Life Under Dictatorship

By Sean Carroll | March 26, 2011 2:13 pm

As the fighting continues in Libya, the Gaddafi government has invited foreign reporters to Tripoli, as long as they stay in the Rixos hotel. They are barred from leaving to report on actual events, but occasionally get to hear government statements or get taken on organized tours for propaganda purposes.

That tightly-controlled system was violated this morning when Eman al-Obeidy, a Libyan woman from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, escaped from two days of imprisonment at the hands of Gaddafi’s militia. She managed to flee to the Rixos, where she told reporters about her ordeal. According to Obeidy, she was tied up, beaten, and raped by 15 men, who also defecated and urinated on her. She pleaded for her friends who are still in custody, and showed a number of bruises and injuries on her body.

Being surrounded by international media did not keep her safe, as she was soon confronted by security forces as she told her story. Despite resisting frantically and some attempts at intervention by journalists, she was taken away in a car. Hotel employees sided with the security forces, threatening Obeidy and using knives to hold off journalists who were trying to help her. Soon thereafter, government spokespeople accused her of being drunk and mentally ill, claiming that her story of rape and abuse was a fantasy.

Here’s a video of Obeidy being taken away. Warning: intense and very real.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Human Rights, World
  • Iranian studnet

    There are lots of document that can prove such a thing (raping, torturing and …) happening in prisons of Iran. But, unfortunately, west Medias do not pay attention these documents and stories. Government killed hundreds of protestors after their fake presidential election of 2009. And now, there are hundreds are protestors who are torturing in prisons of Iran and every week government execute tens of opponents.

    Like Libyan, Iranians also need support of people around the world.

  • David George

    What a coincidence — Libya, isn’t that the place where there’s a war going on? Where the dictator fell out of favor when he mentioned maybe nationalizing their oil industry? But he didn’t have the sense to embed the journalists. And then the barbarians let the poor woman live! What a bunch of depraved barbaric clowns. Saddam ate babies, you know. I wonder how much depleted uranium has been fired at the barbarian dictator so far. Not as much as in Iraq, I bet. Maybe not even as much as in Gaza. Say, how about a “human interest” piece on the effects of depleted uranium?

  • AAS

    So now it is Sean’s turn to advocate human rights!

    Interesting to see how US is worried about civilians in Libya. Why didn’t they raise their voice for people of Bahrain?

    It is foolish to believe that America has compromised its views about their new position in the world. Obama is only a new face for American exceptionalism.

    The only true agent that can bring change to US policies is for it to be under constant attack so that it would be brought to it’s knees like a mad cow! Uncle Sam delightfully deserves this!

  • Pingback: In Libya, one struggle to be heard – Minneapolis Star Tribune | OPERATION ODYSSEY DAWN()

  • Malcolm

    sickening! sickening!

  • alex c

    @AAS, @David George

    Why on earth are you two standing up for Gaddafi? He’s operated like this for years.

  • Trent1492

    David Says: What a coincidence — Libya, isn’t that the place where there’s a war going on?

    Trent Says: Yes, David that is where a rebellion erupted against a regime that tried to suppress protests by killing scores of protestors. A coincidence that the same regime engages in such behavior? Hardly.

    David Says: Where the dictator fell out of favor when he mentioned maybe nationalizing their oil industry?

    Trent Says: You just made that up, did you not?

    David Says: But he didn’t have the sense to embed the journalists.

    Trent: No he did not have that sense he only confined them to a hotel surrounded by government minders and security agents. Then some one who was viciously victimized by said regime had the gall to go to said journalist and complain about her treatment. Clearly a Zionist agent. /s

    David Says: And then the barbarians let the poor woman live!

    Trent Says: You did not watch the video did you? If you had she said mentioned having escaped. Tell me, David, since you clearly think this women’s story is a hoax: How do you convince some one to be arrested by a hostile government that is known to brutally treat its prisoners? What incentive do you use? What evidence do you have?

