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(Gaddafi: 1969-2011 – continued)

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GADDAFI: 1969-2011 (2 of 5)

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Gaddafi's Green Book

Gaddafi's first concern was political power. He began his book recognizing that conflicts were an everyday reality among people. He described conflicts within a family as often a failure to resolve the problem of authority, and he asked, "What form should the exercise of authority assume? How ought societies to organize themselves politically in the modern world?" He described his Green Book as presenting "the ultimate solution to the problem of the proper instrument of government." It was 100 pages with only 200 words per page.

He answered his questions influenced by his tribal and Islamic backgrounds. He saw tribes as brotherhoods. The Prophet Muhammad saw Islam as a brotherhood. Tribes and brotherhoods were supposed to be able to mediate their problems without some other formal political authority. Islam's first caliph was supposed to be a brotherly successor to Muhammad – which is how Gaddafi saw himself. That first caliph, Abu Bakr, first addressed his brothers acknowledging that ultimate power lay with the brotherhood. He had said,

I have been given the authority over you, and I am not the best of you. If I do well, help me; and if I do wrong, set me right.

In his Green Book, Gaddafi denounced contemporary forms of government as always favoring a tribe, economic class or political group and therefore a "defeat of genuine democracy." Gaddafi claimed that all of Libya was one vast tribe, and he wanted a "genuine democracy," which he saw as power distributed to everybody rather than power given to representatives or a parliament. "The most tyrannical dictatorships the world has known have existed under the aegis of parliaments," he wrote. "True democracy exists only through the direct participation of the people, and not through the activity of their representatives."

He rejected political parties because, he said, they represent only a segment of the people while "the sovereignty of the people is indivisible."

Modesty prevented Gaddafi declaring himself caliph (successor to the prophet Muhammad). He saw himself as a brother who happened to be recognized and loved as the guiding light for the new Libya. Government was to be conducted by "popular conferences" and "people's committees."

In his Green Book, Gaddafi described government by people's committees as eliminating violence against any segment of society. "In such a system," he wrote, "if deviation takes place, it is then rectified by a total democratic revision, and not through the use of force."

Moving on to Part Two of Gaddafi's Green Book, he proposed an economic system that is neither "capitalist" nor "communist." He declared against the wage system. He described wage earners as "but slaves to the masters who hire them" – temporary slaves, that is. "The ultimate solution," he wrote, "lies in abolishing the wage-system, emancipating people from their bondage and reverting to the natural laws which defined relationships before the emergence of classes, forms of governments and man-made laws."

Gaddafi spoke of land as "the private property of none." And he wrote,

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.

Gaddafi believed that every family should do its own routine work. "Domestic servants, paid or unpaid," he wrote, "are a type of slave."

In the third and last section, Gaddafi wrote of the "dynamic force of human history." Historic movements are mass movements, and heroes are those who have sacrificed for the masses. He wrote:

The national struggle – the social struggle – is the basis of the movement of history. It is stronger than all other factors since it is in the nature of the human group; it is in the nature of the nation; it is the nature of life itself.

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Copyright © 2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.