Home > General Politics, Religion, Sectariana, Socialism, Terrible Tories, US Politics > What the Libyan action tells us about the New Conservative regime (part 1)

What the Libyan action tells us about the New Conservative regime (part 1)

I’ve said nothing at all to date about the UK regime’s involvement in military action in Libya. 

In keeping with my aid worker background,  I’d count myself as a conflicted ‘liberal interventionist’.  It’s what I was trained for, and getting stuck in where I can be of use is a habit that’s hard to shake off.

Thus, I’ve always tended to steer away from the perils of whataboutery.  This is reflected most recently in my fairly widely derided (on the Left) stance on Councils and illegal budget setting; I’d rather achieve something concrete for a discrete number of people than stand by more radical objectives which, however laudable, cannot be achieved in the absence of the kind of painstaking grassroots organisation that has been lacking so far in the response to the New Conservative regime.

Nevertheless, in the case of Libya, I can see that a good deal of whataboutery is entirely justified given the UK’s and other Western regimes’ inaction over other conflicts in which they might more justifiably have taken an interventionist role.  

Sunder has summed up some of other conflicts well, but those in Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Congo and now Cote D’Ivoire stands out as places where the UN’s and by extension the West’s responsibilities have been quietly set to one side.  Sri Lanka, for example, is doing very well in the world cup cricket, and remains a popular tourist destination, despite its regime’s participation in mass murder.

In the end, though, my overriding impression of the Left’s reaction to events in Libya is that its powerlessness in the face of these events is being expressed through frustration with the judgments made by others on the Left.  

I’d love the Left to be busy making a clinical assessment of how Western regimes got themselves into/are planning to benefit from the current situation, and then see how the facts behind these regimes’ moral duplicity might be used as a tool to promote alternatives from the bottom up.  I’d love to the Left to f ocus on what we can actually achieve now as part of a longer term strategy.

Instead, much of the Left (or at least its influential commentariat) seems totally focused on a) saying how awful everything is: b) blaming others in the Left for not thinking through the awfulness of everything properly.

So as a counter to this tendency, in the second part of this (inevitable) two-parter I’ll eschew feeling guilty on my own behalf  about what’s going on in Libya.  

The bloodshed in Libya not my fault. It’s not Owen’s. It’s not the fault of those on the Left.  It is the fault both of Gadaffi and of rightwing regimes in the West who thought it was useful realpolitik to embrace him as a buffer against the supposed perils of Islamism. 

Instead, I’ll focus on what our very own regime’s most recent adventurism tells us about the nature of the New Conservative state, and what the Left might do – tomorrow and the next day and the day after that – to counter it. 

Of course meaninfgful change in the UK regime will not come quickly.  It is considerably better embedded than Gadaffi’s, and his looks pretty hard to topple.  But if we spend our time complaining about each others’ integrity and judgment on situations over which we simply have no control, then we’re not really going to get very far.

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  1. March 20, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    It’d be more absurd, Paul, if leftists debated the pros and cons of intervention in lieu of using our power inside the UN – but alas, we have no power in the UN, so we’re stuck holding our own security councils here, on the blogosphere.

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