What is in Gaddafi’s Green Book, Part Two

<< This is the second of a two-part post.  Click here for the Intro and Part One of Gaddafi’s Green Book

Part Two of Gaddafi’s Green Book is about economics and promises to “inaugurate an international economic revolution which does away with old economic structures and brings them down on the heads of the exploiters.”  The means to this happy outcome is hard to fathom.  Gaddafi dedicates quite a lot of space to reinventing the wheel on the basics of socialism, laying out the notion that “wage-workers are a type of slave” and expounding on the evils of the capitalist owner who does no labor but reaps the gains.  But then, just when you think you know where this is headed, he springs an unexpected twist: “The working class is continually declining as science and machines develop.”  So, who is at the vanguard and who at the rear in this particular revolution?  Tough to say.  Fortunately, it is also irrelevant to the actual condition of modern Libya, which has no productive economy to speak of and derives nearly all of its national income from skimming rents off its oil reserves.  As a result, where standard texts on socialism are preoccupied with the means of production, Gaddafi’s is focused on needs; specifically, it would be convenient if everyone needed less.  “Ultimately,” he writes, “all that is beyond the satisfaction of needs should remain the property of all members of society…[therefore] the hoarding of what exceeds their needs involves an encroachment on public wealth.”  I had cause to contemplate these words recently while watching Al Jazeera’s tour of the lavish underground lair built for the Gaddafis in eastern Libya, which has since been captured by rebel forces.

Part Three is called “The Social Basis of the Third Universal Theory” and begins “The relationship between an individual and a group is a social relationship, i.e. the relationship between the members of a nation.  For nations are founded on nationalism.  Those causes, therefore, are national causes and national relationship is the social relationship.  The social relationship is derived from society, i.e. the relationship between the members of a society, just as nationalism is derived from the nation, i.e. the relationship between the members of a nation.  The social relationship is, accordingly, the national relationship and the national relationship is the social relationship.  For the group is a nation and the nation is a group even if they differ in number, leaving aside the extended definition of the group which means the provisional group regardless of the national relations of its members.  What is meant by the group here is the group which is permanent by virtue of its own national relations.”

From this, clearly, one can conclude that political opponents must be killed.  Having laid out this powerful organizing principle, Gaddafi then applies it to every dimension of society: marriage, women (“It is an undisputed fact that both man and woman are human beings,” it begins, before going on to address menstruation in some detail), minorities, “the blacks” (we are told “The blacks will prevail in the world”), education, horsemanship, boxing, wrestling, and so on through all of society’s most vital aspects.  Here, for example, is Gaddafi’s illumination of the central role of the tribe: “A tribe is a family that has grown as a result of procreation.  It follows that the tribe is a big family.  Equally a nation is a tribe which has grown through procreation.  The nation, then, is a big tribe.  So the world is a nation that has been ramified into various nations.  The world, then, is a big nation.”  Who would have imagined that, in the end, the moral of the Green Book is that we are all one big, happy family?

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Click here to read Sean Rocha’s article on Libya for Travel + Leisure magazine

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