The Green Book

Review

 

Rating: 3/5

Reading time: a few hours

Level: beginner

I decided to read this book due to my interest in the overlap and relationship between Islam and communism. Although I did not find this in the text (Islam is not mentioned at all, and religion is mentioned only a few times), it still proved to be an interesting read.

The Green Book was written by Qaddafi as his theorized political, economic, and social system. Although the economic portion is socialist and based in Marxism, the political portion strays from Marxism and instead suggests a different, more democratic (according to Qaddafi) alternative to the dictatorship of the proletariat. The theorized social system provides an interesting analysis to the cause of social upheaval and social change, as well as perspectives on a handful of different aspects of social life and social institutions.

This book definitely strays from the typical Marxist analyses that one may be accustomed to, and instead creates an interesting hybrid between Marxism and Qaddafi’s own theories. I definitely enjoyed reading a different perspective and analysis, which for me, explained some Marxist concepts in a very simple, straight-forward fashion. It was also extremely short and mostly easy to read and comprehend, which aided in the understanding of some of the concepts that he put forth.

However, there were a few things that I disliked about the theories presented as well. For example, Qaddafi stressed a strict conformity to a gender binary. This relates to his theories on family and women, which rely on the patriarchal dichotomy between male and female, oppressor and oppressed. Still, it is important to note that Qaddafi set forth many revolutionary and progressive ideas as well, such as equality between men and women and a strong stance against misogyny. All in all, when reading this book from the 1970s, it is important to keep context in mind.

Thus, I rate this book 3/5: it provided an interesting analysis, straight-forward explanations, and was a short read. However, its sometimes perplexing conclusions that strayed heavily from Marxism brought down the rating for me.


Overview

 

This book was very simple and easy to understand, written in very plain terms (which is why you won’t find a glossary for this post). It’s divided up into three main sections: government, economy, and society. The first section digresses into Qaddafi’s theorized governmental system, known as the Popular Congress. This form of government includes a portion of just about every relevant sector of society, and is composed of countless individuals. The economic form is based on Marxist socialism, in which workers control the means of production (industries) and divide up the production among themselves. Finally, there were a wide variety of social institutions discussed, ranging from the family to sports to religion.


Notes

 

Part I: The Solution of the Problem of Democracy: The Authority of the People

  • Current systems of democracy are dictatorships–if 51% of the people elect somebody to office, then that elected official is then dictatorially imposed on the rest of the population against their will
  • “The most tyrannical dictatorships the world has known have existed under the shadow of parliaments.”
  • The party system is the latest tool of dictatorship
  • The purpose of the party is to impose the will of some on the rest of the population by gaining power
  • The party is solely for people who have similar viewpoints and wish to impose these ideas upon the rest of society
  • Parties compete for power from each other at the detriment of the masses
  • Representation is fraud–the people should represent themselves
  • Popular congresses are the only means to achieve a popular democracy
  • Popular congress:
    • The people are first divided into basic popular congresses
    • Each basic popular congress chooses its secretariat
    • The secretariats together form popular congresses, separate from the basic ones
    • The masses of those basic popular congresses choose administrative people’s committees, which are responsible to the basic popular congresses
  • The natural law of any society is either based on tradition or religion
  • Constitutions stray from natural law and serve only to impose the will of one party or sect
  • Religion and tradition are the only valid ways of governance in that they coincide with natural law. Constitutions are man-made laws which are developed for the sole purpose of the imposing the will of one party/sect over another, and thus are invalid.
  • Society is its own supervisor in a true democracy
  • Violence and change by force is undemocratic
  • Deviations in society should be dealt with through democratic revision
  • A true democratic press is run by a popular committee with people from all sectors of work
    • An individual or corporate party having the means of press is biased and cannot reflect the viewpoints of the entire society

