the significance of life, the significance of death

by Molly C

I don’t have any judgments on the good or evil of Muammar Gaddafi’s life or death (and current contexts of the Obama Doctrine and campaign coming, of the Arab Spring and American autumn and the Global year coming, of massive arms proliferation and coming failures of international institutions).  There will surely be many relevant and consequential such judgments proffered, as History works to bend this year into a straight line of Progress and force some singular sense out of this complexity.

I remember a bar conversation on the “Zim situation” with friends in Botswana, who sighed and toasted, unhappy and unsad: “Bob will die.”  Colonialism dies hard.  There is so much to mourn.  We must go deep into the rubble of history to recover some justice that is not already sold out to compromise.

Good and evil in his life and death I find a false political choice.  Some answers seem ethically and morally self-evident but are politically fraught.  Or they seem politically necessary but anti-democratic.  Why would we make this choice?  How did we get here?  There are no clear choices here, and there was never pure sovereignty.  The violence of the sovereign is embedded in deeper histories of violence.  And why attempt the choice?  It was our sovereign’s decision.  I don’t imagine the 2012 elections really being the most influential factor here.

For better or worse, only God will judge Gaddafi.  History has bigger fish to fry.