Part 3. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: Class analysis


3. Class analysis
Originally posted in Russian, Mar. 5th, 2011
Original source:

PDF version

The above allows us to make rough comparative class analysis of latest developments in the region. We restrict our analysis to situations in Egypt and Libya.

3.1. Situation in Egypt

Once, when Egypt chose independence and made decisions marching at odds with the interests of Western countries (bargained with wrong sides; nationalized wrong objects, etc.), he was subjected to constant attacks from the bearers of Freedom ‘n’Dimocracy as today’s Libya, up to the open military invasion from the West and its minions. But initially in force, committed the anti-feudal revolution 1950, there were two tendencies, pro-socialist one which was represented by Nasser, and the second pro-capitalist one, which meets the interests of the Egyptian big bourgeoisie and the imperialist West, and was represented by Naguib. Actually, the revolution itself in the first stage was based on the national bourgeoisie and advocated its interest. Because of this, the bourgeoisie has not been destroyed as a class and its various categories — middle, petty bourgeoisie — have been recognized as the non-exploiter classes belonging to the nation, along with workers, peasants, soldiers, officers, revolutionary intelligentsia (what was enshrined in the National Action Charter, 1962). Accordingly there has remainded internal inconsistency of the regime and the possibility of changing course. The bourgeoisie pursued their own interests (there had been many attempts to defend class interests). And the second tendency has prevailed (its bearer was Sadat, who in the 1970’s started reorientation of Egypt from the Soviet Union to the USA). Today, Egypt, as we have seen, fully integrated into the Western international system of exploitation. Since the 1980’s there is a natural capitalist development in Egypt under Mubarak’s management: foreign capital is injected into the country (and with it the technologies and business practices, etc.), cheap labor creates surplus value, from which the share of the comprador bourgeoisie is sawed off, and the rest is investors’ profit, which is mostly reinvested (as long as the reproduction of capital in this country is profitable). Respectively, the capital working in the economy expands the economy (lead to its growth). Let’s think which classes in this situation may be dissatisfied with Mubarak?

The imperialist West
Foreign investors, as we have seen from an analysis of statistics, have no complaints about Mubarak. He was a complaisant and competent manager without eccentricity (there even no need to present him iPods).

The local big bourgeoisie
The position of the local big bourgeoisie ambivalent. On the one hand, she would not mind getting all surplus value derived out of the local labor exploitation. But today, with the current global political scenario, the alternative is rather gloomy, carries a high risk, with loss of sales markets, etc., and, most likely, even if very costly (in all senses) campaign for the release will succeed, it will mean a significant loss of profitability in comparison with the status quo (if not, there already anti-imperialist bourgeois revolution would blossom like flowers in the world and the aircraft carriers would be not enough for all). Therefore, today in most of the worker-countries anticomprador bourgeois tendency is expressed very poorly, and in light of this, a local big bourgeoisie can not have claims to Mubarak in principle. Even if they are not satisfied with the outgoing compradors’ share, so this proportion is not determined by Mubarak but by class standing above on the vertical of exploitation. And everyone who encroaches on the order of things is essentially, which determined not by Mubarak too, will have to deal with the sahib. There is no fools.

The Local middle and petty bourgeoisie
The position of the middle and petty bourgeoisie is also ambivalent. On the one hand, as in any capitalist economy, and in the economy of dependent countries in particular (see what happens, e.g., In Russia), the interests of the middle and petty bourgeoisie are in conflict with the interests and practices of the big bourgeoisie. The petty bourgeoisie complains about monopoly, on actions of state, which protects the interests of the big bourgeoisie and ignores or profanes the interests of the middle and petty bourgeoisie, the corruption, the lack of protection (when the one with more fat purse is always right, but you know who has the fatest purse?) and so on. Petty and middle bourgeoisie would like to have everything as it drawn in textbooks of economics.
On the other hand, when it comes to real collisions (after all, you should pay for everything, shouldn’t you?), petty and middle bourgeoisie begins to yell: «Wai-wai! there are no more sales! there are no more tourists! bank dosn’t give credit! profits have decreased! Did we ask for that? No, no, we wanted that: monopolies should do not eat us, the raiders should do not eat us, state and bandidos should do not rob us, access to resources would be free, legislation would be more soft, in short, we supposed that our profit will be increased. But what have done? Nah, restore all back as it was befor!»

Working classes
The only force, which in a case of natural capitalist development has claims to bourgeois class and to state representing burgeois’ interests, is working classes. I believe it is obvious.