  • David George

    I don’t defend Gaddafi, he’s the tin pot dictator of the week. But I am not impressed by crocodile tears shed for some phony “human rights” PR setup when it’s really about oil and strategic advantage. And along with that global war goes real suffering by defenseless people who are tyrannized on all sides. I don’t see any tears shed for those millions of people — dead by depleted uranium, land mines, cluster bombs and whatever else the generals figure might come in useful in the long war of global capital against the weak of Earth, or displaced without any future. (Now I’m starting to get mad, so I’ll shut up — just one more — Democrats, Republicans, and Social Darwinists make me sick!)

    And no, I didn’t make it up about Gaddafi’s recent inclination for nationalization. Check it out for yourself.

  • forester


    Notice how the U.S. and its allies have not intervened in Zimbabwe to quell the draconia actions of R. Mugabe going back as long as Gaddafi’s. Why is this? It is primarily because there is no advantage to be gained by invading this small relatively resource poor African country. As unpalatable as it may be, nations do not invade other countries, spend money, risk personel, and risk retaliation unless there is some geostrategic advantage to doing so; in fact, I cannot think of one example of a genuinely humanitarian intervention in recorded history– can anyone else?

    Speaking of women, the Western intervention in Libya, and other “humanitarian interventions”, is sort of like a man intervening to stop another man from beating up his girlfriend with the central motive behind doing so is to have the other man’s girlfriend become his girlfriend. She may indeed benefit even though the interventionist’s motive is less than pure.

  • Trent1492

    Shorter David: But the Americans!

  • Trent1492


    Is it your position that unless you take on all troubled spots in the world you can take on none? What kind of moral reasoning is this? Tell me, when Vietnam invaded Cambodia and ended the genocide going on there did you object. Too you young? Well then do think it was wrong for Vietnam to end the genocide in Cambodia? If not, why not?

  • Alan

    Realistically you simply cannot attack every nasty country within a UN mandate. Look how difficult it was to get this through the UN – 5 abstentions (I thought Susan Rice was tremendous at the UN) and the use of force under the UN has to be passed without a veto by a dissenting country, I think. And Russia and China abstained on this one probably because of their own internal suppression methods and deals with Libya. Maybe they were sitting on the fence because they didn’t know how it would turn out – best to be noncommital for them!

    Here in the UK, Parliament votes to support (or not) such military action, which they did for Libya. They would never support military action everywhere and a UK government would probably fall if tried this – judgement would be questioned and the Prime Minister would go. So it just can’t be done. You can criticize and sanction but that’s it.

    Sure, Libya has oil but people started this revolution in Libya, not oil lobbyists, after which Gadaffi violently attacked these people. Also the UK Prime Minister has been the moral driving force behind this defense of the Libyan people and he has been in close contact with Obama on this from the beginning. So there is also powerful punchy morality at work here.
    You only have to see Cameron speak about this to realize his resolve and anger and he also said very early on, to his great credit, that he would attack Gaddafi without a UN resolution. So this one is not about oil. But maybe hopefully it was a moral wake up for Cameron and the UK Government (and a few other western governments) because we were trading with Libya for years. It’s a crap double-dealing world.

  • Milan

    I am very disappointed to see this kind of piece on cosmic variance. The western media is so obviously corrupt to anyone paying the slightest attention. And our foreign policy… do we really need to discuss that?

    I am really surprised that someone who employs the scientific method as a career fails to be skeptical of these stories. I don’t know if this story is true, but taking our media’s track record it is most likely a flat out fabrication. And even if it isn’t, this situation in Libya was created by the west and is now supposedly being ‘fixed’. This is a war for resources. The west is just stealing stuff from the rest of the world.

    The whole humanitarian catastrophe is just a cheap excuse so we can feel noble while enjoying the benefits of these policies. It is shameful enough that you don’t raise your voice against this… But repeating propaganda on a science blog is just pathetic… You feel better now that you are saving the world?

  • EA

    @ Milan,

    You think you are this amazing open minded person who can not be fooled by the western propaganda, don’t you? Then consider this…

    Has it ever occurred to you that there might be other ways of assessing the situation in a foreign country than just listening/reading western news? Like talking to a native of the country who can probably tell you about the situation better than some new agencies.

