The Intervention of the imperialist powers in Libya

The struggle of the masses against Gaddafi's dictatorship and the tactics of revolutionary communists


This text is the English-language translation of an excerpt from a book on the Arab Revolution published by the Revolutionary Communist Organisation for Liberation (RKOB) in August 2011. The Book – Michael Pröbsting: The Half Revolution. Lessons and Perspectives of the Arab Uprising – is in German language and contains eight chapters. It discusses the background of the Arab Revolution and its most important lessons. It outlines a program with the central demands and transitional slogans to continue the revolution up to the seizure of the power by the working class. In addition it relates the present-day challenges of the Arab Revolution to central theoretical and programmatic disputes in the history of the workers movement (like the law of the uneven and combined development, the strategy of permanent revolution versus socialism in one country, questions of revolutionary strategy etc.).


The RKOB has published this book because we consider the Arab Revolution as a historic event. As we write in the preface of the book we consider this uprising “as the first revolutionary wave in the new world historic period. (…) The Arab Revolution therefore constitutes an important touchstone for Marxism today.”


Here we publish chapter VII on Libya. We hope to translate more of the book in the near future. We welcome contributions and critique – particularly of those who have an active interest in fighting for a Marxist perspective for the Arab Revolution and for building a revolutionary communist international organization.


This translation would not have been possible without the hard work of our US-American comrade Adam Beltz. He not only read the draft of the book and made numerous critical comments for its improvement but also took the hard work of translating this chapter into English.


The website of the RKOB is While most of the articles on it are in German at the moment the website has a translation machine. We can be contacted at The Book can be ordered at the Onlineshop on our website or under the e-mail address It costs 5 Euro plus costs for mailing.




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The course of the Revolution in Libya demonstrates the dangers posed by the lack of revolutionary leadership within. It also shows how essential a clear analysis of class forces, as well as a principled stance on Imperialism is.


The Libyan Revolution began – as in other Arab countries – as a spontaneous uprising of the masses. Numerous reports attest that masses of people in Benghazi, Tripoli, and other cities took to the streets where they were able to drive out the Gaddafi loyal troops. They also took steps towards building Peoples Committees. The news agency Reuters reported in late February after the liberation of Benghazi on Peoples Committees, which took over the public order. (1)


But the revolution in Libya developed differently than earlier in Tunisia and Egypt. The Gaddafi regime tried by every means to crush the insurgency and to remain in power. There are several reasons why this occurred. First, because of the extraordinary wealth of natural resources of the country – and at the same time having a relatively small population – the Gaddafi regime is in a position to maintain a certain privileged social base in the petty bourgeois layers of society. Add to this that the weight of the native working class is smaller because a large part of the proletariat consists of disenfranchised immigrants. Moreover, for many years the regime has built up an apparatus of repressions whose top staff is closely intertwined with the Gaddafi clan and his tribe. The strong (lasting for more than 42 years) dominance of the Gaddafi clan within the ruling class was also a factor which prevented Gaddafi from being forced to resign as happened in Tunisia and Egypt.


The situation developed into a rapid escalation of the protests into an open civil war which created a pretext for open military intervention of the imperialist powers. Meanwhile, NATO began bombing targets in Libya daily. Between March 31st and June 20th alone the U.S. Led military alliance performed almost 11,000 air operations and more than 4,000 combat missions. Even before March 31st there were hundreds of air raids and more than 160 attacks with cruise missiles launched from ships. A spokesman for the Libyan government announced in late May that the NATO air attacks had already resulted in 718 civilians killed and 4067 injured. (2) At the same time it does everything possible to persuade officials of the regime to overthrow Gaddafi.


