All Quotes from the Green Book by Muammar el-Quadaffi
Colonel Gaddafi, Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution in Libya has more to lose than just a nation. At stake is his dream of establishing his “genuine democracy." Gaddafi accompanied my political consciousness all my life. I always thought of him a terrorist, who is believed to having supported almost any militant group that promised to oppose European or American imperialism or fight against Israel. He was at the forefront of what I originally understood as religious terrorism, which is subject of the new book The Great Leap-Fraud. Interestingly, his terror organizations, including Al Qaeda, seem markedly absent in the popular uprisings throughout the Middle East.
There are significant differences between the revolution in Egypt and the conflict in Libya. First and foremost, Libya is rich in oil reserves and is highly urbanized. Its GDP is about four times higher than the one in Egypt, and the jobless rate is decisively lower. Hence, comparatively, Libyans should be better off than Egyptians. Egypt’s strong military hierarchy refused to fire upon its own people. Yet, they have a vested interest in gaining power and will quietly reshuffle their forces in pursuit of their goals. To think that the army fights shoulder on shoulder with the masses seems a little naïve. The armed forces of Libya are mercenaries to a large degree. They have no issues with shooting for money or even for pleasure. With the influx of the mercenaries, the upheaval in Libya has turned into a bloodbath, which may spark a civil war and secession. The country is split into competing tribes that will engage in bloody conflicts for territorial dominance. Gaddafi’s many sons compete in their aspirations to run the country. This disunity within the clan offers a weakness that has been leveraged by the protesters.
About 97% of Libyans are Muslims. Whether the predominantly Christian West approves of it or not, the future of Libya is going to be with Islam. The spiritual leaders of Sunni Islam will play a major role in shaping the future of the country. Even Iraq, which has been an American led protectorate since 2003, experiences a renewal of Islamic influence. The country may give modern westerners a glimpse of what’s to come in other Middle Eastern countries. The revolutions are not geared against Islam. They focus on economic problems that were triggered by the world’s economic downturn that started in 2008. It can be expected that Western style populism will not make inroads just yet.
What exactly is it that makes Gaddafi so unique, a shady figure in the twilight of sheer hatred and outright admiration? One of the more stable features of his regime is a drive toward a larger Muslim nation that would include most of Libya’s neighbors that are united not only in faith but also in their dedication against Israel. His vision behind this failed drive was a dream of his “genuine democracy." What this dream exactly entails is laid out in Gaddafi’s Green Book, a critique on western style democracies and an idea how to improve it. While Gaddafi is realistic in his description of democracies’ weaknesses, his ideas for betterment are full of paradoxical absurdities that find their foundation in a blind faith in the Muslim Sharia law. However, in those ideas lies the struggle of Muslim nations, which try to mimic the successes of the Umayyad leadership from 1300 years ago. When Muslims think of democracy and of economic success, it is the Umayyad style that they are in search for, not the western kind. It was a time when nobody could be found to accept the zakat (the alms to the poor). Little do they know that the Umayyads were different Muslims, if at all. They have been misled by religious history bending from a couple of hundred years after the fact. These beliefs will not change until the Muslims are confronted with a reality of their history that is different from their romantic traditions that are supposedly divine. The Muslims today believe in what the writers from back when intended them to believe in. Western leaders would be well advised to study those concepts as the Middle East will bring forth more such experiments in the style of Gaddafi’s genuine democracy, not less.
Gaddafi views governments as a problem. He thinks that democratic processes in the West always lead to “the victory of a particular governing structure - be it that of an individual, group, party or class - and the defeat of the people; the defeat of genuine democracy." He rightly points out that the 51% rule of democracies necessarily leads to disenchanted minorities. Cynically, he equates this with dictatorship. Even the election process is viewed as an elimination process of candidates that leads to the rule of minority elites that do not reflect the interests of the people or of the majority.
Moreover, since the system of elected parliaments is based on propaganda to win votes, it is a demagogic system in the real sense of the word. Votes can be bought and falsified. Poor people are unable to compete in the election campaigns, and the result is that only the rich get elected.
He thinks it even worse when it comes to political parties. They naturally act undemocratically and not in the interest of the people. „They form a party to achieve their ends, impose their will, or extend the dominion of their beliefs, values, and interests to the society as a whole." In an ultimate defeat of democracy, parties enter alliances that are dedicated to impose their will unto the remaining minority parties.
The members of the parliament represent their respective parties and not the people, and the power established by such a coalition is the power of the combined parties and not that of the people. Under such systems, the people are the victims whose votes are vied for by exploitative competing factions who dupe the people into political circuses that are outwardly noisy and frantic, but inwardly powerless and irrelevant.