As the economy grows there is growth in the power and consciousness of the working class as main part of the productive forces (PF). New PF are formed, which eventually starts to call relevant productive relations (PR). The initial post-revolutionary PR in Egypt, by the lack of development of capitalist relations, inevitably inherited some features of feudal relationships (such as the existence of the so called «bureaucratic» and «military» bourgeoisie; the struggle with the remnants of feudalism is a characteristic motif of the socialist period of
post-revolutionary history of Egypt), which persisted even until the present time (the very same lifetime presidency and order of seniority, not due to the necessity, under the crooked screen of bourgeois political institutions). The requirement of new PR, which are normal for this stage of capitalism development and which correspond to sufficiently developed capitalist economy, is a natural tendency. Over 30 years RF have developed enough for such requirements and changes. Protest potential has been accumulated. The world crisis has served as the detonator: the financial system jammed, artificially pumped demand shrank, all the signs of another crisis of overproduction was manifested, turnover fell, growth slowed. Who is left holding the baby? That’s right: workers (especially the workers in dependent worker-countries, which stands at the lowest levels of the vertical of exploitation). His salary will be cut. His funds for social programs and retirement savings will be confiscated. He will be sent to walk when job cuts occure or even entire companies disappear, so as to save on costs. And if he will not, then the intensity of the exploitation will increase to squeeze out of the same labor costs more surplus value. And if exploitation will not increase, he will be sent, and in its place will be hired less fastidious guest worker from utterly outrageous agrarian country, for which by-turn there will be cut and will increase.
You all know that this already happens in many countries. Egypt is not exception. The masses come out with economic demands and simultaneously work to change the PR, in this case: to bring the superstructure in line with the level of economic development, to change sub-bourgeois political system to a normal bourgeois democracy, according to generally accepted standards. While on the agenda there is just that. In general, the normal process of socio-economic development and there is no conspiracy.

Class positions in relation to Mubarak are summarized in Table 6.

Table 6. Class positions in relation to Mubarak’s regime

The imperialist WestPRO
The local big bourgeoisiePRO
The Local middle and petty bourgeoisieUNDECIDED
Working classesANTI

3.2. The situation in Libya

The situation in Libya is radically different. As we have seen from an analysis of statistics, Libya, although it seeks to participate in the international division of labor, conducts independent economic policy.

Class motives in this situation are as follows:

The imperialist West

The CIA Factbook on Libyan economy:

The Libyan economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, which contribute about 95% of export earnings, 25% of GDP, and 80% of government revenue. The weakness in world hydrocarbon prices in 2009 reduced Libyan government tax income and constrained economic growth. Substantial revenues from the energy sector coupled with a small population give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, but little of this income flows down to the lower orders of society. Libyan officials in the past five years have made progress on economic reforms as part of a broader campaign to reintegrate the country into the international fold. This effort picked up steam after UN sanctions were lifted in September 2003 and as Libya announced in December 2003 that it would abandon programs to build weapons of mass destruction. The process of lifting US unilateral sanctions began in the spring of 2004; all sanctions were removed by June 2006, helping Libya attract greater foreign direct investment, especially in the energy sector. Libyan oil and gas licensing rounds continue to draw high international interest; the National Oil Corporation (NOC) set a goal of nearly doubling oil production to 3 million bbl/day by 2012. In November 2009, the NOC announced that that target may slip to as late as 2017. Libya faces a long road ahead in liberalizing the socialist-oriented economy, but initial steps – including applying for WTO membership, reducing some subsidies, and announcing plans for privatization – are laying the groundwork for a transition to a more market-based economy. The non-oil manufacturing and construction sectors, which account for more than 20% of GDP, have expanded from processing mostly agricultural products to include the production of petrochemicals, iron, steel, and aluminum. Climatic conditions and poor soils severely limit agricultural output, and Libya imports about 75% of its food. Libya’s primary agricultural water source remains the Great Manmade River Project, but significant resources are being invested in desalinization research to meet growing water demands.


Here, in fact, the entire layout has contained and all interests are clearly visible. Add to this already started sharing of skin of non-killed bear and talks about that the noble Western countries will not allow to important energy supplier turn to Somalia.