    Being and Iranian studying in US, I was very pleased when after the green movement in Iran people approached me and wanted to know more about the social and political situation in Iran from someone who has lived there for most of his life. Maybe you could try it too! Maybe it is not all western propaganda! Maybe there are brutal bastards out there torturing, killing and raping their own people!

    I sincerely think you are the one who should be shameful, for being such an idiot.

  • clericpope

    Aljazeera has also reported on this incident so I don’t see what the western medias bias (whether true or not) has to do with anything. Unless your suggesting that the western media orchestrated it and then reported it which requires quite an imagination to accept. I think the western powers are doing the right thing by intervening in Libya whether they are doing it in good faith or not will be questioned by many people who see that the same countries have not been even vocal enough when it comes to Yemen (a U.S ally) or Bahrain. Qaddafi’s mentality is that anyone who questions his rule is an enemy of the Libyan state and he is willing to eliminate all such people (even if they number in the millions). Yemeni president is not as crazy as Qaddafi although his stubbornness to stick to power has caused the loss of too many lives that no president or person is worth. Since I come from a Shia family my views about the situation in Bahrain could well be biased. U.S and its allies would be worried that in a democracy in Bahrain the shias will come in power. Any shia led government will most definitely be very close to Iran. Imagine a new Jewish country, it will most definitely be very close to Israel. So when it come to Bahrain the Western powers are in a catch-22. Do the right thing and go with the people of Bahrain and you strengthen iran’s influence in the region. Keep quiet and the King will do everything to stay in power which is morally unacceptable to the West. It is like the time when the west was pushing for elections in Palestine which Hammas won.

    I don’t get people’s anger towards Sean. Is he just the closest American you can vent your frustrations on? Alex c don’t those two are not advocating Qaddafi they are angry at the west’s double standard on certain issues, completely different to what your saying. This lady is one tough person. Respect to her. Funny that the oppression of Shias in Saudi Arabia although accepted by all is not even making the news. Oil vs human rights. Oil is the winner always

  • Micka

    I hope she will get out but I am saddened to say she may never be seen again. :( What a disgusting country, did ANYBODY learn from WW2?

  • Milan

    @EA thanks for the compliment…

    having grown up in a troubled country and spending half of my youth protesting (the kind when police beats you every other day and people get killed) against a dictator I have some idea of what you are talking about… I also wished for the west to intervene and help us and when they finally did it became quite obvious what was happening… good luck with that…

    @clericpope the west is quite successful at orchestrating these kinds of things… remember wmds?

    the point is that this kind of story has no place on a science blog… if you want to be a political activist then step up and talk about everything all the time… cover the whole picture… if you’re going to post a single horror story in months, true or not, then, at least to me, you just seem emotionally driven and have no idea what you are talking about…

  • clericpope

    The rebels are happy with the west as so far they are benefiting from the western support. The moment the rebels feel that the west is after their resources they will turn against them. Lets hope that the west is not punked as they where in Afghanistan. They once armed the mujaheddin who fought the Soviets only to fight amongst themselves later. The westerners turned their back and Pakistan created and pushed the Taliban in to Afghanistan who are now good buddies of Alqaeda and are now a threat to both Afghanistan and Pakistan itself. What I am saying is that the Libyan people will need continuous support and attention from the west for years to come. If a civil war continues for years to come than it is a slap in the face. In that case the intervention would have served no purpose (that is of helping the Libyan people). I have spoken for the shia people only to see that the Iranian regime has violated some of its own people as the two Iranians here have said. O’boy what a world we live in.

    The culprit is religion. I better stop.

    Milan if you read the blog intro it clearly says that Sean and other contributors talk on any issue they find interesting. How can you tell people what to do and what not to do? ( Ironically I am doing it to you. hahaaa).

  • wds

    Man, what is up with the comments on this one. Must be something in the water.

    Anyway, to those claiming that this is about resources, basic logic should tell you otherwise. If “the West” (as if that’s one bloc) just wanted Libya’s resources, they would have sat back and let Gaddafi squash the rebellion (he was succeeding at just that until a few days ago). This would have been utterly cynical, but it would have restored “stability” in the country quite quickly, and thus led to a stable source of oil, which apparently you think is all we want.

