The Green Book (Muammar Gaddafi)

The Green Book
German edition of The Green Book
Author Muammar Gaddafi
Country Libya
Language Arabic
Subject Political philosophy
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print
Pages 110
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Libya under Muammar Gaddafi

The Green Book (Arabic: الكتاب الأخضر al-Kitāb al-Aḫḍar) is a short book setting out the political philosophy of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The book was first published in 1975. It was "intended to be read for all people."[1] It is said to have been inspired in part by The Little Red Book (Quotations from Chairman Mao).[2][3] Both were widely distributed both inside and outside their country of origin, and "written in a simple, understandable style with many memorable slogans."[4] An English translation was issued by the Libyan People's Committee,[5] and a bilingual English/Arabic edition was issued in London by Martin, Brian & O'Keeffe in 1976. During the Libyan Civil War, copies of the book were burned by anti-Gaddafi demonstrators.[6]


In Libya

According to British author and former Greater London Council member George Tremlett, Libyan children spent two hours a week studying the book as part of their curriculum.[7] Extracts were broadcast every day on television and radio.[7] Its slogans were also found on billboards and painted on buildings in Libya.[7]


By 1993 lectures and seminars on The Green Book had been held at universities and colleges in France, Eastern Europe, Colombia, and Venezuela.[7]


The Green Book consists of three parts and has 110 pages.[7]


The Green Book rejects both capitalism and communism, as well as representative democracy. Instead, it proposes a type of direct democracy overseen by the General People's Committee which allows direct political participation for all adult citizens.[7][8]

The book states that "Freedom of expression is the natural right of every person, even if they choose to behave irrationally, to express his or her insanity."[9] The Green Book states that freedom of speech is based upon public ownership of book publishers, newspapers, television, and radio stations, on the grounds that private ownership would be undemocratic.[7]

A paragraph in the book about abolishing money is similar to a paragraph in Frederick Engels' "Principles of Communism".[10] Gaddafi wrote: "The final step is when the new socialist society reaches the stage where profit and money disappear. "It is through transforming society into a fully productive society, and through reaching in production a level where the material needs of the members of society are satisfied. On that final stage, profit will automatically disappear and there will be no need for money."[11]


George Tremlett has called the resulting media dull and lacking in a clash of ideas.[7] Dartmouth College Professor Dirk Vandewalle describes the book as more a collection of aphorisms rather than a systematic argument.[1] U.S. Ambassador David Mack called the book quite jumbled, with various ideas including "a fair amount of xenophobia" wrapped up in "strange mixture".[12]

Writing for the British Broadcasting Corporation, the journalist Martin Asser described the book as follows: "The theory claims to solve the contradictions inherent in capitalism and communism... In fact, it is little more than a series of fatuous diatribes, and it is bitterly ironic that a text whose professed objective is to break the shackles... has been used instead to subjugate an entire population."[9]

The book caused a scandal in 1987, when West German ice hockey club ECD Iserlohn, led by Heinz Weifenbach, signed a US$900,000 advertising deal for the book.[13]


  1. 1 2 Dirk Vandewalle (3 March 2011). "What's In Gadhafi's Manifesto?". All Things Considered (Interview: audio/transcript). Interviewed by Melissa Block. NPR. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  2. Soumiea Abushagur (2011). The Art of Uprising: The Libyan Revolution in Graffiti. p. 18. The Green Book was Gaddafi's political philosophies, modeled after Chairman Mao's Little Red Book...
  3. Christopher H. Dalton; Richard A. Lobban Jr. (2014). Libya: History and Revolution (illustrated ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 129. ISBN 1440828857. "For information, Gaddafi's Green Book was something of a knock-off of Chairman Mao's Red Book.
  4. Metz, Helen Chapin (1987). "The Green Book". Libya: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. OCLC 19122696. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  5. al-Gaddafi, Muammar (1976) The Green Book People's Committee, Libya.
  6. Alexander Dziadosz (2 March 2011). "East Libyans burn Gaddafi book, demand constitution". Reuters Africa. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Tremlett, George (1993). Gadaffi: The Desert Mystic (First ed.). New York: Carroll & Graf. pp. 208, 210, 214, 217, 220. ISBN 0-88184-934-0.
  8. Vandewalle, Dirk J. (2006). A history of modern Libya. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-85048-7. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  9. 1 2 Martin Asser (26 March 2011). "The Muammar Gaddafi story". BBC News. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  10. Principles of Communism, Frederick Engels, 1847, Section 18. "Finally, when all capital, all production, all exchange have been brought together in the hands of the nation, private property will disappear of its own accord, money will become superfluous, and production will so expand and man so change that society will be able to slough off whatever of its old economic habits may remain."
  11. al-Gaddafi, Muammar (1976) The Green Book, The Solution of the Economic Problem: Socialism People's Committee, Libya.
  12. Jackie Northam (20 October 2011). "Moammar Gadhafi Ruled Libya With An Iron Fist". National Public Radio-. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  13. Serge Schmemann (18 December 1987). "Qaddafi Foiled as an Ice Hockey Patron". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 August 2011.

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