The alleged concern for human rights and the killing of civilians by the Gaddafi forces are, of course, only a pretext to cover for imperialist aggression. NATO troops kill innocent civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan every day. It is completely absurd to assume that with the help of NATO democracy and human rights can be brought to Libya. In Iraq and Afghanistan, NATO along with Saudi Arabia and many other Arab countries had many years of opportunity to bring the blessings of democracy and human rights. But the imperialists have not brought democracy – in fact, they have supported and financed the dictators. Faltering dictatorships and energetic steps towards democracy have not been brought by NATO bombers, but by the revolutionary uprisings of the Arab masses.


The real reasons for the military intervention of NATO lie elsewhere. The ruling classes in Washington, Paris, and London have understood that the wave of Arab revolutions threatens to destroy the old order and thus endangers the influence of the western powers in this geo-strategically important region. This led to the decision to interfere directly in the events and thus on one hand present itself as a defender of democracy and human rights. In view of the historic and close ties to the old corrupt dictatorship this is not so easy, yet all the more urgent. On the other hand, Obama, Sarkozy, and Cameron hope to get through the NATO intervention influence on the rebels and thus to create the necessary pre-conditions for the establishment in the future of a pro-western regime. A strong political, military, and economic foothold in Libya in turn improves access to the entire African continent and the Middle East. This is of course linked to the competition between the major imperialist powers and the hope that it can expand its influence at the expense of China, Russia, and obviously others.


This is accompanied, naturally, with the hoped for direct access to Libyan oil. The Belgian journalist and historian Michel Collon noticed rightly: ”Libyan oil accounts for only 1-2 percent of world production? Agreed, but it is of excellent quality, easy to win, and thus highly profitable. In addition, the country is located in close proximity to Italy, France, and Germany. To import oil from the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, or Latin America is associated with much higher costs. So obviously we have to do with a struggle for Libya's black gold.” (3)


Especially for European imperialism, the Libyan oil fields have great importance. For a long time Libya was the largest oil and third largest natural gas supplier to Italy. Europe currently acquires 14% of its energy needs from Libya. Italy imports 22%, France 16%, and Spain 13% of its oil consumption from Libya. (4)


Bourgeoisification of the rebel movement


Due to the absence of revolutionary leadership of the working class in Libya it therefore came to a swift bourgeoisification of the revolution. This is also apparent when looking at the leaders in the so-called Transitional Council. It is dominated by pro-western figures as well as former officials of the Gaddafi regime. Among the more important members of the council include: (5)


* Abdulijalil Mustafa, President of the Council and a former justice minister under Gaddafi


* Ali al-Eesavi, Minister of the Economy, Trade, and Investment under Gaddafi 2007-2009, afterwords a Libyan ambassador to India


* Mahmoud Jebril, first a professor in the U.S., from 2007 Chairman of the National Economic Development Council, an agency of the Gaddafi regime to attract foreign investment in Libya


* Khalifa Hifter, former officer in Gaddafi's army, deserted in the late 1980's, then lived in the U.S. and worked for the CIA. Was involved in coup attempts against Gaddafi, such as in 1996


* Abd Al Fattah Younis, Minister of the Interior under Gaddafi


* Omar Al-Hariri, a former officer who first staged a coup with Gaddafi in 1969 and then in 1973 took part in a failed coup against Gaddafi


* Abdolrahman Shalgam, until recently Libya's ambassador to the U.N.


The predominance of former senior bureaucrats of the Gaddafi regime along with pro-imperialist Libyans demonstrates the enormous bourgeoisification of the rebel movement. By this the strong influence of the imperialist powers was made possible. In short, the developments in Libya underscore the dangers that threaten a democratic revolution under non-revolutionary leadership: namely, the counter revolution within the revolution.