It is ignorant of the West to dismiss Gaddafi’s critique as unfounded. The democracies in the industrialized world are indeed plagued by sheer incompetence, inefficiency, and vested interests. The role of the people has degraded to waving flags and paying taxes, which in turn feed humongous administrative hypertrophies that are busy to cut down on people’s freedoms and liberties. According to Gaddafi, „Parliaments, therefore, have become a means of plundering and usurping the authority of the people.“ If we think of the spectacle of the uprisings in the Middle East as a far removed phenomena, we might arrogantly misinterprete the signs of the time as a vote pro Western style democracy. Instead, it is only a matter of time until the West remembers that „Enough is Enough“ should have brought about desperately needed „Change.“ America and Europe might find themselves in popular uproar rather sooner than later. These quasi democratic systems are hopelessly unfit for a twentyfirst century world with seven billion people desperate for solutions to endless conflicts and humanitarian disasters. While Gaddafi calls parliamentary representation a fraud, so far, the political establishment in the West indulges in boasting the superiority of a system that compares itself to the lame dogs rather than fixing its underlying problems that will ultimately lead to the demise of the system.
The opposition must minimize the government's achievements and cast doubt on its plans, even though those plans may be beneficial to the society. Consequently, the interests and programs of the society become the victims of the parties' struggle for power.
American citizens should be particularly receptive to Gaddafi’s message. The political stalemate is unfolding right in front of their eyes, and it is inconceivable that they are willing to pay much longer for this form of entertainment. He further points at the weakness of the „yes“ or „no“ voting system.
Those who vote “yes" or “no" do not, in fact, express their free will but, rather, are silenced by the modern conception of democracy as they are not allowed to say more than “yes" or “no".
The system is an insult to modern mankind that is supposed to be educated and able to make informed decisions. Gaddafi’s analysis ends with the idea that a direct democracy is the solution to the innate problems of modern societies. Coming from a country with direct democracy, where people can contribute with popular initiatives and referendums, I instinctively jumped to the conclusion that this is what he may have envisioned, a system that does not outperform the other Western societies in either performance or popular participation. Gaddafi drives the formula much further: „Democracy is the supervision of the people by the people," in the sense that government has no role in supervising the people.
When it comes to a definition of what exactly that supervision by the people entails, Gaddafi finds himself in some form of theocratic neo-socialism that is nothing other than astonishing in its religious naïveté. However, as a reminder of the dream to reinstate the successes of the early Muslims, his essay is an essential building block to understanding modern Muslim ideals.
The natural law of any society is grounded in either tradition (custom) or religion. … The problem of freedom in the modern age is that constitutions have become the law of societies…. The method by which a specific modality of government seeks to dominate the people is contained in the constitution. … Freedom is threatened unless society adheres to a sacred law with established rules that are not subject to alteration or change by any instrument of government. … Religion contains tradition, and tradition is an expression of the natural life of the people.
While Gaddafi rants about the shortcomings of modern democracies, his solutions kick freedom with his boots. Now that people should supervise the people, there can only be one religion, and that one religion, of course, can only be Sunni Islam. In order to achieve his total freedom, the press needs to be guarded by his people’s committees.
The press is a means of expression for society: it is not a means of expression for private individuals or corporate bodies. Therefore, logically and democratically, it should not belong to either one of them. … The democratic press is that which is issued by a People's Committee, comprising all the groups of society.
It may be true that the press expresses the interest of its publishers. Yet, citizens that are used to a free press have a somewhat free choice as to the publications that they read. The issue lies more in the control of information by governments and in the ensuing favoritism that rewards conformist journalism at home. Few journalists risk to be cut off from the flow of information because of critical reporting. Hence, information from the modern temples of government tend to be romantically mirrored through the news networks.
When it comes to Gaddafinomics, we find the wage-earner as a modern type of slave. While he has a strong point as to some American employees that cannot make a living even though they work three jobs, Gaddafi fails to recognize that the people sell their capabilities at a market price even though an uneven playing field may distort their bargaining power. It is said cumulative capabilities of poeple that determine a nations’ prosperity to the extent that they meet the demand of the market.
Wage-earners are but slaves to the masters who hire them. … Because they carry out a production process for the benefit of others who hire them to produce a certain product. ... The ultimate solution lies in abolishing the wage-system, emancipating people from its bondage and reverting to the natural laws which defined relationships before the emergence of classes, forms of governments and man-made laws. …. These natural rules have produced natural socialism based on equality among the components of economic production, and have maintained public consumption almost equal to natural production among individuals.
Gaddafi envisions some sort of a profit sharing deal with the wage earners. However, he is going much beyond that where egalitarianism kills the drive to the individual’s success. If that is not enough, he even throws the individuals’ needs out as the foundation of exploitation. Without need, there is no exploitation.
In a socialist society, no one, including society itself, has the right to control people's needs. No one has the right to acquire a house additional to his or her own dwelling and that of his or her heirs for the purpose of renting it because this additional house is, in fact, a need of someone else. … In this society, there are no wage-earners, but only partners. … In a socialist society, no person or authority has the right to own a means of transportation for the purpose of renting it, for this also means controlling the needs of others.
Now that he has all employees as partners and the decision process in the hand of a genuine democracy, he has nobody to take unpopular decisions, cut the cord when necessary, or change direction when markets demand it.