    Now when the leaders of many countries worldwide (NOT just the west) decided to take a moral stand against Gaddafi’s brutal repression of his citizens (and the thousands of innocent civilians killed), NOW you accuse those leaders of being just after the resources? Just can’t win with some people.

  • Alan

    I just heard on Sky News an interview with a Libyan government spokesman that they were giving Eman al-Obeidy a lawyer and promised reporters they could interview her in a couple of days. They are desperately trying to appear human.

    A brilliant piece here on how a leading French philosopher got President Sarkozy to go for military action against Gadaffi.

    Just went with his gut feelings to protect innocents. He was in the right place to influence the situation and did it. Beautiful.

    There was also an interview with a senior RAF commander two days ago. “We are watching over the peaceful people of Libya”. Nice

  • Neal J. King

    I think it is a fair question, Why should we intervene in Libya when we didn’t do anything for Bahrain or for Zimbabwe?

    As a matter of moral principle, I don’t see that there is a lot to differentiate among these cases.

    I suspect that there is an oil issue: Where an intervention would pose a direct threat to our access to oil, we won’t do it.

    What I think is special to Libya is that the people living there have risen up and have come very close, on their own, to succeeding. (Up until a few days before the strike, it looked like they were winning.) It seems as though it would take relatively little effort to help them over the hump.

    It’s the difference between rescuing someone from drowning when he’s 100 meters off-shore, and you would have to swim out and try to rescue him; or when he’s 1 meter off the shore, but exhausted and can’t quite make it. On moral principles, they’re equally deserving; but on psychological principles, I think one has a harder time saying “no” in one case.

  • Milan

    @clericpope I just admire what they are doing by speaking for science and rationality and feel disappointed that they cant keep the same standard here. I’m not trying to tell them what to do…

    it is never that simple when you see these things for yourself… many books can be written on just the key issues of any single conflict in the world… this is a very important point that many people can’t seem to understand…

    instead of a genuine effort to help, otherwise smart people engage in endless debates on whether the intervention was a ‘right or wrong thing to do’ or some similarly noble issue and generate the most elaborate and plausible sounding theories that you can imagine… all of them having very little to do with the reality of the situation… we call that arm chair intellectualism…

    so, instead of a thorough analysis of the issues by someone knowledgable on the subject (preferably an outsider who has spent a significant amount of time there AND spent a lot of time studying the issues) we get a horror story that seems to justify a military intervention from a country with a long record of horrible foreign policy… I can get that by turning on the tv, thank you very much…

  • Brian137

    Thank you for posting the article, Sean.

  • Brian137

    Humanitarian concerns constitute a large part of the World’s motivation.

  • Trent1492

    Milan Says: so, instead of a thorough analysis of the issues by someone knowledgable on the subject (preferably an outsider who has spent a significant amount of time there AND spent a lot of time studying the issues) we get a horror story that seems to justify a military intervention from a country with a long record of horrible foreign policy…

    Trent Says: You do realize that:

    1. The war was ongoing before this person showed up?

    2. The U.K , France, Canada, and Spain have been involved.

    3. It is the U.K and France that pushed for action?

    Of course we should also note that you have failed to provide even a hint of evidence for your skepticism.

  • spyder

    reminds me of a song:

    We’ll be fighting in the streets
    With our children at our feet
    And the morals that they worship will be gone
    And the men who spurred us on
    Sit in judgment of all wrong
    They decide and the shotgun sings the song

    Change it had to come
    We knew it all along
    We were liberated from the fall that’s all
    But the world looks just the same
    And history ain’t changed
    ‘Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war

  • Tevong

    Some of the comments here leave me more disheartened than the video, if that was even possible.

  • Low Math, Meekly Interacting

    There appears to be this great urge on the part of of Western leaders to Do Good in the Middle East. The most obvious results are the interminable Israeli-Palestinian conflict, theocracy in Iran, the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam Hussein, two Gulf Wars, a succession of brutally repressive dictatorships armed with America weapons, and loads of cheap oil.

