The Dubious Anarchist


Surely the most interesting entry in Nick's dictator list is the man at number eight: Muammar al-Qaddafi, who's recently expressed interest in a rapprochement with the U.S.A. Qaddafi is that most unusual beast, an autocrat who pretends to be an anarchist. On at least three occasions, he's made a big show of abolishing the Libyan state. Which is all well and good, but some institution is responsible for all the censorship and extrajudicial executions that Amnesty International keeps complaining about, and it sure looks like a state to me.

Qaddafi's most recent display of state-slashing began in March 2000, when he abolished 12 ministries and declared that the remaining five would soon follow. "You have no government to complain against," the colonel then declared to the masses. "Now everything is in your hands and in the future you can complain to yourselves."

I'm trying to be more constructive in my criticisms, so I will say this for Qaddafi: In eliminating those 12 ministries, he did more in one day than the Gingrich Congress accomplished in two years. Of course, he's also a military dictator. I guess you can't have everything.