Muammar Gaddafi and the third international theory

Muammar Mohamed Abu Minyar Gaddafi was a Libyan revolutionary politician and political theorist.

muammar gaddafi and the third inernational theory
Muammar Mohamed Abu Minyar Gaddafi

He governed Libya as Revolutionary Chairman of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then as the Brotherly Leader of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.

muammar gadaffi and the third international theory
Tripoli, Capital and the Largest City of Libya

He was initially ideologically committed to Arab Nationalism and Arab Socialism but later ruled according to his own ‘Third International Theory’. The focus of this paper is not on the personality of Gaddafi, but on his ‘Third International Theory’

The Third International theory was a revolutionary theory formulated by Gaddafi in 1976, which was to serve as an alternative to capitalism and communism. This theory contained new ideas covering political, economic and the public aspect of life in Libya. Gaddafi unlike his other African counterparts detested imperial powers and all they stood for and rejected every form of aid that could bring about interference in local affairs. His aversions were particularly drawn towards the two dominant systems in Europe that is Capitalism and Communism, on the premise that both were based on the monopoly of ownership, which is undesirable one by the state and the other by individuals. More so, was his view on Democracy he believed that Western Democracy was not a genuine democracy, on the basis that the concentration of powers in the hands of the representatives reflected minority interests as against the people’s power of Democracy.According to him, ‘the society is a complex of pluralistic interests, the party as an institution of modern democracy is an organ of sectional interest. To this end, Gaddafi promulgated new theories and he hoped that this theory would be adopted by other African countries. This theory he called THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL THEORY, codified in The Green book which was mandated to be read by every citizen and taught in all schools.

muammar gadaffi and the third international theory
The Green Book

The Green Book, was divided into three parts, first was the Political, second the Economic and third the Public aspect.

The first part, solving the problem of democracy (peoples power).

In this part, Gaddafi explained that representative democracy,i.e. political parties, parliaments, referendums, and others is nothing but a kind of dictatorship. According to the Green Book; the ‘victor in the tussle for power is usually an instrument of government, individual, party or class while the loser is always the people who are in majority’. Thus the definition of government by the people is put in jeopardy. He criticized parliamentarianism further, claiming a parliament cannot speak on behalf of the people because democracy means rule of the people, not of those who act on its behalf. Parliament in fact represents not the people, but the party that wins the election. The system of elected parliament is a demagogic system, because votes can be bought and manipulated which means that the parliamentary system is a fraud. On parties, he emphasized that a party is a modern tool of dictatorial rule. It is the power of part over the whole. Parties are established by groups of persons to act in their interests or to impose their views and ideology on the public. He also sights the proliferation of parties as an avenue for power struggle which then undermines the programs geared towards benefiting members of the society. Gaddafi thus identified solutions to these problems through the PEOPLES CONGRESS, which aims to make control and management popular. This is to be achieved by dividing the entire population into people’s congresses which elects the peoples committee, which in turn forms the second round of the people’s congress which elects the state committees, that fulfills the function of the state administration. At the general people’s congress, peoplescommittees, trade unions, and professional bodies, the most important issues are discussed and the definitive legislative decisions are made. Thus in Gaddafi’s view, participation and decision making is uniform and popular

The second part of the Green Book proffers solution to the deficiencies of capitalism and socialism and was published on Feb 2 1978. He criticized wage labor, comparing it with slavery and thus proclaimed the right of an employee to any product produced by them. According to Gaddafi, ‘man’s needs may be defined as a house, an income, and vehicle.’ Renting houses and hiring vehicles are forms of domination and exploitation of people’s needs. Gaddafi put forward as the basis of economic life, the principle of self-government in the economy. In line with this, it was envisaged that enterprises should be transferred to the collective management of those who work there and the slogan partners not employees was given theoretical justification. Another economic idea was that a person living in a house was an owner not a tenant and to such effect, private ownership of land was prohibited so also renting of residential premises.  The final aspect of the economic reform was to be the achievement of a new socialist society, a stage at which profit and money disappear from society and thus becomes fully productive while production fully meets the material needs of all members of the society.

The final aspect of the third international theory is the Public Aspect which was publishedJune 1979. In this, he addressed various issues like the educational system, sports, merging of world languages. A stand out view of this aspect is that Gaddafi duly recognized the important role of women in societies as well as granting equal opportunities to women as did to men.

It is worthy to note that all of these views stated in the Green Book, had as its basis Islam and also Arab nationalism. Moreso, the oil boom in Libya helped to foster these policies but as expected some of the policies drew resentments from the elites within the populaceand led to protests which in some cases led to killings and unrest in the country. Furthermore Gaddafi’s stance and opposition against foreign powers led to the indictment of the population against him. There’s no doubting the fact that Gaddafi’s had dictatorial tendencies but his time as the leader of Libya brought boom and prosperity to the country through the policies enacted.

This then begs the question for African leaders… why can’t we device a system that fits our organic make up rather than looking outside for parasitic help?

What are your thoughts on this? Drop a comment below


Lecture notes on Modern African Political Thought

The state of Africa by Martin Meredith pg. 350 international Theory.

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