No one has the right to undertake an economic activity whereby wealth exceeding the satisfaction of one's needs can be amassed. … Allowing private economic activity to amass wealth beyond the satisfaction of one's needs and employing others to satisfy one's needs or beyond, or to secure savings, is the very essence of exploitation. … Disparity in the wealth of individuals in the new socialist society is not tolerated. … The final step is for the new socialist society to reach a stage in which profit and money disappear. Society will become fully productive; the material needs of society will be met. In this final stage, profit will disappear, as will the need for money.
What can be recognized in Gaddafi’s thoughts are the Sharia laws of the Sunnis that are based on traditions that were invented after the fact to falsify an embarrassing historical background: the Umayyads initially opposed the Muslim faith and persecuted its members. But it can not be overlooked that these are likewise Christian core values. While the Sunnah traditions were built in an environment of protest against the Abbasid rulers that was peacefully persued with economic rejection, today, these same doctrines ensure that billions of people are held hostage in perpetual poverty. Because Muslims believe in the truth of their traditions, they think that they can recreate it without realizing that they instead build an intellectual weapon of mass destruction that contradicts the teachings of the Koran outright, or the successful business life of the Prophet Muhammad.
In grotesque violation of his own ideal of a genuine democracy, Gaddafi then proposes nationalism at the core of his doctrines.
Similarly, man's life is damaged when he begins to disregard nationalism - the social factor - for it is the gravity of the group, the secret of its survival. Only the religious factor is a rival to the social factor in influencing the unity of a group. The religious factor may divide the national group or unite groups with different nationalisms; however, the social factor will eventually triumph. This has been the case throughout the ages. Historically, each nation had a religion. This was harmonious. Eventually, however, differences arose which became a genuine cause of conflict and instability in the lives of people throughout the ages. A sound rule is that each nation should have a religion.
The credo boils down to one nation, one religion, and an egalitarian society. Yet, he recognizes that nationalism is a threat to humanity. He has little to offer to its resolution other than that nations should be centered on communalities amongst people rather than on imperialism or colonialism imposed by others.
He sees man and women as equal “as human beings." However, in his world-view, women have their place and man have another place in society.
Thus, abandoning the natural roles of female and male in life can only occur under unnatural conditions which are contrary to freedom and are a threat to survival. Consequently, there must be a world revolution which puts an end to all materialistic conditions hindering women from performing their natural role in life, and so drives them to carry out men's duties in order to attain equal rights. Such revolution will inevitably take place, particularly in industrial societies, as a response to the instinct of survival.
As for the black people, he foresees a bright future, where the blacks are no longer enslaved by the whites.
Black people are now in a very backward social situation, but such backwardness works to bring about their numerical superiority because their low standard of living has shielded them from methods of birth control and family planning. Also, their old social traditions place no limit on marriages, leading to their accelerated growth. The population of other races has decreased because of birth control, restrictions on marriage, and constant occupation in work, unlike the Blacks, who tend to be less obsessive about work in a climate which is continuously hot.
When Gaddafi’s attention is directed toward education, his analysis points at the weaknesses of western style education.
It is a compulsory obliteration of a human being's talent, as well as a coercive directing of a human being's choices. It is an act of dictatorship destructive of freedom because it deprives people of their free choice, creativity and brilliance. To force a human being to learn according to a set curriculum is a dictatorial act. To impose certain subjects upon people is also a dictatorial act. … Societies which ban or monopolize knowledge are reactionary societies which are biased towards ignorance and are hostile to freedom. Societies which prohibit the teaching of religion are reactionary societies, biased towards ignorance and hostile to freedom. Societies which monopolize religious education are reactionary societies, biased towards ignorance and hostile to freedom.
However, when it comes to solutions, he again resorts to Islamic law, destructive to societal evolution and prosperity. Even in its analysis, religion sticks out in violation of his vision. While teaching anything to anyone other than what the subject desires, he makes an exception with religion—Sunni Islam that is, not broad education in religion. Indeed, it is the only compulsory subject. Finally, true to his forged traditions, he condemns all kind of spectator entertainment. While he supports sports, music and other forms of personal activities, he opposes any form of gawking in the western style.
Grandstands will disappear because no one will be there to occupy them. Those who are unable to perform the roles of heroism in life, who are ignorant of the events of history; who fall short of envisaging the future, and who are not serious enough in their own lives, are the trivial people who fill the seats of the theatres and cinemas to watch the events of life in order to learn their course. They are like pupils who occupy school desks because they are uneducated and also initially illiterate. …
Bedouin peoples show no interest in theatres and shows because they are very serious and industrious. As they have created a serious life, they ridicule acting. Bedouin societies also do not watch performers, but perform games and take part in joyful ceremonies because they naturally recognize the need for these activities and practice them spontaneously.
In summary, Gaddafi is stuck in eighth century traditions that were not intended to build the glory of a nation but to erode another one by refusing to participate in its society. One might be tempted to hope that those ideas disappear with the removal of Gaddafi. However, in search to replicate past successes, they will come back to haunt not only the Muslim world but all others as well. The best that can be done to change the course of history is to reassess the Muslim history as it really was. Once Muslims recognize that they have been held hostage for millennia by Muslim laws that were forged for different reasons, there will be hope to a reformation of Islam. This will not be the end of Islam, but rather a new beginning that is based on peace, human rights, and prosperity.