    The time is long past when we should have figured out that the West ruins everything it touches there. The actions of the West have never been about helping the Middle East, free of Western geopolitical interests. We have never acted “morally” in the region, and the disastrous consequences of this legacy mean “moral” involvement of foreign powers is likely precluded. I can’t help but think if we stopped meddling in their affairs, both the West and the Middle East would be better off. Surely the historical record of unremitting, abject failure in the region is evidence enough that some radical change in approach is desperately needed.

    The urge to Do Good can be powerful. Seems to me the best way to help Arab world in the long run is to fight acting upon that urge using the conventional methods. All evidence indicates such involvement only makes things worse.

  • Eric Habegger

    Low math, I would agree with your argument except for one thing. What occurs is as you say, but I think the West, and especially the Americans, have an intrinsic blood lust and greed. It seems to be a thing that dares not reveal itself above the subconscious level. What occurs instead is a perverse need to rationalize ones impulse by always looking for all the stars to align, where all the outward circumstances will mitigate against our being the perpetrator of evil, where we can say that we are only acting on the behalf of terribly victimized nations.

    So yes, we convince ourselves what we do is for the benefit of other nations. But it for us and we just deceive ourselves. We have never been an inward looking nation.

  • JMW

    Let’s not kid ourselves. There are concrete realpolitik motivations for the west intervening in Libya where it has not intervened in other similar situations before, and where it is not intervening in Bahrain or elsewhere.

    1) Western leaders wish to appear to muslims that they are capable of acting in humanitarian, disinterested fashion; this is to counteract accusations of only intervening when political or economic interests are involved. Of course, there are economic interests involved, as Italy gets much of its oil from Libya. But England, France, USA, and Canada have little or no economic ties to Libya, and they all want to win the hearts and minds of the masses of Arabia as a means of counteracting the appeal of Islamist extremists (which western governments rather overestimate). So by acting in support of a popular uprising against an unpopular tyrant, they are trying to gain credibility as acting in the interests of the people of the region rather than the interests of themselves or their puppets.

    2) In acting against Libya, they are acting against a leader, Khaddafi, who has no international support anywhere. He is tolerated by the international community as long as he does nothing outside his borders; but no one will lift a finger to save him. So he is the perfect target of opportunity.

    3) The governments of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are faithful allies who provide (in the case of Bahrain) docking facilities for the US 5th fleet and other benefits. So intervening there would be dicey at best. And by still being committed to Iraq and Afghanistan for some time to come, the west can realistically claim to be “too busy” to intervene everywhere.

    Khaddafi is no idiot – or rather, in the mathematics of political survival he has some practical ability. He knows that to survive he has to frame this as a battle of muslim vs. christian, which he’s been doing. He knows that he can hang for quite a while if he correctly assesses how much of his behaviour the west will tolerate before committing to take him out. This is why he announced a cease-fire when there wasn’t one; then blamed the rebels for violating it, and will now probably dial back his military offensive and hope to ride it out until the west gets tired and goes home. If he can last that long, and still has significant air and armour left at that time, he’ll resume the offensive.

    He’s also desperately, I imagine, trying to assess what the west will do when and if the rebels begin to advance, and start moving west towards Tripoli. The west’s stated aim is to prevent him from massacring his own people – will the west continue to provide a no-fly zone if it looks like the rebels are likely to take the offensive and turn this into a civil war between equals? Especially if it looks like they might win?

    And what about the west? What if they withdraw their no-fly zone when it seems the rebels are starting to win, and Khaddafi resumes bombing? Will the west lose yet more credibility for not following through to the ugly end?

    Make no mistake – the west has, by this action, committed itself to an Afghanistan-style campaign, i.e., using overwhelming air superiority and letting locals find the ground battles, with the aim of effecting regime change. If they haven’t realized that, then they’re risking doing a half-baked job and leaving Khaddafi in place and permitting either a massacre of the rebels, or a long-term civil war in which they make sure no one side gets too much of an advantage over the other.

    It could get real ugly.

  • Mark Weitzman

    Just a few days before his intervention the President held a conference on bullying in our schools and how we must fight it – yet the US is always the bully in world affairs – we always attack the weak and the hated. Notice we never attack a country with nuclear weapons – the leaders of Iran and other countries are not totally stupid its just a matter of time before we push all small/medium aggressive countries to obtain nuclear weapons so they won’t have to be worried about an American attack.