To Libya in the short term a bleak future is revealed. This opinion was expressed by Robert Danin, a leading expert on Middle Eastern and African issues from the New York Council on Foreign Relations [note: the backward translation of names of persons and organizations from Russian may be not correct — V.]. «While few will mourn the departure Gaddafi from the scene, it will create a huge vacuum of power» — he warned.
According to some experts the most serious guarantee that Libya won’t slide into chaos like the Somali is its oil. «Oil, when fully recovered its production, will be able to buy social cohesion in the arduous transition period and will ensure that Western countries can not afford to calmly look at how the major oil exporter will be breaking up» — said The New York Times. Libya is a 12-th largest oil exporter and the Italy, France and Germany, which together imported last year half of Libyan oil, are extremely dependent on the supplier.
«If there would be major disruptions in oil supplies, leading European countries might consider much more serious steps, including military intervention to protect own core vital interests», — underlines Robert Danin.


Gaddafi is extremely disadvantageous to the West, deprive foreign investors of very tasty piece of revenue, and, besides, being unruly and unreliable part in the vertical of exploitation (today he makes the defiant speeches, saying in politically incorrect and loudly manner to serial killers that they are murderers [24; 25], and tomorrow at the most wrong time he may cut off supplies). No, they need a Mubarak — accommodating and industrious manager, the colonial administrator, whose role is a night watchman, he shouldn’t intervene in anything and just should get his share and keep the proper regime (and no «socialist-oriented economies»!). No, Carthage must be destroyed!

The local big bourgeoisie
In Libya, as part of the economy which maintains social orientation, have been formed the large capitalist production, the large by the standards of the region and not only (see statistics). «What! — the leftist-touchy may exclaim out. — There is a capitalism in the Libya?» And faints. In small countries — such as Cuba, Belarus, North Korea, Vietnam, Libya, etc. — the consistent and full socialism is impossible in a separate mode. These countries do not possess the necessary resources (Libya, e.g. can not provide itself with foodstuff) and are therefore forced: either be integrated into the international division of labor (if allowed), allowing to some extent necessary capitalist relations, but remaining social-oriented. Or tolerate blockades and sit on a «starvation diet». Under current circumstances, for separate countries, which are not occupying 1/6 of the terrestrial parts of the world, the classic socialism out of «textbook» is not compatible with living standards and consumption levels which are normal by the standards of developed countries (the guys with the printing press and aircraft carriers will be taken care, be sure). So we have to choose, or temporarily remove the cross or to wear shorts. And gentlemen, leftists-touchy, do not understand that, requiring to show them a true socialist state, and not just any, but at the same time it should have beat to the palp capitalist states in terms of, well, standards of living through faster productivity growth and other declared socialist advantages. Therefore, all countries, dodge/emerge in every way possible out from under the Juggernaut of imperialism are defined by such leftists as worthless and has consistently received from them over the head with an ideological paddle.
Thus, Libya has developed large and profitable capitalist production. Like any other source of profit, especially if these profits are delicious (and in Libya they are), this production draws competitors wishing to participate (this is not specific of Libya, it happens literally on every market or industry, with literally every monopoly which strength is constantly being tested). For this reason the big bourgeoisie of Libya splits into two parts:
– Anticompradors — the Gaddafi’s regime supporters. They already have a business and share in the surplus value extracted. They have got it with a huge risk and have defended in a protracted struggle.
– Compradors — the Gaddafi’s regime opposition. Today they have good chance to get the place in the international division of labor, expand sales markets, to shake off the ballast of social wellfare for «rogue»-masses and thereby to increase their profits. They have very good chances for really fat snatch! Their allies (their future sahibs and backing) — they’re just a song. And thats beyond the fact that there is no such crime in which bourgeoisie would not participate for the sake of profit.
It is the key contradiction in today’s confrontation. It is here concentrated interests of tribes and clans, what are so much discussed today. That is why the parties at the outset of the conflict were well armed and well trained to work with existing weapons (it is not concern those small ragtag groups which show off in front of the journalists). And that’s why the «popular uprising» was seized precisely those regions where the main oil and gas infrastructure is concentrated, and the uprising from the start was poorly correlated with country’s population density, and the fights were conducted in the cities, which are the main export terminals or centers of refinery (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. The density of population and infrastructure of oil and gas industries of Libya

Local middle and petty bourgeoisie
The position of the middle and petty bourgeoisie as ever ambivalent. On the one hand, in the long term the middle and petty bourgeoisie of Libya will receive all the same as such bourgeoisie of Tunisia or Egypt, what about the kind of bourgeoisie is moaning now (sometimes groans so that it comes to self-immolation, with what the riots in Tunisia have been started). On the other hand, medium and small business will drool about the vast sector of the potential tourism industry, which is impossible under the current regime with sanctions and his constant conflict with the countries where the main markets are. It promises a huge profit potential to the middle and petty bourgeoisie. And with the smell of big money bourgeois ready for a lot, willing to risk much, including breaking his neck. As of “Wai-wai!” — so that’s when there will be! Now, the Gadhafi «prevents efficient owner to get rich».

