A quarter-century ago, when he first came to power, Libya's strongman Mu`ammar al-Qadhdhafi had a major role in the Islamic revival. He spoke of Muslim solidarity, the application of Islam's sacred law, and required the use of Arabic. With time, however, as the idiosyncrasy of his Islam became apparent, fundamentalist Muslims turned against Qadhdhafi and he turned against them. By now, Qadhdhafi finds himself one of the very few defenders of socialism left among the rulers in the Middle East. In this excerpt from a speech delivered on July 29, 1995,to an international audience at the Pan-Arab Symposium in Libya,1 Qadhdhafi not only revealed that his trademark eccentricities remain in place, but that he has moved from radical to reactionary. No longer does he hope to establish a new system but he longs to return to the goals of the 1960s.
This tragic state in which the Arab nation finds itself . . . cannot continue because if it continues at this pace it will threaten the civilization of the Arab nation with serious deterioration and could even lead to its extinction. The extinction of the nation might mot be biological it could be the extinction of its pan-Arabism and its civilization. Some groups of Arabs might still live on the surface of the earth, but they would be living like Gypsies. . . .
What is happening now is that those whose voices are being heard are the armed Islamic groups. This is like when the land becomes arid and lacks useful plants; only the bad plants remain. These plants can be green and can exist, but despite their green color they are the expression of the failure of the soil, the well and the land. The armed Islamic groups are a real expression of the bankruptcy of the Arab nation and land, because resorting to metaphysics and senseless suicides and resorting to the obsolete doctrines expounded by the Salafiyah [an Islamic reform movement advocating a return to roots] is an expression of failure and ruin. . . .
Now when you return [to your countries], each one of you will start setting up revolutionary committees to convince the masses to take power and to liberate the Arab land, achieve Arab unity, and establish socialism. Do not listen to the absurd talk that socialism has collapsed and that socialism has failed. Socialism has never been established and therefore cannot have failed. If socialism is established, it well never fail. Socialism means justice, means the wealth of the society shared among the individuals of that society. It also means ending injustice and exploitation and the destroying of unjust relations. This cannot collapse. . . .
The world knows state capitalism and capitalism of the private sector. State capitalism has collapsed and capitalism of the private sector in the West will collapse. There is no doubt about that. But we must fight for socialism and we must convince people about socialism. This is the fight. We must convince them.
Do not believe what governments have been saying, that the revolutionary committees [in Libya] are terroristic. This is what America is saying. As far as America is concerned the Lebanese fighters are terrorists, the Palestinian fighters are terrorists, Qadhdhafi is a terrorist, [Gamal] Abdel Nasser would be termed a terrorist were he alive, the Prophet Muhammad would be termed a terrorist were he alive, and Jesus would be termed a terrorist. This is America for you. Anything that is not American is terrorism and is illicit. . . .
Is there anyone who is convinced that America should issue orders and we obey? America now is fixing the price of bread in the Arab countries through the World Bank. It fixes the price of your food in all the Arab towns that you talk about; the prices are fixed by America. Your food and drink are priced by America. Who is now fixing the price of food in the Arab countries? America and the World Bank -- which belongs to America. Who is fixing the value of our currencies? America fixes the value of your national currency. Never mind about saying who will rule and who will be foreign minister and who will be economy minister - this is a foregone conclusion. No person can form a government unless he consults the American Embassy.
1 Carried by the Libyan Television Network and translated by FBIS, July 31, 1995.