  • Brian137

    There is a lot of love and kindness in the world.

  • David George

    #32 Brian 137 —

    Indeed, but there is a severe deficit of love and kindness where it is most needed. And conversely, there is a severe deficit of money where it is most needed. The love is mainly in the roots, and the money is mainly in the flowers. Now if someone could figure out how to water the roots with more money, and shine more love on the flowers, we might get somewhere.

    Meanwhile, love can’t stop a bullet once it’s fired.

  • réalta fuar

    Countries whose leaders fail to look after their citizens best interests give rise to revolutions, so western leaders should hardly be blamed for doing exactly what they’re elected to do. Some people who comment here seem to think it’s quite reasonable for the U.S. to intervene anywhere in the world it wants to, just so long as those people get to pick what is a “just cause” (as opposed to the elected leaders of said country). There’s really only one thing that one can be sure of in the terribly complex Libyan situation: regardless of what ultimately happens, the United States will be blamed for it.

  • Brian137

    David George,
    Thank you for responding to my post (#32).

    I am not sure what you mean here: “The love is mainly in the roots….

  • Brian137

    …love can’t stop a bullet once it’s fired.

    It looks to me as if a lot of bullets that might have been directed against the innocent were stopped before they were fired.

  • David George

    #35 Brian137 —

    I had the following written out before I read your #36 comment, I will put it first then comment on #36.

    Thank you too — now I get to expound!

    I mean that if a human society is a living organism (or an organization of living creatures), the metaphor is of a plant, and the roots are the workers whose labor converts the raw material of Earth, by which the organism lives, into a form useable by the whole organism. And they then send the fruit of their labor up the line. They used to be subsistence farmers and craftsmen, as well as slaves. (Today they are slaves of a pernicious system under which they are “free” in the sense that the masters are freed from the responsibility of looking after them. They are not freed from the masters!)

    Before people are slaves, and even after they are enslaved, they work for love. They live in a community unknown to a hereditary ruling class (which may as well be a different species). The community’s practical forms may be a religion, or it may be a system of extended family, or it may be simply a system of honor. But where it is sustained, it sustains itself on love — love your husband/wife, love your family, love your neighbor as yourself. It’s like a loving exchange. Exchange of love creates harmony, and that is power against death (which was always close by).

    I believe this community is the historical state of the unknown human race (the one the history books generally ignore in favor of the wars of the power elites). It is a fragile state, easily poisoned, subverted or divided against itself, but when it is harmonic it is powerful. In the plant metaphor, the roots are watered with love — people work for, or by, love. (And it is virtually self-evident that a certain portion of work is good for your health and is also good for the society’s health.) Right now, the roots are in a virtual state of chaos — unemployment, underemployment, underpayment, dispossession, etc. — imposed by the master class. But for all their troubles, they are where the love mainly is and always has been.

    I believe money can be understood as (among other things) a system of artificial love. The more artificial love there is in the system, the less natural love. That is not to say that money is evil, because it isn’t. Historically it is simply a promise to pay for work. The issuer promises to pay you for your current labor at a future time (for example, when the next crop of calves arrive — payment in kind), and the coin is the token of the promise. Then the coin is negotiable — the promise is transferrable to immediately available goods or services. And so the long “climb” to “modern civilization” begins. Like all living creatures, societies always want to grow, to create new systems (by the power of human imagination). A constant task is to figure out whether a system’s development is harmonic or chaotic. Is the “dream” healthy, or is it sick? (I think of the modern American system as one that operates largely on snake oil exchanges — while prohibiting healthy or therapeutic substances, thus tending to pervert them. A lot of people swallow the snake oil, but you can also get sick just from the fumes.)

