I FIRST became acquainted with The Green Book in 1986, when I was a member of the National Front (NF). Growing up in England amid the repressive greed and corruption of the Thatcher years, the common-sense ideas contained in this refreshing little text hit me with all the force of a literary sledgehammer.
Prior to the mid-1980s, the NF – by then a household name, albeit for all the wrong reasons – had been a fairly negative organisation that was often populated by a mixture of British imperialists and neo-Nazi fantasists, but once it had purged some of the more reactionary elements from its ranks the group quickly began to evolve into a revolutionary movement committed to national freedom, social justice and the overthrow of the Capitalist ruling class. As a result, the ‘third positionist’ stance of the NF – ‘Neither Left nor Right’ – led the group to align itself with certain dissidents around the world who had a shared interest in opposing the twin evils of both Capitalism and Communism.
These included Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, for example, who, in 1979 had led his country away from the pro-American puppetry of the Shah’s oil-drenched regime and into a Shi’ite theocracy. The NF also demonstrated its support for Black radicals like Jerry Rawlings of Ghana and Louis Farrakhan of the United States, not to mention the positive Afro-centrism of the late Marcus Garvey.
Similarly, the organisation was also impressed by Libya’s anti-Zionist figurehead, Muammar al-Qathafi, a man who had defiantly resisted the combined might of the Western liberal democracies for some long time and who, in the very year that I discovered The Green Book, had incurred the militaristic wrath of bumbling American president, Ronald Reagan.
Subsequently, and with the full blessing of Margaret Thatcher, the United States Air Force launched a wave of imperialist air strikes from English soil and Qathafi’s North African homeland was duly bombed at the seemingly unimpeachable behest of International Zionism. The Anglo-American public, gullible at the best of times, were ready to believe anything their corrupt governments threw at them and, before long, the mass media was squealing for ‘mad dog’ Qathafi’s head from the rooftops. Qathafi himself, meanwhile, lost one of his own children in the bombing raids. The real reason Qathafi had been targetted by the Zionists, of course, is that his Socialist Peoples Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (SPLAJ) was a fierce opponent of the Israeli state and a vociferous advocate of Palestinian self-determination.
Qathafi, who rose to prominence during a bloodless coup d’état on September 1st, 1969, inherited a country which, up to then, had been led by King Idris I, a monarch who was not afraid to express his sympathies for Britain and America. Once Qathafi and his supporters had ousted the former regime, they soon established a Revolutionary Command Council. Indeed, contrary to Western propaganda that Qathafi was some kind of ‘dictator,’ he continued to retain his rank as colonel in the Libyan Army and such was his popularity among the people that he was able to walk the streets without any fear of assassination.
The ideas contained in The Green Book, first published in 1975, present a serious threat to Western liberalism and thoroughly undermine the crumbling façade of ‘democracy’ which we are led to believe serves as an administrative and legislative role-model for the world. The copy of The Green Book that I purchased back in 1986 had been printed in Malaysia during the late-1970s, not long after Qathafi’s ideas – known as the Third Universal Theory – had first been applied in Libya. It was an attractive, pocket-sized paperback – green, of course – and some of the more important and memorable slogans in the text had been deliberately highlighted. These phrases appeared in the margin and included expressions such as ‘no representation in lieu of the people’, ‘representation is a denial of participation’ and ‘representation is a falsification of democracy’.
The point the author was making, is that representative democracy – i.e. a system in which people elect a politician to allegedly ‘serve’ their own interests – is essentially open to abuse. Qathafi advocates the actual participation of the people themselves, something which, in the British Isles, certainly, would lead to the establishment of street, area and regional committees, replacing the existing Member of Parliament (MP) for each electoral constituency.
Contrary to the kind of ‘democracy’ that presently operates from the Houses of Parliament, through which MPs remain in power for a period of no less than four years, the Libyan model was a form of direct democracy and if its delegates did not faithfully serve the interests of the people they were instantly replaced. The solution to the fraud of parliamentarianism, therefore, is known in Libya as ‘the authority of the people’.
Qathafi’s book also looks at the economic situation and offers a real alternative to the sterile creeds of Capitalism and Communism that have, between then, divided up much of the world. The author calls his idea ‘Socialism,’ but it has far more in common with the radical anti-Capitalism of people like Robert Owen, William Morris and Robert Blatchford, or the Distributism of Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton, than with the decidedly unworkable and pseudo-egalitarian dogma offered by the neo-Marxian Left.
Workers in Libya had a stake in their factories and owned the means of production, something that never left the theoretical drawing-board in places like Soviet Russia and the former East Germany. Qathafi also addresses the matter of how these ideas will affect the social sphere and examines the relationship between the individual, the family, the tribe and the nation, as well as issues relating to women, education, art and sport.
How far the Third Universal Theory was actually applied in Libya remains a subject of great controversy. However, one of his first tasks as leader of the Al Fateh revolution was to end the importation of foreign goods into the country, but it was not until the end of the 1970s that things really began to change. By 1981, Qathafi had established the Libyan Bus and Truck Company with the help of the Italian car manufacturers, Fiat, although over time the car giant’s original 50% share was gradually diminished until it became a wholly Libyan concern. In addition, small factories and businesses were converted into co-operatives in accordance with the popular slogan, ‘partners, not wage-earners’. But this was not always applied to the larger businesses in Libya and therefore the Al Fateh revolution was an ongoing phenomenon that still had much to achieve if the ideas contained in The Green Book were to be faithfully implemented.
Usury was also outlawed in Libya and people wishing to build a house could borrow money from public funds, paying a small amount of around 7-10% for the privilege, certainly nothing on the scale of the extortionate interest charged by Western banking institutions. The money was then channelled back into the public economy.
Supermarkets were state-owned, but each area had its own co-operative shop which included food stalls, electrical suppliers and family-owned workshops; all under one roof. Competition was controlled through price-fixing, something virtually unheard of in the West since the old ‘just price’ schemes of the Middle Ages. Wages were also limited, providing economic security to all concerned.
Libya also abolished the state police force in the late-1980s and replaced it with the Peoples’ Green Guards, comprised of ordinary people living within a specific area. Crime was extremely low in the country, too, not least because unlike in Europe and North America people still lived among their extended families and everybody knew everybody else.
In a world ruthlessly controlled by powerful banks and faceless corporations, however, this great socio-economic experiment was always going to find itself on a collision course with its imperialist enemies. On October 20th, 2011, as Libya was in the process of being toppled by a ragbag army of pseudo-Islamic extremists, criminal elements and foreign mercenaries – many of whom had been secretly trained by NATO – the leader of the revolution, Muammar al-Qathafi, was eventually captured and executed without trial. The man that I had admired from afar for a quarter of a century had been brutally murdered at the behest of the Zionists and the shocking image of Qathafi’s bruised and battered face on the television screen is one that I shall never forget.
In a more positive vein, whilst The Green Book has had a huge impact on my life and helped to shape my own political, social and economic ideas, I am certain that it can still have the same beneficial effect on the readers and activists of the twenty-first century. If not as a political system that can still be applied on a national level, then certainly in terms of the author’s remarkable demolition of Western-style ‘democracy’.