What is the position that follows for revolutionary tactics? Our position is based upon the recognition that the uprising in Libya began as part of the Arab revolution, as a real democratic uprising. Gaddafi demonstrated his bourgeois class instinct by declaring at the beginning of the revolution his solidarity with Ben Ali and accused the people of being stupid. This clearly shows the solidarity of the reactionary dictators. The alleged “socialist” and “anti-imperialist” said in a speech delivered to the Tunisian people - in the style of a typical arrogant dictator:, “Zine (that’s what Gaddafi calls Ben Ali) is the best for Tunisia. He is the one who gave Tunisia pride of place. I don't care whether you like him or not, whether you're against him or not. No one is better than Zine at the moment. What I wish is not for Zine to remain in power until 2014, but for him to remain in power for life.” (6)


The masses in Libya who took to the streets for democratic rights also showed just as clearly that they see themselves as part of the Arab Revolution.


A large number of Stalinist and centrist organizations believe that the armed uprising against Gaddafi - or the protests against the Assad regime in Syria – are an imperialist-inspired conspiracy against progressive, anti-imperialist regimes is complete reactionary nonsense.


The Gaddafi regime has always been a state capitalist bureaucratic dictatorship. Like several other regimes in the semi-colonial world, Tripoli was also temporarily in conflict with the major imperialist powers. But this does not alter its bourgeois character. Similarly, the war between the west and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq changes nothing about the bourgeois capitalist class character of the latter.


This claim of Gaddafi's “anti-imperialism” seems especially ridiculous given the fact that the regime in Tripoli has opened the country to imperialist capital and how close the collaboration with the West has become in recent years.


Indicative of the reactionary character of the Gaddafi regime is the fact that the numerous migrants – who make up about a third of the work force – are forbidden to join a union. Thus it is a fact that a major part of the working class is prohibited by law to unionize. What a travesty it is that many Stalinists nevertheless still speak of the progressive or even quasi-socialist character of the Gaddafi dictatorship!


Among the masses there is a broad anti-imperialist sentiment. A clear example of this is when during the insurgency in Benghazi activists hoisted a huge banner (which was seen in a photo across the globe) that said in English: “No foreign intervention, Libyan people can do it alone.” Even Western media quoted Libyan intellectuals in this sense. Abeir Imneina, an university professor in Benghazi, was quoted saying: “We do not want the Americans to come here because then we will have to regret the end of Gaddafi's role.” (7)


This anti-imperialist sentiment is so strong that even the bourgeois leaders of the rebels had to speak out officially against a western military intervention.


But the absence of a firm leadership of the rebels (which is unable to arouse the popular masses) and the lack of an international anti-imperialist solidarity movement which could supply the resistance in Libya with support and weapons and could lead a boycott movement against the Gaddafi regime provided the bourgeois forces in Benghazi the excuse that salvation from militarily superior Gaddafi forces could only be found with NATO bombs.


The clear siding with the rebellion and against the reactionary Gaddafi regime of the masses must be combined with an equally clear siding against imperialist intervention. It might be understandable that the rebels have hopes in the Great Powers. But the great powers want to stall, disarm, and ulitmately strangle the revolution. They want to utilize the revolution to bring their stooges to power in Tripoli.


Ultimately what they want is to bring a puppet regime to power as has happened in Kabul and Baghdad in 2001 and 2003. But neither the Libyan nor the Arabian masses can have an interest in such a development.


Therefore it is important for activists to connect several tasks of the revolutionary struggle together:


* Participation in the mass struggle against the Gaddafi regime on the basis of a revolutionary program for the proletarian seizure of power.


* Fight within the insurgent masses against the bourgeois rebel leadership of Abduljalil, al-Esavi Jebril, etc.


* For the establishment of councils of workers, peasants, and the oppressed.


* For the establishment of an independent workers' and people's militia to enter the fight against the Gaddafi regime independently of the bourgeois leadership.


* For international solidarity with the rebels in Libya. For international brigades and weapons for the fight against Gaddafi's troops.


* At the same time, however, fight against NATO! For the defeat of the NATO armed forces! For direct actions of the workers' movement, especially in the NATO countries and in the countries where the imperialist forces and their accomplices have bases, in order to impede their military action and if possible to prevent them. (8)



Social Imperialism, Pacifism, and petty-bourgeois “Anti-imperialism”


Many reformist and centrist organizations in the labor movement however, take insufficient or openly reactionary positions on the civil war and NATO's war in Libya. Sectors of the left declared themselves – at last in the first phase – in favor or not against the NATO war in Libya.


