Dmitri Prieto

Moammar Gadhafi. Foto: wikipedia.org.

The videos that show what appears to be Gadhafi being lynched are impressive, and they’re sickening.

They say the former leader of the Jamahirya, that attempted mutant of a “government of the masses” that he himself proclaimed, died from a bullet while saying “haram…haram” (an Arabic word that means something like “forbidden” or “taboo”).

Spoken in this way, this is an exhortation to others not to commit a sin, though at the same time it’s an appeal to a certain basic level of empathy. In a more common language, the free translation would be “mercy.” But no one paid any attention.

A human being who is slaughtered is a human being who is slaughtered, even if they were a serial killer.

One can find in Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago tremendous scenes of how the fury of murder seized people and slaughter ensued.

In the case of Tolstoy, he goes so far as to give an excellent psychological characterization of opportunistic thinking that often drives such “incidents.”

I recalled a string of “revolutionary” executions (*):

Charles I, England
Louis XVI, France
Nicholas II, Russia
Benito Mussolini, Italy
Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania
Saddam Hussein, Iraq (was this execution “revolutionary”?)
Muammar Gadhafi, Libya.

The last assassination was undoubtedly the most cruel and violent of all. By its moral aspect, it was comparable to that of Mussolini’s (this writer is a convinced anti-fascist). Il Duce was hung upside down from a meat hook after having been shot by the partisans. Dangling beside him was his former lover, wearing a dress. As she hung in the same position as the man with whom she had shared a bed and a cause, one could see her crotch. This incident became a coveted object of ridicule by the Italians, with them even printing postcards of the scene.

For its political position within the succession of events hitting the Arab world, Gadhafi’s destiny is similar to what happened to Ceausescu in that fateful year of 1989 in central Eastern Europe.

The Romanian and the Libyan movements have been the most violent (so far) of the transition in (post) “socialist” Europe (1989) and of the “Arab Spring” (2011).

But the “Conduc?tor” (Leader) was shot (along with his wife). His body was filmed dead and then he was at least buried in a grave, one which bears a red star and an Orthodox cross.

The transitional government of Romania (formed — like in Libya — from a sub-fraction of the previous government) immediately ordered the abolition of the death penalty, a decision that gave the earlier occurring execution a shade of “theater of cruelty.”

However the Libyan leader/dictator was literally lynched and his body put on display for days at a supermarket along with that of his son’s, until they began to rot. This was something absolutely contrary to Muslim customs; the religion guides believers to almost immediately bury the dead, preferably before sundown.

The hatred fanned by this media event has been hard, sad, cruel and terrible.

Attacking that hatred should not, however take away our ability to analyze, to ask ourselves how was this caused or induced, and what experiences brought it on.

We need to study lynchings, despite all the disgust and pain involved, just as we study the terrible and almost forgotten genocide in Rwanda and the one (even less remembered) in Kampuchea.

To be continued…

(*) Particularly striking is the absence from the list of the last Chinese emperor, which as we know from the Bertolucci film died while tending to his flower garden in the capital. He was also a member of a sort of “social forum of civil society” in the Popular Republic. The undoubted honor that belongs to the Chinese revolutionaries for not having executed the last monarch of the Celestial Empire should not prevent us from paying attention to the millions of deaths during the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” probably the bloodiest political process (in total numbers and in a single country) in all the twentieth century.

In Cuba, even when there were legal executions starting in 1959, there is nothing that has occurred that has been equivalent to murder.


Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

3 thoughts on “A Lynch-Mob Revolution? (I)

  • Grady, nothing is wrong with us. “Other writers like” me and I issued a public statement long time ago (in March), in fact BEFORE the aggression, in which we condemned the (then possible) imperialistic invasion in Middle East and the Maghreb. Please visit Declaración del Observatorio Crítico sobre las rebeliones populares en los países árabes. English (www.havanatimes.org/?p=39360) and French versions are available as well (but I don´t remember the url and don´t have now the internet connectivity to get it!). My Gaddafi post is just a personal, testimonial comment on what happened, it is not intended to be a geopolitical analysis! Here in Cuba our big-media´s condemnation of the takeover of Libya by NATO countries is now a commonplace. Fidel Castro has already written extensively about it, and I don´t think I´m able to emulate him. But thanks, anyway!
    “We the people” of Havana Times tend to look for a kind of ´minority´ views… But it doesn’t mean that (we, or at least) I don´t share your (and many people´s) anti-imperialist opinion.

  • What is sickening to me, Dmitri, is that you–and other writers like you–focus on something other than the imperialistic invasion and takeover of an African country by the United State, Britain, France and Italy. Whatever can be wrong with you?

  • Washington has been trying to get rid of Fidel Castro for half a century. Indeed, there’s a documentary movie called 638 Ways to Kill Castro which might serve as a good reminder of the fact that. Washington and most of the US media have been denouncing Fidel Castro for over a century. They wish that they could do to Fidel what they succeeded in doing to Gaddafi. You can tell that if you read Mrs. Clinton’s testimony last week at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

    Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We came, we saw, he died
    (A 12-second video in which she laughs about the
    death of Kadafi, which she had publicly called for
    ONE DAY before he was assassinated.)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgcd1ghag5Y

    US: Fidel Castro Needs to Go (Hillary Clinton testifying in congress after Gadafi’s assassination:
    http://www.voanews.com/english/news/americas/US-Castro-Needs-to-Go-132708948.html

    HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Ros-Lehtinen Chastises Clinton about Administration’s ‘Double Standard’ on Castro Regime

    (WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, during a Committee hearing earlier today pressed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to justify the Administration’s stance on various rogue regimes such as Syria and Libya, including calling on various dictators to leave power, but continuing to engage the Cuban regime, seemingly minimizing the threat posed by the Cuban tyranny to U.S. interests and the Cuban people.

    Click to view exchange http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1skJzH7LPDA&feature=youtu.be

    Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

    “Madam Secretary, your administration has remained in opposition to many of the world’s tyrants, yet the U.S. continues to engage the Cuban regime.

    Read the full exchange here:

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