Part II: The Solution of the Economic Problem: Socialism

  • Wage-workers are a type of slave
  • Solution to the economic problem of wage-slavery is to abolish the wage-system and return to natural law, which leads to natural socialism
  • Natural rule of equality in production: each role which is necessary for production is entitled to an equal amount of what is produced. For example, if three people are necessary to produce a good, then each individual should receive ⅓ of the produced good, since each person is necessary for the production of that good.
  • There are three factors in production: raw materials, instruments of production, and the producer
    • Without any of these three factors there will be no production
  • People’s freedom is restricted by how much their need is controlled by others
  • No private property in the new system
  • The legitimate purpose of the economic activity of the individual is to provide only enough to satisfy their needs–anything more would come at the expense of the rest of society
  • Work for a wage is work without incentive, as the worker is doing it for the money instead of being a partner in the process of production
  • Whoever works for themselves will be much more productive than if they work for a wage–they have a much higher incentive to produce more than if they are being paid on an hourly basis (i.e. it doesn’t matter to them how much they produce if they’re working for an hourly wage)
  • Only through working for oneself is there no apathy or coercion in one’s work
  • Rich and poor can only exist in a society where there is exploitation–the extra wealth accumulated comes at the expense of the rest of society
  • All that is beyond what satisfies the need of the individuals should belong to the entirety of society
  • Whoever possesses your needs controls/exploits you
  • The purpose of socialist society is to achieve the happiness of human beings, through spiritual and and material freedom
  • The existence of profit will disappear overtime as capitalist society gives way to socialist society, which is the inevitable dialectical result of the current society

Part III: The Social Basis of the Third Universal Theory

  • The social group that binds humans together is the cause of movements in history
  • Nationalism is the basis for survival for nations–without national unity, society falls apart
  • Every nation should have a religion, as it promotes unity as opposed to disarray
  • Marriage can also serve to promote cohesion in society, so long as it is not oppressive
  • Social bonds are tighter the smaller the scale of the social bond
    • Social bonds: family, tribe, nation, world
  • The reason why the makeup of countries changes is due to misalignment between the political and social structures of the country
    • When nations become colonized, nationalism (the social bond between all of those in a nation) is used to unite the oppressed people against the colonizers to reclaim their nation
  • The nation-state is the only political form that is consistent with its natural social structure
  • Each state that is composed of several nationalisms (i.e. by religion, ideology, etc.) will struggle until each nationalism is independent: the social factors will inevitably triumph over the political factors
  • Care and natural education should come from the family and tribe
  • The social factor–nationalism–is the permanent driving force in history
  • Nationalism is the cohesive bond between all people in a nation–family, tribe, and nation
  • Setting up a political system that goes contrary to the nationalism innate in human beings will result in the destruction of that system
  • Social structure–objective reality
  • Political structure–subjective reality
  • Men and women are equals, and any act of oppression against women is completely unjustified
  • Any institution in society which serves to separate the mother and her child (i.e. nurseries, not breastfeeding, etc.) hinders the growth of society and is unnatural–no human/animal should be raised without their family
    • Only people without a family should be raised in nurseries–it is better for them to be cared for by society than by individuals who are not their parents
  • Sending a child to a nursery instead of their mother is coercion and a form of oppression towards the child, which yearns towards their mother
  • Males and females abandoning their natural roles is a threat to society and freedom
  • In need, freedom is latent
  • Women who abandon marriage, pregnancy, and makeup abandon their natural role in society
  • Driving a woman to do a man’s work goes against the natural femininity of women
  • “A woman is tender. A woman is pretty. A woman weeps easily. A woman is easily frightened.”
  • Everyone should have the opportunity to work, so long as their field of work suits their needs
  • Minorities have their own social rights, and any infringement on this is a dictatorship
  • Compulsory education is a suppression of freedom
  • To force a human being to learn certain subjects and based on a set curriculum against their will is an act of dictatorship, as it suppresses freedom and creativity
  • Knowledge is a natural human right
  • All human should have access to learn any subject they want, rather than being forced to learn set curriculum against their will
  • Sports should be for the masses instead of monopolized by a few teams
  • Sports are like prayer–one can pray alone, or one can pray collectively; either way it makes no sense for others to watch while people pray. Likewise, instead of watching others play sports, one should be participating in the sport itself
  • It is completely foolish for masses to line up and watch a select few play sports: today athletes are the exploiters of the masses as their public facilities come at the expense of the masses
  • The sitting spectators–whether of sports or movies etc.–are those who are too helpless to conduct the activity themselves

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