For example, the left-reformist Red-Green Alliance (RGA) in Denmark – which is also represented by four deputies in Parliament – supported in the first phase the NATO bombing arguing that it would contribute to the protection of civilians. It later withdrew this support, but with thoroughly reactionary arguments. They argued that first, further support for the NATO attack was no longer necessary because they had already achieved their goals, fortunately. Second, NATO is now overstepping the established objective in the UN resolution. And thirdly, it is contrary to the objectives of the RGA to take part in a civil war in another country. “The Red-Green Alliance will work to get the operation (of NATO, MP) back on the UN track as soon as possible.” (9) That internationalists indeed become party in conflicts outside their own national borders, that anti-imperialists cannot support wars of the ruling imperialist class – these old insights of the labor movement seem to be the fruits of whom the Red-Green social imperialists have not yet tasted. A congress of the party in late May subsequently supported the decision of the RGA members of Parliament. (10)


This openly reformist, social imperialist Red-Green Alliance is part of the so-called European Anticapitalist Left – this is an informal alliance of left-reformist and centrist organizations in Europe existing since 2000. Members of this alliance – which have meetings twice a year – include the NPA (France), the SWP (UK parent organization of the IS), the SP (British parent organization of the CWI), the Left Block (Portugal), the ODP (Turkey), the German Communist Party, and the Sinistra Critica (Italy). The opportunistic, centrist nature of the European Anticapitalist Left manifests itself precisely in view of NATO's war in Libya where now within this alliance opposite class positions on one of the most important questions of the present are represented – both supporters and opponents of the NATO war.


The Danish section of the Fourth International, which has long been part of the Red-Green Alliance, criticized support of NATO by the RGA. Nevertheless, the siding of the Red-Green Alliance with the NATO soldiers and the continuing membership of the Fourth International within this social imperialist Alliance is characteristic of the non-revolutionary nature of the two organizations.


The social imperialist accommodation to NATO is a phenomenon not limited only to Denmark. The majority of the French New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) is against the military intervention. But in their ranks is left-wing writer and NATO war advocate Gilbert Achcar and his supporters whose positions the NPA has published on their website. (11) Achcar argues that “we cannot oppose the no-fly zone request made by the Libyan insurgents and its initial implementation.” (12) Another famous intellectual with a similar viewpoint is the U.S. Middle East expert Juan Cole. A similar split as in the NPA takes place in the Solidarity (USA), which is associated with the Fourth International. The two wings of Solidarity (USA) have published two separate documents explaining why they are either for or against the slogan “No to the UN/NATO/U.S. Intervention”. (13)


Several other left leaning organizations do not support the NATO intervention. However, the nature of their rejection often takes the form of petty-bourgeois pacifism. “War is no solution”, “Stop the bombing”, “No to NATO intervention”, etc. are the typical slogans. But hardly anyone goes beyond the rejection of the imperialist war and advocates the traditional policy developed by Lenin and the Bolsheviks and continued by the Fourth International under Leon Trotsky of revolutionary defeatism. (14) The Bolsheviks declared bluntly:


During a reactionary war a revolutionary class cannot but desire the defeat of its government. This is axiomatic, and disputed only by conscious partisans or helpless satellites of the social-chauvinists.” (15)


Bolshevik Communists must pursue such an approach also today. We reject not only the NATO war, we fully support demonstrations, strikes, and sabotage actions that lead to the defeat of NATO in this conflict. The RKOB has therefore since the beginning combined the support for the uprising of the Libyan people with a strict commitment to the defeat of the NATO forces: “No to NATO's war! For demonstrations, strikes, and direct action in the NATO countries to stop their military! For the defeat of NATO troops in Libya.” (16)


