go.” That statement follows after another odious international group, the U.N. Security Council, released a resolution that uses the language “excluding a foreign occupation force” to green light a foreign occupation force. This is Orwellian political euphemism at its most unabashed.
For the G8 and the U.N., “War is Peace,” and self-determination always allows plenty of room for bellicose interventionism. When a country no longer fits comfortably into the openly dissolute web of compromises and pacts used to enslave the world to state capitalism, the kingpins make a change. This time, the bosses felt that Libya was ripe for the West’s creeping paternalism.
Bare hypocrisy characterizes the G8’s — particularly the United States’ — admonitions toward Gaddafi, their rebukes incorporating all the usual denunciations of “rogue nations.” But like the state’s uses of the words “terrorist” and “criminal,” the meaning of “rogue nation” is conspicuously inapplicable, at least in the popular parlance, to the hegemonic empire responsible for the world’s worst malfeasance.
Broadsides against Gaddafi’s Libya are, whatever their merits, difficult to take seriously when they emanate from the United States, with its multiple wars raging on without end. It seems that the categorical exceptions to appellations like “rogue nation” are defined not by any identifiable moral principle, but by the magnitude of the crimes at hand. The more extensive the global enterprise of murder and exploitation, the more likely it will be held conveniently exempt from media scrutiny and unpalatable labels.
Not only do the United States and its co-conspirators enjoy immunity when they butcher innocents, they’re actually applauded for their “humanitarian interventions” to the point that the President of the United States receives the Nobel Peace Prize. A quick look at regimes that the United States has both propped up and toppled reveals no trend with respect to “legitimacy.”
Indeed, US foreign policy decisions would appear nearly random absent the panoply of interests underlying its strategic conquests. Vague notions of “legitimacy,” arbitrarily defined by the dominant cultural force of a given age, have always lent the requisite rationales to aggression and conquest. From the Eternal City’s outward march against barbarians, to the maritime powers of the Age of Exploration capturing the Occident with the permission of the Church, empire has forever been built under moral pretexts.
For the United States and the rest of the West, “democracy” — as a practical matter, long a hollow invocation — has been the rallying cry for expansion. As international law expert Anne Orford observed, “a ‘largely economic’ enterprise of imperialism continues” today, even after the “era of decolonisation.”
This new colonialism, defined by the exportation of Western, corporate capitalism versus old-fashioned claims of territorial sovereignty, lies at the heart of every supposedly “humanitarian” war. Anarchists understand that the G8 is right about one thing: Gaddafi must go. So too, though, must every apparent “leader” of every state the world over.
Consortiums of criminal bands like the United Nations and the G8 sanctify a corporate imperial order foisted on the globe by its most powerful states. Just as empires impose foreign systems on their outposts, the state itself forces every individual into an existence defined by servitude to a ruling class.
The path away from statism, market anarchism teaches, is also the ideal end result, a society where voluntary exchange and cooperation on a genuinely free market define the social fabric. If the G8 has the moral authority to declare that Gaddafi must go, then every free, sovereign individual certainly has the same authority to announce to the state that it is no longer welcome in society.