In the Land of the Brother Leader

Friday, December 30th, 2005 12:45 am by Neal

UPDATE: Michael Totten’s website is here.

(thanks to for this link). Here’s our take:

Straight off the airplane, he was confronted with the image of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi. Above an airport portrait, a sign “Partners Not Wage Earners” reminds the locals (and tourists) that this is a Communist country. You are above money, so don’t expect to see any.*

Later into the trip, the image revolted him:

I felt ashamed that I first found his portraits even slightly amusing. The novelty wore off in less than a day, and he’s been in power longer than I’ve been alive.

He was an abstraction when I first got there. But after walking around his outdoor laboratory and everywhere seeing his beady eyes and that arrogant jut of his mouth, it suddenly hit me. He isn’t merely Libya’s tyrant. He is a man who would be god.

His Mukhabarat, the secret police, are omniscient. His visage is omnipresent. His power is omnipotent.

And he is deranged. He says he’s the sun of Africa. He threatens to ban money and schools. He vanquished beauty and art. He liquidates those who oppose him. He says he can’t help it if the people of Libya love him so much they plaster his portrait up everywhere. Fuck him. I wanted to rip his face from the walls.

Read In the Land of the Brother Leader, by Michael J. Totten, for more details from his gripping journey to Libya. Read about the inhuman, concrete towers that dominate the wasteland-urban-landscape; the complete and utter repression of human expression; the hidden and covered women; the tragic, forced relocation of the Berbers from the beautiful city Ghadames. And see what the locals think of utopia.

* An even more sinister interpretation of the sign is, “Here your life is dictated, not chosen. You are free from the burden of a choosing a career, competing for money, worrying about success or failure. You are free from the burden of choice.” — neal

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