On the other hand, other sectarian and Stalinist influenced organizations make the 180 degree opposite mistake of the opportunists. They degrade the people's uprising as an imperialist conspiracy and stand on the side of Gaddafi's regime in the Libyan Civil War. Examples of this include the Spartacists of the ICL, the Internationalist group/LFI or Stalinist groups like the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). (17)


We have already demonstrated how little progressive the Gaddafi regime was, which has been in power since 1969. All attempts to portray the dictator of Tripoli as an “anti-imperialist” or even a “socialist” are without foundation. Gaddafi's solidarity with Ben Ali and his rejection of the Tunisian national uprising was therefore the only logical consequence of his class position as a representative of the ruling bourgeoisie.


Added to this is also the inability of the petty-bourgeois “anti-imperialists” to understand that against the backdrop of a militant mass movement one can only develop the anti-imperialist struggle from amongst the middle of this mass movement and never apart from this, or even against them! Illusions of the masses in petty bourgeois leaderships cannot be removed by the clubs of police thugs, but by patient education and common struggle with the mass movement for democratic and social rights.


Naturally there are not only progressive mass movements, but also reactionary ones. The right wing mobilizations against Chavez in Venezuela or nationalist movements against oppressed national minorities are examples of this. But any comparisons of the democratic revolutionary movement in Libya, Syria or Iran with such backward mass movements are hair-raising nonsense. Yes, in some cases reactionary elites recruit a mass base to use as a battering ram against mass movements of the oppressed or progressive classes. But the democratic mass uprising in Libya and Syria against dictatorships which have no base among the oppressed classes, can mobilize at best – equipped with the tools of bureaucratic pressure – the public sector employees or befriended, privileged tribes, must under no circumstances be compared with the anti-Chavez mobilization or the so-called “Orange Revolution”. The uprisings in Benghazi, in Hama, and in Dar’a are part of an international revolutionary wave against oppressive and corrupt, closely connected with the rich elites, dictatorships.


In this context it is necessary to address the specifics of the war in Libya. Without doing so one would easily stumble into political errors. Marxist tactics in Libya must be based on the recognition of the dual nature of this war. On one hand the war includes the bombardment of the semi-colonial country of Libya by the imperialist powers. On the other hand the masses in Libya are leading a civil war against the Gaddafi regime – similar to their brothers and sisters throughout the Arab world. Simultaneously a bourgeois leadership has been lifted to the forefront of this uprising. In this sense the war in Libya has a dual character – and thus there is a certain resemblance to the war in Kosovo in 1999. At that time the Albanians in Kosovo were fighting for their independence while NATO was trying to exploit the situation to achieve their own goals and bombed Serbia which was ruled by the Milosevic regime.


The mistake that many leftist organizations make is that they give up an independent class position, a position that represents the international interests of the liberation of the proletariat and oppressed peoples and exchange it for the banal and schematic approach: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” For some the main enemy is the Gaddafi regime and therefore they subordinate their fundamental opposition to NATO to the struggle against the regime in Tripoli. The others, in turn, subordinate the struggle for democratic rights to the struggle against imperialism. As we wrote in 1999 during the Kosovo War: “But the slogan of the enemy of my enemy is my friend has nothing to do with consistent, proletarian internationalism and a lot to do with the adaptation to petty-bourgeois forces.” (18)


What these leftists cannot or will not understand is this: A victory for NATO in Libya represents a serious setback for the liberation of both the Libyan workers and peasants as well as their class brothers and sisters in the Arab world. A NATO victory means a strengthening of access to the entire region for the imperialist powers. On the other hand a defeat of the uprising by Gaddafi's henchmen means a setback for the whole of the Arab revolution. It is no coincidence that Gaddafi expressed solidarity with Ben Ali and Mubarak and the Libyan demonstrators in Benghazi with their brothers and sisters on the streets of Tunis and Cairo.