    I am starting to stray. I hope you see where this goes. At some point the artificial love tends to drive out the natural love, especially at its source, and especially when the source (the “flower” in my metaphor) issues the money to itself! The money issuing class has no love — it is sociopathic, almost out of necessity. The power must pretend to be impersonal in order to be “impartial” (a lost cause), then the conflicts of social “principle” become incomprehensible. And of course power attracts sociopaths clever enough to market various snake oil remedies, people are poisoned by the snake oil, or maybe at some point they won’t swallow it even when the rulers put huge energy into controlling the dream (thought) by media manipulation or by directly prohibiting certain classes of thought. The noxious ruling class then serves only itself, then its only security is in armed force — justified domestically by some “threat”. When there is war it should be fairly obvious that the society is not harmonic — it is disintegrating. When was America last without a designated war? The malicious and fraudulent “war on drugs” alone has been going on for forty years.

    Maybe this metaphor could be quantified — say, the velocity of loving exchange varies inversely with the velocity of money exchange (or something like that). Or, whatever harmony exists in the roots is due to mainly to natural love; the per capita fraction of harmony due to money increases in proportion to the amount of money, but the total harmony per capita decreases proportionately as the amount of money increases. So, quantitatively, most of the love is in the roots since most people of Earth are in the roots. That is overly simplistic but it gives the germ of the metaphor.

    But there is an absolute basic need for money exchange when people are separated from what sustains them (food and water). And most people, if not already removed, are being removed from the source of their sustenance. Sadly the modern global system cannot grow on natural love alone (nor by artificial manipulated markets). Right now the roots are parched.

    And that is probably enough expounding by me for awhile, deep into uncharted territory and mixing metaphors.

    #36 Brian137 —

    We will never know, though. We do not know who the “innocent” are in Libya. The initial trouble, as I read, was begun by people who burned down a courthouse in Benghazi, and terrorized the city to the point where no one was on the street, not even the police. And I have a feeling there were agents provocateurs involved. I am not excusing Gaddafi for his brutal response, but maybe he doesn’t have the non-lethal crowd control apparatus that the U.S. has. Nor do I believe forty years in power is healthy. However, the more I read the more it seems this is a setup for control of Africa, and control of the so-called Arab “revolutions” — counter-revolutions is more like it. The rebels do include al Qaeda; there have been atrocities on their side also. But what really gets me is your apparently selective sympathy. How many innocent people do you suppose died directly from American weapons in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and before that in the first Gulf war? And how many are dying today in Afghanistan on Obama’s orders? His own words in his speech are pretty disgusting. Other people can turn a blind eye to atrocities, but not Americans? Give me a break! The U.S. media turns a blind eye to American atrocities on behalf of Americans, they don’t have to turn a blind eye because they don’t see them in the first place!

  • Eric Habegger

    David George, wow, what a great metaphor! As one grows older there seems to be longer and longer intervals in between learning genuinely inspired concepts. The plant analogy is one of them. Thank you.

    Brian123, I think the limitation on your thinking comes from your affiliation. We are all born into a world in which certain things just are. Our social and governmental affiliations are the most important. An area of growth for many people is to imagine another family or nation which they
    might have been born into, but through the power of fate they were not. Perform a meditative study of what it might be like to view the world from a personal world far removed from ones present affiliations.

    Warning!! Do this at your own own risk. It can be the start of a very rocky road once you make a conscious effort to try to do this. You will see all sorts of injustices in the world where you don’t presently see them and it will likely become harder and harder to bear. You have to be a courageous person to even start on this journey but it is ultimately worth the effort.

  • Milan

    chomsky in amsterdam

  • Brian137

    David and Eric,
    Thank you for commenting on my posts. My main point is that human beings have a virtually infinite amount of love, kindness, joie de vivre, or whatever one chooses to call it. You can prove this to yourself with a relatively small amount of introspection.

  • David George

    I think this Libya “revolution” is anything but. It is a total setup. No doubt the same outfits are involved in the “troubles” in Syria.

    To me that is an accurate assessment. (Sorry Milan I can’t view videos on this computer, but I believe you are on the right track.)

  • Hot Chocolate

    Poe’s Law?

  • Brian137

    I was extremely moved by the video in the OP. I am not very interested in discussions of who is right, who is wrong, who is good, who is bad, or political and social theories (not, as Jerry Seinfeld would say, that there’s anything wrong with that).

    But I was sorry to see a person – like me in some ways though different in others – apparently in such dire straits. I was happy to read the following sequel in today’s New York Times:


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


See More

Collapse bottom bar