BOOK REVIEW: The Green Book by Muammar Gaddafi

Although the late Muammar Gaddafi hailed from Libya, his ideological work that is The Green Book is a piece of political literature that can still serve as an interesting source of political philosophy for European nationalists. A very short work that can probably be read in a single dedicated sitting, The Green Book is split into three chapters – The Solution of the Problem of Democracy, The Solution of the Economic Problem and The Social Basis of the Third International Theory.

The Solution of the Problem of Democracy

The first chapter of The Green Book outlines Gaddafi’s thoughts on modern day democracy and both the short-term and long-term problems that it poses to society. There is much in this chapter that one can agree with, as Gaddafi is very open to finding alternatives to common representative democracy based on what we know as party politics and the rule of the elected majority. Gaddafi is also not afraid to hold back when he criticises party politics and the system of democratic voting when he highlights how, in most elections, the concept of putting into power one single party that holds the majority of votes still cannot possibly be considered totally democratic, as the majority of those who voted would still have collectively voted AGAINST the winning party. For example, if a political party wins 25% of the vote and gets elected into power, that is still 75% of the country – an overwhelming majority – that did NOT want that party to rule their country. An alternative system that Gaddafi proposes is not unlike that which third positionist nationalists in Europe advocate for – a corporate system where each sector of society is run by a collective group of people who belong to that respective sector and/or industry. For example, farmers to run the agricultural sector, teachers to run the educational sector, generals to run the military, etc. A system such as this would be far more preferable to the system that most European states have now – a group of MPs with relatively limited experience being designated positions within their respective ministries based on arbitrary qualifications and questionable connections within the ruling government.

There are parts of this chapter where Gaddafi makes mention of the forming of committees in relation to running a state in the manner in which he advocates for – which does give off more left-wing socialist “vibes” – but these parts of the book are also a bit more difficult to visualise, as the way in which Gaddafi outlines these committees and how they function may have required a more in-depth explanation and further elaboration.

Overall, there is not very much in this chapter for a nationalist to necessarily disagree with, as it does effectively highlight the very many problems with modern democracy, but one can also make the judgement that this chapter very much “preaches to the choir”, if the choir in question is a nationalistic one.

The Solution of the Economic Problem

This chapter is arguably a highly problematic one for nationalists to read, in the sense that it reads heavily like something out of the works of Karl Marx or Friedrich Engels – borderline communist. There is extensive talk about the need to eventually abolish money and to run an economic system based on the “sharing” and “equal distribution” of the fruits of labour and production, and even those who may not have much experience in economics will very clearly see all of the holes in Gaddafi’s economic arguments here.

There is very little here to suggest that Gaddafi had any understanding as to the importance of personal wages from work. No matter which part of the political spectrum that you belong to, the earning of personal wages ensures that one is rewarded financially for their hard work and contribution to their community. The earning and saving of personal wages also ensures that anybody is free to spend their money as they see fit. According to Gaddafi in The Green Book, such an economic system as this would somehow mean that workers are considered “slaves”, being given a regular wage in exchange for their hard work in production. According to Gaddafi, being given provisions instead in exchange for labour work would somehow allow the working people to “break out” of this system of “slavery”. If Gaddafi had his way economically, according to The Green Book, instead of wages, people would be given basic provisions and supplies that would be just enough to sustain them for day-to-day living. This is effectively a communist system, as people would then be unable to achieve the greater rewards that they deserve to spend and enjoy, based on their own hard work in contributing to society and the nation. Instead, they would have to work extremely hard just to be able to earn enough in basic provisions to be able to sustain themselves and their families. Not only does this system genuinely end up turning workers into slaves – contrary to Gaddafi’s claims of the opposite – but this system also runs the risk of turning working society into a collective of “drones”, unable to advance their nation and society any further than the bare minimum to survive, without being allowed the means to fully enjoy the fruits resulting from their own hard work and societal/national contribution.

In short, the overall message from Gaddafi in this second chapter of The Green Book is that in a society following his ideology, as written down word-for-word, nobody would have the right to have more in resources and supplies relative to their respective “needs”. In other words, you will only be permitted to have as much in provisions that will allow you and/or your family to just get by in your day-to-day lives – no more than that. This is about as communist in socio-economics as one can get, and this chapter of The Green Book will very likely do much to put off many nationalists who would otherwise view Gaddafi in a positive light.

The Social Basis of the Third International Theory

The third and final chapter of The Green Book is far more agreeable to nationalists compared to the communistic nature of the second chapter. In fact, there is much in this chapter that will appeal to nationalists who adhere to third positionist political philosophy. Gaddafi very clearly outlines the importance of the family, tribe (ethnic group) and the nation-state in the running and survival of the nation, and he also very clearly makes the distinction between the differences in what we know as ethnic nationalism and civic nationalism, in that the tribe (ethnic group) is of crucial importance in the overall identity of the nation and its cultural characteristics. The importance of national unity and collective cohesion is also very heavily emphasised.

Gaddafi also talks about the importance of traditional gender roles between men and women, as well as the importance of education for the youth beyond set curriculums at state schools and other educational facilities.

The only real criticisms here in this chapter are that Gaddafi states that all humans should eventually speak one single language – whatever language that may be – yet simultaneously states that musical and artistic tastes are largely influenced by differences in language, highlighting one factor in why human societies and cultures across the globe are so diverse. A bit of cognitive dissonance from Gaddafi, perhaps? Another criticism is Gaddafi’s rather cynical stance towards spectator entertainment, stating that spectating sport, theatre and other forms of entertainment are “foolish”, and that people should instead participate in such things themselves, rather than simply observe them for entertainment. To some small extent, understandable, but on the other hand, people do have the right to spectate whatever form of sport or other visual entertainment that they see fit, and they have every right to NOT have an interest in direct participation if they do not want to do so, whatever their reasons may be. I personally enjoy watching football and rugby, yet I myself am not much of a sporty person nowadays, due to my overall commitments in the fields of journalism and analysis. The same goes for theatre – I am not an actor, yet I still enjoy watching film and television. I am no games designer nor a published book author, yet do I not still have the right to play video games and read books? Examples of cynicism such as these are not productive in any way, shape or form. People have the basic right to enjoy themselves and have fun, not to serve as worker drones or be overly-serious activists for the entirety of their lives with no respite, working only for the system and not for their own lives as part of the wider nation.

A Good Recommendation or an Advised Miss?

Overall, would I recommend Muammar Gaddafi’s The Green Book? There is indeed much to agree with in these pages, but you also won’t find anything new that you haven’t already read in other works of nationalist literature. You would certainly not be missing out on anything if you decide to give this book a miss. The heavily communist-inspired second chapter that explores the economic side of Gaddafi’s political philosophy will definitely do more to put you off Gaddafi’s ideas, rather than convince you of them.

Again, if you wish to read The Green Book, it is an interesting way to gain a greater insight into Gaddafi’s ideas, but you also will not be missing out on anything should to not want to read it. Quite literally, take it or leave it. You won’t find yourself changing political ideology either way.

Stefan Brakus

ETN Board Member (Serbia)

Leave a Comment