The Attitude of Trotsky's Fourth International


The complex dual nature of the war in Libya is confusing only for those who have not internalized the central tenets of the revolutionary workers movement. Several revolutions have seen the mixture of revolutionary and reactionary forces. Take for example the February 1917 revolution in Russia. The uprising of the workers and soldiers in Petrograd was seen before power struggles within the ruling class and there were plans in advance of a coup to overthrow the Tsar – allegedly even the Ambassador of allied British imperialism was involved. Although historians are not entirely agreed on the exact dimensions of the preparations for the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas it is clear that such plans existed. And it is equally clear that after the successful revolution of February 1917 which overthrew the Tsar, the imperialist, pro-entente circles seized power and sough to exploit the revolution for their own war policy. (19)


The Bolsheviks naturally did not situate themselves against the February revolution and the Soviet movement that emerged from it, even if it was dominated for a time by pro-imperialist social democratic circles. On the contrary, they worked within the movement against the reformist leadership in the councils and for the overthrow of the provisional government.


The Fourth International under Trotsky had a dialectical tactic which took the concrete contradictions in the given wars into account and defended it against schematic, petty-bourgeois falsifications. Rudolf Klement, a secretary of Trotsky and leading member of the Fourth International laid out the arguments of the Fourth International in an article. (20) Klement developed in this article on war tactics, the necessary combination of tactics of the revolutionary communists in specific types of wars. Faced with criticism on Trotsky's sophisticated formulation on the various variations of revolutionary defeatism in imperialist countries (from Georges Vereeken, the leader of the Belgian Trotskyists) Klement defended the Marxists method:


Class struggle and war are international phenomena, which are decided internationally. But since every struggle permits of but two camps (bloc against bloc) and since imperialistic fights intertwine with the class war (world imperialism—world proletariat), there arise manifold and complex cases. The bourgeoisie of the semi-colonial countries or the liberal bourgeoisie menaced by its “own” fascism, appeal for aid to the “friendly” imperialisms; the Soviet Union attempts, for example, to utilise the antagonisms between the imperialisms by concluding alliances with one group against another, etc. The proletariat of all countries, the only internationally solidarity—and not least of all because of that, the only progressive—class, thereby finds itself in the complicated situation in wartime, especially in the new world war, of combining revolutionary defeatism towards his own bourgeoisie with support of progressive wars.


Klement defends a dialectical approach, arguing that “the proletariat, especially in the imperialist countries, requires, in this seemingly contradictory situation, a particularly clear understanding of these combined tasks and of the methods for fulfilling them.” Near the end of his article he goes on to emphasize: “Thus we see how different war situations require from the revolutionary proletariat of the various imperialist countries, if it wishes to remain true to itself and to its goal, different fighting forms, which may appear to schematic spirits to be “deviations” from the basic principle of revolutionary defeatism, but which result in reality only from the combination of revolutionary defeatism with the defence of certain progressive camps.



Some Historical Examples


In fact, history knows of various war situations that were so complex that a dual tactic was required. So, for example the Second World War was not only an imperialist war, but also included other wars with other class characteristics. For example the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, China's war of national liberation against Japanese imperialism and of the peoples of Eastern Europe and the Balkans against the German occupiers. These were all war situations in which there was a clear progressive camp with reactionary leaders at the top (the Stalinist Soviet Union, the bourgeois and Stalinist Chinese national movement, the Stalinist guerilla armies) which the Fourth International supported critically yet unconditionally.


The Trotskyist movement has always held the view that during the Second World War, despite its imperialist character, the Soviet Union must be defended, and for the support of the Chinese national movement and of the Greek and other resistance movements against the German occupiers. Centrists such as the US-American Workers Party (led by Max Shachtman) tried to squeeze the Second World War into a schematic theoretical corset and deduced that neither the Soviet Union nor the Chinese nationalist movement should be supported. (21)


Naturally, the petty-bourgeois or bourgeois leaderships at the forefront of progressive movements always try to attain their own material and political interests. Thus, the Tito leadership tried to exploit inter-imperialist conflicts for its own interests just like the Stalinist bureaucracy, the Arab national movement during the First World War (Lawrence of Arabia!), and many other national liberation movements. So did the Kosovar UCK leadership during the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Serbia.


