Moammar Gadhafi is dead and another revolution is over — or is it? The trouble with overturning a government is figuring out what to do next and getting it done before another uprising begins.
I know this firsthand. Most people would never suspect that there’s a revolutionary bone in my body, but there was a time …
Many moons ago, as a student at the University of Georgia, I was required to take a political science class. I was a big fan of regular science, but never cared for the political kind. It was an honors class, with only a dozen students gathered around a conference room table. We had an affable young professor with a bushy red moustache and a particular fondness for Che Guevera, and we liked his revolutionary notion of promising an “A” to everyone — with no exams — if we’d promise to actively participate in class.
And what a class. As an exercise in revolutionary politics, we decided to stage a coup and take over the Student Government Association. We printed up hundreds of handbills and posted them all over the massive campus: “SGA Abolished! Provisional governing committee in charge” (or something equally ridiculous).
We actually threw a scare into the SGA president, who came to visit our class afterward, but I thought the whole exercise was a farce — so I decided to take over the class.
The next week I did something that you could get away with 30 years before 9/11, but should never attempt today unless you like the idea of going to prison for a very long time. I showed up wearing fatigues and boots I’d picked up at an army surplus store, and a trench coat. I chose a seat at the end of the table, opposite the professor. Then, as he called the class to order, I propped my boots on the table, slid a 16 gauge shotgun from beneath my coat, and propped its double-barreled business end on my boots.”If our class can take over the SGA,” I said, “I can take over the class.”
The professor loved it. You could actually see his teeth beneath that big moustache.
There was one problem: I didn’t know what to do next. Taking over the class was a simple matter of being the only guy with a gun, even though it was very carefully unloaded. Leading the class was another matter, and I don’t even remember what happened next, though I’m sure it did not involve the campus police.
So, here’s my wish for success as Libya’s National Transition Council tries to bring peace and establish a new participatory government that grants respect and opportunity to all of the country’s people.
They face a long and treacherous road, and will need all the help they can get.
[Image adapted from Glenn Rikowski’s blog.]