Working classes
Above when analyzing the statistics we saw that there is a socially oriented economy in Libya, which is top in this field not only for the region, but even for the entire continent.
In this case, the bourgeoisie, in alliance with the Western media, of course, muddy the waters:

“The rebels’ demands were for economic reforms, like creating job opportunities for the unemployed and increasing salaries and improving social welfare.
But when we, the army, saw mercenaries arrive in the streets of the city of al-Bayda and start killing innocent people, we decided to quit the regime.”


Requirements Rebel: economic reforms, such as creating new jobs, increasing wages and improving social welfare — that is what says one of the commanders of the rebels, ex Gaddafi’s bureaucrat, who suddenly recover his’s sight — thank Allah! — former high-ranking functionary of the regime, Colonel Rasheed Rajab. Western journalist knowingly nods. It’s a lie, intended for us and the western average men. For the Western bourgeoisie such uncomfortable questions from the Western public are completely undesirable (it’s not that they are afraid of public opinion much, it’s just cheaper). Therefore, the devoured one should be a demon, and the demon should be made in plain language for Western people.
It is significant that we hear it only out of the lips of a suddenly become opposition functionaries and Western journalists. In the statements of ordinary people such a motive hardly occurs, and if it occurs, it is deprived of any concrete, there are dominated quite different propagandistic ones (the relentlessly spinning slogans which are borrowed from the media (like spells about Freedom’n’Democracy or from somewhere else about the «Allahuakbar»). It all comes down to «the people of Libya for 40 years waiting for freedom, so let Gadhafi go get lost» (see the marasmic report about the prison: first and foremost thing that made by the rebels in Tobruk were the acts of capturing and burning in no way meaningful prison, dismissing all prisoners. Why? Because the prison is «a symbol of 40 years of suffering» [12]. It tells a tale. For some reason I think that the motives to do so were much more pragmatic). What specific economic demands of ordinary Libyans participating in the unrest is not clear. At the same time, in Tunisia and Egypt economic demands prevailed overwhelmingly. Such as «I have 2 university degrees [showing copies of the diplomas], and for a long time I can not find a job, so let Mubarak go get lost» or «Their extortions stifle my small business, so let Ben Ali go get lost».

There is another evidence that questioning the statement about the lack of jobs. It is typical of Egypt and Tunisia that there are a noticeable emigration (see Table 1) and substantial backward money transfers (remittance inflows), which for Egypt in 2 (5.4% of GDP, 107 dollars per capita), and for Tunisia in 3 (4.9% of GDP, 191 dollars per capita) times higher than national defense spendings — 2.3%, 1.3%, respectively [7]. From what we can conclude that the Egyptians and the Tunisians in their own countries can not find work and are forced to seek work abroad as guest workers.
There is no emigration from Libya at all. And this despite the fact that Libya, actually, is a transit point on the way to Europe. It could be attributed to a compensatory influx of immigrants from Chad, where we can see significant exodus, probably distorting the migration rates in neighboring countries (see, e.g., Sudan in Table 1). But there are no the backward money transfers (remittance inflows) to Libya from abroad too (0% of GDP, $ 3 per capita on the very small population). What is practically impossible if there is mass exodus people of Libya as guest workers.
Conversely, when hostilities broke out, the endless stream of foreign workers start pouring out of the Libya, from respectable Europeans to unpretentious Asians, and also the citizens of Egypt and Tunisia in large quantities. What already caused the humanitarian catastrophe: there are hundreds of thousands of of people (mostly young healthy men), which have no place to sleep and which have nothing to eat. Т.е., получается, что Ливия испытывает не нехватку рабочих мест, а нехватку рабочих рук. That is it turns out that Libya was not experiencing a shortage of jobs, but shortages in labor resources.
In short, they palm off to us fake causes of the conflict, which can hardly be a reason for low mass demonstrations.