The partisans in Yugoslavia and China for example received military and financial support from the imperialist Allies. Also, the Allies had official liaison officers in Tito's General staff. In the case of the Chinese nationalist movement under Chiang Kai-shek, even the Chinese aircraft was flown by U.S. Pilots under supervision of General Joseph Stillwell, the Supreme Commander of the U.S. Army.


The devastating influence of the imperialists became obvious at the end of the war as they either targeted their weapons against the partisans or destroyed them (Greece), or they forced the partisans – with the help of the Stalinist bureaucracy – to disarm and subordination (e.g. Italy, France). Nevertheless, it would have been completely wrong for Marxists not to participate in the anti-fascist partisan movement.



In the Event of a NATO Invasion


Let us turn to the question: can a change in the character of the war result in a necessary change of tactics of Bolshevik communists? As we reject schematic thinking we necessarily assume that the change of certain conditions can change the character of a war. We believe that a broad, massive ground intervention would alter the conditions of the struggle for liberation in Libya fundamentally. (22)


During the war in Kosovo in 1999 we wrote in our LRCI resolution: “In such a ground war the Kosovars would lose all effective independence of imperialism. Any Albanian Kosova government, whether under Rugova or the UÇK (or a coalition between them), would be simply a puppet government of NATO. If the UÇK were to subordinate themselves to this reactionary goal and to the imperialist forces carrying it out, then the workers’ movement would have to withdraw its support for the UÇK.” (23)


Today too a NATO ground war in Libya would change the character of the war itself. It would be a transformation of quantity into quality. The popular uprising of the rebels would be deprived of any independence in the case of a NATO troop intervention. The rebels would become under such circumstances indeed an “appendage of NATO”. Under such a change of conditions we would therefore change our tactics. We would subordinate the democratic struggle against the Gaddafi regime to the defense against a threatening imperialist occupation. We would therefore end our tactics of a united front with the rebels in favor of deploying a united front tactic with the forces who are fighting against the imperialist invaders (which may include pro-Gaddafi forces).




(1) Sarah Mikhail: People in Libya's Benghazi hand back weapons- residents, 23. February 2011,

(2) Sew Rick Rozoff: NATO Incorporates Libyan Experience For Global War Template, Global Research, 18. June 2011,

(3) Michel Collon: Understanding the war in Libya, 27. April 2011,

(4) Siehe Ruth H. Santini / Arturo Varvelli: The Libyan Crisis Seen from European Capitals, The Brookings Institution, 1.6.2011,

(5) See on this e.g. Barak Barfi: Who Are the Libyan Rebels? Inside their leadership structure; 30. April, 2011,

(6) Cited in Nouri Gana: Libya’s tragedy, Gaddafi’s farce, The Electronic Intifada, 22.2.2011,

(7) AFP/de: We'll oust Gaddafi ourselves, Libyans tell West, 1. March 2011,

(8) See on this the article of Johannes Wiener: Imperialismus und Revolution in Libyen; in: REVOLUTIONÄRE BEFREIUNG Nr. 195 (April 2011). REVOLUTIONÄRE BEFREIUNG (Revolutionary Liberation) is the central organ of the RKOB.

