Like The Communist Manifesto, The Green Book calls for the elimination of profit, for economic equality imposed by government, and for the expropriation of the means of production. Qaddafi’s manifesto is dumbed-down Marx and Engel, which, as the twentieth century proved, was already pretty dumb.
“Land is the private property of none.” “No one has the right to undertake an economic activity whereby wealth exceeding the satisfaction of one’s needs can be amassed.” “Disparity in the wealth of individuals in the new socialist society is not tolerated.” “The final step is for the new socialist society to reach a stage in which profit and money disappear.”
Is it any wonder that Libya is an economic basket case and its people rebel?
Elsewhere, The Green Book injects Qaddafi’s quirks—e.g., sports fans are “a helpless apathetic majority that merely watches.” It ingratiates itself to the local prejudices against women opting for education or careers (“A woman is tender; a woman is pretty; a woman weeps easily and is easily frightened.”). But it mainly acts as a justification for the type of political and economic totalitarianism that Qaddafi has practiced for more than four decades.
The Green Book is as much a symptom of Qaddafi’s narcissism as the military regalia or ostentatious titles. The book reveals its author’s pretensions as a figure of importance outside of his own sandbox. He contends, for instance, that through the Third Universal Theory, “the problem of democracy in the world will finally be solved.” That is a thug playing an intellectual. Unsatisfied with his brawn getting people to do as he wished, Qaddafi imagined his brain persuading people to do as he wished, too. If ever the phrase “vanity press” fit, it does here.
The egomania that compelled Qaddafi to write a book presenting itself as a political Rosetta Stone also drove the substance therein. The content is socialism, the hubristic delusion that elites are better equipped to run people’s lives than the people themselves. The “Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution” is as much the bastard child of Western political hallucinations as he is the product of the Middle Eastern political tradition. The Third Universal Theory championed by Qaddafi is not very different from the repressive socialism practiced in Cuba, East Germany, and Albania. Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez’s vocal support for comrade Qaddafi after NATO launched its campaign surprised only those ignorant of the pair’s shared ideology.
The Libyan leader evokes the political religion he proselytizes. Like socialism, he remains long after he has been written off.
Cockroach Qaddafi survived Reagan’s airstrikes. He weathered decades of UN sanctions. Even after NATO bombarded his Tripoli residence this weekend, Qaddafi still stands. His Green Book hasn’t even outlasted his rule.
Daniel J. Flynn is the author of A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). He writes a Monday column for Human Events and blogs at www.flynnfiles.com.