All that said Gaddafi’s regime is needed, in addition to anticomprador bourgeoisie, also to the working classes. The regime guarantees the social benefits for them. But the masses are fed with other illusions, because in the world of open information they are dispossessed their own class consciousness, and Gadhafi did not have cultural hegemony over them. None Gaddafi in the world do not have enough resources to shout global media machine down and to overcome the massive propaganda from the level of world mass-media industry. In addition the propaganda is enhanced by agitation of the local comprador bourgeoisie (remember how bypassing official channels in the late USSR bourgeois ideas were spread, and how they could sell themself and how tempting seemd their images, and what crap in fact those ideas and those bearers have turned out in the end?).
Why there is such paradox: when the working classes of the Egypt are suffered there is the certainty for their immediate class interests, while the working classes of the socially-oriented Libya has no such certainty? When self-consciousness is undeveloped, the only stimulus, the stimulus to the reasonable action is suffering. And the purpose of such action is the salvation of the experienced suffering (the original meaning of the word «stimulus» is a sharp stick with which to compel the movement of livestock). The lack of suffering do not impel in itself to any activity. Moreover, the absence of the pressure of necessity, directing, organizing and pushing in the back, can create conditions under which the fledgling consciousness, which is just starting to orient themselves in the real world and gain experience at random, will perform arbitrary actions, not directed at problems solving, but conversely leading to their emergence. Just like as a small child can not suspecting the danger of pushing granny’s knitting needles in the power receptacle, to see what will happen, or because the neighbor’s boy Yegor said it would be fun, especially if to touch it with tongue.
General patterns, which are correct for the individual human consciousness, are also valid for class-consciousness. If you want to exclude a situation in which the bourgeois-oriented jerk are repeatedly luring the innocent baby somewhere by the use of the sweetie, you should strive not to the endless admonitions of the immoral bourgeouis jerk, not to infinite guardianship, but to the education of an fully grown independent adult.
Therefore, the only real social basis of Gaddafi’s regime is disoriented. And it is possible thet the classes will have sold all of their rights (which are considered as natural ones) for a mess of pottage of liberal dummies (such as the right to speak when nobody can hear you and when nobody cares about what you speak, etc.). We Soviet people know about this marvelous zigzag of psychology not by hearsay. Whether caw the another crow in the whole crows throat, show upcoming events.

Class positions in relation to Gaddafi are summarized in Table 7.

Table 7. Class positions in relation to Gaddafi’s regime

The imperialist WestANTI
The local big bourgeoisie
The Local middle and petty bourgeoisieANTI
Working classesUNDECIDED

«Wait a minute! — Tells a reader. — But where are the Islamists, whom so much talk about bourgeois media / bourgeois politicians / bourgeois philistines / bourgeois nationalists and bourgeois leftists? Where is the «our everything» destined to explain literally everything in the Middle East?» Alas, my friends, we have to disappoint you, popes, allahakbars and such other religious obscurantists are not a class, but the interlayer, which does not play any independent role in the production, and therefore in the class struggle too. But instead they are ready to take sides with and adjust to an any ruling class, which promises them some profit, and to defame any class that threatens them with losses and even with elimination (as being of no use). The main function of religious organizations in respect to classes is ideological control and they provide a form of ideological domination. They can be used literally by any participant of the class struggle:
– By imperialist West — as a pocket devil and ram for tilting more progressive regimes (think how much supramarginal obscurantist regimes have been planted directly by USA);
– By local bourgeoisie (the comprador or not makes no difference) — as an institution of coercion to obey or as ram in the struggle for supremacy (especially religion is convenient in the case where revealing their true goals and interests is unwanted);
– By ordinary people — spontaneously, as a drug and pain medication.
In today’s Libya, e.g., the Islamists are at war with the Islamists and the most obscurantists of them enjoyed the full support and love of the US and Co. (you bet! After all these nice guys should pull chestnuts out of the fire for them). When you with haggard face are emphatically say: «The Islamists will come to power!», don’t forget to specify what exactly the Islamists and whose class interests they serve.


Part 1. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: The role of the region in the international division of labor. —
Part 2. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: Demography and Social Policy. —
Part 3. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: Class analysis. —
Part 4. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: The course of events and strategies. —


3 Responses to “Part 3. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: Class analysis”

  1. […] Part 3. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: Class analysis. —… Part 4. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: The course of events and strategies. […]

  2. […] Part 3. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: Class analysis. —… Part 4. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: The course of events and strategies. […]

  3. […] Part 3. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: Class analysis. —… Part 4. Libya, its neighbors and a bit of political economy: The course of events and strategies. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: