Graveborn Musings—Libyan Solidarity Week

Last week’s news of Colonel Gaddafi’s death took us all by surprise, but we at the Muse Vessel wanted to show our support for those brave freedom fighters who ousted one of the world’s most brutal—albeit often comically insane—despots. And what better way to show our support than to show that we do fight under the same proud colors that they do:

From the forests of Jabal al-Akhdar to the mountains of Nafusa to the swamps of Tripoli, we proudly stand with our revolutionary brothers!

Anatomy of a Revolution

The Western media doesn’t really show how much the Libyan people have had to give up in order to escape from tyranny. In a very real sense, revolution is all about sacrifice, but not all sacrifices lead down the long road to freedom.

Sometimes one person will be sacrificed only to be replaced by one or more equally courageous, freedom fighters.

But to ensure that these brave martyrs do not give up their lives in vain, it is necessary to make sure that their sacrifices are focused towards achieving specific goals, such as removing key figures from the regime.

"Political assassination" has such an ugly ring to it

At other times, a sacrifice can serve a larger movement by helping to recruit more and more members to the cause; a grass-roots movement, if you will.

It is even possible for the sacrifice of some to ensure the survival of other, perhaps more powerful members of the resistance. The impetus that these courageous souls give to those who come after them can often turn the tide of battle.

For a corrupt junta that uses propaganda and misinformation to stay in power, the truth of what the ‘little people’ are willing to give up to eliminate them can strip away much of their power. Indeed, in such a confrontation, knowledge truly is power

Leading the Masses

While revolutions revolve around large numbers of people sharing a common cause, the importance of strong organization and leadership is widely recognized in the academic literature. While every popular resistance movement begins with the lower and middle classes, there is a need for at least a small numbers of people who can see the big picture. These visionaries help a movement to accelerate from an incoherent rabble to a well-oiled machine.

Leadership isn’t merely about more of the same; it’s about adding something qualitatively different to the movement. Leadership typically serves three main purposes: generating new recruits, enhancing the power of existing members, and weakening the resource base of the enemy.

Truly exceptional leadership can not only strengthen the movement, but even co-opt the enemy’s forces, leading them to defect. In extreme cases, it may even be possible to mobilize resources from outside the country, such as when the Libyan resistance was able to call in air support from NATO.

However, it is possible for the strains of leadership to be too much for some leaders, which can lead to behavior that is, at best, erratic

Moammar Gaddafi: Revolutionary, Ukrainian Nurse Aficionado and Gifted Ranter

The Moral Dilemma

Resisting governments that treat their people as disposable resources is a serious business, and those who would lead such movements often face the criticism that they are just as cold an uncaring as the regimes they oppose. This is a double-edged sword; powerful institutions can only rarely be toppled by protest marches alone, but resistance leaders must never treat their followers as mere fodder.

The danger comes from a small number of leaders who seem to revel in the deaths of the people on their own side, and are far too willing to spur others on to martyrdom.

Iraqi Militia Leader Muqtada al-Sadr


From an organizational standpoint, the goal of a revolutionary movement is to become self-sustaining; to reach a point where it can continue to grow even if the flow of resources on which it used to rely is cut off.

Strategically, of course, the goal is victory, but there is a certain inevitability to this once the organizational structures are in place. Once the resistance is able to mobilize a larger resource base than the increasingly beleaguered dictatorship, all roads lead to victory.

So hail to the heroes of Libya! They have suffered a great deal under the tyrant with only weak and intermittent support from the West.

Usually, academics are averse to prognostication, but Libya represents a special case, and I feel absolutely confident in predicting their future over the next few years. Why, now that they have gained their freedom, a smooth and swift transition to full democracy is all but certain, and from there, I see little chance that the interests of the new government will ever diverge from the interests of us, their Western partners.

Appendix 1

Freedom Fighters

4 Tukatongue Thallid

4 Elvish Visionary

2 Dragon Fodder

3 Sprouting Thrinax

2 Scarland Thrinax

1 Hissing Iguanar

2 Creakwood Liege

2 Mycoloth

1 Caldera Hellion

1 Skullmulcher

1 Tar Fiend

Force Multipliers

1 Garruk Relentless

1 Sarkhan Vol

1 Sarkhan the Mad

3 Dragon Appeasement

Air Supremacy

4 Bone Splinters (essentially a drone strike, I suppose)

3 Resounding Thunder

Grass-Roots Support

24 Lands, as budget permits, although Keldon Necropolis is highly recommended.


[Note that appendix 1 is premised on a decklist of 60 cards. Actual deck size may be as large as 80 cards]


About Graveborn Muse

Daryl Bockett has been an avid Magic addict since Legends/Revised. He lives and breathes deckbuilding and casual play. "The more the merrier" is his creed! In those brief moments when he isn't playing, reading or thinking about Magic, he teaches at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. He has a Ph.D. in International Relations, which is basically only useful for helping him to understand the strategic interactions at a multiplayer table.
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