Libya Table of Contents
Qadhafi begins The Green Book, Part II: The Solution of the Economic Problem: "Socialism," published in early 1978, with a brief examination of the relationship between workers (producers) and employers (owners). He recognizes that the lot of the worker has been improved dramatically since the Industrial Revolution. The worker has gained fixed working hours, overtime pay, different kinds of leave, profit sharing, participation in management, job security, and the right to strike. Drastic changes have also occurred in ownership, including the transference of private ownership to the state (see Income and Wealth , ch. 3).
Despite these significant changes, however, the basic relationship between the producer, who is a wage earner, and the owner, who pays the wages, is still one of slavery. Even where the state owns the enterprise and the income derived from it reverts to the community, the plight of the wage earner, who contributes to the productive process for someone else's benefit, remains the same. Qadhafi's solution to the problem is to abolish the wage system. Rather than contributing to the productive process for the owner's benefit, or profit, the actual producer should be a partner in the process, sharing equally in what is produced or in the income derived from what is produced.
Qadhafi believes that a person cannot be free "if somebody else controls what he needs" to lead a comfortable life. Thus, each person must fully possess a house, a vehicle, and an income. Individuals cannot be wage earners because someone else would then control their income. They cannot have an extra house to rent, for in renting property they would be controlling a primary need of someone else. According to Qadhafi, "The legitimate purpose of the individual's economic activity is solely to satisfy his [material] needs"; it is not to create a surplus in order to gain a profit. Qadhafi maintains that profit and money will eventually disappear as basic human needs are met. The only provision for a differentiation in wealth is social reward, in which the society allocates to an individual a certain share of its wealth equivalent to the value of some special service rendered.
The 1969 constitutional proclamation recognized both public ownership ("the basis of the development of society") and private ownership (so long as it was nonexploitive). The application of Qadhafi's new views on ownership began a few months after publication of Part II of The Green Book. In May 1978, a law was passed giving each citizen the right to own one house or a piece of land on which to build a house. Ownership of more than one house was prohibited, as was the collection of rent. On September 1, the ninth anniversary of the September revolution, Qadhafi called on workers to "free the wage earners from slavery" and to become partners in the productive process by taking over "the public and private means of production." The takeover of scores of firms followed; presumably the firms were to be controlled by the new people's committees. Still another aspect of the drive against exploitation was Qadhafi's late-autumn ban on commercial retail activity. The Libyan leader advised retailers to enter productive occupations in agriculture or construction (see The Revolution and Social Change , ch. 2). However, the immediate practical result of these changes, was economic chaos and a significant decrease in production (see Income and Wealth , ch. 3).
With regard to land, Qadhafi rejects the idea of private ownership. Drawing a distinction between ownership and use, he argues that land is the collective property of all the people. Every person and his heirs have the right to use the land to satisfy their basic needs. The land belongs to those who till it. To hire farm hands is forbidden because it would be exploitive.
Data as of 1987
Libya Table of Contents