(9) Red-Green Alliance, Denmark: Red Green Alliance withdraws support for Libya intervention, 30. March 2011,

(10) See on this Dick Nichols: Denmark: Red-Green Alliance congress debates elections, Libya, 29. May 2011, Green Left Weekly,

(11) See e.g. the Interview de Gilbert Achcar sur les évènements en Libye...., 20.3.2011,

(12) See Gilbert Achcar: Libya intervention: A legitimate and necessary debate from an anti-imperialist perspective, 25. March 2011,ZNet, sowie Gilbert Achcar: The Libyan Insurrection Between Gaddafi's Hammer, NATO's Anvil and the Left's Confusion: Results and Prospects, 23. April 2011,

(13) See Solidarity National Committee: Libya: revolution, intervention and crisis,

(14) See on this Michael Pröbsting: Umwandlung des imperialistischen Krieges in den Bürgerkrieg. Die Strategie Lenins und der Bolschewiki (2009); in: Revolutionärer Marxismus Nr. 40. The RM is the theoretical journal of the at that time still consistently revolutionary League for the Fifth International, from which the founding members of the RKOB have been expelled in April 2011.

(15) W.I. Lenin: Über die Niederlage der eigenen Regierung im imperialistischen Krieg (1915); LW Bd. 21, S. 273 (The Defeat of One’s Own Government in the Imperialist War,

(16) See on this the article from Johannes Wimmer: Imperialismus und Revolution in Libyen; in: REVOLUTIONÄRE BEFREIUNG Nr. 195 (April 2011).

(17) See Internationale Kommunistische Liga: Verteidigt Libyen gegen imperialistische Angriffe! 20.3.2011; Internationalist Group: Defend Libya – Defeat U.S./U.N./NATO War! “Antiwar” Social-Democrats Back Pro-Imperialist Rebels, Paving the Way for Bombing, 8.4.2011,; Communist Party of Great Britain – Marxist-Leninist: Victory to the Libyan Revolution; Victory to Gaddafi! 11.5.2011

(18) See on this Michael Gatter: Über die Bedeutung und die Folgen des Balkankrieges für die weltpolitische Lage und die revolutionäre Kriegstaktik: Marxismus, Imperialismus und der Balkankrieg (1999); in: ArbeiterInnenstandpunkt Nr. 98. The ArbeiterInnenstandpunkt was the paper of the organisation with the same name – a forerunner of the RKOB.

(19) See on this e.g. Leo Trotzki: Geschichte der russischen Revolution (1930); Frankfurt a.M. 1973, Band 1, S. 63-75 (in English: History of the Russian Revolution, Vol. 1, Chapter “The Idea of a Palace Revolution”); M. Pokorowski: Russische Geschichte, Berlin 1930, S. 311-320; The remarks in W. I. Lenin: Sämtliche Werke, Band XX, 1. Halbband (1928), S. 531f.

(20) Rudolf Klement: Principles and Tactics in War” (1938); in New International (Theoretical journal of the Socialist Workers Party, US-American section of the Fourth International) The LRCI has re-published this very interesting and thoughtful article from which we quote. (in: Trotskyist International No. 5, Autumn 1990)

(21) Shachtman was the co-founder and leader of US-American Trotskyism. He capitulated at the time of the Hitler-Stalin pact against the pressure of petty-bourgeois democratism and rejected the defence of the Soviet Union against imperialism. Because of this and other questions the minority lead by him, Burnham and Abern from the US-American section of the Fourth International, the Socialist Workers Party, in spring 1940 and founded the Workers Party.

(22) It is by the way interesting that the leadership of the Chinese section of the Fourth International around Peng Shu-tse had a similar position on the anti-Japanese liberation struggle during the II. World War. They argued that the Bolshevik-Leninists should actively participate in the struggle of the Chinese people under the reactionary leadership of Chiang-Kai-Chek against the Japanese imperialism despite the support of the Western Allies and the US war against Japan. This would change in the case that US Imperialism directly intervenes at the ground in China. (see Wang Fanxi: Erinnerungen eines chinesischen Revolutionärs 1919-1949 (1957), Frankfurt a.M. 1983, S. 282f.)

(23) Resolution of the International Secretariat of the League for a Revolutionary Communist International (LRCI): Resolution on the Kosova War (16.5.1999). The author of this book, Michael Pröbsting, was at that time a member of the international leadership of the LRCI.